SEC Power Rankings, Based on Strength of This Week’s Opponent
Devil’s advocate me has long felt that a major reason for the SEC’s dominance in the polls is that it does a great job of boosting itself by avoiding nonconference losses. “Oh, Texas A&M was 5-0 (with wins over Rice, SMU, and Lamar, mind you) and Mississippi State beat them? BETTER MOVE THEM FROM 15 to 6!” The league has created a model for itself where it can’t lose for…losing.
This week, moreso than any other week, is a demonstration of that system at play. I’m not faulting it, I’m just amazed nobody has ever called the league out on it.
In fact, I generally hear the opposite. Just this morning, Tim Brando was on his XM show with one of the EP’s of the SEC Network. As if trolling us all, he called this week’s slate of games ‘compelling’. To prove his point, this week the league is ranked in order of strength of opposition (Vanderbilt finally leaves the gutter!)
1) Vanderbilt (plays Mississippi State): They got a conference game in SEC bye week. This just ain’t Vandy’s year.
2) Arkansas (plays Ole Miss): So, teams we generally don’t care about, plus the state of Mississippi (see: teams we don’t generally care about) play conference games this week. Neat.
3) Ole Miss (plays Arkansas): Arkansas shut out LSU, is who I thought they were for much of the season, and Bieliemaball is now upon us. Just don’t let them get a Melvin Gordon.
4) Tennessee (plays Mizzou): Teams we don’t care about, 2007-present. Other than the little factor of Georgia’s SEC chances.
5) Mizzou (plays Tennessee): My disdain for Mizzou has gone from “not a good fit in the conference” to “but seriously, f*** these guys” this year. I’m not convinced they’d even escape the quagmire that is the ACC Coastal more than once or twice in ten tries this year. Unfortunately, the season is only played once.
6) Florida (plays Eastern Kentucky): How fitting would it be for Bobby Petrino’s old team to beat Bobby Petrino’s NEXT team? EKU is 9-2 and 6-2 in the Sun Belt, so one can’t objectively say they’re that bad. Easily the toughest nonconference opponent for this week’s SEC.
7) Mississippi State (plays Vanderbilt): Mississippi State gets credit for a conference win during SEC bye week. Great hustle, Mississippi State.
8) LSU (bye): Tougher than any of the games available for public consumption this week.
9) Texas A&M (bye): Same as LSU, except not as physical, so less chance for injury.
10) Kentucky (bye): Same as LSU and Texas A&M, except not as good, compelling, or bowl-eligible.
11) South Carolina (plays South Alabama): There’s a Bowden at USA I think, and their ESPN score box acronym is USA. BOWDENS AND AMERICA: TWO THINGS THAT HAVE SOUTH CAROLINA’S NUMBER! (That was a secession joke too, kindof, if it didn’t land.)
12) Auburn (plays Samford): Facts about Samford: Coming in on a four-game win streak. Team nickname is Bulldogs (against whom Auburn is 0-2 this year). GO DAWGS!
13) Georgia (plays Charleston Southern): CMR/EMR’s comments about not limiting snaps for Nick Chubb “because that’s how you get beat” are why I hate coachspeak.
14) Alabama (plays Western Carolina): WCU is not ECU. It is a collection of mountain men from the 828 area code that coaches couldn’t recruit because of bad roads and worse cell reception.
And that, my friends, is how you exercise futility.