Note: These picks are reprinted from Cock & Fire for the benefit of those who might find them here first. For other installments of my previews series, go here. With any luck, I'll have some links up soon so you can easily browse the rest of them, if you're so inclined.
1. Florida (10-2, 6-2)
It's easy: Everyone in the East, with the possible exception of Vanderbilt, has a reason to believe they can win. When that's the case, go with the status quo. Florida has Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin and plenty of other weapons on offense -- not to mention that Urban guy. On defense? Yes, they're green on defense, but Charlie Strong can put together a good enough defense for them to win the division again. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at LSU, vs. Georgia, at South Carolina
2. South Carolina (9-3, 5-3)
This is the year ... they compete. It's not the year they win. I hope people give me the benefit of the doubt for not being a homer here -- I've laid out pretty defensible reasons for eight of the wins. The Georgia game or a surprise somewhere along the road should be good enough to reach a ninth win. (But getting benefit of the doubt? For this? -- ed. Yeah, I know; not likely.) THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at LSU, Florida, at Tennessee
3. Tennessee (8-4, 5-3)
Fall to third by virtue of the tiebreaker with South Carolina. I think the Vols have a lot of good pieces. Just not quite enough. Erik Ainge will do fine, for all the knocks he's taken on this site. But there's not much else to the offense, with the exception of LaMarcus Coker, who came back
so Tennessee has a prayer of winning on the advice of doctors. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at Florida, South Carolina, at Alabama
4. Georgia (7-5, 4-4)
Again, just not sold on Matt Stafford or the offensive line or the wide receivers or anything else on offense, really. They've got some talent on defense -- hello, Paul Oliver -- but not enough to contend for a title. If I'm wrong, I'll issue a mea culpa. But I don't think that's going to happen. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: vs. Florida, South Carolina, at Tennessee
5. Kentucky (6-6, 3-5)
I almost want to be wrong on this one, because it would be such a good story. But you have to have more than one good year to prove it's not a fluke, so Kentucky still qualifies as a potential fluke. I'm a lot more worried about getting this one wrong than Georgia. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: LSU, Florida, at South Carolina
6. Vanderbilt (5-7, 1-7)
Again, this is the one team in the division who can't seriously entertain dreams of winning. Part of this is the luck of the draw, with Alabama and Auburn rotating onto the schedule. Add to that the fact that they're in maybe the most competitive division in football this year, and it gets ugly. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at Florida, at Auburn, at South Carolina
1. LSU (11-1, 7-1)*
I'm tempted to go ahead and pencil in two losses for this team, by sheer virtue of Les Miles, as I've threatened to do. But this team is too talented for Miles to blow more than one game. Oh, and they've got one of the easiest conference slates in the SEC. Two losses would actually put Miles on the hot seat. That said, don't be surprised if the Bayou Bengals end up 12-0 or 10-2. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: Florida, Auburn, Arkansas
2. Auburn (9-3, 5-3)
It's not hard to count to five SEC wins with a schedule that includes Mississippi State, Vandy, Ole Miss, Georgia and Alabama (with Georgia the only one of those games on the road). But this team beat Florida, Arkansas and LSU away from Jordan-Hare? Not bloody likely. Brandon Cox might be better, but he won't be that much better. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at LSU, at Florida, at Arkansas
3. Alabama (8-4, 5-3)
Nick Saban takes the first step toward living up to the hype with a solid if not spectacular season. Finishing third in the division might not be exactly what the most rabid Crimson Tide fans have in mind -- particularly with a loss to Auburn included in the three defeats -- but you have to think Saban would be satifisfied with that. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: LSU, Tennessee, at Auburn
4. Arkansas (7-5, 4-4)
Who knows? This could be lowballing or highballing the Razorbacks after a bizarre offseason. It's just hard to see a team go through that turmoil and say, "You know, there goes a program that's aiming for a trophy." And you know there's another shoe to drop here. There has to be. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: at LSU, Auburn, at Tennessee
5. Ole Miss (4-8, 1-7)
Does this really need any explanation? Okay. Ed Oregeron really hasn't seemed to know where he wants to take this program since he got there. They only conference games on the schedule that look winnable are at Mississippi State and at Vanderbilt. And the Commodores are not bad enough to lose to the Rebels. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: LSU, Florida, at Auburn
6. Mississippi State (3-9, 0-8)
Don't, under any circumstances, give Mississippi State the edge in any conference game. I'm not saying there's no hope for this program, but it's hard to see anything to cheer the hearts of Bulldogs. Does Sylvester Croom have what it takes to turn them around? We probably won't know, because it's hard to see him surviving this season. THREE TOUGHEST GAMES: LSU, at Auburn, at Arkansas
Go ahead, tear it to shreds. But I will not wither in the glare of criticism.
What do you think of my SEC picks?
This poll is closed
Not bad, but you're a team or two off.
You read my mind.
Well, you've got one or two teams in the right place.
Who can tell? It's the preseason.
Man, that's some special stuff you're smoking.