The congregated media hordes in Hoover have rendered their (historically inaccurate) verdict: Ole Miss will finish third in the SEC West this season, behind defending national champ Alabama and highly-touted LSU.
Tennessee is picked to win the East, with Bama being the heavy favorite to beat them in Atlanta. The Rebs received just five first-place votes, coming in behind Bama, Tennessee, LSU, Florida and Georgia in that order.
There will be plenty of Rebel fans that gripe about lack of respect, but I'd say this is a pretty fair prediction. Bama is, well, Bama, and Ole Miss beating them the last two seasons did nothing to keep the Tide out of Atlanta. LSU is flat out loaded everywhere but behind center, and even a marginal improvement from sophomore Brandon Harris could make them a legit title contender (SB Nation's Jason Kirk predicts them as the No. 1 seed in the Playoff).
The counter argument is that Ole Miss, a team that was one fluke overtime play from winning the division last season, returns the conference's best quarterback along with a loaded cast of offensive skill players and one of the nastiest D-lines in the country. It doesn't hurt that the Rebs are 3-1 against Bama and LSU over the past two seasons (though that admittedly has no real bearing on what's gonna happen this season). Still, there are a lot of question marks on a roster that lost three of the most talented players in program history. The offense should pile up points, sure, but youth in the secondary and at offensive tackle could lead to inconsistency during an opening month that includes games against Florida State, Alabama and Georgia.
Of course, you could make a similar argument against LSU: you can't count on consistency if they get quarterback play like they did last season. I guess what I'm saying is this thing is a damn crap shoot and most of these predictions will be wrong anyway so let's try not to get our jimmies rustled.
(First place votes in parentheses)
|1||Alabama (246)||Tennessee (225)|
|2||LSU (76)||Florida (57)|
|3||Ole Miss (5)||Georgia (45)|
|4||Texas A&M (3)||Kentucky|
|5||Arkansas (1)||Vanderbilt (2)|
|7||Mississippi State||South Carolina (2)|