The Maneater

Missouri picked by media to finish fourth in SEC East; six earn preseason All-SEC honors

Also included are The Maneater’s votes for where and why Missouri will place in the standings.

A year after tying for third place in the SEC East, Missouri football was voted to finish fourth in the division this season by media at the conference media days in Atlanta.

The Tigers did not receive a first place vote in the East division, but were confusingly picked by one voter to win the conference championship (the winners of the East and West divisions play in the conference title game). 285 voters submitted ballots.

Missouri also had six players voted onto preseason All-SEC teams — the fifth most in the conference out of 14 teams — including three first-team selections, one second-team and two third-team.

Quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam and punter Corey Fatony earned first-team honors, defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr. was the lone Missouri defender picked and the only second-team Tiger, and wide receiver Emanuel Hall and kicker Tucker McCann were third-team choices.

Since transitioning to the SEC in 2012, Missouri has finished higher in the standings than its projected spot three times and lower three times. Winners of the division title twice since joining, the team most notably placed first after being picked to finish sixth (second-to-last) in 2013.

The Tigers were picked to finish last in the seven-team division last year and appeared to be on track to comply with that expectation, but six straight wins to end the regular season catapulted them to a third-place tie.

This season’s fourth-place projection is the highest for Missouri since 2015, when media predicted it would finish in third. The Tigers placed sixth that year.

Georgia and Alabama dominated voting in the east and west divisions, respectively. The Bulldogs earned 271 first-place votes and Alabama picked up 263. Auburn got 19 picks to defend its SEC West title, even though Georgia beat it in the 2017 conference championship game and the Crimson Tide subsequently went on to win the national title over Georgia.

In this year’s voting, behind Georgia in the East comes South Carolina in second, Florida in third, Missouri in fourth, Kentucky in fifth, Tennessee in sixth and Vanderbilt in seventh.

In the West, Alabama is projected to be followed by Auburn in second, Mississippi State in third, Texas A&M in fourth, then Louisiana State, Ole Miss and lastly Arkansas.

Here were the votes as submitted by The Maneater’s representatives in Atlanta:

Andy Kimball’s Picks:

SEC West:

  1. Alabama

  2. Auburn

  3. LSU

  4. Mississippi State

  5. Texas A&M

  6. Arkansas

  7. Ole Miss

SEC East:

  1. Georgia

  2. South Carolina

  3. Missouri

  4. Kentucky

  5. Florida

  6. Tennessee

  7. Vanderbilt

SEC Champion: Alabama

Bennett Durando’s Picks:

SEC West

  1. Alabama

  2. Auburn

  3. Mississippi State

  4. LSU

  5. Texas A&M

  6. Ole Miss

  7. Arkansas

SEC East

  1. Georgia

  2. South Carolina

  3. Florida

  4. Missouri

  5. Kentucky

  6. Vanderbilt

  7. Tennessee

SEC Champion: Georgia

Andy: Why Missouri will finish third in the East:

Missouri has the advantage of being in the far weaker division and will also maintain a quarterback advantage with Lock over virtually every opponent. Neither of those aspects will be enough to upset top-tier teams like South Carolina and Georgia, but the Tigers should be able to overpower wild card Florida on the road and Tennessee, both of whom are entering the season under first-year coaches. Barry Odom’s an old hand now in this conference.

Bennett: Why Missouri will finish fourth in the East:

Unless Missouri’s defense has made Crimson Tide-sized strides this offseason, it’s still going to be an unconvincing product when pitted against most SEC opponents this year, especially the young secondary. Lock has a big offensive line and fairly reliable corp of receivers to help him out, but until we see it on the field in September, it’s still unclear how that offense will adjust to new OC Derek Dooley’s style. It doesn’t help that the Tigers’ rotating cross-divisional game this season is at Alabama on the Tide’s homecoming weekend, and the other first two conference matchups are with Georgia and at South Carolina. But with a back half of the schedule that ends against Vandy, Tennessee and Arkansas, the Tigers could be poised for a higher finish than I give them credit for … if they can manage to win one of that opening trifecta. Mark Nov. 3 in Gainesville, Florida as the key swing game.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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