10 Factors That Could Prevent SEC from Winning Another BCS Title
Ask 10 random people who they have winning this year’s national championship and at least eight of them will say an SEC team. The conference has won six of last BCS National Championships and is considered a heavy favorite to make it seven in a row this year.
The conference has a total of six teams in the latest AP Poll, with four of those teams ranked inside the Top 10. There, of course, are other teams that can compete for a title, but many find it hard to believe until it is actually done. Yes, the SEC has been that dominant in college football over the years.
But what if I told you that a team outside the SEC could win the national championship this season?
We may be going out on a limb, but here are 10 factors that could prevent college football’s most impressive conference from walking away with the hardware this season.
Big Plays Already?
When you think of the SEC, one of the first things that come to mind is defense. Nearly every team in this conference plays stifling defense, and the success rate is proving the cliché right that defenses win championships.
And while nobody is arguing the fact that the SEC is better at defense than anyone else, there have been several big plays already against contenders.
Georgia has allowed five plays over 30 yards, while South Carolina has allowed three. We also can't forget about North Texas going 80 yards for a touchdown against LSU, as the defense got caught in man coverage and couldn't keep up. Alabama has also allowed a 70-yard play, which probably kept head coach Nick Saban up all night after the game.
Will the defense continue to improve? It's likely. But one of these teams will likely end up playing an explosive offense in the championship. If below average teams can break off big plays, what could a team like Oregon do?
Can't Convert When It Counts
If the season was to end today, there would be eight SEC teams that finish the year converting less than 40 percent of third-down attempts. That includes teams such as Arkansas, Alabama and Florida. In fact, five teams from the conference are picking up first downs less than 30 percent of the time on third-down attempts.
Of course, the SEC is going to win most of its games with tough-nosed defensive play, but if you can't convert when it counts against Western Kentucky and Jacksonville State, there is no hope for you against other BCS programs.
And while Alabama was considered a defensive team last season, the Crimson Tide still managed to convert 46 percent of third-down attempts.
It's going to become more difficult for teams in this conference to win if they can't move the chains consistently.
Voters Are Tough on the SEC
Auburn isn't even receiving votes anymore after losing two straight games. Arkansas went from being the eighth best team in the country in the AP Poll, to dropping out of the poll all together with just one loss. Despite playing better than USC in the first two games, LSU is ranked behind the Trojans in the AP Poll.
And while Florida State continues to rise in the rankings, teams such as Georgia and South Carolina have either dropped or remained with the same ranking after the first two weeks.
It seems like because the SEC has set the standards the last several years, voters expect much better play than what they have seen so far this season. If teams from this conference are going to lose to an unranked team, the consequences will be severe. If the spread isn't covered, or sexy points weren't added at the end of the game, there will be a chance a drop in the polls will happen.
The SEC has set the bar, and early on in the season, it seems like voters are giving the conference no passes.
There is nothing that bugs me more with football teams than a squad that is not disciplined. Unnecessary penalties are enough to drive a coach up a wall, and a good way to hurt your chances at a national championship run. If you can't limit the amount of times moving backwards, eventually it will cost you a game or two.
Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Florida, Missouri and Texas A&M average at least 6.5 penalties a game. Georgia, Arkansas and Florida are SEC contenders that are averaging over 100 yards in penalty yardage.
I don't care how talented your team is, if you continue to shoot yourself in the foot, there is a good chance your team will have to wait till next year to win a championship.
Offensive Lines Looking Shaky
One of the main differences between teams in the SEC and the other conferences are the offensive lines. The SEC has units that are much bigger, stronger, aggressive and experienced than any other lines you will find elsewhere.
And while this makes pressuring the quarterback much more difficult, some of the best offensive lines are looking a little shaky to begin the season. Alabama, a team that returns four of five starters on its line, gave up an inexcusable six sacks to a Western Kentucky team. Florida has already allowed nine sacks, which is the second worst in the country. LSU has lost starting left tackle Chris Faulk for the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
South Carolina has allowed six sacks, while Georgia has allowed five.
