With life in the SEC West, things aren't always as they appear
Has there ever been a division or conference as hyped as the SEC West?
First, let me state for the record: I do NOT believe the SEC West is overrated. I DO BELIEVE it is as good as advertised. However, perception definitely helps. And it’s top-heavy. The top four teams are great. The next three … debatable.
Now back to the discussion.
After thinking at length, I can’t recall a division — top to bottom — as hyped as the West.
ESPN’s Joe Schad said the following on College Football Live on Monday: “There’s a reason these programs are rated so highly.”
Top-ranked Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 4 Alabama and No. 5 Auburn are highly rated. Beyond that, there are two average teams and a bad team. Tell the whole story, Joe.
Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel tweeted the following Saturday: “So … the SEC West is going to suffer its first non-SEC West loss.”
Yep. The SEC West is 26-1 against non-SEC West opponents. However, only two of those teams are currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
Said ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer on “The Herd” Monday: “The SEC West is just so loaded … that we’ve still got so much good football left down the road.”
That “good football” Palmer refers to is four games. Auburn at Ole Miss, Mississippi State at Alabama and the two rivalry games.
I must confess, last week I asked whether or not Arkansas could win the SEC East in 2014. How wrong was I?
Through the first seven weeks as we saw the East unravel and some impressive performances across the board from teams that call the West home, experts were saying the worst in the West could compete with the best in the East, if not win the redheaded step-child of college football divisions.
Then, Arkansas got stomped by Georgia and LSU should’ve been beaten by Florida.
In the SDS office, Arkansas had been lauded the best 4-8 team in the country and I, again, wrote that once the Hogs learned how to get over the hump, they could be a very good team.
After a string of close losses, Arkansas laid an egg in a game in which Georgia was only a slight favorite. Now, it looks like the Razorbacks may limp to four, perhaps five, wins. The team could go winless in conference play again. Not only could Arkansas not compete in the SEC East, non-conference teams such as Michigan State, Notre Dame and Nebraska would beat Arkansas rather handily.
The Hogs are improved, there’s no question. But saying Arkansas could win the East, or is better than a Big Ten champion, proved to be way off base.
Joining Arkansas in the bottom tier of the division are two fringe top 25 teams in Texas A&M and LSU.
The Aggies’ best win this season came against unranked South Carolina. Kevin Sumlin’s team can’t tackle and got shut out for the first time in his coaching history Saturday afternoon. A&M has lost to three consecutive top 10 teams, and were beaten easily. Since the 11-2 season in 2012, Sumlin’s team beats the teams it should be and can’t beat a top 15 team. And after this week’s embarrassment in Tuscaloosa, need I say more?
LSU’s best win came against unranked Wisconsin. The Bayou Bengals were housed by Mississippi State and Auburn. The Tigers have issues a quarterback, and haven’t been able to get a pass rush from its front seven. LSU convincingly beat Kentucky Saturday night, but the Wildcats are on a path headed straight for 6-6, so that’s not saying a whole lot.
The West is a very good division. In fact, it’s the best division in college football.
It’s not, however, invincible.