Hi, meme! Been waiting for you to show.

I told a buddy of mine after hearing the news about Miami upsetting Florida that it was just a matter of time before we started hearing this drum beat:

After watching Florida fall last week at Miami and Georgia stumble to open the season at Clemson, the anybody-but-the-SEC crowd is starting to rev its engines and ponder the possibilities.

Maybe the big, bad SEC is showing a few cracks in its foundation, and just maybe this is the year that a BCS National Championship — the last one, as fate would have it — is played without an SEC team as a participant.

There are still so many ways this season could go, but the feeling coming in was that the surest way for the SEC’s seven-year national championship streak to end was for the league to beat up on itself.

Stay tuned on that front, but it certainly looks like everybody in the SEC has a few warts.

Now college football is a game of small sample size, but, still, this seems a trifle premature.  Unless you’re working for ESPN, of course.

Stewart Mandel offers a more nuanced analysis.

The SEC takes so much flak for lightweight, out-of-conference schedules, but three of the league’s four nonconference losses so far this season have come against ranked opponents (Clemson, Oklahoma State and Miami). Contrast that with the Big 12, which also has four losses, but three to North Dakota State, Northern Iowa and unranked BYU. Has the SEC proved mortal? Absolutely. It’s 3-3 to date against the other AQ conferences. Barring a pair of miracle upsets, the league is going to add at least two more losses this weekend (Tennessee at Oregon and Kentucky against Louisville). But I wouldn’t draw any definitive conclusions for another couple of weeks due to the disparities in how many such games each conference has played to this point.

To me, the more interesting development has been the ACC’s early head-to-head success against the SEC, both because it’s been so rare for the ACC to win big national games in recent years and because of the potential implications going forward. Last season, Clemson and Florida State were effectively eliminated from the national title discussion once they suffered their first losses because their conference schedules presented almost no opportunities to distinguish themselves. This year, with Clemson beating a top-10 Georgia team and Miami beating a top-15 Florida team, both those squads and Florida State (by virtue of playing both Clemson and Miami) will be taken much more seriously and might even survive a loss. That would get particularly interesting if, come Dec. 7, a one-loss SEC and one-loss ACC team are vying for a BCS title game berth. The SEC champ gets in no matter what, right? Well, what if the two teams are 12-1 Georgia and 12-1 Clemson?

That would be a fun debate, especially if it turns out in that scenario that Clemson’s one loss is to South Carolina.  But it’s a long way until then.  Not that that’s going to stop this sort of talk in the short run.

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53 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

53 responses to “Hi, meme! Been waiting for you to show.

  1. Castleberry

    How ’bout some Louisville vs. Ohio State?

    • The other Doug

      That’s the only way OSU is winning a Natty. I’m sure Corch will be building Louisville up off the record.

  2. PTC DAWG

    Win the SEC, no vote needed.

    Or get lucky and play for it all by not winning your division.

    Give me the SECC and let the chips fall where they may.

  3. Rick

    I would be more inclined to agree if the ACC could actually pull off a win against an equivalent SEC school AND actually beat them in yards per play. That metric captures better than anything else that I know of how the offense and defense actually performed against each other, and almost entirely eliminates the vagaries of turnovers and bizarre special teams plays. If you win a game with lower ypp, lady luck was smiling on you. Clemson was lucky to beat UGA (albeit only slightly), and Miami was even more fortunate to beat UF. They weren’t better teams.

    • PTC DAWG

      Or win a road game against one of the better SEC teams.

    • Xon

      By that reasoning, though, the Dawgs were also lucky (slightly) to beat Carolina on Saturday. (Even taking out the 13 plays of the last drive, which wasn’t about yards per play and so is not fair to count, and the final play of the first half which was an intentional do-nothing play…that makes it close but still favors SC)

      I agree that YPP is the best single measure out there, but I also think that if both teams are close enough (say, within .5 of each other?) then you shouldn’t automatically downgrade a win as “lucky”.

