DISCLAIMER: Remember, folks – we’re not here to hate on the SEC. The SEC packs a powerful brand of college football, has some of the greatest rivalries and traditions in the game and will forever dominate the BCS-era National Title trophy case. The “SEC is AWESOME Theory” is centered around the statistical advantage the SEC has gained and continues to gain via a financially-driven media machine that produces biased polls, rankings and marketing.
We’ve all heard it before – “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
The College Football World is reaching critical mass with allegations against national sports media outlets (some more than others) for the increasingly blatant bias displayed for the schools of the Southeastern Conference. It’s the very fundamental basis of this column after all, the Theory’s own Big Bang cosmic event, if you will. There are those that call for justice and, inevitably, there is a strong opposition that argue the Theory and those who purport it as being a crazy spectacle – peddlers of myth and folklore who are conspiring to conjure up their very own fairy tale as an explanation for the SEC’s closet-full of crystal pineapples.
As Norm McDonald once put it, “You fellas have a lot of growing up to do, I’ll tell you that! Ridiculous. Completely ridiculous! Can you believe these characters? Way out of line – WAY out of line!”
So what do you do about such petty, trivial and ridiculous claims from insane conspiracy theorists? Uh, well, you acknowledge it, of course. What? That’s right – the GameDay crew’s chief navigator decided to double down and lend credence to the Theory by acknowledging its existence. Fowler went on to call its supporters and their views on the matter “stupid” and “uninformed” as several of his lieutenants chanted out “Preach brother!” and “Hallelujah!”
We’ve always known our thoughts on the bias was just a Theory but come on now – really? I’m just saying…where there’s smoke…alright. Enough of that – let’s do some AWESOME!
The AWESOME Games (rankings at time of game)
(1) Mississippi State 45 / (NR) Kentucky 31 – the #1 team in the country beat an unranked Kentucky team on Saturday. The #1 team in the country also gave up more than 500 total yards to the unranked Wildcats, their third game in a row of allowing this mark since giving up 430 yards to the Mad Hatter’s gang in Death Valley. wasn’t the SEC Known for its incredible defenses? Kentucky actually pulled to within seven points with two and a half minutes to go before trying an ill-fated onside kick…that was then returned for a touchdown. Naturally. SO, a 14-point win over an UNRANKED, middle-of-the-pack conference opponent. You’ll want to tuck this away for later, I promise.
(3) Ole Miss 7 / (24) LSU 10 – Southern Irish was actually able to catch some of this game live. It was very entertaining and certainly another AWESOME SEC game. Thanks to a mercy-ranking from the AP, the media machine was able to pass this one off as the premiere TOP 25 MATCHUP of the week. As students of the Theory, we know that this very neatly secures positive outcomes for both AWESOME SEC teams – an AWESOME loss and an AWESOME victory. Keep in mind that LSU was only two weeks removed from escaping the (unranked) Swamp with a last second field goal while Ole Miss was surely primed after blistering the (unranked) Volunteers by a 31-point margin.
A tough one to call, but Death Valley is a tough place to play AND we have all been suspicious of the Rebels’ fast climb to the top via victories over Bama and Texas A&M. Why would those wins be questionable, you may ask? Recall that Alabama has only played and beaten one (at the time) ranked opponent this season, the Aggies. Likewise, the Aggies can only claim their victory over an at-the-time, Week 1 Preseason ranked South Carolina.
And now the Aggies and the Gamecocks are no longer ranked. Hmmm…imagine that.
Sure enough, it was the end of the road for Ole Miss as Les Miles & Company carved a victory out of a defensive struggle. What made the biggest impression on me, however, was the behavior of rebel play-caller, Bo Wallace. A media darling as they made their ascent, Wallace was heralded as a top-notch QB with Heisman-worthy capabilities. What I saw on Saturday was a bizarre discount-version of Johnny Football who decided to interact more on the sidelines with taunting LSU fans than with his teammates, coaches or the playbook. The crowning moment was footage of him walking out of the stadium to the locker room…with time still left on the clock. He had just thrown an awful, loss-sealing interception when he absolutely didn’t have to and was just tired of dealing with it, I suppose. Just awful, really. Regardless, it was a TOUGH loss to a RANKED LSU team for the poor Rebs and an INCREDIBLE upset of the Mighty Undefeated Rebels for LSU. Stand tall, Alachua Lizards!
