Revisiting Pre-Season SEC Football Prediction

Eash year at Southeastern Conference Media Days, there is a pre-season poll of sports journalists and television/radio broadcasters predicting the upcoming season. As Alabama Coach Nick Saban pointed out with some glee, the poll almost never gets the right winner.

For 2014, though, the poll was correct. Alabama was the selection and the Crimson Tide won its 24th SEC Championship.

As it often is, the Crimson Tide was also our pick for the 2014 SEC Championship.

Our pre-season prediction was pretty close at most spots, but way off on a few.

Here’s how the conference finish went prior to Alabama winning the SEC Championship Game against Missouri. By the way, we’ll admit at the outset that we didn’t have Missouri representing the East.

SEC West Finish:

1. Alabama (7-1)

2. Mississippi State (6-2)

3. Ole Miss (5-3)

4. (tie) Auburn (4-4)

(tie) LSU (4-4)

6. Texas A&M (3-5)

7. Arkansas (2-6)

SEC Eastl Finish

1. Missouri (7-1)

2. Georgia (6-2)

3. Florida (4-4)

4. (tie) South Carolina (3-5)

(tie) Tennessee (3-5)

6. Kentucky (2-6)

7. Vanderbilt (0-8) 8.

Our big misses were:

In the West, we had predicted LSU to finish second with a 7-1 record (its only loss to Bama) and we had selected Mississippi State to be 2-6, when the actual record was exactly the opposite.

In the East, we had picked South Carolina to finish first at 7-1 and predicted Missouri to be 4-4 and in a tie for third.

We nailed three final records – Auburn (4-4), Florida (4-4), and Vandy (0-8).

We were within one correct prediction of the final record on 10 of the 14 teams.

That doesn't mean we correctly predicted where the wins and losses would come. For instance, we had projected Auburn to lose to LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. The Tigers defeated LSU and South Carolina, but lost to Mississippi State and Texas A&M, along with the expected losses to Georgia and Bama.

Our final picks were (West) Alabama first; LSU second; Auburn, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M tied for third; Mississippi State sixth; Arkansas seventh; and (East) South Carolina first; Georgia second; Florida and Missouri tied for third; Tennessee fifth; Kentucky sixth; and Vanderbilt seventh.

As for the SEC pre-season media poll, it also had Alabama facing off against South Carolina in the championship game. As for us against the other poll voters, they had Vandy seventh and Kentucky eighth in the East, and we got that right. Otherwise the East prediction was the same as the SEC poll.

In the West, the pre-season poll – Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Arkansas -- was about as off as ours.

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