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.