According to media voters assembled in Hoover, the Alabama Crimson Tide hold the pole position in the race to be SEC champion. The SEC announced the preseason media predicted order of finish earlier today, and those predictions included a fifth-place finish in the SEC West for Mississippi State.
In the SEC West, Alabama (1915) led the way, followed closely by the Auburn Tigers (1735). LSU (1453) finished in a bit of a distant third, showing the voters feel much more confident about the two SEC schools from the Yellowhammer State. Ole Miss (1069) fell in line well behind LSU, and the Bulldogs (890) finished one spot behind the Rebels. Texas A&M (791) and Arkansas (351) round out the SEC West.
A quick analysis shows that media believe Alabama and Auburn to be the cream of the crop in the SEC West without too much of a serious challenge from the other teams. Only LSU came near these two in the voting, and thee rest of the West has a large chasm between them and the "Big Three."
For Mississippi State, the fifth-place finish would be an improvement over the 2013 season, but it is one that would come as a bit of a disappointment this season as expectations are higher in Starkville. The Aggies look set to be the team to drop of the most in the SEC West with the loss of Johnny Manzeil and a struggling defense, and the voters apparently felt the same way.
For comparison, in 2013, Alabama was the runaway favorite in the West with Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State, and Arkansas rounding out the West.
In the SEC East, the voters predicted a tight race between South Carolina (1895) and Georgia (1777) to win the right to go to Atlanta. Florida (1362) and Missouri (1262) finished third and fourth, and the rest of East lags way behind the top four: Tennessee (893), Vanderbilt (619), and Kentucky (395).
Last year, the predicted order of finish for the SEC East heavily favored Georgia. South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Missouri and Kentucky rounded out the 2013 predictions.
As to whom will actually win the SEC, the voters installed Alabama as a heavy favorite, with the Tide being selected twice as much as Auburn, the team who finished second in the voting. South Carolina and Georgia finished third and fourth in the championship selection. LSU finished fifth with nine votes, and Ole Miss finished sixth with two votes. Mississippi State also picked up a vote to win the SEC, and
someone spilled their drink and a ballot was misread as Arkansas picked up a vote as well.
In 2013, Alabama was the heavy favorite to win the SEC as they were picked by 182 voters. Georgia was a distant second with 38 votes, and South Carolina, Texas A&M and LSU rounded out the order.