July 23, 2003
The Sporting News College Football Preview ranks the Southeastern Conference as the nation's top conference in 2003. The SEC is followed by the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big East in the preseason magazine's annual rankings.
Said the magazine, "Auburn and Georgia are the league's elite and likely will play twice, including the SEC Championship Game. We think Auburn will run the table, but it wouldn't be a surprise if both Auburn and Georgia were 12-1 following that SEC title game. The league will land two BCS spots, and LSU, Tennessee and Florida are all capable of winning 10 games. The Gators and Vols must bounce back from disappointing seasons for the SEC to legitimize its spot at the top."
The Sporting News also selects Auburn as its preseason No. 1 ranked team, followed by Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Miami (Fla.). Other SEC teams ranked in the top 25 include Georgia (11), LSU (13) and Tennessee (16).
According to six pre-season SEC polls, Georgia and Auburn will meet in the SEC Football Championship Game in Atlanta on Dec. 6. In the Eastern Division, Georgia is favored to win by Athlon, College Football News, The Sporting News and the Birmingham News. Tennessee is predicted to win the East by Lindy's and Street & Smith's. In the Western Division, Auburn is a unanimous selection of all six publications sampled.