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Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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SEC media days: Why I’m picking Alabama and Georgia to meet again

ATLANTA — Continuing my annual tradition of idiocy, here are my predicted SEC football standings for the fall. I'll revisit them after the season, so I can laugh at myself before anyone else can laugh at me.

SEC West

1.       Alabama. It doesn't matter who starts at quarterback. The Crimson Tide will be the team to beat, in a proclamation that surprises no one.

2.      Mississippi State. My head says Auburn, but my gut says Bulldogs. I think new coach Joe Moorhead will know exactly what to do with one of the SEC's top quarterbacks (Nick Fitzgerald) and the league's No. 2 returning rusher. A very good defensive line will take care of the rest.

3.      Auburn. As I wrote last year, Gus Malzahn looks brilliant when he has a very good quarterback (like Jarrett Stidham). Too bad this year's schedule features road trips to Starkville, Athens and Tuscaloosa.

4.      Texas A&M. I'm not sold on what Jimbo Fisher inherits in College Station, but I think he'll shock the system enough to get to seven or eight wins — about $1 million each, if you're counting at home.

5.      LSU. The Tigers will start off the season with a non-conference loss to the Hurricanes in Arlington, Texas. I'm not sure they'll recover, which is bad news for coach Ed Orgeron.

6.      Ole Miss. The Rebels' offense should be fine with quarterback Jordan Ta'amu and receiver A.J. Brown. But its defense remains a problem.

7.      Arkansas. This year won't be indicative of Chad Morris' future. Give him a year or two to get players that fit his system, and he'll have the Razorbacks on the rise.

SEC East

1.       Georgia. The Bulldogs might take a slight step back after nearly winning the national title in Atlanta. The rest of the East better enjoy it, because UGA will be loaded in 2019 and beyond.

2.       South Carolina. There's some returning talent for Will Muschamp, including a solid quarterback (Jake Bentley) and Deebo Samuel, a dynamic receiver who is back from injury. Wait, does this mean a Muschamp team might be fun to watch?

3.       Florida. I've been low on the Gators this offseason, but the schedule is soft with the two biggest toss-up games (South Carolina and Missouri) at home. The defense better rebound from a historically terrible season, or third place will look overly optimistic.

4.       Missouri. Quarterback Drew Lock will be a first-round pick, and he returns eight offensive starters with him. The problem is at offensive coordinator: He lost Josh Heupel (now the UCF head coach) and replaced him with former Vols coach Derek Dooley. I'm not sold.

5.       Kentucky. A third consecutive 7-6 season seems about right. But that's better than the back-to-back 5-7 seasons the Wildcats had before that.

6.       Tennessee. It couldn't get any worse than last year, right?

7.       Vanderbilt. Losing six starters off a bad defense doesn't inspire much confidence in me.

SEC championship

Alabama over Georgia. Again, at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kirby Smart will get the better of his mentor, Nick Saban, but this isn't the year. The Crimson Tide will roll, again … all the way until it loses to Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

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