Column: SEC is still the best conference


Georgia football runs out of the tunnel for their game against Nicholls State. They won the game 26-24.

Carson Field, Sports Editor

Despite the SEC’s struggles in week one of the college football season, they proved they are still the superior conference last weekend.

The Southeastern Conference struggled in week one, as its members went 7-7, but they helped prove their relevance in week two by winning 12 of 14 games. The two teams which lost, Kentucky and South Carolina, were defeated by SEC foes Florida and Mississippi State.

However, Georgia barely left their home opener with a victory, for they defeated Nicholls State, an FCS opponent, by only two points. This is not the only close call an SEC team has had against non-Power Five opponents this season. Tennessee was taken to overtime against Sun Belt opponent Appalachian State, Arkansas only defeated Louisiana Tech by one, and Kentucky lost to Southern Miss.

Despite all these close calls and bad losses, the SEC remains the top conference in NCAA football.

The teams that survived scares from weak opponents all have one thing in common: quality wins. Before the sloppy game vs. Nicholls State, the Georgia Bulldogs handled ACC opponent North Carolina in a 33-24 win. The offense looked fresh and the defense made key stops, helping me to believe the game against Nicholls was a fluke.

Similar to the Bulldogs, the Tennessee Volunteers redeemed themselves this weekend. They followed up their overtime win against the Mountaineers with a dominant performance against Virginia Tech, also an ACC opponent. The Vols were led by running back Jalen Hurd, who rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown in the win, leading to a final score of 45-24.

In addition to Georgia and Tennessee, Arkansas had a signature win against previously 15th-ranked TCU. The Razorbacks were not expected to have much of a chance to defeat the Horned Frogs, especially since this was a road game, but their defense stopped TCU QB Kenny Hill when they needed to and blocked the would-be game-winning field goal.

Kentucky can’t back up their bad loss to Southern Miss. They are horrible.

In addition to redeeming victories, Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida, who are all 2-0, have looked very impressive.

Alabama has performed exceptionally well in its first two games, outscoring USC and Western Kentucky 90-16. And USC and Western Kentucky are not two particularly sorry opponents. USC is a solid team in the Pac-12 that won eight games in 2015, and Western Kentucky is one of the best Group of Five teams, as they went 12-2 last year. The Tide will get a chance to prove their dominance against Ole Miss on Saturday.

Another SEC team that has been impressive in the first two games is Texas A&M. The Aggies started the 2016 season by defeating strong Pac-12 opponent UCLA. They followed the win with a 67-0 rout of FCS opponent Prairie View A&M.The defense, led by defensive end Myles Garrett, has looked polished, and so has their offense.

Also, Florida has played well in both of their first two games. The Gators claimed their first two wins against UMass and Kentucky, who are both mediocre teams. However, they were both convincing wins, as they defeated UMass 24-7, and Kentucky 45-7. Although Kentucky is the worst team in the conference, they are still an SEC team. I don’t care who you’re playing, beating an SEC team by 38 points is no easy feat.

There will always be SEC haters. Don’t worry about them. Their teams are too busy losing to Central Michigan and Illinois State.


SEC Power Rankings:

1. Alabama: As I mentioned earlier, Alabama has outscored opponents 90-16 against two decent teams. However, they have to play their first great team this weekend: Ole Miss. They are thirsty for vengeance against the pesky Rebels, who have defeated Bama in the last two matchups.

2. Tennessee: The Vols started these season off shaky by going to OT with Sun Belt opponent Appalachian State, but they looked good in week two, defeating Virginia Tech by 21. They will take care of business against Ohio this Saturday.

3. Georgia: Georgia played very well in week one against a good North Carolina team. However, they narrowly defeated Nicholls State last week. It will be interesting with offense we see Saturday vs. Missouri. Will it be the offense that took care of the Tar Heels, or the one that almost lost to Nicholls?

4. Texas A&M: The Aggies are back! So far at least. Texas A&M has looked strong in their first two games, but their first SEC test is this weekend at Auburn. If the Aggies can leave Auburn with a win, they could be on their way to competing for the SEC title.

5. Florida: The Gators took care of business on Saturday, routing Kentucky 45-7. They have succeeded on what they couldn’t last year: offense. The Gators will have no problem defeating North Texas this Saturday.

6. Ole Miss: The Rebels choked in week one vs. Florida State, but let’s remember, they were playing against Florida State. The Rebels will have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend against Alabama, as they are going for their third-straight win against the Tide.

7. LSU: With the exception of Leonard Fournette, the Tigers have struggled to find their offense, but they have a chance to make a statement this weekend. They face SEC West cellar-dwellars Mississippi State, who lost to South Alabama in week one.

8. Arkansas: The Razorbacks made a statement last week, defeating TCU, who was ranked No. 14. They will have no trouble this weekend against Texas State, but their first SEC test will come next week against Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium.

9. Auburn: The Tigers nearly defeated previously second-ranked Clemson, but lost a close one. They followed the Clemson game by defeating Sun Belt opponent Arkansas State. They will have a chance for their first SEC win when they face Texas A&M on Saturday.

10. Missouri: The Tigers avenged their week one loss by defeating Eastern Michigan 61-21. I know Eastern Michigan is bad, but the Tigers couldn’t even score against bad teams last year. Drew Lock currently leads the SEC in passing, and their game against Georgia will be a test of the offense’s legitimacy.

11. Mississippi State: The 2016 Mississippi State season started off as poorly as it could. They lost to a weak South Alabama team in week one. However, they redeemed themselves last week, defeating South Carolina by double-digits. They will struggle to contain LSU running back Leonard Fournette this weekend.

12. South Carolina: The Will Muschamp era started off well for the Gamecocks, as they defeated SEC East foe Vanderbilt 13-10. They ran into trouble last week when they were defeated by a seemingly more talented Mississippi State team. South Carolina has shown improvement from last year, but could have trouble with East Carolina on Saturday.

13. Vanderbilt: The Commodores looked horrible in their week one loss vs. South Carolina, but they played well in week two against Middle Tennessee State. Vandy won the game 47-24, and MTSU is considered one of the better Group of Five teams. If they can keep the offensive production they had vs. the Blue Raiders, they have a chance to beat Georgia Tech this weekend.

14. Kentucky: As I mentioned earlier, Kentucky is just bad. They lost their season opener to a Southern Miss team with a new offensive coordinator, and got crushed by Florida a week later. However, they might get their first win because they play New Mexico State, who is even worse.