Preseason coaches’ poll frequently (usually?) off the mark for SEC teams

ALABAMA RB TRENT RICHARDSON, by Marvin Gentry/USA Today Sports


Preseason (eight teams): No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 LSU, No. 12 South Carolina, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 19 Auburn, No. 20 Mississippi State, No. 22 Georgia, No. 23 Florida
Final (five teams): No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 LSU, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 8 South Carolina, No. 20 Georgia
Analysis: The voters thought Alabama and LSU would be major challengers. They were right. So powerful were the Crimson Tide, led by 1,600-yard rusher Trent Richardson, and Tigers that the two ended up facing off for the BCS title, even though they had played earlier in the regular season, hitting the road for New Orleans at the expense of 11-1 Oklahoma State. And while Arkansas (in Bobby Petrino’s last season before his messy exit from Fayetteville) and South Carolina were strong, not many imagined just how strong. On the other hand, voters correctly guessed that defending champion Auburn would plunge post-Cam Newton, and the fall proved even steeper than they thought.

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