With 10 weeks of college football in the books, now seems like a great time to check in on the SEC East and see who’s going to get stomped by Alabama in the conference title game.
Heading into the season, Florida and Tennessee were the favorites to capture the division based off their rosters and the assumption that Georgia would continue its tradition of somehow screwing itself over under a new head coach. Hell, the Volunteers were considered by many as the No. 2 or No. 3 team in the entire SEC (as was LSU). It was assumed the bottom four would consist of Missouri, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Kentucky, because those programs lacked both the talent and experience to hang with the top three. As a quick reminder, here’s how the SEC media predicted the division would shake out in their preseason polls:
- South Carolina
Here’s the division standings as of today:
In accompanying news, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones announced Monday that standout running back Jalen Hurd is transferring and switching to wide receiver. Hurd’s decision was reportedly partially influenced by the fact Jones told him in the offseason they’d run more I-formation, like they did in their 2015 bowl game in which the Volunteers rushed for 226 yards and five scores against the 21st-best rush defense in the nation. Instead, the Volunteers have stuck with the spread; they rank 75th in rushing yards per game, 44th in rush attempts, and are tied for sixth with 11 interceptions thrown. (It probably doesn’t help that the Volunteers have since dropped three straight, including Saturday’s loss to South Carolina, which, damn, I can’t fault Hurd for wanting out.)
Florida, Missouri, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina have all actually lived up to expectations—the Gators are very good and the rest are very bad. Georgia’s mediocre and even the wonderful Nick Chubb’s fallen off, with 60 yards on 25 carries the past two weeks. Kentucky, by golly, has somehow stumbled to a 4-2 conference mark by getting whupped by the conference’s good teams (Florida and Alabama) and being just good enough to capture wins against the remaining mediocrity—that’s better than Tennessee or Georgia can say.
The Gators’ path to Atlanta is the easiest: they simply have to to beat Arkansas, South Carolina, and LSU—which they very well should—to claim the division. The Wildcats have to beat Georgia and Tennessee—two teams in free fall—and pray the Gators drop at least two of their remaining three contests. The Volunteers are simply fucked.
If there’s any justice in this world, Florida will lose all its remaining games and we will be gifted an Alabama-Kentucky rematch in primetime.