By: Greg Dailey, KCOU Sports
Well they certainly aren’t from the East! This week, the Southeastern Conference made history by becoming the first conference with four football teams in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
1) Mississippi State
2) Florida State
3) Ole Miss
The SEC had a chance to have four schools represent themselves in both polls, but Michigan State was given the nod over Auburn in the USA Today poll. What is even more unprecedented is that all these schools are in the same division. Of course the rankings will not look this way by season’s end, as they have not yet played all of each other. Alabama and Auburn both fell to the Mississippi schools (the Crimson Tide fell to Ole Miss, Auburn to Mississippi State).
Next week will feature Auburn visiting Oxford, Miss. for its fourth matchup on the road against a top-15 team. The Tigers still have two more remaining when they travel to Georgia and then to Alabama for the Iron Bowl. The Egg Bowl will be more than the battle of state braggin’ rights this year. It will most likely be the chance to get into the college football playoff, and the opportunity to send the in-state rival home without a shot at the national championship.
The West was predicted to be a solid division, per usual. Any division with Nick Saban, Les Miles and Auburn, plus the recent success of Texas A&M, and the West looked to be just as strong as it has been in recent memory. Meanwhile in the East, several up-and-coming teams figured to complement the already established programs of South Carolina and Georgia. Missouri lost several key starters, but the Tigers were still the defending SEC East champions. Kentucky and Tennessee were seen as teams on the rise with loads of young talent. Florida returned a stout defense with a returning quarterback. Vanderbilt lost its head coach and standout receiver was not expected to compete for the division title. Halfway through conference play though, the division appears as Georgia’s to lose.
Georgia has impressed, despite losing Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley to an indefinite suspension. Although the Gamecocks knocked off Georgia at home, South Carolina has not lived up to its preseason top-10 ranking. Missouri has no offense. Florida still has no offense. Kentucky has played more competitively and has nothing to show for it. Tennessee continues to accumulate stars on the recruiting trail and hasn’t seen that translate to the win-loss column either. Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt.
Because of the dominance in the West, it is almost certain that unless Georgia wins out, there will be no representative of the East in the playoff. That being said, the West has a great shot at getting two teams in. The caliber of football being played in the western division of college football’s premiere conference is unparalleled and unheard of. Get an appreciation of the rankings now, because in a few weeks it will look a lot different.