Another year, another SEC title for Alabama.
That’s what the media overwhelmingly expects from the upcoming season based on results of the 2017 SEC Media Days Preseason Poll, which was released Friday.
Of the 243 votes cast, 211 media members, including The Star’s Tod Palmer on a ballot you can check out here, pegged the three-time reigning champion Crimson Tide as the favorite once again.
Bama received 225 first-place votes to win the SEC Western Division, a whopping 92.6 percent from the media brain trust that assembled this week in suburban Birmingham, Ala.
The call was much harder to make apparently with respect to the SEC East, where Georgia received 138 first-place votes and edged reigning two-time division champion Florida by 46 points.
The Gators, who have lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game each of the last two seasons, received 96 first-place votes.
Coming off back-to-back last-place finishes and with a dismal 3-13 conference record during the last two seasons, Missouri brought up the SEC East rear, receiving 166 fewer points than Vanderbilt.
The Tigers, who hope to stun the division as they did in 2013 and 2014 en route to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, certainly can take motivation from the poll.
Tennessee, which received three first-place votes, was pegged third ahead of South Carolina, which received more first-place votes (five).
Finally, the media doesn’t think Kentucky and Vanderbilt, which ended bowl droughts last season, will build much off that momentum, picking them fifth and sixth, respectively.
Projected SEC West runner-up Auburn received 13 first-place votes and finished 354 points behind Alabama, while LSU was picked third with four first-place votes cast for the Tigers.
[Disclaimer: Past performance doesn’t necessarily guarantee future results, which is a good thing as this poll is seldom accurate. It’s only correctly predicted the eventual SEC champion six times since its inception in 1992, but one of those times was last season.]
2017 SEC MEDIA DAYS PRESEASON POLL
() indicates first-place votes
1. Georgia (138) 1,572
2. Florida (96) 1,526
3. Tennessee (3) 998
4. South Carolina (5) 897
5. Kentucky 869
6. Vanderbilt (1) 554
7. Missouri 388
Analysis: The SEC East remains a wide-open race as it has been each of the last four seasons, which produced surprise winners. That’s bad news for Georgia, which probably has the most talented roster on paper. Missouri stunned the conference with back-to-back division titles in 2013 and 2014. Florida did the same in Jim McElwain’s first season in 2015. The Gators’ repeat in 2016 was less shocking, but Tennessee was considered an overwhelming favorite last season before stumbling in November. Who’s going to win? Maybe the one guy at SEC Media Days who always votes Vanderbilt finally will be right.
1. Alabama (225) 1,683
2. Auburn (13) 1,329
3. LSU (4) 1,262
4. Arkansas (1) 796
5. Texas A&M 722
6. Mississippi State 633
7. Mississippi 379
Analysis: This is a no-brainer. Until someone in the SEC dethrones Alabama, it’s wishful — perhaps delusional — to expect things to shake out any other way. That said, the Crimson Tide are young and more inexperienced than usual in the defensive front seven. Of course, Bama still has Nick Saban and a stockpile of five-star prospects to sift through in reloading. It’s a similar story on the offensive line, which had some turnover but should be as dominant as it usually is. Losing Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator is a blow, but with quarterback Jalen Hurts, running back Bo Scarbrough and wide receiver Calvin Ridley there’s plenty of talent at the skill spots. If Auburn can put it all together, it could make for a high-stakes Iron Bowl on Nov. 25 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
Alabama (217), Auburn (11), Georgia (6), LSU, (3) Florida (3), South Carolina (1), Vanderbilt (1) and Arkansas (1).
PAST PRESEASON SEC MEDIA DAYS MISSOURI RANKINGS
Season Projection Actual finish (Conference record)
2017 7th —
2016 6th 7th (2-6)
2015 3rd T-6th (1-7)
2014 4th 1st (7-1)
2013 6th 1st (7-1)
2012 4th 5th (2-6)