      • Biggus Rickus

        This. Miami was extremely lucky to beat Florida. Clemson more or less played Georgia evenly. That game could have gone either way.

      • Rick

        Yes, we absolutely were lucky to win against USC, although the difference is even more slight. That one really was a toss up, and people need to understand that and keep in mind that our D better have a significant upside if we’re going to compete for a BCS title. I said clemson was ‘slightly’ lucky, and I stand by that. We were getting the better of them both on the ground and in the air. When that happens, you are usually going home with the W.

        • NRBQ

          Was it luck that the defense allowed the Cocks only 6 points over the last thirty minutes?

          • Rick

            Hell yes. We had to stop them at the one yard line on a pitch that had gashed us all day. Awesome play, but I won’t mind if we don’t have to rely on that happening for the rest of the year.

            • adam

              I think Amarlo Herrera might argue that our stop on 4th and one was skill and will and not luck.

              • Rick

                I sure hope he would, and of course he would be correct in that it would have been impossible without skill. But in light of our run defense so far this year, that play required both, no two ways about it.

                • ScoutDawg

                  As wore out as their defense was at that point, what if they had scored? We still get the ball, with BETTER position, and still run the last time off the clock.

                  • Cojones

                    Not quite. They score, go for and get two; Onside kick or kick it deep, it wouldn’t matter with over 8 mins plus 2 time outs that they didn’t use. Enough time for a tie with a FG or go for a TD. It was all there, but Douglas, Hix and Green helped TG end their hopes. It looked like football in the 50s-60s; all FB and TB playing “More than 3 yds and a cloud of dust”.Brings back great memories and a Bobo-secured chance at a great season.

            • NRBQ

              So the FU turnovers were bad luck, but Amarlo’s balls-out stop at the two was good luck?

              I suspect your former handle here was “Mike.”

              • Rick

                Haha, if you say so. I have been (and continue to be) perhaps the biggest UGA polyanna in these parts. I just have enough respect for probability and statistics that I don’t too carried away by a W or L that wasn’t convincing under the hood.

        • uglydawg

          The first stroke of luck a team needs is getting an officiating crew who is totally unbaised. Is a ref making up a penalty to cost a team the SEC championship “luck”?

    • Joe Schmoe

      I am a huge dawgs fan, but I would be hesitant to call Clemson’s victory lucky. They looked like a very talented, well prepared, and well coached team that put itself in position to capitalize on UGA’s mistakes. Would I like out chances against them at home or on a neutral site? Yes. But I don’t think that makes their win lucky.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      Disagree that either Miami or Clemson were lucky in their wins. If a team can’t hang onto the football, that’s a measure of how good they are. If a team can’t maintain focus and translate ypp into points, that’s a measure of how good they are, too. The measure of “better teams” is W’s and L’s, and that includes every metric and intangible that you and I can’t even imagine. Because the final metric of success is points for and against.

      Chance may have a tiny role to play in a football game, but to me it’s not worth talking about, partly because better athletes and coaches are generally better equipped to capitalize on good luck and overcome bad luck anyway.

      • Rick

        Yea, I hear compelling arguments that turnovers aren’t that random, you would certainly think that it has a consequence of aggressive defense and poor quarterback play. But my understanding is that if you look at early season and late season turnovers, they are almost entirely uncorrelated, which indicates that they’re just luck. Certainly %fumbles recovered is almost entirely random, but it seems to extend to all turnovers in general. UF almost certainly wont’ have a TO ratio like that for the rest of the season.

        • UF almost certainly wont’ have a TO ratio like that for the rest of the season.

          But that’s not the issue for Florida. In the last two seasons, the Gators have lost all three games in which they’ve finished with a negative turnover margin.

          • Merk

            Miami was also not known as an Offensive powerhouse either. If UF plays any team with good offense they will definitely be in trouble even if they are only -1 in TO margin.

            UF has 4 big games left vs UGA, SC, LSU, and FSU. All of those teams have the offense to put points on the board. Remember that UF beat both FSU and SC last year because of excessive TOs that proved too much for the other team to overcome.