(4) Alabama 34 / (NR) Tennessee 20 – Ah, yes. Fresh off of the Kiffin Love Fest that was the Tide’s huge victory over the bottom-tier Aggies (for which they were rewarded with a leapfrog of Auburn), Alabama was poised to rip apart the young Volunteers. Unranked Old Smoky wouldn’t stand a chance and was predicted to lose by nearly three touchdowns, especially after the 34-3 beating they suffered at the hands of Ole Miss. Surely Papa Saban and his Padawan would load the cannons and give us utter domination?
Ah-ha! Fools, Tennessee is an AWESOME SEC team! There are no easy games here against conference opponents – that logic applies to other conferences only. However, the 34-20 Amari Cooper show was proof enough that this conference victory over a mediocre opponent was WAY better than similar games in other conferences. Right?
(5) Auburn 42 / (NR) South Carolina 35 – These games are usually pretty entertaining and this one was no different. After dropping two games in a row to unranked teams Kentucky (unranked but AWESOME, see above) and Missouri before a delicious tune-up against the Paladins of FURMAN…the Old Ball Coach had exactly nothing to lose when he strolled into Auburn on Saturday. The Tiger-Eagles were still reeling from their upset at the hands of Mississippi State which was accompanied by the traditional Top 5 SEC team 4-spot drop. Another SEC defensive showcase that yielded nearly 1,100 yards between the two schools – the #5 team in the country won when a South Carolina Hail Mary fell to the ground as time expired. A seven point victory, over an UNRANKED, .500 team. Surely, the thought of dropping an SEC team like Auburn over such a CLOSE loss to a completely unimpressive yet AWESOME Gamecock is nothing short of some conspiracy-theory science-fiction, right? Right?
The AWESOME Results
I see three victories above by three of the top four teams in the land by an average of 11.7 points. All games were played against UNRANKED opponents. It reminds me of a few games this season for some other schools in some other conferences. Some examples that come to mind:
- Notre Dame’s 31-15 victory over UNRANKED ACC half-brother, Syracuse. A 16 point victory, yet the Irish dropped from 8th to 9th
- Florida State’s 38-20 victory over UNRANKED ACC conference opponent Syracuse. BOOM – an 18 point victory and they’re ejected from #1 to #2
- Remember when Ohio State beat UNRANKED Navy 34-17? Think back to WEEK 1…sure enough, that 17 point victory was bad enough to drop the Buckeyes from #5 to #8
- Okay, one more, just for fun…UCLA beat the UNRANKED Wahoos of Virginia by 8 points in WEEK 1 and were rewarded with a FOUR Spot demotion to #11 in Week 2.
Folks, that’s an average margin of victory of 13.5 points. All of the opponents were unranked when beaten by these ranked teams and they seemed to pay a price for that. For the record, Navy is a .500 team and tied for second among the Independents. Virginia is also 4-4 but next to last in their division of the ACC. The Orangemen are under .500 but are in 5th place in their ACC division.
But when the AP #4 Tide beat a Volunteer team that is in 6th place in their division, win-less in their conference and owners of a 3-5 record? Do they drop? Tread water? Is it even MENTIONED or entertained that, HEY, Bama really didn’t beat Tennessee as badly as we all were told they really should?
Of course not!
Nope, Alabama slides right up to #3 just as soon as Bo Wallace sauntered off the field. You see, Alabama…is truly…no really, THEY’RE BACK and they’re AWESOME! And with the (now SO awesome again) #16 Tigers of LSU coming up, the Theory demands another win-win (awesome loss/awesome win) scenario. Looking even further ahead, should Mississippi State survive the UPSTART Razorbacks this week and the University of Tennessee-Martin (really?) the week after…and Bama get past LSU in two weeks, the Theory will rest easy knowing that the winner of the Mississippi State/BAMA game will have an UNCONTESTED claim to the #1 spot, regardless of FSU’s performances between now and then. In the end, what really happened this week? We congratulate the Tide on their 6th victory of the year over an unranked opponent. The Rebel killers are next.
The same held true for the other two UNRANKED TEAM killers. Auburn stayed right behind the Tide, drafting their way into the #4 position. Mississippi State maintained their role as the best team in the land, confirming for us all that pollsters truly see Kentucky as being a superior team to Syracuse, Navy or Virginia. Because, y’all – SEC.
