Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Landscaping

Monday October 8, 2007

A look around the SEC and college football landscape:

First, a tip of the hat to Jim Harbaugh. The new Stanford coach has been poking Southern Cal with a stick ever since he took the job. Maybe Southern Cal never really took this game seriously, but they usually stomp mudholes in teams that talk up the upset. Not so this time. While the Cardinal have looked awful for most of this season, they backed up Harbaugh’s braying in this one.

While Ohio State is a long way away from breezing through the rest of their schedule, would they be the least-heralded undefeated Big 10 team ever? Teams like Illinois and Wisconsin (and of course Michigan) will have their shot, but the Buckeyes have faced a few moderately decent challenges so far with few problems.

LSU is going to be pushed a few more times this season. The impressive multi-faceted running game is tough to stop, but the offense is going to struggle to put good teams away without a playmaker like Doucet in the passing game. The defense is plenty good enough to keep most teams from challenging them, but an undefeated season for the Tigers might include one or two more close calls.

You’re not hearing as much these days from the Alabama fans who had so much fun at the expense of Auburn a few weeks ago.

Southern Cal, Arizona State, Cal, and Oregon might give the Pac 10 the strongest top four of any conference. Consider some of the others:

  • SEC: LSU, Florida, …, South Carolina?, Auburn?
  • ACC: Boston College, Va Tech, …, FSU? Clemson?
  • Big 10: Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, …, Michigan?
  • Big East: South Florida, West Virginia, …, Louisville? Rutgers?
  • Big 12: Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Nebraska?

Arizona State gets tested beginning this weekend with Washington and then will play 3 of their next 4 against Cal, SoCal, and Oregon. There’s bound to be some shaking out within the next month. Still, it’s been an impressive six weeks for those four teams (even with Southern Cal’s loss).

Tennessee, South Carolina, and Kentucky currently lead the SEC East with one loss each. I don’t expect that grouping to hold through the end of the season, but Tennessee suddenly has the inside track to win the division. They don’t play LSU, don’t play Auburn, and they’ve already played Florida and Georgia. Their toughest remaining games are against South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas. Those games won’t be easy, but the Vols should be favored in at least two of them. Tennessee’s game against South Carolina in Knoxville could determine the East, though the Gamecocks still have Florida remaining.

All that said, I don’t believe too much in reading into a single game, and Tennessee still had plenty of problems earlier this year. I still expect Florida to emerge somehow, but a single loss to Kentucky, Georgia (wishful thinking I know), or South Carolina would sink the Gators.

Is there any conference race less interesting or more difficult to follow than the ACC? Even though BC is undefeated, with the haphazard distribution of the divisions I fully expect to see completely random and irrelevant teams like Maryland and Miami play for the conference title. Maryland and Miami might even be in the same ACC division. Are they Atlantic or Coastal?

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