Phil Steele does a pretty good job predicting what the first AP Top 10 of the season will look like.
As mentioned on Monday, my predicted AP Top 10 was a perfect 10-for-10 in 2016! The EIGHT year totals are very strong. When I predict the AP Top 10 in February/March (about a HALF YEAR ahead of the actual AP poll), I have now hit on 76 of 80 teams. That means hitting all 10 teams in four of the eight years and missing by just one team in the other four years. Once again, predicting the top ten teams in the AP poll 5-6 MONTHS in advance, the record is now 76 out of 80 or 95%!
Now, obviously, that first AP Top 10 is no guaranteed predictor of success for the rest of the season, but it’s at least a decent indication of the nation’s better teams… which is why Steele’s projection for 2017 is making me pause a bit in considering how the SEC East might play out this season.
Here is my 2017 Projected AP Top 10.
2. Ohio State
3. Florida State
7. Penn State
I look at Florida and see a team that’s got a fair number of significant questions: a rebuild job coming on defense (including a new coordinator), uncertainty at quarterback and a slide in recruiting over the past couple of seasons. I don’t think the Gators are going to be a bad team by any means — after the past two years, you can’t help but have a solid measure of respect for McElwain — but top ten in the country and second best in the SEC is a little more than I was expecting.
Is it just me, or does that surprise you, too? And if it’s a legit impression, what, if anything does that do for your assessment of Georgia’s chances in the East in 2017?