In sports, when you’re at the top for so long, people want to see you fall. Nowhere is this more true than with the Southeastern Conference, the king of football conferences for the past decade and a half. SEC schools take such pride in their conference’s domination that any threat to their crown, however small, is welcomed by the rest of college football fandom.
Judging by social media, this week’s slate of football was the biggest threat to SEC dominance in years. And considering some of the calamities that struck the conference’s football teams this Saturday, it’s not hard to imagine why.
South Carolina blew a lead and lost to North Carolina. Tennessee suffered a shocking defeat to Georgia State. Missouri lost to the Wyoming Cowboys from the Mountain West Conference. Ole Miss fell to Memphis. Even among the conference’s wins, there were some near-misses. Kentucky eked out a 14-point win against lowly Toledo, while Mississippi State barely survived the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette.
So…yeah. Not that good an omen for the season to come, right?
Except there’s a serious hole in that logic. These teams have not exactly been the heartbeat of SEC football for years, if ever.
Of the four teams who lost, Missouri was projected in preseason by most to finish with the best record, and even they were pegged to finish at around seven wins. None of them really had any national title hopes on their shoulders. In fact, most didn’t even pick Tennessee to finish with a winning record even before their disastrous loss.
The SEC teams that did have lofty expectations — the ones near the top of the rankings — are Alabama, Georgia, and LSU, and all of them performed at least decently this week.
While Alabama and Georgia performed sluggishly at points, they both pulled away to easy wins over inferior competition, with Georgia pummeling longtime conference doormat Vanderbilt. LSU were dominant from wire to wire, with quarterback Joe Burrow making a legitimate early case for the Heisman even in only two and a half quarters of play. Texas A&M also looked just fine, albeit it’s hard to judge a game against Texas State.
If just one of those teams had lost, especially if #29 ranked Alabama had fallen to football laughingstock Duke, perhaps then we can talk about a potential disaster for SEC football. But not today.
But, hey, people will believe what they want to believe. Maybe if Illinois loses to UConn next week we can all start doomsaying about the “fall of the Big Ten”.