Will the media really pick Georgia over Alabama to win the SEC? Don't count on it.
That's the question most of the media members who cover the SEC will face when they submit their conference predictions next week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.
The predictions for West and East division champions don't carry much intrigue. Almost certainly, Nick Saban's Crimson Tide will be the selection in the West, while Kirby Smart's Georgia Bulldogs will hold the vote in the East.
But the pick for SEC champion could be spicy.
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Alabama must replace much of the star power from last year's national championship squad. Georgia returns more production than Alabama, plus loaded up via the transfer portal. But Saban's ability to reload annually factors into voters' minds.
On this debut episode of "SEC Football Unfiltered," hosts Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams of the USA TODAY Network preview how the media likely will vote and explain why they'll be picking Alabama to win the SEC, despite how well-stocked Georgia appears.
Adams notes Saban's 23-0 record against former assistants (that includes a 3-0 mark against Smart) and wonders whether Smart missed his best chance to beat Saban by squandering a 13-0 halftime lead in the 2018 national championship.
Toppmeyer says he might feel more inclined to pick Georgia if he had seen a bigger body of work from quarterback JT Daniels last year. Daniels gave the Bulldogs a boost in the final four games, but he didn't face any of the SEC's top defenses.
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Toppmeyer and Adams also debate whether Ole Miss or Mississippi State is the true dark horse in the SEC West, while Adams makes the surprising revelation that he plans to rank one of those Mississippi schools last in the West.
And they provide their picks for the SEC's most overvalued and undervalued team, offering diverging viewpoints.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. If you enjoy their coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. You can also subscribe to their podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered. They also host a podcast focused on Tennessee football, The Volunteer State.