For seven straight years, from 2006-2012, we watched the Southeastern Conference win every BCS National Championship game. And for seven straight years, the SEC bandwagon has grown stronger in size and voice. You couldn’t talk college football without an SEC fan throwing in some statement about how dominant their conference was. “We win all the national championships,” they’d say. And when you asked them what team they rooted for specifically, they’d let you know that they were a Vol fan, or a UGA fan, or even worse, a Vandy fan. When you informed them that their team hasn’t won a title in those seven years, they’d just start thumping their SEC chests. That’s what they are wired to do.
But the fact of the matter is that the SEC has peaked. They haven’t won in two years. Their prized team, Alabama, was supposed to run through the overrated squad from Columbus, who had no business being in the playoff over TCU or Baylor, but instead, that Buckeye team ran through Bama’s defense like a hot knife through butter. Bama just didn’t look like Bama anymore. TCU crushed the second best team in the SEC in last year’s Peach Bowl. Georgia Tech made quick work of the next best team in the SEC.
Despite Bama looking for an identity, AP voters named them as the 3rd best team in the country in their preseason poll. In fact, a whopping eight SEC teams were voted into the AP’s preseason top 25. Of those eight teams, four are no longer in the rankings. An early favorite to represent the SEC in the playoff, Auburn, nearly lost to an FCS school and looks like an absolute dumpster fire. Tennessee and Arkansas are trash. Missouri doesn’t look good, and Georgia still has that one terrible loss still left to lose.
Six SEC teams still are in the poll, with LSU leading the way. However, wouldn’t it be fair to say that some of these teams are a little overrated given their schedules? A&M jumped into the top 25 after beating a bad, and ranked, Arizona State squad before barely beating a bad Arkansas team. Ole Miss jumped all the way to 2 after beating Bama, but hasn’t played anyone else besides UF. Hell, look at Florida. They are ranked 11th and have beaten New Mexico State, East Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.
As it stands today, six teams (Ohio State, TCU, Baylor, Michigan State, Clemson, and Utah) sit ahead of an SEC team in the AP rankings. Let’s give that a little perspective, here. Should the champion in the four other Power Five conferences not named the SEC go undefeated, then you HAVE to put them in the top 4, assuming the SEC champ has one loss — I’m not including the chance that Iowa or Oklahoma State go undefeated because they are pretty overrated as well. How could a playoff committee be sitting there after the season is over looking at a 12-0 Sparty/Buckeye, 12-0 TCU/Baylor/OU, 12-0 Utah, and 12-0 Clemson, and think “Yeah, let’s throw in this one-loss SEC champ.” Let that sink in, SEC fans. Your hopes and dreams could rely on LSU, A&M, or Florida going undefeated.
Make no mistake about it, there is still some good football being played in the SEC, but to say they are dominant is no longer true. I think it’s time that we stopped clamoring over how great they are and judge the conference based on the on-field play of individual teams. There is a high probability that we see a playoff without an SEC team this season. Have the mighty fallen? Only time will tell, but all signs are pointing to yes..