There is a difference of opinion on why top SEC teams lost on Saturday

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Surely some people are still snickering at the Southeastern Conference.

Five SEC teams that were considered title contenders lost on Saturday, including Louisiana State, which fell on a late field goal by Mississippi's Andrew Ritter (left).  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Five SEC teams that were considered title contenders lost on Saturday, including Louisiana State, which fell on a late field goal by Mississippi's Andrew Ritter (left).

The big, bad SEC – the powerhouse league that has won seven consecutive national titles – had a stunning number of upsets Saturday. Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, South Carolina and Texas A&M all lost in league play.

All five had been considered national title contenders before the season. Now, they’re looking for significant help in the division race while trying to make the most of a disappointing season.

Few outsiders are feeling sorry for them, either. They’re rooting for top-ranked Alabama to go down next and pulling for an end to the league’s college football reign.

Not surprisingly, SEC coaches, players and officials view the situation differently. They say the upsets prove the league has improved from top to bottom – more parity and fewer patsies.

“It’s no surprise to me that there’s a little bit of a changing of the guard this year,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

“When people talk about scheduling and imbalances in scheduling, they make the assumptions that certain teams are always good. We played Tennessee for years and years around here where they were one of the best teams in the SEC. ...

“History says we have a lot of teams in the SEC that are capable of being very, very good, and I think you’re seeing some of that emerge this year.”

Just days after the SEC set a record by becoming the first conference with eight teams ranked in the Top 25, five of them dropped games.

“I think a lot of the ranked teams either sleep on the unranked teams or I just think a lot of the unranked teams have that edge,” Tennessee receiver Alton “Pig” Howard said. “They want to beat a ranked opponent, so I’d say they probably out-effort them. A lot of teams have talent, but I think when you play with effort, that beats talent.”

Injuries have played a role, too, especially for Georgia and Florida.

Watching all the upsets unfold was encouraging for first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops, whose team had the weekend off.

“You look at it and say, ‘Anything can happen in this league,’” Stoops said. “I think it’s such a tough, physical league, and if you don’t come ready to play, anything can happen.”

“I think with the injuries that happen throughout this league because of the physicality, I think that changes things week to week, as well.”

Playing at home also has been a huge factor.

SEC teams are a combined 45-13 at home and 16-20 on the road this season. If you take out Alabama, Texas A&M and Missouri, the rest of the league is 8-20 on the road.

“One of the things I’ve come to find very early on is everyone has a home-field advantage,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “We have to go on the road and play in some great hostile environments.”

Throw in key injuries and a few big plays, and the SEC has become a place where anything can and will happen. And anyone tired of seeing the SEC win national titles is surely celebrating — at least for now.

“Really the SEC’s biggest enemy is its depth overall,” Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch said. “The quality of the league is pretty impressive. It’s the SEC. It’s the best league out there and will continue to be the best league.

“It’s hard to go undefeated.”

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Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 10/24/13 - 04:40 am
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It's true. Fans outside of

It's true. Fans outside of the SEC forget that....or they hope and pray that the SEC teams beat up on themselves every season! It's tough. And it puts a lot of pressure on the coaches to have to keep up with the other SEC teams, because they are always trying to improve.

deestafford
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deestafford 10/24/13 - 06:22 am
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The SEC is the big dog of the conferences. It's not like the

"Big 2 and little 8" as the Big 10 has sometimes be referred. The other conferences are not nearly as strong from top to bottom. The addition of A&M and Missouri has only added strength.

The hostile environment that a visiting team experiences when travelling speaks well of the spirit and enthusiasm that only college football can bring. As the Bear said, "You can't rally around a math class."

Bodhisattva
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Bodhisattva 10/24/13 - 07:17 am
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Big schools, big fan bases
Unpublished

Big schools, big fan bases (most of whom never set foot on a college campus), big money. Tie in between ESPN an the SEC moneywise. They rank them at the top because that's where the money is. Even if both were undefeated, the BCS would cringe, rig the polls, and do whatever possible to make sure the BCS championship game wasn't between Washington State and Duke. They'd throw a 2 loss SEC team in, even if one of these had beaten that SEC team. It's a rigged system. Until they go to a legit playoff system, not one that throws in the top teams from the rigged ranking system, it will never be a true measure of football. At least have one that takes the top 4 from each conference.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/24/13 - 07:19 am
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Defense wins games. Some have no defense. ROLL TIDE!!!!
Unpublished

Ohio St has no schedule. They flip a coin with Michigan each year to see who should win.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/24/13 - 07:20 am
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Big Ten already had a network. No SEC gets its own network.
Unpublished

Let the blackouts and pay per view take over.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 07:44 am
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Rediculous

If you are going to insist on a tournament, take the best teams regardless of conference. There is no entitlement to participate just because...

