SEC continues to devour itself before College Football Playoff
By DAVID ROBERTS
College Contributor Network
There will be four SEC teams in the AP Top 25 after seven games.
Imagine if I went back in time to August and told you that?
"That's not too surprising," you'd say. "Alabama is probably in there along with Auburn. I'd bet LSU is in there with either Georgia or South Carolina, too."
And what about Ole Miss and Mississippi State?
"They'll probably be better than last year, but most likely won't give Alabama or LSU anything to worry about."
Then you'd promptly bet the mortgage on Alabama beating Ole Miss, after throwing dirt in my face and telling me to go kick rocks.
But the SEC West has stayed true to its preseason plan in the most incomprehensible division in college football, sending five of seven teams to the Top 25.
As good as No. 1 Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Auburn and No. 24 LSU have been however, the most surprising team in the last couple weeks has been Texas A&M. The Aggies' fall from grace began when preseason No. 9 South Carolina began unraveling, making A&M's 52-28 thrashing of the Gamecocks look a whole lot less impressive.
Texas A&M certainly didn't help itself the next few weeks, dropping three straight, including a 59-0 blowout to 'Bama. Even Jeff Driskel and the Gators scraped together 21 points against the Crimson Tide and were able to make it interesting for most of the game.
The team that humbled South Carolina in its own backyard is now sobering up to face the reality of a seven-win total. The Aggies must go to Auburn and then face LSU to close their season. They'll need a win in one of those games to avoid a horribly average 7-5 record.
If they can win one of those games they aren't supposed to win, the early season hype surrounding the team and quarterback Kenny Hill may just be forgiven. Maybe.
The SEC East isn't any less ridiculous.
Remember "Gurshall?" Once heralded as a Darren McFadden/Felix Jones combination, the running back tandem seems to be on the track to obscurity, as Todd Gurley's days at Georgia could be numbered and Nick Marshall can't stay healthy.
A guy named Nick Chubb has embraced the "next-man-up" mantra the Bulldogs have implemented at the position, rushing for 345 yards in his last two games. Chubb racked up 174 total yards in a 34-0 drumming of Missouri, Georgia's only legitimate competitor for an SEC East title.
Georgia ventured into the SEC West this past weekend, dominating Arkansas 45-32, but it really wasn't that close. The Bulldogs took a 38-6 halftime lead in the Razorbacks' own backyard, and only scored seven points in the second half.
The next true test for the Bulldogs will be a Nov. 15 matchup with Auburn, which will prove exactly where the team stands amidst this SEC turmoil.
As for the Auburn Tigers, they must play two other top-10 opponents on the road, first going to Ole Miss and then ending the season against Nick Saban, who enjoys nothing more than humiliating teams in revenge. Nobody in Tuscaloosa has forgotten about last year's unimaginable Iron Bowl.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss are each right in the thick of conference schedules, but will meet on Nov. 29, a game that would dictate the champs of the SEC West if played tomorrow.
It's not likely, but if the Bulldogs and Rebels run the table leading up to that game, two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff could come out of the SEC West -- provided that an SEC East team does not surprise us all and win the SEC.
But, as we've grown accustomed to doing, let us enjoy watching the SEC devour itself before we begin to worry about playoffs.
David Roberts is a fourth-year English major at the University of South Carolina. He was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, but relocated to the land below the Mason-Dixon line in grade school, citing earthquakes and Raiders fans as minor nuisances. David is a die-hard Cubs fan and still breaks down when thinking about the 2003 NLCS. Follow him on Twitter: @davidjayroberts