Picking SEC’s order of finish

Running back Perine
Will Alabama and Florida battle it out in this year's SEC Championship Game in Atlanta? [Gary Cosby Jr./GateHouse Media Services]

Nick Saban doesn’t have the media to kick around anymore.

He always likes to finish his SEC Media Days presentation by making fun of us and our predictions for the upcoming season.

But we have picked two of the last three correctly, pegging the Tide in 2014 and ’16. In your face, Nick.

Of course, most of the media will pick Alabama again this week because it’s the safest pick. Where’s the fun in that?

Sun staff writers Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu have already made up their minds as they settle into their seats in Hoover, Ala. Here are their picks:

Pat Dooley


1. Alabama: I really wanted to pick Auburn and I think the Tigers have a shot at it, but why not go with the team that has Atlanta on speed dial?

2. Auburn: If Jarrett Stidham ends up being the All-SEC quarterback, Auburn could be the stunning upset.

3. LSU: Questions at quarterback and at head coach are too much to overcome.

4. Mississippi State: Either you believe in Nick Fitzgerald or you don’t.

5. Texas A&M: The Aggies should erect a statue to their most popular export — the eight-win season.

6. Arkansas: The loss of Rawleigh Williams is a big deal for the Razorbacks.

7. Ole Miss: Not enough talent, too many distractions.


1. Florida: This is based on the belief that someone will emerge at quarterback. Who that will be I have no idea.

2. Georgia: A lot of people like the Bulldogs, but I can’t unsee so many underachieving performances last year.

3. Kentucky: The Wildcats have been building it slowly and catch a break with their cross-division opponents.

4. Tennessee: Tennessee showed up poorly in the second half of the season and lost too much talent to contend.

5. South Carolina: I’m telling you, Will Muschamp will win the East one day. Just not today.

6. Vanderbilt: The Commodores aren’t that bad, but open SEC play with Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

7. Missouri: Somebody has to be seventh and the Tigers drew the short straw.

Robbie Andreu


1. Alabama: The Tide is always talented, always up to any and every challenge in the West. More of the same this season.

2. LSU: Pressure on Ed Orgeron? Not really. Just roll out that collection of excellent talent and let the Tigers play.

3. Auburn: The Tigers have the talent — and now the quarterback — to challenge the Tide.

4. Texas A&M: An unsettled situation at quarterback could prove to be unsettling for Kevin Sumlin, who enters the season on the hot seat.

5. Arkansas: The Razorbacks could put up a ton of points, led by QB Austin Allen, but defense remains a potential issue.

6. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will be fun to watch on offense with QB Nick Fitzgerald.

7. Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has talent to work with, but contending with the NCAA dark cloud is a problem.


1. Florida: The Gators have what Tennessee and Georgia don’t — a head coach who has proven he knows how to get his team to Atlanta.

2. Georgia: All kinds of preseason love is coming the Bulldogs’ way, but there has to be significant improvement on offense to reach Atlanta.

3. Tennessee: You don’t lose the impact players that the Vols did and not feel it.

4. South Carolina: A more relaxed (if it’s possible) Will Muschamp seems to have learned from his UF experience and has the Gamecocks on the right track.

5. Kentucky: Mark Stoops’ has clearly upgraded the talent level in Lexington. With a favorable schedule, the ‘Cats could contend.

6. Vanderbilt: With a strong, relentless defense, the Commodores will be a pain in the butt to play again this season.

7. Missouri: This is a team with a very good quarterback that has a chance to improve over the course of the season.