Crimson Tiiiiiiiiiide . . . come out to plaaaaaaaaaaay! - Scott Cunningham
The college football regular season is behind us, but the fun is just beginning as the Georgia Bulldogs and the Alabama Crimson Tide prepare to square off in the SEC Championship Game with a national title shot on the line.
The Southeastern Conference wrapped up its scheduled slate on Saturday, which brings us to the final regular-season SEC Power Poll of 2012. How do the teams stack up now that they all have a dozen games under their respective belts? This seems to me to be the proper arrangement of the football squads representing the SEC on the gridiron:
1. Georgia Bulldogs (11-1 overall, 7-1 SEC): Impartial observers should be rooting for the ‘Dawgs to win on Saturday. After all, Georgia’s the team whose all-time winningest coach could beat Notre Dame.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1): It’s hard not to be impressed with ‘Bama. The Tide are 11-1 overall. They won their division, which has three teams in the top ten of the BCS standings. They went 4-0 through a non-conference schedule consisting of one division-contending AQ-conference opponent, two minor-league Division I-A opponents, and one Division I-AA team. They went 7-1 through an SEC slate that included Ole Miss, Missouri, Tennessee, and Auburn, the last of whom was shut out by Alabama. The Tide carded a marquee win over a division rival that tallied a double-digit victory total and is in contention for an at-large BCS berth. Their only loss was to a division rival that went 10-2, and whose only losses were to Florida and LSU. How can you not acknowledge such a squad as a legitimate national title contender? Hey, wait a minute . . .
3. Florida Gators (11-1, 7-1): Using games against SEC teams as a measuring stick, I am forced to conclude that the Sun Belt is a better conference than the ACC.
4. Texas A&M Aggies (10-2, 6-2): This is the most dangerous team in America right now.
5. South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2, 6-2): There was a time when the Garnet and Black would lose a key player or two to injury and go into the tank as a result. That time is past.
6. LSU Tigers (10-2, 6-2): The Bayou Bengals limped across the finish line, surviving scares due to superior talent rather than out-playing or out-coaching the opposition. In recent weeks, by far the most exciting aspect of Louisiana State football has been Les Miles’s postgame press conference.
7. Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4, 5-3): The way to prove you’ve arrived as a force in the SEC East is to wrap up the regular season by demolishing an ACC opponent that’s supposedly in your weight class.
8. Mississippi Rebels (6-6, 3-5): It’s easy to focus on the ones that got away for Ole Miss, but getting to bowl-eligibility in his first season was a huge step in the right direction for Hugh Freeze.
9. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4): This is the worst 8-4 AQ-conference team in the country. Well, outside of the ACC, the Big East, or the Big Ten, at least.
10. Tennessee Volunteers (5-7, 1-7): Hey, better teams than the Big Orange beat the Wildcats less convincingly than the Vols did.
11. Missouri Tigers (5-7, 2-6): Please tell me that conference realignment carries the same sort of mandatory three-month probation that a new job does.
12. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8, 2-6): Playing Louisiana State tough yet losing, in part, due to atrocious coaching decisions is the most Arkansas thing ever.
13. Auburn Tigers (3-9, 0-8): The Plainsmen check in at 13th because they received a Gene Chizik firing bounce.
14. Kentucky Wildcats (2-10, 0-8): I would feel sorry for their fans, if I didn’t know they’d all been checked out since Midnight Madness.
As always, feel free to offer your thoughts in the comments below.