The SEC sort of feels like a bad marriage at the moment. One half of the couple is still trying to look its best and keep itself together, while the other party appears to have completely given up. Which leads to the question: Can one division divorce itself from another?
I am sure there are many people associated with the programs in the SEC West who’ve wondered something close to that in recent weeks because if the conference really was a marriage the West would be the responsible spouse who was achieving at work and still finding time to make it to the gym while the East would be the deadbeat who lounged around in sweat pants all day.
And like any bad marriage, people are starting to talk.
The East has been such a mess this season that many are now suggesting that the SEC has stumbled off its perch as the unquestioned best league in college football. The reasons for this are easy to cite, and almost all of those reasons can be blamed on the failings of the Eastern division.
In the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the SEC only had four teams listed among the top 25. Two conferences had more. This fact gives support to the legion of SEC haters who are eager to proclaim that the SEC is no better than any other conference.
Yet a closer look at the rankings reveals that of the four teams ranked from the SEC, three are from the West and just one is from the East. If UGA or Tennessee could have lived up to even a portion of their preseason hype, the SEC would have something close to its usual representation in the poll. Instead, the Bulldogs’ and Vols’ self-destruction has dragged down the reputation of the league.
Of course, it isn’t just UGA and Tennessee that are damaging the good name of the conference. Florida had to go to overtime on Saturday just to slip past FAU, a result that no doubt made South Carolina jealous because on the same day the Gamecocks actually lost to The Citadel — and The Citadel hadn’t beaten anyone since the Battle of Fort Sumter.
It’s simply time for the SEC West to tell the East to shape up, and this weekend would be a good time to start.
There are four matchups this Saturday between SEC East teams and non-conference rivals, all from the ACC. Not surprisingly, the hapless East lost every one of these games last season. That cannot happen again.
UGA plays Georgia Tech and is favored by five points, but it should win by at least two touchdowns. The Yellow Jackets have lost eight times already this season and might not have their starting quarterback.
Furthermore, Florida is actually a two-point underdog to Florida State even though the game is in The Swamp. This feels like a must-win not just for the Gators’ Playoff chances, but for whatever sense of SEC pride that still exists around the league.
Speaking of pride, after what happened against The Citadel, does the aforementioned South Carolina team have any? No one will expect a win over Clemson from the Gamecocks on Saturday, but how about keeping it close? Is that so much to ask?
As for Kentucky against Louisville, well, there’s only so much you can depend on from the Wildcats I guess.
The point is that at least some of the teams in the SEC East need to start doing their part by getting wins in these upcoming rivalry games. After all, if the SEC really wants to be the best conference in college football, it needs two divisions working together to make it so.