            You have to figure that UF will lose at least 2 of those games, with a very real possibility of losing all 4.

          • Rick

            Whether or not that is ‘the issue’ for Florida in general, it most certainly was the issue for Florida in that game. I think Florida was very fortunate last year and was a bit of a paper tiger, and there is little evidence that they are any better this year. All that aside, they were better than Miami last saturday and lost due to extreme bad luck. If that just means that Miami isn’t very good because it took that much luck to beat Florida, you will get no argument from me.

            • If by bad luck you mean playing Driskell, I suppose that’s right. All of those picks came off bonehead throws.

              • Rick

                Keep in mind when you say ‘all of those picks’, you mean 2. They had 5 total turnovers. I also find the ‘bonehead throws’ argument uncompelling because (a) it’s extremely subjective and every INT tends to be a mistake (though of course some worse than others) and (b) it’s unlucky for Driskell to have 2 ints in a game that also had 3 other TOs. Yes, Driskell is not as good a QB as someone like Aaron Murray, but their offense accounts for that by asking less of him. Aaron Murray had DOUBLE the INTs of Driskell last year.

                Turnovers, especially INTs, almost always look like the product of a bad QB or an aggressive defense. If you think it’s solely because Driskell is a bonehead, be my guest, but I hope we’re not relying on him throwing 40% of his 2012 INT total against us again.

                • Throwing a ball into quadruple coverage is a mistake. Hard to see where the luck component plays into that.

                  As for asking less of him, Florida had Driskel attempt 33 passes against Miami.

                  • Rick

                    Let’s be a little more precise about terminology, because it’s easy to talk past each other on this.

                    When we talk about luck, what we are really interested in is whether the the result is predictive. That’s what is important, whether it genuinely represents a systemic flaw or whether it was just one of those unlikely things that happens from time to time. If Driskell is *prone* to such boneheaded mistakes, then you are absolutely correct that it wasn’t bad luck, it was just more of the same and can be relied upon to contribute to future Gator losses. The fact that he only threw 5 picks in all of 2012 seems to indicate that this isn’t the case, that for all his flaws (and they are many!) he tends to do a pretty good job protecting the football.

                    The fact that it was (by your admission) such an egregious mental error actually plays in UF’s favor going forward, since it was not indicative of a schematic shortcoming, but instead of a mental lapse that is uncharacteristic of Driskel.

                    • What if he was simply lucky last season in that defenses failed to convert his throwing errors into turnovers? ;)

                    • By the way, take a look at his 2012 game log and notice what happened in every game when he had at least 25 passing attempts.

                      Rather than saying Driskel does a pretty good job protecting the football, I’d say UF’s coaches do a pretty good job managing the passing game, considering what they have to work with.

                    • Rick

                      Re: your first comment, given the choice between luck as the explanation for the events of one game or an entire season, the former is obviously far more parsimonious. Your second comment is a good point. I was going to point out that they had no reason to force Driskel to throw more, but looking at the game it looks UF really wasn’t moving the ball effectively on the ground. So perhaps 2 INTs is a reasonable expectation when he’s forced to throw. However, that’s still only 2 of the 5 TOs, so I’d still take UF in a rematch without hesitation.

                    • mdcgtp

                      to put a little data around things, the top 100 QBs in the NCAA last year averaged an interception rate of 2.5%. As a standard of comparison, our Aaron Murray was 2.59%. Of course, for that incremental interception rate, Aaron had the highest yards per attempt and among the highest TD rates in college football. Driskell’s INT rate was 2%. If Driskell had thrown 1 more INT, his INT rate would have been average. What did UF get for that? they got a QB who was below average in both yards per attempt and TD percentage.

                      So what has happened in the small sample that is 2013, he has throw 2 TDs and 2 INTs (3.6%) in 55 attempts and his YPA is up from a crappy 6.7 to 8.0, with games against a cupcake that replaced 10 starters on defense and a Miami team that was wretched on defense a year ago.

