SEC vs. Pac-12: Week 7
Every Friday, we rank the SEC and Pac-12 teams in one power poll. The order of the SEC teams is based on the Week 7 SDS SEC Power Poll.
The Pac-12 continues to wrap itself in turmoil, but Oregon has re-emerged as a true national championship contender.
The Ducks still have flaws, but now that he’s getting better protection, Marcus Mariota is good enough to outscore most opponents. And the remaining schedule isn’t all that intimidating. If Oregon can shed its difficulties with Stanford, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them with one loss in the Pac-12 championship game.
Of course, SEC fans, particularly those that reside in Mississippi, Alabama and even Georgia, are hoping for a continued Pac-12 meltdown so that the conference has a better chance at getting two teams into the playoff.
FROM HUNTERS TO HUNTED
The Bulldogs and Rebels are two of the five remaining unbeaten programs in major college football. Either Florida State or Notre Dame will lose Saturday, dropping that number to four. Playing without a loss in the SEC West, Mississippi State and Ole Miss no longer are the feisty underdogs. How will each team handle the newfound attention and pressure?
1. Mississippi State
2. Ole Miss
STILL RELEVANT NATIONALLY
Each of these programs can still make the College Football Playoff despite a loss in the first half of the season. The Yellowhammer State teams each get another crack at the Magnolia State. Oregon’s offensive line got healthier last week, and it made a huge difference. And Georgia can skim across the surface of the SEC East for a while without too much trouble.
Arizona lost its status as the last remaining Pac-12 unbeaten, falling short of adding to the 2014 conference lore with what would’ve been another maniacal late comeback. Instead, USC improved to 3-1 in the conference and has a great chance to represent the Pac-12 South in the conference championship game. Stanford has knocked Oregon out of national championship contention in back-to-back years. Texas A&M may be the least capable of knocking off a giant this year, but if it can replicate the magic of opening night at South Carolina, it’s possible the Aggies give Alabama a game.
9. Texas A&M
Not many would’ve guessed the Bruins would be relegated to such a category before the season, with then-Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley, a blossoming Myles Jack at linebacker and a program that had gotten better every season under Jim Mora. But that’s where UCLA is right now in mid-October. Four of these teams are from the Pac-12, which is thin up top and has a giant lump around the area of “fringe Top 25,” much like a snake who swallows a large animal.
12. Arizona State
NOT FAR BACK, BUT NOT GETTING THERE IN 2014
The Razorbacks may be the primary example here. Arkansas is 0-3 in SEC play with three games left against teams currently ranked in the Top 10 of the Associated Press poll. The team either needs to sweep UAB, LSU and Missouri to make a bowl game or win two out of three and upset, say, Georgia this weekend. Kentucky started 5-1, but is a good bet to finish 6-6, while Florida and Missouri look like average teams in 2014 as well.
But losers nonetheless. There should be a few bowl teams in this group, but only Cal (2-2) has a .500 record in conference play, and that could easily change this week when UCLA visits. These teams are good enough to keep the score from being lopsided against the best in the conference — at least on occasion.
21. South Carolina
22. Washington State
23. Oregon State
WE BEAT UMASS
… and Charleston Southern! And Hawaii!
These two teams are a combined 0-7 in conference play. Colorado’s remaining schedule includes five ranked opponents, plus UCLA and Washington. Good luck finding a third win there. Vanderbilt gets Old Dominion in two weeks and just may keep it competitive with Tennessee to close the season.