SDS Mailbag: Hypothetical B1G/SEC Football Challenge, SEC division realignment and best SEC bowl destinations
It’s championship weekend around college football! The festivities begin on Friday night with the Conference USA (Western Kentucky vs. UTSA) and Pac-12 (Oregon vs. Utah) title games. Then, there are 8 championship matchups on Saturday.
It’s going to be our last full weekend of college football action, which is always a bittersweet moment.
However, we also get to see people throw footballs at giant inflatable Dr. Pepper cans, and that’s always fun!
Anyway, let’s get to your questions for this week’s Mailbag:
If you were to match up each of the 14 Big Ten football teams with each of the 14 SEC teams based on order of finish to create a challenge like the Big Ten/ACC Challenge in basketball, it would look like this:
- Michigan vs. Georgia
- Ohio State vs. Alabama
- Michigan State vs. Ole Miss
- Iowa vs. Kentucky
- Wisconsin vs. Arkansas
- Minnesota vs. Texas A&M
- Purdue vs. Mississippi State
- Penn State vs. Tennessee
- Maryland vs. Auburn
- Illinois vs. Mizzou
- Rutgers vs. South Carolina
- Nebraska vs. LSU
- Indiana vs. Florida
- Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt
Who would win that hypothetical challenge?
First, we have to choose which teams are at home and which have to hit the road. I asked my wife to pick 7 numbers between 1-14, with the plan that the numbers she picked would be the matchups where the Big Ten would be the home team.
So, based on her random selections (she had no idea why she was picking 7 numbers), Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, Rutgers and Indiana are the B1G home teams. The other B1G squads have to hit the road.
Based on my projections for who’s going to turn pro and who is coming in for each squad, here are the SEC teams I see winning comfortably in that challenge:
- Texas A&M
- Mississippi State
That’s 9 wins for the SEC right there. I also think Alabama would edge out Ohio State, but I’m less confident in that one because the hypothetical game is being played in Columbus. I also think Tennessee and South Carolina would be dangerous.
But, I think it’s fair to say the SEC would be heavily favored in that hypothetical Big Ten/SEC Football Challenge. The only games I’m confident the B1G would win are the Northwestern-Vanderbilt and Michigan State-Ole Miss games (as I think it’ll take the Rebels a while to replace Matt Corral).
How do you think the SEC divisions SHOULD be realigned when Texas and Oklahoma join? How do you think the SEC divisions WILL be realigned when Texas and Oklahoma join? And, do you think Oklahoma and Texas will make the move to the SEC before 2025?
Let’s answer that last question first. The Big 12 released its 2022 schedule on Wednesday, and it included both Texas and Oklahoma. So, it looks highly unlikely a move will be made in time for the 2022 season.
But, if I were a gambling man, I’d bet the 2 schools make the move for the 2023 season. That’s my best guess right now.
Now, as for realignment of the divisions, I think the league will move into 4-team pods. I think we’ll see an old-Big 12 pod of Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Mizzou. Then Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and South Carolina in another pod. Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State and Ole Miss as a third pod. That leaves Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Auburn in the fourth pod.
Obviously, that fourth pod is an absolute beast, but it’s tough to come up with too many other alignments that make more sense geographically.
Now, for what I think should happen. I think they should keep 2 divisions. Mizzou, Arkansas, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Ole Miss in the West. Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Auburn in the East.
In that scenario, though, you have to go to 10 conference games. Nick Saban is for it, so why can’t everyone else get on board? That means you get to play all 7 teams in your division, along with 3 teams from the other division. Seems fair to me. Plus, a player who stays 4 years should be able to play every team twice.
I doubt the SEC will listen to me, though. We’ll see!
Which conference championship game this weekend is most likely to produce an upset?
I honestly think this could be a chaotic championship weekend, starting with the 2 Friday night games. Somehow, Western Kentucky is favored over UTSA. Don’t be surprised if UTSA gets things started with an upset!
Then, in the Pac-12 title game on Friday night, Utah is favored after blowing out Oregon earlier this year. But, this game isn’t in Salt Lake City — it’s in Las Vegas. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks got a bit of revenge and took home the Pac-12 championship.
On Saturday, I have my eye on 2 potential upsets. There’s a ton of pressure on No. 4 Cincinnati in the AAC Championship Game. Win, and you’re likely in the Playoff. Lose, and those dreams die. Houston is no joke, either. The Cougars could absolutely pull off that upset.
And, finally, the ACC Championship Game could be a wildcard. Pitt is favored against Wake Forest, but don’t count QB Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons out. That’s 1 of the highest-powered offenses in the country, averaging 42.9 points per game. Pitt averages 42.8 points per game, so we could have a big-time shootout in Charlotte.
Which SEC bowl destination would you most want to visit for a week?
This would be an easier question to answer next year, when the SEC has a tie-in with the Las Vegas Bowl. That is going to be a great experience for fans of whichever SEC fans get to make the trip.
For this year, though, I’m going to choose the Sugar Bowl. Heading to New Orleans to celebrate New Year’s Eve before the bowl game on New Year’s Day? That sounds awesome! Also, that game always features top SEC squads. Either Ole Miss or Alabama will likely be heading there this bowl season.
New Orleans is always a party, so that’s my choice for this year. And, when the Rose Bowl is a College Football Playoff semifinal site, I’d probably pick that for my trip. That’s an iconic location.
Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at ASpencer@SaturdayDownSouth.com.