Ah, July.  Cookouts.  Hot dogs and hamburgers.  Fireworks.  Ninety percent humidity across Dixie.  Football predictions galore.

The preseason magazines are hitting the shelves with their prognostications for the 2014 season.  College football futures odds are popping up around the web.  And not surprisingly, all of these pigskin seers are tossing plenty of bouquets toward the Southeastern Conference and its top teams.

Numbers guru Phil Steele has four SEC teams in his preseason top 10 -- Alabama (#2), Georgia (#7), Auburn (#9) and South Carolina (#10).  Athlon Sports also lists four in their top 10 as well -- Alabama (#2), Auburn (#5), Georgia (#8) and Carolina (#9).  Only three SEC schools make the SportingNews.com top 10 -- Alabama (#4), Auburn (#5) and Caroilna (#10) -- but LSU comes in at #11.

As for the oddsmakers in Las Vegas and offshore, the SEC's top teams are among the heavy favorites to reach this season's College Football Playoff.  Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina are consistently listed near the top of the casinos' boards.  Wherever you look, those five Southeastern Conference schools are listed just below Florida State and in and amongst the Oregons, Ohio States and Oklahomas of the world.

But just how accurate are preseason rankings?  SBNation.com put together a consensus preseason poll last August.  They gathered information from 12 different preseason rankings, added them all up, and posted a top 25 that reflected the views of the masses.  Below are the teams listed in last season's preseason top 10, alongside their actual final AP Poll rankings and their records:


1.  Alabama (#7, 11-2)

2.  Ohio State (#12, 12-2)

3.  Stanford  (#11, 11-3)

4.  Oregon  (#9, 11-2)

5.  Georgia  (unranked, 8-5)

6.  Texas A&M  (#18, 9-4)

7.  South Carolina  (#4, 11-2)

8.  Clemson  (#8, 11-2)

9.  Florida  (unranked, 4-8)

10.  LSU  (#14, 10-3)


Yikes.  Apparently Nostradamus didn't have a vote in anyone's rankings.  In case you're wondering, Florida state -- the eventual BCS champion -- placed eleventh in the SBNation consensus poll.  Auburn was unranked, though they eventually came within a minute of holding off the Seminoles for the national title.

So what does this tell us?  That your odds of picking the 2014 national champion are probably just as good as anyone's.