The start of the college football season might still be nearly seven months away. However, ESPN has already released its preseason Football Power Index ratings, and the SEC has five teams in the top 10.
The preseason FPI is a metric-based ranking, which takes into account the offensive, defensive and special teams performances over the past four seasons, returning starters, recruiting rankings over the past four seasons and the head coaching tenure.
LSU is No. 1 in the ranking, but Tennessee (No. 5), Alabama (No. 6), Ole Miss (No. 7) and Georgia (No. 9) are also in the top 10.
The Tigers are interesting at the top of the list, but LSU returns a ton of talent from a team that was in the College Football Playoff picture entering November 2015. The Volunteers, who will likely enter 2016 as the proverbial favorite in the SEC East, barely ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide, but there is a significant dropoff between Alabama and Ole Miss.
The ranking also shows why the SEC West is expected to remain the top division in college football. All seven SEC West teams are ranked in the top 27 of the preseason FPI.
Here is the breakdown of where each team fell in the rankings:
7. Ole Miss
14. Texas A&M
22. Mississippi State
39. South Carolina