Remember when in college football there was the SEC and then everyone else?
You should. It wasn’t all that long ago.
However, that appears light years away now.
Yes, defending national champion Alabama is still on that plane, the one where the SEC was so dominant that its teams won seven straight BCS national championships from 2006 to 2012. Everyone else? Not so much.
Just take a look at the SEC standings and you can see how far the mighty have fallen. Also note that the Southeastern Conference has gone 5-5 against fellow non-conference Power 5 teams.
In the East, Tennessee (5-0) – a team talked up heading into this season – is in fact undefeated. However, the Vols haven’t been all that impressive, barely squeaking by Appalachian State in Week 1, followed by a bounce-back blowout of Virginia Tech, narrow wins over Ohio and Florida and then Saturday’s miracle victory over Georgia via a last-second Hail Mary.
Not all that convincing.
Then you have Florida (4-1), whose only loss came to Tennessee. But on Saturday the Gators also looked less than dominant, escaping lowly Vanderbilt (2-3) with a 13-6 win.
Then there’s Georgia (3-2) – which already has two losses – annual non-factor Kentucky (2-3), and South Carolina (2-3).
Oh yes, the Gamecocks. Talk about falling from grace. USC already has three losses this season and looks nothing like the program that won 11 games each season from 2011-13.
Missouri (2-3) is yet another team that has dropped off the map, having won 12 and 11 games in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and now serving as an afterthought.
That leaves only the Commodores, who really never seem to have any relevance nationally anyway.
But the East has been playing second fiddle to the West lately, you might be thinking.
True. However, let’s see how it’s shaping up.
You have old trusty Alabama (5-0) and Texas A&M (5-0) – which struggled to put away the Gamecocks on Saturday – as the unbeatens.
Arkansas, which has served as a bright spot, is sitting at 4-1 but 0-1 in SEC play.
Then there’s the tier of already two-loss teams in LSU (3-2) – which is in crisis mode as it just fired its longtime and national championship-winning coach in Les Miles – Auburn (3-2), Mississippi (3-2), Mississippi State (2-2).
Remember when it was assumed the SEC would be the first team to get two teams in the College Football Playoff?
Not looking so good right now. In fact, Alabama has been the only SEC to make the CFP thus far.
As strange as it would have seemed just a few years ago, it could in fact be yet another Power 5 conference that is the first to get two teams in the CFP. And it could happen this season.
The ACC could potentially wind up with two teams deserving, with Clemson and Louisville, which lost to the Tigers 42-36 in an exciting game Saturday night, if they run the table the rest of the way. Florida State also would have been in that mix before it lost against North Carolina (4-1) – which we can’t sleep on – at home on Saturday. And don’t count out Miami, quietly lurking at 4-0. Wake Forest (4-1) and N.C. State (3-1) also have just one loss thus far.
The Big 12 still has two undefeated teams in Baylor (5-0) and West Virginia (4-0), but both struggled to win Saturday and they play in a conference that’s so deep that teams generally beat each other into submission. Texas Tech (3-1) is the only team in the conference with just one loss.
The Big Ten could wind up with one of the best arguments for two teams by the time we’re done, with Michigan (5-0) and Ohio State (4-0) looking to be on a collision course for their annual regular-season finale. And don’t count out Wisconsin (4-1), which suffered its first loss in a tough test against the Wolverines on Saturday. If the Badgers wind up beating Ohio State – and the rest of their opponents – later this year, expect them to jump back into the discussion. And then Maryland (4-0) and Nebraska (5-0) are both unbeaten, but I don’t think either has done enough yet to be seriously discussed. Indiana (3-1) has just one loss after knocking off Michigan State on Saturday, so it would be unfair to not at least mention the Hoosiers and Minnesota, which is 3-1.
Then there’s the Pac-12, which seems to – like the Big 12 – pound itself out of contention annually. Washington (5-0), fresh off a dominant win over Stanford, is certainly looking tough. You can’t count the Cardinal (3-1) out just yet as that was their only loss thus far. Then you have 4-1 teams in Colorado, Arizona State and Utah who we can’t dispose of just yet.
As for non-Power 5 schools that would like to shock the world, the most likely would be Houston (5-0), which knocked off Oklahoma earlier this year. Others yet to suffer a loss are the MAC’s Western Michigan (5-0) and the Mountain West’s Air Force (4-0) and Boise State (4-0).
Overall, there are just 15 undefeated teams in the FBS right now.
While all these scenarios are fun to talk about now, there’s still plenty of football to be played.
And yes, it’s still possible that the SEC ultimately winds up with two teams in the College Football Playoff this year.
But I’m not putting my money on it.
I’m calling it now. Either the ACC or Big Ten will get two teams in the CFP this season.
Just don’t ask me to decide on which it will be.