ESPN's data suggests 5 SEC teams have enough talent to make Playoff run next season -- including Tennessee
In the modern era of college football, no individual factor has proven to be more indicative of having a championship contender than talent on the roster.
There’s an obvious reason Alabama keeps winning titles, the Crimson Tide recruit better than anyone else in the nation; at least they did before Georgia’s historic 2018 signing class. However, while some immediate contributors from the freshmen classes around the country are sure to emerge next fall, the vast majority of 2018 signees won’t make a meaningful impact for championship contenders.
What’s much more significant than having one great recruiting class is stacking several on top of each other. With that being said, ESPN did just that recently, averaging out the last four recruiting classes around the nation.
According to ESPN, the last seven national title winners averaged a top 10 recruiting class the four years leading up to winning the title. Given that criteria, there are two SEC teams that possess that profile — no surprise, it’s Alabama and Georgia. The Tide have averaged a class ranking of 2.5 over the last four years per ESPN’s recruiting data and Georgia has averaged a class ranking of 4.75 during that same span.
That doesn’t mean the rest of the SEC should just cede the league to those two, as three other league teams possess the talent to compete for a Playoff berth next season.
ESPN also notes that all but three College Football Playoff teams since its inception have averaged a recruiting ranking of No. 15 the previous four years leading up to their Playoff berths.
Three SEC teams fit that criteria heading into 2018: Auburn (9.25 average ranking), LSU (8.25 average ranking) and, surprisingly, Tennessee (14.75 average ranking).
Adding another level of intrigue among these teams is the fact that LSU hosts Georgia next season and Auburn hosts Tennessee in cross-divisional games. If UGA wins the East and Alabama wins the West, the Crimson Tide will have to play every single SEC team on this list.
Having the talent to win it all isn’t enough in the SEC, managing the weekly grind that is the league schedule is the true challenge that the champion will have to conquer in order to make next season’s Playoff field.