'SEC bias?' If this realistic scenario happens, the hate will be real in Week 4
Brace yourself. It’s coming.
The “SEC bias” takes could come out in full force this weekend. Like, more than usual.
That’s saying a lot considering the popular social media topic of conversation whenever any poll comes out. It’s been a staple of the young 2019 season for an obvious reason.
This is what the Associated Press Top 25 looks like from 1-10:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
Five of the top 9 is impressive, but it’s not exactly unprecedented for the SEC. Who could forget when the first Playoff poll came out and 3 of the top 4 teams were from the SEC? (Go figure that one wasn’t Alabama and that both Mississippi schools were in that group.)
To see 5 teams in the top 9 is relatively standard for the SEC. And quite frankly, it’s not that surprising considering all of those teams went to a New Year’s 6 Bowl last year or they already beat a top 15 team away from home this year.
So what will be any different about Week 4? And why should we brace for perhaps as many “SEC bias” takes as ever?
There’s a perfectly realistic scenario in which 4 of the top 5 teams in the next AP Top 25 are from the SEC. It would only take 2 things to make that a possibility:
- Georgia beats Notre Dame
- Auburn beats Texas A&M
Simple enough, right?
The first outcome is expected to happen, and according to the oddsmakers, it’ll happen somewhat convincingly (Georgia opened as a 12.5-point favorite). If that happens (that’s not a guarantee), nobody will question Georgia’s place as a top 5 team. Depending on the margin of victory, the Dawgs could move past Alabama to No. 2, but that’s a different discussion for a different time.
The second outcome seems like more of a coin flip. That is, Auburn beating Texas A&M in College Station.
Just so we can flesh out this hypothetical scenario, let’s say Bo Nix comes up with another late drive to fuel an Auburn victory against a ranked team. The Tigers would be undefeated at 4-0 with wins against multiple ranked teams. That’s for a team that started at No. 16 in the polls.
Why wouldn’t Auburn be worthy of a top 5 spot?
The “they ain’t played nobody” crowd would have a tough time spinning that one when Auburn beat multiple ranked teams away from the friendly confines of Jordan-Hare. Nobody ranked ahead of Auburn would be able to make that claim.
As well as Ohio State and Oklahoma have played with their former SEC quarterbacks, its best wins were against … UCLA and Indiana? Or maybe Houston and Cincinnati?
Auburn clearly would have the better résumé. That’s not even a debate. It’s different when you’re talking about 2 quality wins as opposed to winning one neutral-site game on a last-minute touchdown drive. Plenty of the 48 of 62 AP Top 25 voters who don’t believe Auburn is a top 7 team would, in my opinion, acknowledge that.
Keep in mind that Oklahoma has a bye week and Ohio State is facing Miami (Ohio). Add in Georgia beating No. 7 Notre Dame and the path for Auburn to move into the top 5 would absolutely be there, no matter how much it would ignite the non-SEC world.
But you know what? For all the crap thrown the SEC’s way about soft scheduling, the conference had teams that did the following things in nonconference play:
- LSU — Travel (and win) at No. 9 Texas
- Georgia — Host No. 7 Notre Dame
- Auburn — Play (and win) vs. No. 11 Oregon at a neutral site
That’s a whole lot more than Ohio State, Utah and Wisconsin did by facing 0 Power 5 nonconference foes (Michigan’s matchup with Notre Dame isn’t until late October). The SEC dominated the marquee nonconference games this year, and guess what? This is the result of that. Of course the SEC contenders are going to get love. And in case you were wondering, the SEC is 6-3 against Power 5 teams in nonconference play.
As for Florida, which hasn’t looked like a top 10 team, it did at least beat a pair of Power 5 teams away from home. Alabama can also make that claim … and playing in 4 consecutive national championship games and winning its first 3 games this year by an average of 38 points makes it worthy of the No. 2 spot. But hey, that’s just me.
Still, though, the cries of “SEC bias” will be out in full force if Auburn and Georgia win this weekend. It’ll ignore the fact that AP Top 25 voters are spread out across the country and not just hand-plucked from publications south of the Mason-Dixon line.
More importantly, it’ll ignore that the top of the SEC has been really good so far. A refusal to acknowledge that would just be an anti-SEC bias.