Vols picked to win SEC East

Vols picked to win SEC East

Media poll predicts Alabama-Tennessee title game

July 14th, 2016 by Patrick Brown in Sports - College

Tennessee coach Butch Jones speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Photo by Brynn Anderson

MEDIA MISSES

The preseason pick to win the SEC title has gone on to win the league only five times since 1992. Here's how the projected champion has fared the previous 24 seasons.

1992: Florida (Lost in SEC title game)

1993: Alabama (Lost in SEC title game)

1994: Florida (Won SEC title)

1995: Florida (Won SEC title)

1996: Tennessee (2nd in East)

1997: Florida (Tied for 2nd in East)

1998: Florida (2nd in East)

1999: Tennessee (2nd in East)

2000: Alabama (Tied for 5th in West)

2001: Florida (2nd in East)

2002: Tennessee (3rd in East)

2003: Auburn (3rd in West)

2004: Georgia (2nd in East)

2005: Tennessee (5th in East)

2006: Auburn (Tied for 2nd in West)

2007: LSU (Won SEC title)

2008: Florida (Won SEC title)

2009: Florida (Lost in SEC title game)

2010: Alabama (4th in West)

2011: Alabama (2nd in West)

2012: LSU (Tied for 2nd in West)

2013: Alabama (Tied for 1st in the West)

2014: Alabama (Won SEC title)

2015: Auburn (7th in West)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Maybe this will be the year Alabama and Tennessee finally renew their annual October rivalry in early December.

The Crimson Tide and Volunteers have played 98 times, but none of those have been in the SEC championship game since it was introduced in 1992.

It's the preseason prediction this season, though.

Alabama was picked to win the SEC title for the fifth time in seven years, while Tennessee was picked to win the East Division for the first time since 2005 as the SEC released its preseason media poll as the league's annual media days wrapped up on Thursday.

The expectations are peaking for the Vols, who received 225 out of a possible 331 first-place votes. Tennessee last played in the SEC championship game in 2007 and haven't won the league since taking back-to-back crowns in 1997 and 1998.

"We've addressed it, but it's not anything that gets in our way," Tennessee linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin said Tuesday. "We don't come into the day talking about where they rated us or, 'Did you see what they have us winning?'

"Our conversation's about football and getting better and what we're planning on accomplishing this year and things like that. It's not on expectations."

Florida (57 first-place votes) was picked to finish second followed by Georgia (45), Kentucky, Vanderbilt (2), Missouri and South Carolina (2).

Alabama has been the top program in the SEC under Nick Saban, who's guided the Tide to four national championships and four SEC titles.

The Tide could win back-to-back national titles for the second time in six seasons and could become the first SEC team to three-peat since Florida won four straight league crowns in the mid-1990s.

"I think our team knows that's last year," Tide tight end O.J. Howard said Wednesday. "This team hasn't done anything yet. We're a new team. We have to establish ourselves. Everyone is working hard and no one is complacent.

"New players have bought into the process already. The older guys are doing the right things. I think we'll be fine this season."

Alabama received 246 first-place votes, while LSU (76), Ole Miss (5), Texas A&M (3) and Arkansas also received votes to win the division. Auburn and Mississippi State round out the West picks.

The Tide received 223 votes to win the SEC, while LSU received 59 and Tennessee 29. No other team received more than seven votes to win the league, though South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Arkansas received one apiece.

LSU (2007), Florida (2008) and Alabama (2014) are the only preseason championship picks to have gone on to win the league since 1995.

The SEC will release its preseason all-conference teams on Friday.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com.

Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who had five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns in January's win over Clemson in the national title game, said he came back for his senior season because he had more to accomplish in college.

Photo by David J. Phillip


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