I’m going to outsource the intro here to Chase Stuart, who I think does a nice job of summarizing the state of the conference at this late point in the schedule:
For a long time, the refrain among SEC folks was “there are no off weeks in the SEC.” If no team emerged with a perfect record, that was simply a testament to the depth of the conference. But this year has to go down as one of the most predictable seasons in the history of the SEC — or any other conference. There are six excellent teams representing the First Class of the conference: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and South Carolina.
There are four genuinely terrible teams: Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are the cellar dwellers, or Lower Class members. That leaves a lean, two-tiered middle class. Vanderbilt stands alone as an upper-middle class member, with the three M schools of the conference (Mississippi, Missouri, and Mississippi State) are lower-middle class schools. As it turned out, there are caste systems with more mobility than the SEC had in 2012. With 14 teams playing 8 conference games each, that leaves 56 conference games for the SEC. Here is what happened:
- The First Class (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and South Carolina) went 30-0 in games against the rest of the conference, with 21 of those wins coming by at least 14 points.
- The Upper Middle Class (Vanderbilt) was equally predictable, going 0-3 against the First Class and 5-0 against everyone else.
- The Lower Middle Class (MSU, Mississippi and Missouri) went 0-12 against the First Class, with 9 losses coming by at least 19 points. They also went 0-2 against the Upper Middle Class, but finished 8-0 against the Lower Class, with 6 of those wins coming by double digits.
- The Bottom Class (Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas) finished 0-26 against the rest of the conference, with 18 of those losses coming by double digits.
As I’ve commented before, the conference seems more stratified this year than it has been. What’s interesting, though, is that some of the doormats have moved up in the world this year, while a couple of teams which were thought to be competitive blew up.
It’s also worth noting that the West no longer appears to be as dominant over the East as it was a year ago.
- Alabama. The surest bet about last week’s games was that Alabama was going to beat Auburn by a greater margin than Georgia did.
- Georgia. Mark Richt has lost control over needing help to win a national title.
- Texas A&M. The Aggies treated Missouri as if they’d been in the SEC for years.
- Florida. The Gators have only played one game this season in which they came out on the short end of the turnover margin stick. They lost that game.
- LSU. Late in the season, the Tigers seem to have lost a bit of their edge.
- South Carolina. This marks the second straight year the ‘Cocks have dropped a spot in the division standings.
- Vanderbilt. With this program’s history, making the second bowl game under James Franklin is an even more impressive feat than making the first one was.
- Mississippi. I know he won’t win, but getting this Ole Miss team to a bowl game ought to garner Hugh Freeze some serious consideration for SEC coach of the year honors.
- Mississippi State. So now Dan Mullen gets to experience life on the other side of the new hot-shot in town coin.
- Missouri. Where would you like to have that warmest seat in the SEC delivered to, Coach Pinkel?
- Arkansas. Exactly what is the school going to have John L. Smith consulting about during the rest of his contract? Investment tips?
- Tennessee. The Vols get their first conference win of the season. Assuming you count Kentucky as a conference team, that is.
- Auburn. You’ve got a program that fires coaches who go undefeated, has to battle the Process in Tuscaloosa and has the NCAA sniffing around. That’s a helluva sales pitch to make to the guy who succeeds Chizik.
- Kentucky. Not that Kentucky wouldn’t trade places with Auburn.