State of the Conference by Ross Agee

Wahoohoo can you feel the tension in the air?  I know I can!  That tension, of course, is the mad house that is the Southeastern Conference.  Five weeks into the season one thing is clear……absolutely nothing is clear.  Since nothing is clear, let’s see where the SEC East and West stand today and who has the best chance of navigating the treacherous waters on their way to Atlanta.

SEC West

With so many quality teams, the SEC West is as hard a division to predict a winner for as any in football (NFL included).  With 6 out of 7 teams ranked inside the AP Top 15 (yes almost half of the top 15 are SEC West teams), and Arkansas knocking on the door of the top 25, it’s no wonder this division is up for grabs.  Last week, I predicted Texas A&M and Kenny Terrible Nickname to throw all over the Hogs.  They did.  I also predicted Arkansas and their 3 headed monster in the backfield to run through the Aggie defense like a hot knife through butter.  They did.  Arkansas was able to control the clock and keep the game close until the bitter end.  Texas A&M pulled out the W in OT but not enough to cover (so I was half right?).  The Aggies “big” win over the Ole Ball Coach is looking less impressive as the weeks go on.  Auburn’s win over the Hogs is looking better as the weeks go on.  Mississippi State went into the place “where dreams go to die” and beat the LSU Corndogs.  But the week before, the Bulldogs obviously had a fever against UAB, limping to a win (I guess the only prescription was more cowbell?  Sorry couldn’t help myself).  Alabama’s only decent win was against the West Virginia Couch Burners.  The Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears haven’t played anyone decent to date (this isn’t 2009 Boise State).

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October is when the real fun begins.  Conference play begins to kick it up a notch and the men will be separated from the boys.  Can Blake Sims continue his fantastic play for Alabama?  Can Auburn keep its stellar defensive play up while fine tuning Malzahn’s high octane offense?  Will LSU figure out who their QB is?  Will the Mississippi schools choke like usual?  Can Texas A&M stop anyone long enough to win out in October?  All of these questions will be answered.  My guess…the West will be won at the Iron Bowl…yet again.  Sure, Auburn has a ridiculous stretch of games starting with LSU this weekend at Jordan-Hare.  Sure, Alabama will be tested for the first time at the Grove this weekend.  But, I believe the West will come down to who wins the Iron Bowl.  I think both teams will have at least one loss in the Iron Bowl as well, which means the winner could also knock the other out of the College Football Playoff as well.  Not that anyone should need extra incentive to watch the best rivalry in sports, but just in case, here it is.

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SEC East

As good as the SEC West is, the East may be as bad.  Not saying they are all terrible teams, just that no one wants to take control.  In the ultimate game of hot potato, South Carolina gets demolished week 1 against a not-quite-as-good-as-advertised Texas A&M team then goes on to beat Georgia then loses to Missouri.  Georgia manhandled Clemson week 1, gets beat by South Carolina, demolishes Troy’s Intramural Team then squeaks out a win against an improving-but-average Tennessee team.  Florida escaped (with some help from the referees) with a win over the Kentucky Coach Cals in the Swamp, then gets embarrassed in Tuscaloosa.  Missouri loses to INDIANA, but leads the division with a win over South Carolina.

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Kentucky and Tennessee are both improving teams, but won’t contend for the division crown.  Vanderbilt…just keep producing doctors, lawyers, saving the world and keeping the conference GPA high.  In the end, I think the Dawgs come out on top.  Why?  Because, Todd Gurley is a man.  He’s an animal.  He’s……a manimal!  The Heisman Trophy® frontrunner has been running through defenses like a wild man so far this season.  What would I do if I was Mark Richt?  Give him the ball 30+ times a game and make defenses stop him.  Speaking of defense, Jeremy Pruitt arrived this summer to install his shiny new defense that stopped Auburn enough in the BCSNCG for FSU to pull out a last minute W.  But, new defenses take time to get comfortable with, and I think by years end Jeremy Pruitt will have this young defense playing good football.  With the way the East has gone so far, the winner may just be the person caught holding the hot potato when December arrives.

October is here which means the real football can begin.  The SEC is as unpredictable as it has ever been.  So sit back, relax, drink beer, tailgate and read 4 Down Territory, because the best part of the season is yet to come.

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