Wednesday, July 29, 2015

College Football Conference by Conference: SEC (Paul Finebaum's opinion excluded)

Part One: The Big Ten (All fourteen teams)

Part Two: The Big Twelve (All Ten teams)

During the era of the B(C)S, the SEC was king. Not only did it win most of the championships, (9 out of a possible 16) It also won seven in a row from 2006 to 2012 which proved, to some, that the SEC was among the most dominant conferences of all time.

Enter the College Football Playoff system and things are expected to be a little different. For one, the system was not designed by a former SEC commissioner with the express purpose of benefiting the conference and, second, there is a premium being placed on winning the conference championship, and the SEC can only name one.

Add to that the fact that I believe the SEC West to be relatively down this year, and I think the currents of power within the conference are changing.

How I think they'll finish:

East:

1. Georgia 11-1 (7-1 Conference) Division Champ
2. Tennessee 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
3. South Carolina 9-3 (5-3 Conference)
4. Missouri 8-4  (4-4 Conference)
5. Florida 6-6 (3-5 Conference)
6. Vanderbilt 4-8 (2-6 Conference)
7. Kentucky 2-10 (0-8 Conference)

West:

1. LSU 11-1 (7-1 Conference) Division Champ
2. Alabama 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
3. Auburn 10-2 (6-2 Conference)
4. Arkansas 8-4 (4-4 Conference)
5. Ole Miss 7-5 (3-5 Conference)
6. Mississippi State 6-6 (3-5 Conference)
7. Texas A&M 5-7 (2-6 Conference)


The problem with making a prediction in the SEC this year is that every team has flaws. The two teams I picked, Georgia and LSU to win their respective divisions seem (to me) to have smaller flaws than the others. The trendy pick in the West is Auburn, but I don't think they have enough offensive firepower to beat either LSU or Alabama, while 'Bama itself has too much to replace to beat LSU etc.

My dark horse here is Tennessee, if they can beat Georgia, in Athens, then they could win the conference as it appears that they are a program on the rise. Speaking of on the rise, while I'm suggesting the SEC will be "down" this year it's important to note that I still have them placing 11 teams in a bowl game, with only 3 missing out.

Of the three non-bowling teams I'm sure my most controversial pick is Texas A&M. As much as I like head coach Kevin Sumlin as a person, he's never won with "his" guys at any program and I think SEC defenses have adapted to what made the Aggies tough to handle, the spread offense.  I don't think Sumlin is in any trouble, but I do think that if he doesn't turn it around next year he could be then.

Whatever happens I think Georgia gets crowned the conference champion this year, and I think they make the College Football Playoff as the two seed despite having one loss. Such is (still) the power of perception when it comes to the SEC.

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