Here’s a fun fact: Georgia will try to become the fourth consecutive team to repeat as SEC East champion.

Georgia won the East in 2011 and ’12, Missouri followed in 2013 and ’14, and Florida reached Atlanta in 2015 and ’16.

Repeating champions is hardly new in the East. If Georgia wins again in 2018, it’ll be the 12th time the East has had a repeat winner.

Historically, the West has been a bit less predictable. Only Alabama has repeated a division title, which doesn’t bode well for Auburn’s chances in 2018.

But as we always say, history never had to tackle Nick Fitzgerald on 3rd-and-2.

So, congratulations on 2017. We’re on to 2018 …

How the West will shape up

1. Alabama: We’ve already predicted the Tide will go undefeated in 2018. Winning the West is merely part of the process. There will be defensive gaps to fill, most notably an almost entirely new secondary, but the offense should be the SEC’s best. Damien Harris and Najee Harris certainly will comprise the top backfield duo, and the young wideouts are explosive. Tua Tagovailoa threw more TD passes in one half against Georgia than Heisman winner Baker Mayfield did in four-plus quarters. It’s his job. Somewhere, some way, Jalen Hurts will have a role, too.

2. Mississippi State: This assumes Fitzgerald is healthy, recovered and ready. After his surgery, reports were he’d be back for spring ball. Dan Mullen obviously is an offensive guru, but the offense won’t skip a beat with new coach Joe Moorhead, not with Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams leading the way. Both have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat are problems for any offense. Circle Nov. 10. The Bulldogs’ trip to Tuscaloosa will decide their division hopes.

3. Auburn: There’s certainly a lot to like, starting with Jarrett Stidham, but there are even more holes to fill. It’s Auburn, so we assume the Tigers will find another capable running back or three to replace Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway, but that’s not their only issue. The defense is losing its top pass rusher and three members of the secondary. That doesn’t bode well in the opener against Washington, which returns Jake Browning and 1,300-yard rusher Myles Gaskin. The Huskies will be favored to win the Pac-12 and likely open the season ranked in the top 10.

4. Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher has a young and exciting QB in Nick Starkel and an above-average RB in Trayveon Williams. WR Jhamon Ausbon will be a star in 2018. But the early schedule is brutal: a date with Clemson in Week 2 and a trip to Alabama in Week 4. It’s impossible to see anything other than a 2-2 start and perhaps some confidence rattled. Cross-over games against Kentucky and at South Carolina are no picnic, either.

5. LSU: The Tigers have the toughest schedule in the West and are starting over with a new backfield. That’s not a winning combination. They open with Miami, travel to Auburn in Week 5, and get Florida and Georgia from the East. All of that happens in the first seven weeks. It’s not difficult to envision a 4-3 start. And that’s before they face Mississippi State and Alabama.

6. Ole Miss: The schedule is manageable, thank goodness. Jordan Ta’amu is more than capable, and A.J. Brown is the best returning receiver in the league. Amari Cooper (1,727 in 2014) and Alshon Jeffery (1,517 in 2010) are the SEC’s only two 1,500-yard receivers in the past 10 years. Brown, who led the SEC with a Rebels-record 1,252 yards in 2017, is a candidate to join the group, even though he won’t have a bowl game to add to his total.

7. Arkansas: Chad Morris will get there — an by “there,” I mean consistently willing 9 games a year — but the difference in his offense and the type of players Bret Bielema recruited for his system couldn’t be more stark. There will be no magical makeover. The schedule is favorable, though defending C-USA West champ North Texas could be a sneaky surprise in Week 3.

How the East will shape up

1. Georgia: Jake Fromm and D’Andre Swift can stack up with any QB-RB tandem in the conference. Riley Ridley is an emerging star. Maybe this year they’ll actually use Isaac Nauta for something other than decoration. Georgia has weapons, no doubt, but there’s something to be said for experience. The Dawgs leaned hard on those seniors in 2017. As jaw-dropping as Swift was at times, we must remember he did most of his damage against reserves and disappeared in the two Playoff games, getting all of 8 carries for 21 yards.

It’s certainly possible, if not likely, that he jumps to 1,000 yards, but nothing is given. I’m more concerned about Georgia’s defense, which must replace its seven best players.

There’s also the intangible opponent: handling prosperity. Georgia did that exceptionally well in 2017 in no small part because of the veterans. We’ll see how the younger kids handle their first real taste of adversity.

Overall, the 2018 schedule is embarrassingly favorable, but five of Georgia’s six toughest games are away from Sanford Stadium. Nothing will be as easy in 2018.

2. South Carolina: I like upsets over predictability, which is why I’m still considering making SC my pick at Media Days. Georgia will be almost everybody’s choice to win the East, including most of the staff here at SDS, which is why I acquiesced and gave the Dawgs got the slimmest of nods here. But don’t sleep on the Gamecocks, who return Jake Bentley and get back star receiver/returner Deebo Samuel. Nobody in college football had a better start to 2017 than Samuel.

One thing is for sure: We won’t have to wait long to find out who rules the East. Georgia visits Williams-Brice in Week 2. Given all of the important pieces Georgia is replacing, it’s better to get the Dawgs early. They’ll be significantly better in November.

The schedule plays a critical role in who will win the division, too. Not only do the Gamecocks get Georgia early, at home, they face two of the weaker SEC West teams: Texas A&M and Ole Miss, while Georgia travels to LSU and must face Auburn.

3. Florida: Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong in 2017. But the Gators have some pieces and we know what Dan Mullen can do. Would it really surprise you if Feleipe Franks takes a massive leap forward in 2018, running plays Mullen designs with his skill-set in mind? It shouldn’t.

4. Missouri: I’m tempted to put the Tigers higher, but no SEC team faces a tougher 3-game start to SEC play than this: Georgia, at South Carolina, at Alabama. Tigers fans would sign up for 1-2 right now if given the opportunity. The back end eases considerably, but that’s assuming Drew Lock survives the opening gauntlet.

5. Kentucky: Kentucky and Florida could swap places, depending on what happens in their Week 2 showdown at The Swamp. The Wildcats are starting over at quarterback, but it might not be a huge adjustment if they go with JUCO transfer Terry Wilson. Like Stephen Johnson, Wilson is a dual-threat, which seems to complement workhorse Benny Snell the best.

6. Tennessee: The Vols open against Will Grier and West Virginia. Grier likely will emerge as a Heisman candidate for a team that could win the Big 12. Their first five SEC games are: Florida, at Georgia, at Auburn, Alabama and at South Carolina. All five are better than the Vols, who already were thin on playmakers before losing John Kelly to the NFL Draft. Getting Jauan Jennings back helps and recruiting is picking up. Getting back to a bowl would be solid progress for first-time head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

7. Vanderbilt: The ‘Dores are losing more than the greatest running back in program history. In addition to Ralph Webb, they also must replace two of their top three receivers: Trent Sherfield and C.J. Duncan.

Vandy has brought along Kyle Shurmur slowly, allowing him to develop without the burden of carrying the offense, but it’ll be the senior’s show in 2018.

Vandy has only had two 3,000-yard passers and none since Jay Cutler threw for 3,073 yards in 2005. Shurmur threw for 2,823 yards in 2017 — third-best in school history. He’ll have to go well above 3,000 for the ‘Dores to have any shot at returning to a bowl game. If he does that, he also supplant Cutler as the career leader.

Cross-over games against weaker West opponents Arkansas and Ole Miss certainly will help Vandy’s bid at a fifth bowl game this decade.