The college football season gets another week older, and many eyes will be focused on the SEC. Here is a rundown of the key storylines from the conference’s performance through bowl season so far.
1. Alabama Solidifies Their Greatness
Everyone knows Nick Saban’s squad is a great team, but they still must take care of business in the playoff in order to go down as one of the best teams ever. As expected, the Crimson Tide did just that on Saturday night as they defeated Oklahoma with relative ease.
Just like every other game this season, Alabama got off to a fast start. In fact, their first quarter was so dominant that it immediately got the meme treatment from the internet.
— ESPN (@espn) December 30, 2018
BREAKING: OU has filed assault charges on Alabama RB Josh Jacobs for destroying this poor Sooners defender. pic.twitter.com/WWYvjHOSb5
— Auburn Jokes® (@TheAuburnJokes) December 30, 2018
The game did turn into a bit of a shootout in the second half which was expected considering the talent each team has a quarterback. But Tua Tagovailoa outdueled Kyler Murray as the Hawaiian threw for more touchdowns then incompletions.
Now the Crimson Tide have yet another date with the Clemson Tigers in the Championship Game. I’m expecting a much better game between these two teams than what we got last year as the defensive line for the Tigers could cause a lot of problems for Tua. Plus, if freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence plays like he did against Notre Dame, then Clemson should win.
That is of course easier said than done. No matter who wins the championship one thing is for certain: Alabama and Clemson dominate college football and everyone else is just a pretender.
Wins in the last 4 CFP
Everyone else: 0
— Jeff Fischel (@JeffFischel) December 30, 2018
2. Florida Is Back
Just about all of Big Blue Nation is upset that Florida is ranked higher than the Wildcats despite both teams having the same record and Kentucky won the head-to-head matchup. However, Florida proved their worth on Saturday by absolutely thrashing Michigan.
In two bowl games so far (Auburn-Purdue, Florida-Michigan) with two more to play (Mississippi State-Iowa, Kentucky-Penn State), the score is:
BIG TEN: 29 pic.twitter.com/UGRUCRjCu6
— Josh Vitale (@JoshVitale) December 29, 2018
Some context is key here. Arguably Michigan’s three best players all sat out this bowl game and another talented player was out with an injury. However, even with the Wolverines not being 100% a thrashing is still a thrashing.
The SEC has completely dominated the Big Ten so far this bowl season which isn’t the biggest surprise. All eyes will be on Kentucky on New Year’s Day to see if they can keep that trend going against Penn State.
Also, do not underestimate just how good of a coach Dan Mullen really is. Just look at the work he did with Feleipe Franks this year. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Florida QB Felipe Franks 1st 9 games: 16 TDs, 6 INTs
Last 4 games: 8 TDs, 0 INTs
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 29, 2018
Mullen has completely turned around Florida and I think they will be the favorite to challenge Georgia next year for the SEC East title.
3. Someone Might Need to Check on Purdue
.@AuburnFootball: 6?3? points vs Purdue
The most points by an SEC team in a bowl game … ever. pic.twitter.com/lcpHNmVaot
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) December 28, 2018
Yikes. What’s even scarier than getting beat 63-14 you may ask? How about losing at halftime by a score of 56-7? That’s exactly what happened in the Music City Bowl where Auburn absolutely annihilated the Boilermakers in the worst beat down of the year in college football.
I already covered just how bad the Big Ten has gotten stomped by the SEC so far, but it needs to be pointed out again considering this final score here really plays into it a lot.
While it is true that Auburn had an incredibly disappointing season, this ended their year on an extremely high note. Head Coach Gus Malzahn will enter 2019 on the hot seat, and with their first game coming against Oregon things could get ugly in a hurry especially considering that Jarrett Stidham is going to the NFL.
Auburn fans will undoubtedly mark this as a season to forget, but their performance against Purdue reminds us that the talent to be great is there. The Tigers just have to figure out a way to consistently be great.
4. South Carolina Forgets How to Play Football
Not everything has been sunshine and roses for the SEC so far this bowl season. South Carolina got embarrassed by Virginia of all teams as the Gamecocks were shutout in a 28-0 beatdown.
Does anyone else remember when South Carolina was the darling of the media in the preseason? I think it’s safe to say that besides Auburn, the Gamecocks were easily the most overrated team this year in the SEC.
The only decent team that South Carolina beat this season was Missouri. The rest of their victories were against bad mid-major squads, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. Now add in this embarrassment at the hands of an incredibly mediocre ACC team and you get a football team that is simply not good.
South Carolina (7-6) beat one FBS team with a winning record this season.
— Brad Crawford (@BCrawford247) December 29, 2018
As for next season, I expect much of the same for the Gamecocks. They will probably be mediocre once again and somehow still get into a bowl game. This is just a really strange program that can’t get away from the painful state of being nowhere close to terrible and nowhere close to good.
5. What the SEC Needs to Do Next
The conference still has seven games left this bowl season so there is a lot of work to do. In order to maintain its position as the best conference in college football the SEC needs to go at worst 5-2 in these matchups with Alabama winning the championship.
That would have the conference’s bowl record at 8-4 with a National Championship. That would easily put the SEC as this season’s best conference without a close second in sight.
In my opinion, I think that will be a pretty easy finish for the SEC to achieve considering that the conference is favored in all their remaining bowl games with the exception of the Penn State-Kentucky matchup.
The only other slipups I can foresee would be Missouri against Oklahoma State and Alabama against Clemson. Even if the worst happens for the SEC and they lose all three of the previously mentioned games, the SEC still has a strong case for the best conference as everyone else has just been lacking this season. Either way, this should turn out to be another great bowl season for the SEC.