11 September, 2023
After Week 2, five SEC teams are rated among the top 20 in the AP Top 25. Eight clubs were still in the top 25 after two weeks last season. Seven SEC teams were ranked two seasons ago. Six were ranked in 2019.
No. 1 The only other team in the top five is Georgia. Three SEC teams were among the top five after the first two weeks three years ago. The Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide held the top two slots after the top two weeks the previous two seasons.
However, following LSU’s defeat to Florida State in Week 1 and Alabama’s loss to Texas on Saturday night, two of the SEC’s top teams are now 0-1 and are virtually out of the College Football Playoff. Given that they face off in November, it is safe to conclude that even if they both remain unbeaten over the following seven weeks, at least one of those two will be outside the playoffs with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
The second top SEC West contender, Texas A&M, is also winless. After losing to Miami on Saturday, the Aggies tumbled out of the Top 25, as the passing assault of the Hurricanes shredded the A&M defense. The Aggies’ offense showed some encouraging indications in the second week of the arranged marriage between head coach Jimbo Fisher and offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino, but this isn’t a club that’s in the hunt for the national championship.
There are four unbeaten teams in the SEC West, but nobody is alarmed about them. Despite being ranked No. 17 in the AP poll, Ole Miss had some issues against a Tulane squad on Saturday that was missing quarterback Michael Pratt. In an underwhelming win at Cal late on Saturday night, Auburn managed just 12 first downs and four turnovers. Mississippi State and Arkansas both failed to make the Top 25.
Of course, Georgia is the best program in the nation. In each of their first two games against weaker opponents, the Bulldogs sputtered early on but quickly proved why they are the two-time defending national champs.
However, it appears that Georgia is already the SEC’s only chance of winning the national championship.
In the SEC East, there isn’t much to be excited about besides the Bulldogs. Tennessee is 2-0, but its opponents include a Virginia team that may be the worst in the entire Power Five and Austin Peay conferences. Aside from Kentucky’s poor performance against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday and Missouri’s narrow victory over a Middle Tennessee team that was humiliated by Alabama in Week 1, both Florida and South Carolina suffered embarrassing defeats to teams that are presently ranked in the Top 25.
Not one team with two losses has ever advanced to the four-team playoff. The best chance the SEC has of getting two teams into the postseason is for Alabama or LSU to run the table and then upset an unbeaten Georgia in the SEC championship game because the two top candidates in the West already have one loss.
The SEC ought to remain one of the richest conferences in the nation. This season, the lame-duck Pac-12 may have more depth than it. But barring some unexpected changes across the college football scene, it’s difficult to see how anyone else will be in a position to compete for a national title in January.