How the SEC fared in 2015 against bowl-bound teams
Some will argue that is was a down year in the SEC, pointing specifically to the conference’s lack of major opponents or “soft” scheduling.
But with the regular season officially in the books, we can take a step back and see exactly how tough the SEC’s schedule was, who took on the toughest slate and which teams skated by against lackluster competition.
The SEC will send 10 teams to a bowl game this year, down two squads from last season. Here’s a look at how they got there and who they beat (or didn’t beat).
Alabama enters the College Football Playoff having faced the most bowl teams among SEC squads, tied with Arkansas and Auburn, each with nine games against teams that will play in this year’s bowl season.
Of the Tide’s nine bowl-worthy opponents, eight of them were SEC teams, most in the conference. (They had the benefit of one extra game in the SEC Championship.) Again, it was Arkansas and Auburn finishing a close second facing seven-bowl eligible conference teams on their respective slates.
The entire SEC West played a tougher slate than its East counterparts, with each West team squaring off against at least eight bowl-bound teams. That was because all seven SEC West teams wound up being bowl eligible
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Georgia didn’t even face a bowl team until Week 5 against Alabama, while Tennessee finished the season with five consecutive games against non-bowl squads. Florida and Georgia, Nos. 1 and 2 in the SEC East, each played just five teams all season (four SEC foes apiece) that will go on to compete in a bowl game. Georgia’s lone out-of-conference game against a bowl team came against a Group of 5 team in Georgia Southern — giving the Bulldogs arguably one of the weaker schedules in the conference.
The toughest slate among SEC East teams belonged to South Carolina, which played seven bowl teams, including two games against Power Five conference schools in Clemson and North Carolina, both potential CFP squads. Vanderbilt also faced seven bowl teams, but two of them were Group of 5 conference schools.
In fact, the Gamecocks were the only team to face two bowl teams from Power 5 conferences. Three schools, Mississippi State, Missouri and Vanderbilt each played two bowl-bound teams from the Group of 5 conferences, going a combined 4-2 (Vanderbilt lost both those games, to Western Kentucky and Houston).
All told, the SEC went 9-3 against bowl team from Group of 5 conferences, with Toledo’s victory over Arkansas accounting for the third loss.
The most telling stat, however, might be the SEC’s record against Power 5 conference foes. The SEC finished 5-6 against bowl teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 — giving plenty of ammunition for the “down year in the SEC” crowd.
The conference now has 10 bowl games in which to move that record north of .500.