The college football season does not technically end until the confetti drops on Alabama or Georgia at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday night. But that’s not stopping us at SEC Country from taking a look ahead to the 2018 season with a way-too-early Top 25 poll.
Each SEC Country team writer was asked to take a look ahead at next season and let you know what the gaze into that crystal ball produced. The collective results will be made available Tuesday — the first official day of the offseason — but you get to take a way-too-early look at my way-too-early ballot.
You’ll notice familiar names near the top, because at this point in the year it’s impossible to do anything but play it safe. But you’re probably even more likely to notice the one that’s missing from my Top 25: LSU. I’ll have a full explanation later.
Also, a brief reminder: This ballot is completely subject to change by the time spring football arrives. We still don’t know every junior who will declare for the NFL draft. And there’s plenty of talented incoming freshmen who have yet to make their decisions before the February signing day.
Another element to take into consideration: I was absolutely under the influence of cold medicine while filling out this ballot. So if a choice on here looks ridiculous, there’s a chance it actually is.
Now that I’ve covered all the excuse bases, without further ado: the Alex Hickey Way-Too-Early Top 25.
Alex Hickey’s Way-Too-Early Top 25
1. Alabama — Until proven otherwise, I hesitate to put any other team atop a preseason poll. The Tide keep reloading and quarterback Jalen Hurts will be back for a third run at the College Football Playoff — unless, of course, Tua Tagovaiola is even better.
So where’s LSU?
At this point in time, there are too many unanswered questions about the Tigers offense to be able to project them as a Top 25 team next season.
Namely, who will be offensive coordinator?
Even answering that question doesn’t solve a few other riddles. Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse still have to duke it out for the quarterback job this spring. Derrius Guice is likely gone to the NFL, and the Tigers will have to replace both he and Darrel Williams.
LSU’s new coordinator will need to replace 93 percent of the team’s passing production and 92.4 percent of its rushing production. That’s going to be pretty difficult. A potential top 5 defense will give the Tigers a chance at being highly ranked, but it will take a full spring to identify the future stars on offense.