ESPN released its 2017 preseason Top 25 poll on Thursday. Five SEC teams made the cut.
Nick Saban’s Alabama squad was the top-ranked team on the list, edging Week 1 opponent Florida State. The Seminoles checked in at No. 2, with Urban Meyer’s Ohio State team at No. 3 on the list. Alabama and Florida State will meet on Sept. 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Defending national champion Clemson is ranked No. 5.
Auburn is the next SEC team on the list at No. 11, with LSU (No. 12) and Florida (No. 14) following closely. Georgia is the fifth SEC team at No. 17. It is not a big surprise to see Auburn as the No. 2 SEC team on the list after the Tigers went to the Sugar Bowl last season and gained the services of former 5-star Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham in the offseason.
The projection is the SEC West again will be the top division in the league, with three SEC West teams ranked before the first appearance from an SEC East team. The Gators, who are looking for their third consecutive SEC East title, check in three spots above Georgia in the ESPN poll. Georgia was the consensus pick to win the SEC East when the media voted at SEC Media Days in July.
After firing Charlie Strong following a disappointing 2016 season, Texas appears to be back in favor with ESPN. The Longhorns, under the direction of coach Tom Herman, are No. 20 on this list. Fans of SEC programs such as Tennessee, which has back-to-back nine-win seasons, and Texas A&M may scratch their heads at that selection.
Here’s a look at the ESPN preseason Top 25:
2017 ESPN Preseason Top 25
2. Florida State
3. Ohio State
6. Penn State
10. Oklahoma State
16. Miami (Fla.)
19. Kansas State
21. South Florida
22. Virginia Tech
24. Washington State
25. West Virginia