BATON ROUGE -- The LSU football team has been selected as the top team in the Southeastern Conference heading into the 2006 season in a poll conducted by the Birmingham News, the publication has announced.
The survey, which polled the league's 12 sports information directors, had the Tigers receiving 109 total points, one point ahead of Florida in the overall preseason predictions. Auburn was third in the overall standings with 106 points. A school could not vote for itself in the survey.
In the SEC Western Division race, LSU and Auburn each garnered three first place votes and two second place votes to tie for the divisional title with 23 total points. Alabama was third with 16 points, followed by Arkansas (14 points), Ole Miss (8 points) and Mississippi State (6 points.).
Florida was the unanimous selection in the SEC Eastern Division, pickup up all five first place votes. The Gators were followed by Georgia (21 points), Tennessee (17 points), South Carolina (13 points), Kentucky (9 points) and Vanderbilt (5 points).
The Tigers were represented on the preseason All-SEC team with two players on the first team and five on the second team. Offensive guard Will Arnold and safety LaRon Landry were named to the first team, while wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, punter Chris Jackson, defensive end Chase Pittman, and linebacker Ali Highsmith were all second team selections.
Landry was named the top safety in the league, while Russell came in as the runner-up as the league's most valuable player. Other honors for the Tigers had Highsmith as the runner-up for the league's top outside linebacker honors and Jackson ranking as the second-best punter in the league.