Georgia looks to three-peat as national champions in 2023. Most of the world, including the conference media, believe that will happen. But there is one alternate view.
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com are going with Tennessee to unseat Georgia in the East by virtue of a home win in Knoxville on November 18 in the last conference game of the regular season. The computer gives the Vols a mere 2.15-point advantage to end a 6-game losing streak to the 'Dawgs.
The part of the equation that gets tough for humans to digest is the prediction that Tennessee will beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa on October 21, and again in the conference championship game six weeks later. Tennessee just ended a 15-game over-all losing streak to the Tide last season, and hasn't won at Bryant-Denny since 2003.
To be fair, the computer isn't indicating that Alabama or Georgia doesn't have a chance against Tennessee. To the contrary, all of the game predictions are tight. The forecast calls for just a 0.86-point advantage to Tennessee in the regular season game and the rematch projection would currently be just shy of 4 points.
Regardless of how it all works out, the computer and the media poll all agree that Georgia and Tennessee are the teams to watch in the Eastern half, and no one else is that close. The computer's 3rd-place pick, Kentucky, trails the top two by a dozen power points. The media voted South Carolina 3rd.
The Western division title is a 3-way race between Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU. Another team - Texas A&M - could also be in the mix. The schedule would appear to handicap the Rebels who have to visit both Alabama and Georgia. LSU doesn't play Georgia, but visits Ole Miss and Alabama. Meanwhile, 'Bama gets Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU at home.
Texas A&M would need some impressive road wins as the Aggies are handicapped by a schedule that sends them to Knoxille, Oxford and Baton Rouge.
We should point out that less than 18 power points separate first from last in the Western division, and four of the conference's six highest-rated teams are in that division.
The computer only has 9 of the 14 SEC teams going bowling with the other 5 all finishing at 5-7 or worse. The teams forecast to take an early winter break are South Carolina, Mississippi State, Florida, Arkansas and Vanderbilt.
Auburn is forecast to win 7 games in the first season under Hugh Freeze.
Western division teams have won 12 of the last 14 SEC Championship games. Georgia interrupted that domination with wins in 2017 and last season. You have to go all the way back to 2008 to find another Eastern division team - Florida - that has won an SEC title in the last 15 years.
The SEC is going to be dramatically different next season when Texas and Oklahoma move over from the Big 12. And it's not difficult to imagine even more changes to the SEC lineup by the time the 2024 season kicks,
|4||3||Texas A & M|
Computer - Tennessee over Alabama
Media - Georgia over Alabama
|4||35||Texas A & M||86.55||57.7||8||4||4||4||24|
2 Teams tied at 6-2. Ole Miss beats LSU