With Saturday’s release of the Associated Press poll, I’ll release my ballot. (See below.)
As voters, we were required to submit our ballots last week, in the days before LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu was booted from the Tigers team. In a rare move, the AP allowed voters to re-vote based on the move, and I did, switching Alabama and LSU in my poll.
But that’s not what you guys care about right now, so more on the change at the top later. You guys want to know why I voted the Gamecocks No. 9.
It’s the spot South Carolina finished in last year, and I think it’s a good starting spot this season. While there are reasons for optimism (Marcus Lattimore’s return, the development of Connor Shaw, another year of Jadeveon Clowney), there are potential problem areas as well (untested offensive tackles, uncertainty at cornerback, and lack of proven wide receivers beyond Ace Sanders [yes I know Steve Spurrier talks highly of the wide receivers right now but people were saying the same thing at this time last year so let’s just wait and see what happens]).
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Why, you might be wondering now, did I vote South Carolina No. 9 and Georgia No. 11 when I picked the Bulldogs to win the Eastern Division? No, I haven’t forgotten about that. Here’s the deal: I think South Carolina and Georgia are very even in terms of talent and potential, and I think the Bulldogs will win the East because they have any easier schedule.
That being said, I think Georgia will get thumped in the SEC title game (by Alabama based on my balloting here, obviously), knocking them below the Gamecocks in the final balloting.
As for flipping LSU and the Tide on my ballot, I know Tyrann Mathieu is not the best cornerback in college football or the SEC and maybe even in the SEC, but he was the most dynamic game-changer in college football in 2011, and you can’t tell me that doesn’t make a difference. Mathieu scored game-changing touchdowns in three games last season and was a threat to score on every punt.
Alabama, meanwhile, is going to be good again, and it’s going to the offense that carries the load this year. Three (three!) of the Tide’s offensive linemen are first-team preseason All-SEC. Running back Eddie Lacy is not Trent Richardson, but he’s good enough to get a lot of first downs behind that offensive line. Alabama’s offense will give its defense time to find its feet, and the BCS national title will stay inside the state limits for the fourth straight season.
At least that’s my thinking on Aug. 18. I reserve the right to deny all of this as early as Sept. 2.
Josh Kendall's Top 25
2. Southern California
6. Michigan State
7. West Virginia
9. South Carolina
13. Florida State
14. Oklahoma State
16. Virginia Tech
18. Boise State
21. Georgia Tech
22. Kansas State
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