No earth-shattering news here. Georgia is tabbed to win the eastern half of the conference for the fifth time in the last six years, and the Tide is picked to lead the Western half for the fourth time in the last five years.
By the end of the year, the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com project Ohio State and Alabama to be ranked 1-2 and, as such, would be definite shoo-ins for the Final Four. Georgia's loss to 'Bama in the SEC Championship would be its first of the season and the committee won't let that block the defending national champions from returning to the pool.
The fourth team will be a lot tougher to determine as these teams would all be in consideration
Clemson (12-1) - ACC Champ
Cincinnati (12-1) - American Champ and 2021 Final Four participant
Oklahoma State (12-1) - Big 12 Champ
Utah (12-1) - Pac-12 Champ
Notre Dame (11-1) - Top independent
Our best guess is that Clemson gets the committee nod as the program is recognized as a Playoff 'blue blood'.
Since 2006, the consensus national champion has emerged from the SEC 12 out of 16 times.
The stunning pick here might be LSU's last-place finish at 3-9 in Brian Kelly's first season, but don't forget his 2016 Notre Dame team was 4-8. The SEC Media Poll had LSU 5th in the West and Mississippi State 6th. The computer has the Bulldogs 2nd in the West.
Kelly left South Bend as the winningest coach in Notre Dame history, amassing records of 92-39 over-all, and going 9-0 as a Covid year member of the ACC in 2020. The only perceived negatives could be a 5-5 bowl record that includes a 0-2 mark in the playoffs. He replaces Ed Orgeron whose team won the national championship in 2019, but was 11-11 since then. His records at LSU were 51-20 overall and 31-17 in the SEC.
Meanwhile, after the offseason bickering between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban, Texas A&M was picked 2nd by the media and 4th by the computer.
Last year, Kentucky recorded the school's fourth-ever 10-win season (10-3), and South Carolina, in its first season under Shane Beamer as head coach, finished the year at 7-6 and collected just the 10th bowl win in the history of the school.
Both of those schools are picked to finish behind Tennessee which finished 7-6 a year ago.
Billy Napier takes over in Gainesville after a 40-12 tenure with Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns, including 12-1 last year. Dan Mullen was fired from Florida on November 21 on the heels of a 24-23 loss to Missouri which dropped the Gators to 2-9 against Power 5 teams since the final 3 games of 2020. Mullen departed with records of 34-15 overall and 21-13 in the SEC.
|*Alabama defeats Georgia in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta|