We’ve been proud participants in the SEC Power Poll for as long as I can remember, but our participation in the poll comes to an end this year, as it doesn’t seem anyone over at Team Speed Kills is picking up the mantle to run it. That’s the way things go on the internet. Time stops for no one.
However, I always liked our chance to
take cheap shots at evaluate the rest of SEC on a weekly basis. So I’m going to keep posting my ballot, even if it no longer gets submitted anywhere. I’ll rank the entire SEC, and then try and look at the top 5 of each of the remaining Power 5 conferences, as this will serve as a bit of a mythical playoff prediction. Most likely, the field will be four of the five champions.
I will blurb each SEC team, but for the other conferences, I’ll either talk a specific team or take a look at the whole conference, depending on what suits my fancy that week. We’ll try and get the poll out on Tuesdays.
1 Alabama. The Tide are stacked, as always, but there are some lingering question marks about this team. I can’t bring myself to even call them holes. This team isn’t as good as last year’s team, but there’s really no one who has stepped up to challenge them in the conference.
2 Georgia. On paper, easily the second best team in the SEC. No one seems to have any faith in them due to their track record. It is put up or shut up time.
3 LSU. There’s a lot of youth here, but LSU boasts probably the best player on each side of the ball in the SEC, and that counts for a lot.
4 Auburn. The offense should be stellar, but ask yourself if you have faith in a Kevin Steele defense.
5 Texas A&M. The real wild card of the conference. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which all of the talent comes together and they win the SEC. It’s equally easy to imagine the wheels falling off and the Aggies finishing in last.
6 South Carolina. Auburn-lite. The same great taste with none of the calories! The offense isn’t quite as imposing and the defense was much worse last year, but I have faith in Muschamp’s ability to improve that unit. If they can play D, they can win the East.
7 Tennessee. This is the oddest thing: an underrated Vols team. They still have playmakers on offense and pretty decent core left on defense. The injuries which gutted them last year might help them this year as lots of guys got on the field. If they can find a QB…
8 Missouri. The Tigers lack star power, but they also lack any gaping holes on their roster, which is an underrated advantage. Their basic competence at everything will make them a tough out week in and week out.
9 Florida. I’m calling it. Florida is not going to be good this year. The East is tough to predict as it is a giant ball of mediocrity, but their offense looks awful, and their defense just took some major shots to their one true area of excellence: the secondary. I don’t think the defense is great enough to cover up for the offense’s inadequacies like it has been.
10 Mississippi St. When everybody is decent, don’t count out the Bulldogs.
11 Kentucky. They are getting way too much preseason hype for a team this average. They aren’t good enough to believe in their press clippings.
12 Arkansas. I feel bad having them this low as I’m not entirely down on the Hogs, but I can’t justify putting them much higher. They rely on a smash mouth offense that is missing its hammer, and a hard-nosed defense that isn’t much of an anvil.
13 Vanderbilt. They will find a way to claw their way out of the basement, like they always do.
14 Ole Miss. Not a terribly talented team now that their vaunted class has left for the pros, and they have all sorts of scandal hovering over their heads. They could turn this into an Eff You Tour, though. So they can make me look silly. No one in the SEC looks out and out bad.
1 Florida St
4 Virginia Tech
5 NC State
If you’ll note, Louisville is missing. I would rank them sixth if I extended the ballot, but I think this is a real regression year for them. They lose nearly all of their offensive weapons and the line still sucks. They need Lamar Jackson to carry them again, but he’s got a worse team around him and a better conference to play against. This was a team that ran out of gas last year as it seemed like teams figured them out. They won’t turn into a pumpkin, but they won’t be a contender either.
1 Ohio St
3 Penn St
The Big 10 is getting a lot of play as perhaps the toughest conference in the country, but it is still a pretty top heavy league. The top teams, especially THE top team, are excellent, but the bottom half of the conference is pretty ugly. If Sparty can’t bounce back from their nightmare 2016, the East could lose its huge talent advantage over the West.
Michigan loses a lot and should take a step back in quality, though it might not show up in record because there’s not many teams in the lower half of the conference who can take advantage. Honestly, it is hard to see either Ohio St or Wisconsin failing to win their respective divisions, but that’s the fun of a new season. Someone is going to rise up to challenge them.
2 Kansas St
3 Oklahoma St
5 West Virginia
The Sooners get the courtesy of starting the year at number one in my power poll, though I am picking K-State to win the conference. Never go against the Cats when they have a senior QB. Still, Oklahoma is the most talented team in the Big 12 and has spent the last decade dominating it. Stoops or no Stoops, they are the front runner.
However, the Big 12 could be the most fun conference this year. OK, Kansas stinks and Iowa St is Iowa St, but other than that, just about anyone can beat anyone. We could have a real meat grinder of a schedule. Sure, Tech’s not as good, but they are a tough out in Lubbock. And Texas can rise real fast with this much relative parity.
Damn. The Pac 12 got awesome. I love Chris Peterson and think he is building a monster up at Washington, but I also think this is a bit of a step back season. Their secondary took a major hit, and while they can still score points, I’m not sold on their defense. But the pick is more about how much faith I have in their rivals. USC is almost back to being USC again, and this is the near platonic ideal of a Stanford team. Yes, they lose Christian McCaffrey, but know what they do have? A deep and experienced line, something they didn’t really have last season.
Current Playoff Foursome
Bama, Ohio St, Stanford, Florida St
Someone is going to drop off of that list in Week One. How much fun is that?