Paul Finebaum names SEC favorites, biggest dark horses for 2018

Paul Finebaum is convinced he’ll select someone other than Alabama to snatch the SEC West some year. But as long as Nick Saban stalks the Crimson Tide’s sideline, it’s hard to overlook the Bama behemoth.

And in the SEC East? The noted expert likes Georgia’s chances to claim another division title this fall and enhance its reputation as a growing power.

“One of these days I’m going to pick someone other than Alabama, but not as long as Nick Saban is coaching,” the SEC Network analyst told SEC Country. “So that’s not difficult for me. I’m going to go with Alabama and Georgia, because I think those are just too obvious.”

Recently, Finebaum spoke with SEC Country and gave his picks for the SEC’s division winners in 2018. Likely, he’ll have company with his selections of Alabama as the SEC West favorite and Georgia as the SEC East’s top dawg for the coming fall as chatter builds.

The teams staged a National Championship Game to remember in January — or forget, if you’re a Bulldogs fan who suffered from hard-to-shake heartbreak. Given all the premier young talent on the field during the Crimson Tide’s overtime victory, headlined by freshman quarterbacks Jake Fromm (Georgia) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama), both programs appear to be in strong shape for the future.

But Finebaum’s praise extended beyond the powerhouses in Athens and Tuscaloosa.

When asked which SEC teams can be considered dark-horse picks to surprise this fall, the analyst mentioned multiple options. He offered possibilities from both divisions that will try to threaten the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.

“I think South Carolina would have to be considered a dark horse,” Finebaum said. “Maybe Florida if they can figure out the quarterback situation.

“In the West, I don’t know if I have enough time to come up with one. If you look at the contenders — Arkansas is not going to be anywhere near contention. LSU I don’t think will be [in contention]. [Texas] A&M I still think is a little bit behind. Maybe Mississippi State. But again, they have to play at Alabama. And the years Mississippi State plays Alabama at home, those are the years that they can have a shot based on what we saw last year.”

It’s wise — and safe — to select Georgia and Alabama as the SEC’s favorites entering the 2018 campaign. (Tim Tebow told SEC Country something similar.) After watching all the star power at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the national title game, both fan bases should be excited for the coming seasons. There’s no reason to assume the momentum will slow soon.

Meanwhile, the race to threaten the SEC’s assumed favorites will be a fascinating storyline to follow. It would be good for the conference if South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State or someone else rises as a contender to produce greater depth.

Finebaum’s interview was made possible by Pilot Flying J, which is partnering with the analyst for the Slam Dunk Sweepstakes during the SEC Tournament in St. Louis . More information about the event can be learned by clicking  here .

The post Paul Finebaum names SEC favorites, biggest dark horses for 2018 appeared first on SEC Country.

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