The SEC is in the midst of an impressive run as the top conference in college football. That’s what eight of the last 10 national titles tells us.
The conference is different from the rest for a variety of reasons. I’ve watched a lot of Big 12 football over the years. I grew up on it and followed it closely as a media member in Oklahoma the previous four years. So I have no SEC agenda to push. I made the move to Arkansas to cover the Razorbacks for the 2016 season, and have watched the SEC more this season than any before.
Last Saturday, it finally occurred to me the most distinct way in which this league separates itself from the others: Violence.
Yes, football is a violent game regardless of conference or level of competition. But not like this. The SEC is brutal with its top teams featuring combinations of strength and speed only a handful of other programs across the country can match up with.
Here are the plays from last week alone that brought me to the conclusion:
Alabama’s Wilson hits Texas A&M’s Noil
Mack Wilson, a true freshman linebacker, provided one of the most jaw-dropping plays of the season when he leveled wide receiver Speedy Noil on a kickoff return. Maybe it should’ve been targeting — truthfully those calls seem so arbitrary I’m not entirely sure what is and isn’t considered targeting. Regardless, it’s wild to see a true freshman on special teams make such a play.
Auburn’s Pettway rolls over Arkansas’ Liddell
Kamryn Pettway is a beast of a running back at 6-foot, 240 pounds. He rolled through Arkansas, literally, for nearly 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. The most impressive of his runs came as he annihilated Arkansas safety Josh Liddell on his way to the end zone. Oh, and Pettway is technically a backup when Kerryon Johnson is healthy.
LSU’s Fournette trucks Ole Miss’ Anderson
At full strength, running back Leonard Fournette is an unstoppable force. And it’s hard to imagine he was even fully healthy last week when he trucked Deontay Anderson after missing the previous three games with an ankle injury. Fournette is a freak with a running style that encapsulates how physical the SEC can be.
This isn’t to say the SEC is more exciting or always better to watch than any other league. That all depends on personal preference. But make no mistake, the SEC is the most physical league in a sport where that trait is paramount.