But wait. What about that Ole Miss loss? This is where the Theory really gets its juices flowing, you guys. Riddle me this…in Week 6, an UNRANKED Arizona team upset the #2 team in the country, Oregon. In a true PAC-12 battle (SEC folks be like, “whaaaa?”), both teams were undefeated at 5-0 and in first place in their respective Conference divisions. ‘Zona scored with just under three minutes left and was able to strip the ball away from Heisman-candidate Marcus Mariota as the Ducks were driving to salvage a win. On Saturday, LSU marched down the field and scored with about 5 minutes left and was able to hold off Bad Bo Wallace on their final drive. The Rebels were #3 in the country and LSU had JUST inched their way into the Top 25 at #24, somehow earning that spot with two losses after a BIG convincing win at home over…Kentucky?
- Oregon free-falls TEN SPOTS
- Ole Miss gets bumped down FOUR SPOTS, to #7
Why is a 3-point loss to a 2-loss team that is in the BOTTOM half of their division so much more impressive than a 7-point loss to an undefeated team that is the #1 team in their division? Is a #24 ranking (after beating an unranked Kentucky) THAT much better than a NR (essentially, #27 after beating unranked California)? Well, we know now that it IS better, and it’s exactly SIX SPOTS better. And when the only difference between the two scenarios is the letters in your conference name, we know how we get there. As the great Brent Musburger exclaimed during his AWESOME call of the AWESOME Auburn-SC game:
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 26, 2014
SOUTH CAROLINA HAD THREE (NOW FOUR) LOSSES AND WAS UNRANKED. I can’t take anymore.
Here’s your update on the SEC awesomeness migration within the AP echelons:
#1 – #5: 1 SEC Team
#6 – #10: 2 SEC Teams
#11 – #15: 2 SEC Teams
#16 – #20: 1 SEC Team
#21 – #25: 2 SEC Teams
#1 – #5: 4 SEC Teams
#6 – #10: 1 SEC Team
#11 – #15: 0 SEC Teams
#16 – #20: 0 SEC Teams
#21 – #25: 1 SEC Team
#1 – #5: 3 SEC Teams (-1)
#6 – #10: 2 SEC Team (+1)
#11 – #15: 0 SEC Teams (-)
#16 – #20: 1 SEC Team (+1)
#21 – #25: 0 SEC Team (-1)
AWESOME Games to Watch This Week:
#1 Mississippi State / (NR) Arkansas – this has UPSTART glory written all over it. The Razorbacks took A&M and Alabama to TASK and would love nothing more than to build off of their big win over The University of Alabama-Birmingham and take down Goliath. It would be quite poetic as the OT-requiring Aggies served as the illegitimate springboard for Mississippi State’s puzzling NINE SPOT wormhole maneuver to #3. At the very least, we can rest assured that a mere FOUR SPOT drop awaits the Bulldogs should they fall to their mediocre, unranked, UPSTART, AWESOME SEC opponent
#4 Auburn / #7 Ole Miss – This one should be a hoot. The Tigers venture into the same grove that socked ‘ol Saban and his Padawan earlier in the season. They’ll be coming off a truly AWESOME SEC test against South Carolina and probably filled with the false hope that a solid victory over Bad Bo Wallace will propel them ahead of the idle Tide. Ha! A fool’s errand, but rest assured they’ll try. A Rebel bounce-back would surely result in a rank-swap or something close. Net-effect of a second loss for either team? Nothing outside of the Top 10, I GUARANTEE YOU!
#9 Georgia / (NR) Florida – Georgia should roll like Sherman through…well, Georgia. But this is the Cocktail Party and strange things happen when the Athenians battle the Jean Shorts. Muschamp is playing for, at BEST, his job on every play from here on out. Crazier things have happened but I just don’t see it. I look for UGA to steamroll in Jacksonville and give voters a serious quandary as to how far they jump the Dawgs. Huge scheduling miscalculations by both Notre Dame (foolishly playing Navy this week and we SAW how Ohio State paid for this transgression) and Michigan State (idle). They WILL jump the loser of the Auburn-Ole Miss game. Right?
AWESOME Doomsday Scenario
The cowbells are victorious. Irish and Ducks hover to close or fall below that fateful 13.5-point margin of victory death-knell for non-SEC teams against un-awesome UNRANKED teams and are forced to walk the pollsters’ plank. Georgia slaughters the Alachua County Lizards. Ole Miss barely beats Auburn. Florida State loses to Louisville.
- Mississippi State
- Ole Miss