Thank you for riding the SEC-bias train, please jump off quickly because it’s about to be a trainwreck. It’s only week two of college football and the conference is already beginning to rattle.
The Southeastern Conference (SEC) has been, currently is, and will continue to be, overrated — it’s just a part of college football. I’m not foolish, and I am well aware of the immense talent the SEC has to offer, but sometimes certain bias toward the conference overlooks a lot of other talented teams in different conferences. Ohio State and Michigan State are turning heads in the Big Ten, and Baylor University and Texas Christian University are doing the same thing in the Big 12.
The Associate Press (AP) ranked eight SEC teams in its top 25 poll going into week one of college football. During week one, the SEC went a combined 12-1 overall against its non-conference opponents. In the AP’s top 25 poll the following week, there were 10 SEC teams breaching the top 25. Ten. Among the conference, the only four SEC universities left off the list were Florida, South Carholina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, respectively.
Week two, however, rattled the SEC. It ended this weekend with a 9-5 overall conference record.
I’m going to start off with the biggest headline of the weekend: the near-upset between No. 6 Auburn and Jacksonville State. To set the tone, if Jacksonville State had pulled off this upset, it would have dethroned the 2007 Appalachian State vs. Michigan University game as the biggest upset in college football history.
Why? To start off, Jacksonville State is a no-name team (no offense) that is part of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and belongs to the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). And the OVC isn’t really known for its dominant presence in any sport, let alone on the football field.
Also, a FCS team hasn’t defeated a ranked Football Bowl Subdivision team since Eastern Washington beat No. 25 Oregon State 49-46 on Aug. 31, 2013, according to ESPN.
On Saturday, in what was supposed to be an easy win for Auburn, the game turned into an almost embarrassing nightmare for the Tigers. Whether it was because of Auburn being overconfident or Jacksonville State having a really good day on the field, the Gamecocks gave the Tigers a run for their money. Jacksonville State led Auburn 20-13 with six minutes remaining. Auburn made a leaping catch into the end zone, tying the game 20-20 with just under one minute left in regulation. In the end, Auburn prevailed with a rocky overtime win, 27-20. This is a win I wouldn’t be celebrating if I were Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s head coach, and his team.
Remember earlier in the week when Arkansas’ head coach Bret Bielema threw knives at Ohio State for only playing one ranked opponent in regular season; while the Hogs, on the other hand, had a more challenging schedule playing eight ranked opponents? Well, No. 18 Arkansas faced unranked Toledo this weekend. Long story short, Arkansas lost at home 16-12 to Toledo, a team that belongs in the Mid-American Conference. *insert laughing/crying emoji here.* Maybe next week Bielema will be more concerned with his team’s game plan than critiquing a winning coach’s schedule.
No. 23 Tennessee went head-to-head against No. 19 Oklahoma at home. At one point, Tennessee lead the Sooners by 17 points. However, the only lead that counts is the one at the end. Oklahoma took Tennesee to double-overtime and defeated the team 31-24.
I could go on and on about how Missouri should have had a larger point deficit against Arkansas State than a measly seven points and how Eastern Carolina sort of gave Florida trouble, but at least the SEC teams got the win, right? Sure.
But this is a repetitive pattern within the SEC. We praise teams for how talented they are and the potential they could bring to the table, and then they crack under the slightest of pressure — and by slightest of pressure, I mean no pressure at all. I’m still hung up on the Auburn game.
The SEC won seven consecutive national championship titles before 2013. Last season began the downfall of the SEC that went with a combined 7-5 bowl record. No. 1 Alabama, No. 7 Mississippi State, No. 9 Mississippi, LSU and Auburn went a combined 0-5.
Now, I’m not saying the SEC is bad; the program Nick Saban built for Alabama is one for the books. You have to respect the SEC for its talent, but as a whole, the SEC is not that good. Rankings and respect should be earned through display, not by having an SEC logo stitched on a jersey.
There are a lot of conferences out there, such as the Big Ten and the Big 12, that have really stepped up their competition and expectations for this season. I’m excited to see how the SEC stands the rest of this season.