David Parker
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David Parker 10/24/13 - 08:23 am
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Sorry Bod but SEC is at the

Sorry Bod but SEC is at the top for a reason and it ain't b/c a bunch of TV execs pulling the strings make it happen. The South is the cradle of college football and recruits the best to come play here. And they come willingly. It's a nice angle to put it on the fanbase or a sports channel but simply put, SEC is just a more developed group with players who go all in when they sign. We need Dukes and Washingtons don't get me wrong, but nine times out of ten, they're gonna fall to a better team after being spoonfed cupcakes for 90% of their schedule. The injuries and attrition that occur in the SEC make it interesting no doubt when we get together with a pac 12 team. However, the level of competition is "dumbed down" at that point. Hope the playoff system helps yall put these feelings to rest and we can focus on playing each other instead of why things are so unfair.

Mr. Thackeray
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Mr. Thackeray 10/24/13 - 08:46 am
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SEC teams would have a better idea of how good they REALLY...

If they would play BCS non-conference teams rather than picking on the weak sisters, smaller schools.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 09:07 am
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MR T.

That's what bowls are for. You can't expect the SEC teams to play an 8 game schedule (9 game soon to come) against each other and then play 3 other "tough" games would be unfair. Besides, UGA for example played Clemson and GaTech outside their SEC schedule. Anyone who doubts the SEC's strength vs any other conference is just silly.

Mr. Thackeray
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Mr. Thackeray 10/24/13 - 10:34 am
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Justthefacts...

How do you justify a game w/ GA State, UL Lafayette, Western Carolina, Toledo, North Texas, Kent State, SEMO, Alcorn State, Murray State, UCF, Austin Peay, South Alabama, Rice, Sam Houston State, UAB?

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 10:45 am
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Mr. T

I justified it in my previous post. Why are you focusing on the SEC. Have you checked Ohio State's schedule? In addition to a bunch of patsy Big 10 opponents, check their non conference schedule. ACC? Check Clemson. Check any school. Tell me if you find a school that doesn't play a couple cupcakes.

David Parker
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David Parker 10/24/13 - 10:47 am
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It's reciprocal logic but if

It's reciprocal logic but if we are calling out SEC teams for not playing BCS non-conf's, can't the same be said for the non-conf BCS teams not playing SEC teams?

eg. Tennessee Vols mid-season schedule looks a little like this:

Sat, Sept 14 @ #2 Oregon
Sat, Sept 21 @ #19 Florida
Sat, Sept 28 vs South Alabama
Sat, Oct 5 vs #6 Georgia
Sat, Oct 19 vs #11 South Carolina
Sat, Oct 26 @ #1 Alabama
Sat, Nov 2 @ #5 Missouri
Sat, Nov 9 vs #11 Auburn

Isn't that a non-conf ranked opponent and then the SEC gauntlet? Almost feel bad for them. Almost

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 11:21 am
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DP

I know, right? UGA has already played 4 teams out of seven games against teams that have been ranked in the Top 10 in the country. Jeeze, what do these folks want?

David Parker
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David Parker 10/24/13 - 11:39 am
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what do these folks want?

entitlement maybe. Dunno, but they put alot of thought into how things should be made harder for the ones that exceed the status quo. My suggestion, work at getting better.

billcass
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billcass 10/24/13 - 12:18 pm
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Media fiction

The big bad SEC is a media fiction. That is why they continually lose bowl games against other conferences (just ask LSU or USC) and that is why two mediocre programs from other conferences (TAMU and Mizzou) have been able to rise to the top. The only team in the SEC this year that is a legit top ten team is Alabama. Yes, they are a great team. But they play a cupcake SEC schedule (TAMU and LSU have proven they are not that good) and nothing out of conference. But it is good for ESPN to pump up the SEC, so they do.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 01:02 pm
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LOL

* The SEC has 16 more bowl wins than any other conference since the 1998 season.
* The SEC has more bowl bids over that span than any other conference.
* Despite its teams often playing opponents that finished higher in their own conference standings, the SEC has the third-best winning percentage among conferences. Only the Big West — defunct for more than a decade — and the Big East have better overall winning percentages since 1998.
* Of the five major conferences remaining today — ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, and SEC — only the SEC has a winning bowl mark over the past 15 seasons.
The SEC is undefeated in the NCG except for LSU losing to Alabama. 7 straight titles.

IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG
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IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG 10/24/13 - 02:43 pm
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SEC Analysis

SEC teams are a combined 35-7 against non-conference opponents this season through the end of games last week. This encompasses both FBS and FCS schools alike. But the telling statistic is this against ranked opponents at the time in which the two schools met, SEC teams are just 1-4 this season. Georgia lost to #8 Clemson, Tennessee lost to #2 Oregon, Kentucky lost to #7 Louisville, Mississippi State lost to #13 Oklahoma State, and the lone win was when LSU beat #20 TCU. This tells me that the SEC is a good conference, but not the best conference as they are unable to beat the better teams of “lesser” conferences. In short, from a non-conference perspective, the SEC handles the cupcakes but not much else. Note that Florida’s loss to Miami was at a time when the Hurricanes were unranked, just as Alabama’s win over Virginia Tech occurred when the Hokies were unranked. Both teams are currently ranked from the “lesser” ACC.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 02:57 pm
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OK then

What conference is better? If lined up top to bottom. Which conference would you take over the SEC? So, you think the lesser teams in the SEC (Kentucky, Miss St, and Tenn) should beat the top teams of other conferences to be considered the better conference? Interesting take. Silly, but interesting.

IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG
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IMRIGHTYOUREWRONG 10/24/13 - 03:35 pm
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Rebuttal

First of all, let us all agree that Kentucky is terrible. Every conference has a team that is comparable to Kentucky, and just because it plays in the SEC should not automatically qualify it as the best worst team. Some pundits would be quick to do so, which is ridiculous. Next, let us look at Tennessee, are they good or are they not good? Well if we say they are good, because they beat South Carolina and almost beat Georgia (losing in overtime), then what does it say about losing by 45 points to Oregon. Oregon is just a completely dominant team? Or the more likely scenario is this, Tennessee is mediocre, which is why they lost to the #2 team in the country by 45 points and why they beat South Alabama (a team playing in its first full season of FBS play) by 7 points on a 4th and goal stand late in the fourth quarter. Incidentally, a week later when faced with the same scenario against a slightly better team (Georgia) it relinquished the game tying touchdown before eventually losing by a field goal in overtime. So it seems to me, that the more probable explanation is this Tennessee is marginally better than a middle of the pack team (say in the 40-60 ranking range nationally; out of 120ish teams) not just in the conference, but nationally as well. Georgia and South Carolina are there too. Georgia loses by 15 points to a quality Missouri team, and beats LSU by a field goal (the same LSU team who lost to Mississippi by a field goal) and South Carolina loses to the aforementioned Georgia team. Finally, as the scenarios unfold, the SEC fan boys would claim this is the cream of the crop just beating up on each other, but in reality it is a handful of marginal teams who in all likelihood are no more or less than a touchdown better than each other all playing each other with according results. So the question is this, is a conference’s worth measured by the whole top to bottom? Or by its parts, the quality of its best teams? That is why I look at the non-conference body of work. And I believe the numbers speak volumes.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 03:38 pm
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So, again

Which conference do you see when compared to the SEC, on whole, is better?

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/24/13 - 03:57 pm
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Notre Dame and Fruit Loops. One belonged in a bowl. LOL
Unpublished

Notre Dame and Fruit Loops. One belonged in a bowl. LOL

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/24/13 - 04:00 pm
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ROLL TIDE!! ROLL ON!!
Unpublished

15 National Championships
( most in last 100 years )
( 3rd all time after Princeton and Yale back to 1869 )
(NCAA Records credit 5 additional unclaimed by UA for 1940-1960)

27 SEC Championships

9th All Time Winning Percentage

Winning Record Against Every SEC Team (except Texas A&M)

35 Bowl Wins *NCAA Record
62 Bowl Appearances *NCAA Record
23 Ten Game Win Streaks *NCAA Record
16 Season with 10-0 Starts *NCAA Record
33 Ten Win Seasons *NCAA Record
9 Undefeated, Untied Seasons * NCAA Record

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/24/13 - 04:01 pm
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Defense wins games. Some have no defense. ROLL TIDE!!!!
Unpublished

Defense wins games. Some have no defense. ROLL TIDE!!!!

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/24/13 - 04:48 pm
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Oh well

That question always seemed to end the conversation. Good day.

billcass
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billcass 10/24/13 - 08:29 pm
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No

I just know not to argue with people with intransigent opinions. This year, I would argue that both the ACC and the PAC 10 are better. ACC has three top ten teams. PAC 10 has Oregon, Sanford, etc. You have to compare year by year. Last year, Oregon was probably the best team in the country, but the media wanted an SEC team in the National Championship Game. So they created the fiction that Alabama's loss to TAMU was somehow "better" than Oregon's loss to Stanford. Hence, Alabama plays for the title against an awful opponent.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 10/25/13 - 07:40 am
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Bill

Too bad we can't have discussion without them being regarded as arguments. I simply proved your statement about bowl successes wrong. If that is consider that "intransigent". Well, guilty. The discussion was around conferences, not teams. Having said that, Oregon, Stanford, Clemson, and Florida State may be better than Alabama. But to then suggest that makes the ACC better is a stretch. Miami is also good, but Duke, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Syracuse, GaTech and Boston College are in the conference as well. Would you really want to match them up with the equivalent SEC team?

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