SEC is having a down year, but don’t count the conference out
Is the SEC in danger of losing its title as college football’s most dominant conference?
Non-SEC fans will argue that’s already the case. After all, the last two national champions reside outside of the SEC. In addition, three SEC teams – Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee – have lost AP Top 25 status after having made the preseason cut.
Yesterday didn’t exactly elevate the SEC. Arkansas lost again. Auburn looked horrendous in its lopsided defeat. Missouri almost lost at home to a school known for its basketball program. And Alabama, heading into the weekend as the nation’s No. 2 ranked team, lost at home.
However, there is still promise for the undisputed best conference in the country.
Ole Miss is more than relevant after beating the Crimson Tide, and lead the conference pack as the country’s No. 3-ranked team (tied with TCU). No. 8 LSU possesses a potential Heisman Trophy winner in Leonard Fournette. No. 7 Georgia, No. 14 Texas A&M and No. 25 Missouri remain unbeaten.
Alabama is ranked No. 12, which gives the SEC six teams in the Top 25. The SEC encompasses nearly one-fourth of the poll. The Pac-12 is the only other conference with as many ranked teams.
So where does the SEC stand in all of the fray?
Hard to say. It seemed a foregone conclusion No. 1 Ohio State would steamroll through its cupcake schedule on the way to consecutive College Football Playoff appearances, but the Buckeyes nearly lost at home to Northern Illinois. The Pac-12’s highest-ranked team, then-No. 6 USC, lost to then-unranked Stanford.
So while it’s easy to point at the SEC’s weakest links for losing, teams from other conferences are struggling as well.
It’s early in the season, and there is plenty of time for each conference to eat its own head. The Buckeyes will play No. 2 Michigan State before the season is over, so right there you can eliminate one of those teams from the playoff. TCU, which shares a No. 3 ranking with Ole Miss, will play No. 5 Baylor – again, another non-SEC team eliminated from the playoffs.
It seems that no matter how the season plays out, at least one SEC team – the conference champion – will have one of the four playoff spots. Which team will that be? How strong is that team?
Ole Miss has earned frontrunner status, but the Rebels still have to play two ranked teams in LSU and Texas A&M, not to mention Auburn, Florida and in-state rival Mississippi State.
Georgia may have the clearest path to a playoff berth, avoiding the SEC West’s top two teams while having an edge in the weak SEC East. The Bulldogs do still have Alabama, and Georgia Tech will be waiting for them in the season finale.
While it’s hard to argue the SEC is the nation’s best conference, it still has a few teams that will be around once the College Football Playoff committee decides who plays for a title.
It just may not be as strong all-around as in years past.