Who SEC fans should root against: Week 3
SEC ROOTING GUIDE
In which we tell you which teams you should root against in the upcoming week.
The 2015 season has yet to feature many major upsets. The only ranked teams to lose to unranked teams last week were Arkansas (to Toledo) and Boise State (to BYU).
If there’s any conference doing the hand-wringing early this season, it’s the SEC. And that’s a bit of a misnomer, because there are plenty of strong SEC teams with a great chance to make the College Football Playoff.
But the conference would benefit if some other leagues start stumbling. This week’s games provide a few prime opportunities for that to happen with the major contenders in the ACC and Pac-12. Perhaps we will experience some delicious squashing of grapes in other conferences before the end of September.
Here are the Week 3 teams that SEC fans should root against.
Clemson at Louisville (7:30 p.m. ET, Thursday): This one could score double points for the SEC. First, Auburn already has beaten Louisville. So if the Cardinals knock off the Clemson Tigers, it makes the SEC West look good. Plus, there aren’t many real contenders in the ACC this year. A Louisville win this early in the season would strike a big blow for the conference’s College Football Playoff hopes — perhaps leaving just Florida State and Georgia Tech in contention.
Georgia Tech at Notre Dame (3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday): Speaking of the Yellow Jackets, despite the aforementioned fact that they’re one of very few teams in contention from the ACC, SEC fans probably will root for them on Saturday. There’s the obvious reason: it’s Notre Dame. And then there’s the other fairly obvious reason: the Fighting Irish are ranked No. 8 in the country and will face just two currently-ranked teams the rest of the season. A win against Georgia Tech will make Notre Dame into a very serious playoff contender. Who wants that?
Stanford at USC (8 p.m. ET, Saturday): The Pac-12 seems like a strong candidate to produce a playoff team. But which team? With Oregon’s loss at Michigan State last week, it seems more and more likely that representative will come from the Pac-12 South, with several ranked programs competing for alpha status. Right now that centers on Los Angeles. The No. 6 USC Trojans clobbered Arkansas State, 55-6, to open the season — the same Arkansas State that nearly upset Missouri last week. Stanford already dropped a road game to Northwestern and doesn’t seem like the best candidate to stop USC’s powerful offense. But perhaps QB Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal can do enough to win a game in the mid-to-high 20s.
BYU at UCLA (10:30 p.m. ET, Saturday): Thanks to back-to-back electrifying wins against Nebraska and Boise State, the Cougars are this year’s most dangerous Group of 5 team. At least for now. BYU lost QB Taysom Hill to a season-ending injury yet again. That should put a major damper on the team’s chances. BYU does play a very commendable schedule, and still must face Michigan, Cincinnati and Missouri. UCLA, like USC, is vying to become the Pac-12’s best hope to make the College Football Playoff. Win this one and the Bruins should enter conference play as a strong top 10 team. The SEC would rather UCLA suffer an early blemish.