After getting stiff-armed in last year's National Championship game, 44-16 by Clemson, Alabama is not projected to earn a 6th straight entry to the Final Four. It would be a first for the Tide which have been in every playoff since the format began in 2014.
Instead, a hyper-competitive West division will be won by LSU, according to the preseason forecast based on the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com. Auburn is projected to take 2nd while 'Bama is relegated to an astonishing 3rd-place finish.
Alabama is a 0.38-point underdog at South Carolina, a home underdog by 5.86 to LSU, and a season-ending road dog by 3.27 to Auburn.
In addition to the win in Tuscaloosa, LSU is a whopping 11.59-point home pick over Auburn.
LSU hasn't won the SEC Championship since 2011, but gets a 3.73-point edge over Georgia to end that dry spell. LSU would enter the College Football Playoff as the 2-seed and be favored by 4.99 to eliminate Clemson, setting up a National Championship showdown with projected 1-seed Michigan. Unfortunately for LSU fans, the ride ends there but only by the narrowest of margins as the Wolverines get all of a 0.11-point advantage.
The computer offers up Missouri as the 2nd-place team in the Eastern division, and also puts South Carolina ahead of Florida.
Kentucky is expected to tumble from last season's record-breaking 10-win season to a 7-5 mark in 2019.
Neither Tennessee nor Vanderbilt are projected to go bowling with the Vols coming up short by one win and the Commodores stagnant at 3-9.
The rest of the computer's SEC West forecast has Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Ole Miss all bowl eligible. That's especially welcomed news in Oxford as the Rebels were ineligible in 2017 (self-imposed sanction) and 2018 (NCAA probation). Mississippi is picked to go 6-6 so there is no room for error.
Arkansas enters the 2019 season on an 11-game SEC losing streak and isn't picked to win a single conference game.
No SEC team has a new head coach in 2019 after six teams made changes a year ago - Arkansas, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
*-Tie-breakers: Florida beats Kentucky
*-Tie-breakers: Texas A&M beats Mississippi State
*-Championship: LSU over Georgia
First-place votes in parenthesis
1. Georgia (223) - 1,789 points
2. Florida (21) - 1,499 points
3. Missouri (3) - 1,149 points
4. South Carolina (1) - 883 points
5. Tennessee (1) - 804 points
6. Kentucky (1) - 798 points
7. Vanderbilt - 358 points
1. Alabama (253) - 1,813 points
2. LSU (5) - 1,493 points
3. Texas A&M - 1,268 points
4. Auburn (1) - 1,090 points
5. Mississippi State (1) - 769 points
6. Mississippi - 504 points
7. Arkansas - 343 points
Predicted Champion: Alabama