                      I would say that paints a pretty compelling case that

                      1)Driskell is neither reckless nor particularly protective of the football
                      2)He is not particularly productive nor efficient when he throws it,

                    • Cojones

                      “…he tends to take pretty good care of the ball.” goes to the INT category. How many times did he fumble for TOs?

          • mdcgtp

            thats the tricky part of this as it relates to UF and Merk’s point below. IF UF had not turned the ball over 5 times (which was worth about 26 points), the narrative would be a lot different. Here we are two weeks into the season, and one could craft two different paths for UF. Based on their defense and the success they had moving the ball on Miami, one could suggest UF is going to be in position to win every game on the schedule. On the other hand, there still are not a lot of playmakers. the RBs are pedestrian at best. The OL is nothing special.

            Of course, some of those turnovers were luck, and some were due to the fact that Driskell is not a very good QB.

            • Biggus Rickus

              We also don’t know yet how good Miami actually is. I suspect they have a pretty good offense and bad defense based on their results last season, but this early in the season it’s hard to say what that game told us about either team. I tend to think Florida is a bit more capable at wide receiver, but their running game is not quite as good. That will mean they have to try to move the ball through the air a bit more, and I don’t think Driskel’s capable enough to be effective having to consistently make plays in the passing game. Or I guess they can go back to the formula they rode last year. Play defense, run the ball and wait for the other team to make enough mistakes to lose.

          • Cosmic Dawg

            And we are only talking about the best team on that day in these two games…teams’ talent, will to fight, gameplan, etc change week to week.

        • Cosmic Dawg

          But turnovers aren’t random – surely good teams tend to turn the ball over less. Teams that win in spite of high turnovers must surely be benefitting from a successful overall strategy that may create turnovers as a by-product or maybe they overperform in other areas…

          Early or late in the season may not matter, as your competition would also tend to improve with time. Recovery rate also doesn’t have to matter for this discussion- if you fumble 10 times, it’s cold comfort that the other team will, statistically speaking, only get five of them!

  4. Dawg in Beaumont

    The ACC is 2-2 vs. SEC

    By my count there are 4 more games to play (the rivalry games in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina + Vandy/Wake Forest)

    I’ll predict the ACC finishes 3-5 overall and a lot of this talk goes away. Then when they drop their bowl games vs. the SEC as they usually do it will all go away.

  5. Joe Schmoe

    I also think its hard to take a lot of triumph from the GA-Clemson game. They won by 3 pts which is what vegas gives to the home team, so that is pretty much a draw when you are making conference comparisons.

  6. Sanford222View

    The Dogs need Clemson to lose a conference game and to also lose to South Carolina. I would have a hard time putting UGA in the BCSCG over Clemson if they both were 12-1 at season’s end even if Clemson’s loss was against the Gamecocks. I think Georgia is a better team than Clemson and would win more of the games if they played 10 times but that doesn’t matter. They played the cleaner game and won fair and square in Week 1. They deserved to win that game and to get the nod over Georgia if it comes down to it at the end.

    It gets really interesting though if Clemson gets blown out by someone for their one loss and drops below Georgia in the rankings by the end.

    • dudetheplayer

      ” I would have a hard time putting UGA in the BCSCG over Clemson if they both were 12-1 at season’s end even if Clemson’s loss was against the Gamecocks.”

      I wouldn’t. Georgia will have played BY FAR the more difficult schedule with the only loss coming head to head on the road by 3 points. You could make a very strong case for Georgia in that scenario.

    • Joe Schmoe

      I agree. If we have wins of 3 top ten team (USCe and LSU and Bama / TAMU) and 1 top 20 team (UF) and they have one loss as well and we are playing much better on defense than we were at the beginning of the year, I think UGA would have a better resume in total.

  7. Brandon

    I predict that if Georgia wins the conference it will be said to be a “down year” for the SEC and we will get dicked no matter what. The WWL does not and has never had any love for us. Call me paranoid sure, but just because I’m paranoid does not mean nobody’s after us, lol.

