10 surprising SEC stats in 2016
The SEC served up plenty of surprises this season, and there are plenty of things to help us wrap our heads around that, but these are just a few that stand out.
Bama way ahead of the pack
This is an appropriate one to start with to put into perspective the gap that exists between the Crimson Tide and the SEC. Alabama is the only SEC team with fewer than four losses, and that’s the first time that’s happened in SEC history.
Alabama dealt Florida and Auburn their fourth losses, while Tennessee and Texas A&M were handed their fourth defeats against Vanderbilt and LSU, respectively, in their regular-season finales.
… And feeling lonely
There’s only one SEC team in the top 15 of the AP Poll heading into bowl season. When was the last time that happened? Well, actually last season. However, it hadn’t happened even once before that since 2000, when Florida — fresh off an SEC Championship Game win over Auburn — was No. 7 and no other SEC team was to be found.
Gators stuck in the mud
It’s well-documented that Alabama has had 14 non-offensive touchdowns this season. That’s crazy, but there are mind-boggling ways to grasp that. How about the fact that Florida had exactly 14 total touchdowns (of all kinds) over the entire months of October and November? We’re talking about the SEC East champs here.
Jekyll and Hyde Hogs
While we may not have known what to expect from Arkansas entering the season, we certainly didn’t expect the week-to-week highs and lows that the Razorbacks routinely went through.
Arkansas traded wins and losses in each of its last 10 games. Missouri, Arkansas’ last opponent, was the only SEC team to not record back-to-back wins over that same span.
After putting up 30 points against Alabama in a relatively strong showing, Arkansas beat Ole Miss (34-30), then got hammered by Auburn (56-3), then flattened Florida (31-10), got run over by LSU (38-10) and handled Mississippi State (58-42). Surely, the Razorbacks would finally win back-to-back with a win over Missouri? Nope.
Perched at the top
Sometimes since we’re in the midst of Alabama’s dynasty, we lose sight of just how much of a machine the program has been under Nick Saban. However, nine straight seasons of reaching AP No. 1 is out of this world, evidenced by the fact that it’s already the best run in the history of the AP Poll, which dates back to 1936.
During this dynasty, Alabama has been ranked AP No. 1 at some point in 9 straight seasons dating back to 2008, the longest stretch ever pic.twitter.com/liSSuEVpcU
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) November 30, 2016
Down year across the board
The overall win percentage for the SEC heading into bowl season is .589. While that can certainly improve with a strong showing by the league in bowl season, that win percentage currently stands as the lowest for the conference since 2005.
That was before Florida captured the 2006 national championship over Ohio State, starting the SEC’s run of dominance that included seven straight national titles.
Odd team left out
This is only the fifth season where all but two SEC teams are going bowling, the others being 2014, 2010, 2009 and 1943 (only four SEC teams competed during World War II). Who would’ve thought one of those two teams on the outside looking in would be Ole Miss?
How about Alabama’s explosiveness on offense? The Crimson Tide have posted 87 plays of 20-plus yards, which is at least 14 more than any SEC team. Not bad for an offense led by a true freshman.
Considering Alabama has played one more game than almost every SEC team, it’s only fair to look at the average 20-plus-yard plays per game. Alabama averages 6.7 compared to Ole Miss and Tennessee, which are next in line at 6.1.
LSU fixes yellow hanky problems
The Tigers have drawn 97 flags for an average of 8.1 per game, tied for the highest in the SEC since 2009. LSU has corrected that this season by only drawing 4.9, tied for second-fewest in the league.
What makes it even more surprising is that LSU has done this despite changing head coaches after Week 4 and playing under first-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. That’s not easy.
Commodores command the red zone
Despite struggling on the two most important downs, Vanderbilt hasn’t struggled in the most important area of the field. On third and fourth downs, Vanderbilt has only converted 35.2 percent of them, last in the SEC. Vandy is 13th in the SEC on third downs, picking them up 35.8 percent of the time.
However, it’s a totally different story in the red zone. The Commodores come away with points on 95.5 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line. Only Florida State (96.3) posted a higher mark. Meanwhile, the Vandy defense was unmatched in the red zone, only allowing teams to score on 65.9 percent of visits.