There were few surprises Thursday morning when the media’s vote on the league’s predicted order of finish and All-SEC teams were released.
Georgia narrowly edged South Carolina as the pick to win the Eastern Division despite receiving almost twice as many first-place votes (132 to 72) as the Gamecocks. That means there’s a wide range of opinions about the Bulldogs. Clearly, more than half of the 222 voters in the poll think they are the real deal, but several voters must have picked them further down the pecking order to make the final point total so close.
My guess is most voters who picked Georgia over South Carolina did so for the same reason I did (yes, I did, feel free to let me have it in the comments section), and it’s the reason Steve Spurrier has been carping all offseason – the schedule.
It looks to me like the Gamecocks and Bulldogs are very evenly matched on the field, but there’s no way to get around the fact Georgia plays Ole Miss and Auburn from the West while South Carolina plays LSU (in Baton Rouge) and Arkansas. The Rebels and Tigers received three combined votes Thursday to win the overall conference championship, while LSU and Arkansas received 133 combined votes (129 of those were for LSU).
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“I hope the media is right this time, but we haven’t done anything yet,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said Thursday. “We know our league is tremendous. We know the Eastern Division is going to be a rough road.”
Spurrier promised to stay away from the subject of the schedule this season but has been pulled into the fray a couple times here this week.
“It was a factor last year,” he said, “but we’re not complaining about it.”
Six media members believe the Gamecocks can overcome not only the schedule but also every other team in the conference. Those six voters picked South Carolina to win its first overall conference crown.
Two Gamecocks were named to the All-SEC first-team – running back Marcus Lattimore and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Lattimore received 201 first-place votes, more than any other player in the conference. Alabama center Barrett Jones was the only player to receiver more than 180 first place votes (183).
Gamecocks center T.J. Johnson was named to the all-conference second-team, along with defensive end Devin Taylor, safety D.J. Swearinger and Bruce Ellington (who was named as an all-purpose player). Spur DeVonte Holloman was named to the third team.
South Carolina’s seven overall individual selections were the fifth-highest total in the conference, behind LSU (13), Alabama (12), Auburn (10) and Arkansas (eight).
LSU was picked to win the SEC West and the overall SEC title.
... South Carolina
... Texas A&M
... Mississippi State
... Ole Miss