<
>

Voters pick Auburn to win SEC but second in West behind Alabama

HOOVER, Ala. -- For the first time in more than two decades, the voters at SEC media days weren't unified on a divisional champion and overall champion.

Georgia was the clear favorite among the voting media to win the East, and Alabama narrowly was chosen to win the West. The Auburn Tigers, however, were the pick to win the conference outright.

Asked to pick the conference champion, voters gave Auburn a 96-80 edge over rival Alabama. But when it came in balloting for the Western Division, the Crimson Tide had more total points (1,405) than the Tigers (1,362), despite the fact that Auburn had 16 more first-place votes (108 to 92).

LSU was picked to finish third in the West, followed by Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. Mississippi State, despite finishing 10-3 and spending more than a month as the country's No. 1 team last season, was picked to finish last.

"This is my seventh year coming here, and I think all seven years they've pretty much picked us to finish last in the West," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said. "It's kind of like a tradition, I guess. We don't really worry much about that. I'm much more concerned with how we finish."

While predicting an order of finish in the West offered mixed results, the picture in the East was much clearer, with Georgia -- the No. 3 choice to win the conference -- receiving 166 first-place votes.

The Bulldogs were followed Tennessee, Missouri, South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.