Week 2 of the College Football season gives us two fairly significant out-of-conference games, both involving the SEC.
A week after Florida got humiliated by Michigan, and Texas A&M lost a heartbreaker at UCLA, two SEC teams go on the road this week as underdogs, hoping to restore the conference’s good name: Georgia travels to Notre Dame and Auburn visits Clemson.
The once-proud SEC would be at DEFCON 1 entering this weekend had Tennessee not gotten lucky in the fourth quarter and overtime and defeated pesky Georgia Tech.
This is how far the SEC has fallen: A decade ago, LSU and Georgia finished 1-2 in the AP Poll. Tennessee, Florida and Auburn finished in the Top 15. At the time, the conference was loaded with elite coaches: Les Miles (LSU), Urban Meyer (Florida), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), Mark Richt (Georgia)* and Nick Saban had just arrived.
By 2012, the SEC was head and shoulders the best conference in the country, with Alabama winning the national title, and Georgia (5th), Texas A&M (6ht), South Carolina (8th), and Florida (9th) all finishing in the Top 10.
But now, in 2017, those the conference has a coaching problem (read: They lack good ones) and a QB problem, too. The last 1st round pick who played QB in the SEC? Johnny Manziel in 2014.
Of course, expecting Georgia to travel to South Bend and win without its starting QB, Jacob Eason, is a tall order; ditto Auburn going to Death Valley at night to play the defending champions. But this is the SEC’s last chance to make a statement before conference play begins and they beat each other up.
They’d surely take a split, and maybe Arkansas beats TCU, and the SEC can crow a little bit. But what if they go 0-2 and TCU wins in Fayetteville, too?
*Don’t tell me Mark Richt wasn’t elite in 2007. From 2002-2004 he had 3 straight top 10 finishes, and five 10+ win seasons in his first seven years in Athens.