    • Russ

      I’m afraid of this too. My “wouldn’t it be cool” scenario is Clemson goes undefeated and we win out and whip the Tigers in a rematch of the top 3 Heisman vote getters.

  8. mdcgtp

    we are two weeks into the season. lets have a bit of perspective here. Miami lost to UF everywhere but on the scoreboard and in the turnover battle. if they played 10 times, UF might win 9. Our game against Clemson was an evenly matched game where almost everything that could have gone wrong against us did, we played sloppy, we lost our best player for about a quarter of the game, we lost our best WR at the start of the game, we screwed up a simple FG snap. add it all up and Clemson won…fair and square and the stinky reality is they will get credit as the “better” team until proven otherwise.

    My guess is that if we run the table and beat Bama in the SEC championship game that our season will in fact end in Pasadena. the one caveat is that if USC, LSU, and UF all implode and end up in the 8-4/9-3 range, which is entirely possible BTW, none of these wins will look so pretty at the end. they all have to stay in the 9-3/10-2 range, which I am not sure they will do. I think USC probably has the best shot to win 10/11 games. UF (UGA, USC, FSU, LSU) and LSU (UGA, A&M, Bama, UF) are somewhere in between.

    ultimately, any discussion of our team and title begins and ends with our defense has to make major major strides between now and any SEC championship game. I loved our win Saturday, but it is impossible to estimate whether we will make those strides. I have to admit being WRONG in my estimation of how we would look defensively. fairly or not, I figured Matthews and JHC would look like stars from minute one. I also figured Ramik would be an upgrade over crob and gillard. none of this is to say that our ceiling is not as high as I thought it could be. that said, we are not there yet.

  9. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’m just clueing in here. I thought the meme du jour was gonna be that ACC juggernaut unseating the SEC. Miami, FSU, and Clemson are BACK, ya know.

  10. hassan

    The SEC is still the toughest conference for the sole reason that it is the most solid from top to bottom. Can Clemson and Florida State compete in the SEC? You bet. Can Wake, Pitt, Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, Maryland, etc…? No. We have more top tier and more middle tier teams to make it a more solid conference. They have just a couple of top tier and a couple of mid tier…the rest are bottom dwellers.

  11. Slaw Dawg

    Dang, there’s some high falutin’ talk going on here today! Just a week ago we were collectively wringing our hands. Defense sucked, O Line was badly over-rated, Murray was a klutz and our coordinators were second raters.

    Looky here, boys ‘n’ girls. I just want a strong showing against the Mean Green. No stinkin’ the place up by allowing some not-even-pretender to gash us for 500 yards, no eye rolling “here we go agains” because our guys (and fans) show up with the yawns for another scintillating cupcake special. Then there’s another Tiger on the horizon, and they have no intention whatsoever of letting us get a rematch with Clemson for the natty. We have a big ass target on our back, and we face a gauntlet of teams that for some reason want to use their Georgia games to “make a statement.”

    Didn’t any of you grow up with Vince Dooley? A game at a time, a game at a time, and worry about the Big One if you get there.

    • AusDawg85

      ^^^THIS^^^ I mean, we’re not even decided on when to fire Todd Grantham yet, and folks are sketching-out the BCS game??!

    • 81Dog

      UGA has the most manic depressive fan base in America. Every loss means it’s time to blow the program up and fire everyone. Every win over a ranked team means WE’RE BACK, BABY!!!!

      Just for the sake of full disclosure, after the Vandy game in 07, I wasn’t ready to fire anyone, but I was wondering if we could win another game the rest of the season. After the Florida game, I was convinced we could win it all. Sometimes, we all just need to take a deep breath.

  12. D.N. Nation

    FSU and Clemson are (probably) legit. The ACC has at least returned to top-heavy respectability.

    Which, of course, is a huge step away from where it used to be. See: “ACC Champion And Orange Bowl Representative Wake Forest.”