5 things that must happen for the SEC East to retake power
Right now, the SEC’s best teams almost universally belong to the Western division, a circumstance that has carried over from last season.
In order to swing power back to the East, here’s five things the division must do to reclaim some relevancy in the SEC:
1. Georgia must split its games with Alabama and Auburn. The Bulldogs have the most roster talent of any team in the East, and if the division has any shot at earning a playoff bid that shot lies in Athens. Thus Georgia must win the East and earn a trip to Atlanta, which may be tough considering it has both Alabama and Auburn on its schedule while other East teams enjoy easier cross-division slates. But the Dawgs could realistically sweep the East this season, so if they can split these two games, there will absolutely be a chance the East has a playoff team, which would earn back a lot of respect for the division.
2. Joshua Dobbs must play like he did the last five games of last season. Dobbs led Tennessee to a 4-1 close to last season, and many think the Vols will emerge as a ranked team next season, adding depth to the division. But much of that assumption is based on another assumption that Dobbs will be among the SEC’s best quarterbacks next season, and if he’s not Tennessee may not make a lot of noise in SEC play. The SEC is certainly stronger when Tennessee is good.
3. Missouri cannot lose a game like it did a year ago against Indiana. Think about this: If Missouri simply took care of business at home against Indiana last year, it would have entered the SEC title game with one loss and a chance to beat Alabama and take its spot in the Sugar Bowl. Instead, Missouri entered with two losses and was seen as nothing but a potential spoiler to Alabama’s season. The Tigers have a knack for taking care of business in the East by any means necessary, and if it avoids a bad loss in an easy non-conference schedule, it could absolutely win the division a third year in a row pending its game with UGA.
4. The bottom-feeders need to get out of the way. The East’s four “down” teams in 2015 — Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt — either need to be really good or really bad. If you’re not going to engage in epic thrillers with the best teams in the SEC, just lose and allow Georgia, Mizzou and Tennessee to boost their records a bit. People already assume these teams will be mediocre in 2015 (seriously, how many of you would put money on any of those teams winning more than 7 regular season games?), but if one of them upsets Tennessee or Georgia it would actually be a big hit to the division.
5. The West needs to beat up on itself. Let’s not kid ourselves; for now, all the power in the SEC lies in the West. However, all that power could create a division-wide slugfest that results in the West champion bringing two losses to Atlanta. No matter how deep the division is, there’s no way a two-loss SEC champion will get in unless multiple other power five conference champions also have two losses (again, not a likely outcome). So if the West can beat up on itself, tire itself out and then lose to Georgia in the Dawgs’ own backyard, the East could have a team competing for a national title when 2015 is all said and done.