Each Friday, our staff at The Comeback has been sharing our conference predictions for the 2017 season. This week, we go on the record with our picks for the SEC to bring our conference predictions to a close.
SEC East Division
- Florida (5 first-place votes)
- Georgia (1)
- South Carolina
In the east, our staff was nearly unanimous with which team will take the division. All but one of the first-place votes went to the Florida Gators, with the Georgia Bulldogs picking up the only outlier in the bunch. Tennessee did not pick up any first-place votes, but the Vols did come in just a few points behind the Bulldogs.
SEC West Division
- Alabama (6)
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss
In the West, it was no contest. Alabama swept the first-place votes and had a comfortable distance ahead of the rest of the pack. This was likely to be expected. Auburn stayed just ahead of LSU for second place in the division, with our staff taking a particular interest in the LSU Tigers this season (as you’ll see in our bold predictions section). There was a good amount of shuffling in the order of the ballots between Alabama at the top and Ole Miss at the bottom. The Rebels could be a huge disaster, according to our staff voting.
SEC Championship Game
While most of our staff predicted a rematch in the SEC Championship Game between the Crimson Tide and Gators, every one of our voting members this week are rolling with the Tide in Atlanta. Book it.
- Kevin McGuire: Alabama over Georgia
- Yesh Ginsburg: Alabama over Florida
- Bart Doan: Alabama over Florida
- Phil Harrison: Alabama over Florida
- Matt Lichtenstadter: Alabama over Florida
- Terry P. Johnson: Alabama over Florida
Offensive Player of the Year
- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (4)
- Nick Chubb, Georgia (1)
- Jarrett Stidham, Auburn (1)
While a couple other players got some props from our staff, LSU running back Derrius Guice ran away with the preseason offensive player of the year pick from our staff. That seems to make sense after he was one of the top running backs in the SEC and country last season and figures to be once again in 2017. Look for the Tigers to let Guice carry the load this fall, as he has proven more than capable of doing.
Defensive Player of the Year
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (5)
- Rashaan Evans, Alabama (1)
Pick a player off Alabama’s roster and you likely have a good chance of picking the defensive player of the year. This season, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was a popular pick form our staff, receiving five of six votes. The only other player to receive a pick from us also happened to be an Alabama player, suggesting just how good the defense may be in Tuscaloosa.
Coach of the Year
- Nick Saban, Alabama (2)
- Ed Oregeron, LSU (2)
- Gus Malzahn, Auburn (1)
- Jim McElwain, Florida (1)
Our pick for coach of the year was pretty spread out, with Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron each leading the way with two votes each. On the one hand, Saban is expected to once again have a top national title contender. In Baton Rouge, Ed Orgeron may be given praise for other reasons depending how this season goes. Jim McElwain was the only coach from the East to receive a vote.
Phil: After another year in which Bret Bielema fails to finish in the top three of the division, he’ll be sent packing at the end of the 2016 season. The administration is a little more patient in Fayetteville than other places, but he was hired to close the gap on Alabama and the program just can’t seem to turn the corner. It’s been four years, and there have been inches gained rather than miles.
Yesh: LSU manages to upset Alabama this year, but loses the SEC West by dropping two other games.
Bart: LSU will finish fifth at best in the SEC West.
Matt L.: LSU gives Alabama a better run than Auburn. Auburn is improved from the past few seasons, no doubt. But something about hiring Matt Canada and the continuation of Ed Orgeron with Derrius Guice says something to me. Yes, they have a QB that Auburn, in theory, doesn’t have because of Jarrett Stidham, but Matt Canada made a great offense out of not a whole lot at Pitt, and there’s a chance he can do the same here. Guice is an x-factor in this league that can separate LSU from Auburn.
Kevin M.: I odn’t happen to think everything is going to go too smoothly for LSU this season, and I think there is a decent chance the school could decide that maybe Orgeron isn’t the guy they need to lead the program in the future. A tough seven-win season may place enough pressure to make a coaching change. And when Texas A&M gets out ot a fast start and limps across the finish line once again, the pressure on Kevin Sumlin may also prove to be too much to live with anymore for the powers that be in College Station. That means three new full-time head coache sin the SEC West in 2018 with the inclusion of a new coach coming to Ole Miss.
2017 College Football Predictions