How the East Will Be Won: Crossover Inequality
When eight games is the sample size used to determine who will represent each division in the SEC Championship game on December 5th, it becomes important to look outside the commonalities in the schedule and see who has the inside track based on different isolated factors.
Today’s factor? Luck of the draw, as the SEC is now in year three of its 6+1+1 model (six versus division opponents, one permanent crossover, one rotating rival among the other six). Whether this is the best way to schedule is a debate for another day, but what is not debatable is that some crossover combinations are stronger than others.
Missouri, for an obvious example, is 4-0 in the regular season the past two years against the West. With those opponents’ combined record at 30-20, the only impressive win was in 2013 at home against Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M squad. For comparison’s sake, Georgia draws Auburn every year, and the past two years have seen an Auburn team lose in the national championship and one rank in the top 10 all season until a November 15 loss to…Georgia.
Any follower of Georgia football knows why this is worthy discussion, and why I bring it up. Georgia draws two top-5 opponents from the SEC West this year. On a more macro scale, it’s interesting to see the traditional flag-bearers for the East’s crossover opponents. Florida with LSU. Tennessee with “Bama. Georgia with Auburn. With LSU, Alabama, and Auburn on varying degrees of historic runs, it’s no wonder the (perceived, therefore actual) strength of the conference lies in the West.
Who’s got the easiest road to hoe outside of the East this year?
1) Missouri: Mississippi State, at Arkansas: WELL LOOKY THERE! For the third straight year, Mizzou dodges Bama/Auburn/LSU, as well as a very scary Ole Miss team. Could Arkansas be dangerous? Totally. But assuming another offseason suddenly makes Brandon Allen a good quarterback is a tough way to sell me on Arkansas as a contender.
Just warning y’all now, Missouri could pretty easily do it again.
2) *disclaimer: none of the rest of these are what one would consider ‘easy’* Kentucky: Auburn, at Mississippi State: I still think Miss. State is the leader to be in the cellar of the SEC West. Kentucky gets them on the road, and has at least a chance against Auburn. Maybe.
3) South Carolina: LSU, at Texas A&M: With Anthony Jennings possibly sidelined, LSU’s lack of QB play makes beating the Tigers at home possible for the ‘Cocks. And yes, I saw what aTm and Kenny Trill (remember him?) did at SC to open the year last year, but they’re at best middle-of-the-pack in the West.
4) Vanderbilt: at Ole Miss, Texas A&M: Notice a trend? The bottom four in the SEC Championship odds have the four easiest crossover schedules. I ALLUDED TO THIS ABOVE TOO!
Oh, and Vandy won’t win either of these games.
5) Tennessee: Arkansas, at Alabama: You figure they’ve at least got a shot against Arky at home. The third Saturday in October will be a ‘Roll Tide’ weekend for Georgia fans, as Tennessee is the second-most talented team in the East. Still think Missouri is the biggest challenger, though.
6) Florida: Ole Miss, at LSU: Not to spoil anything for our upcoming previews, but I think Ole Miss is a serious contender not only for the West, but for a playoff berth. And Death Valley is Death Valley.
7) Georgia: Alabama, at Auburn: Obviously, the impetus for this post. If you told me Georgia was going to split at worst, I’d buy a ticket to the SEC Championship game today. But…many publications are picking BOTH of these teams for the CFP. That’s rough sailing for a team breaking in a new QB.
Posted on June 26, 2015, in Alabama, Arkansas, Arkansas, Auburn, Blog, Florida Gators, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.