2011 5 Thoughts - The Top-Heavy SEC
Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower
2011 5 Thoughts - Week 1. The SEC is great, but mostly at the top.
By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb
After nearly three decades of following college football, I can't recall another time when ALL of the major conferences were so top heavy.
The SEC just has more top.
We called the Boise State win over UGA because the Broncos are better, and that was proven out in a contest where, outside of the first quarter, Georgia was never really in it. The same for the BYU game - it was tighter, but again, the better, deeper team won.
Which brings me to my point. Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Vandy, Tennessee, and likely even Florida, are all mediocre teams at best. Don't pay attention to the final records of these suspects, particularly those from the Eastern division, as they must all play themselves and one of them will be slightly less mediocre than the rest (likely Georgia, given the Dawgs avoid LSU, Alabama AND Arkansas). The current divide between these programs and the "Have's" of the SEC is as wide as it is deep. However, it's not just the SEC.
The Pac-12 proved this weekend that there's a cavernous drop to the next tier once we get past Stanford and maybe a 20-point-loser-to-LSU Oregon team (that touchdown with 0:13 left should provide no solace whatsoever). Seriously USC? You have the nerve to pipe in after squandering a 19-0 halftime lead against woeful Minnesota, at home, before clawing against a backup freshman quarterback to cling to a 19-17 squeaker?
The Big East is West Virginia, and seven other teams waiting to be made irrelevant. After Va Tech and FSU, one needs a map to find the next ACC team with a serious threat at competing for our sports' higher honors.
The Big 10 has one top shelf team from each division, Nebraska and Wisconsin, and that's it. As for you, tOSU, you fall into the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately boat; too many new faces, too much turmoil. And it's your own fault, so stop whining about it.
After watching Michigan State stumble all over itself like a virgin at a junior prom, Northwestern is probably the second best team in the Legends (God help me) Division – and we still can't rid ourselves of the imprint of that Capital One Bowl massacre…so painfully is it seared into our psyche). Speaking of Alabama, the early book in Vegas has Penn State a bazillion point dog to the Tide – @ Beaver Stadium. The drop from the Huskers and Badgers is precipitous indeed.
The Big 12, err 9(?) should really be called the Big 3. Perhaps it already is. After Oklahoma, OSU and A&M, the drop to the next level is tectonic. Oh, what have you done with our Longhorns, Mack?
Then there's the SEC. Yes, the SEC that likes to tout its top-to-bottom greatness may have to tone it down a notch in 2011. However, the conference that boasts the last five consecutive national champions still has five teams that would likely finish first or second in any other BCS strongholds: LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Miss State. Yes, even Miss State.
If you swapped the Bulldogs schedule with, say, Stanford, we'd be talking about a very maroon and white Rose Bowl – at worst. At best, MSU could sneak in the backdoor of the national championship game.
How much Heisman talk do you think there would be in December if instead of just Oregon at home, Luck & teammates were welcoming LSU, South Carolina, Alabama, @ Georgia and @ Arkansas? Cincinnati Bengal fans would just be hoping he navigated that stretch with his head firmly attached.
By the way, while we're here, you think it's by accident that these prima donna, "prep superstar", Pac-12-esque, throw-throw-throw the boat quarterbacks rarely end up in the SEC? Why would they choose to go there, and play week in and out those defenses the Oregon Ducks are getting to know so well? Perhaps it's time to give defensive prowess the credit it truly deserves.
That or we can continue ringing that tired bell on the lack of "great quarterback play" in the SEC and go off chasing the next Matt Barkley, while the teams from the deep south continue building QB killing, RB eating defenses...and winning championships. But I digress.
Bottom Line: College Football is today more of a top heavy sport across conferences than it's been in a long while. But the SEC still tips over under the weight of more…top.
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