Of course, I would still take the Crimson Tide's and LSU's offensive lines over anyone else, but this has to be an early concern for fans of the SEC.
They'll Beat Up Each Other
Is it even a guarantee that an SEC team reaches the BCS National Championship Game? I know, the thought of an SEC team not in the big game is blasphemous, but it may not be as big of a lock as you think.
Right now, the true SEC contenders look like Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, LSU, Arkansas and Alabama. You can take Georgia out of the conversation for tough schedule, because there are high schools that can beat majority of the opponents on the Bulldogs schedule. But even if Georgia is fortunate enough to make it to the big game, it would have to, of course, play a tough SEC West team.
Now looking at the schedule:
South Carolina tough games: vs. Missouri, vs. Georgia, at LSU, at Florida, vs. Arkansas, at Clemson
Arkansas tough games: vs. Alabama, at Texas A&M, at Auburn, at South Carolina, vs. LSU
LSU tough games: at Auburn, at Florida, vs. South Carolina, at Texas A&M, vs. Alabama, at Arkansas
Florida tough games: at Tennessee, vs. LSU, vs. South Carolina, vs. Georgia, vs. Missouri, at Florida State
Alabama tough games: at Arkansas, at Missouri, at Tennessee, at LSU, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Auburn
Basically, every SEC contender has at the very least five true tests remaining on the schedule. Is it too far-fetched to believe that all of those teams end up losing possibly two games in the regular season?
If that in fact happens, it will open the door for teams in the Pac-12 and Big 12, who are just waiting for some of these squads to hit a bump in the road.
The Rest of the Field
The rest of the teams from other conferences aren't half bad either.
Teams such as Oregon, West Virginia and USC have enough offensive firepower to compete with any team in the country. Oklahoma has a defense that isn't half bad and the most experienced quarterback in the country in Landry Jones. Florida State is terrific defensively, as the Seminoles have already forced four turnovers, 15 tackles for loss and have seven sacks in two games.
You also can't forget about the dark-horse teams such as Michigan State, Kansas State, Clemson and Virginia Tech. All of those squads are playing solid football early on and have potential on a certain side of the ball that could lead to a BCS run.
The field outside of the SEC seems a little bit deeper than it was a year ago, and like I said in the last slide, each of these teams are just waiting for its chance to pounce on mistakes.
Teams May Not Be as Strong as They Look
And while we are on the subject of SEC teams, we may only be two weeks into the season, but these teams aren't looking good early on.
Arkansas went from a Top 10 team to out of the rankings in just two games. Georgia struggled against teams such as Buffalo and Missouri. South Carolina was nearly upset by Vanderbilt, and is dealing with injury issues to its starting quarterback. Auburn, a team that was expected to compete for a BCS bowl, already has two losses to begin the season.
The SEC may still be the most talented conference in the country, but many of its top teams have to play better in order to make a serious championship run.
No Other QB Is Better Than Matt Barkley
We have heard throughout the offseason that if there is a team that is going to compete with the SEC, it is going to be the Oregon Ducks. While I have my doubts about the Trojans early on in the season, they do happen to have a quarterback named Matt Barkley.
Barkley is not only considered by many to be the top quarterback in the country, there are some that think he is the best pro prospect in the entire country. Now if you are an SEC fan, you would say that the senior quarterback has yet to face that he would likely see in a possible national championship. That is true, but with his skill set, there is a better chance of him succeeding than there is with any other quarterback to choose from.
The Trojans starting quarterback could be starting for an NFL team right now; instead he may get a shot to win a national championship. He is somebody who could take over a game and lead the Trojans to victory. I'm not sure the SEC has an offensive player that could respond if Barkley has one of his typical games.
It's About Time
Seriously, it is only a matter of time before the run of the SEC dominance comes to an end. Sure, there is a good possibility that the amazing streak can be extended to seven straight national championships, but we can't expect this run to last forever.
There are many other great teams that have talented players as well. There will eventually be another team that ends up winning the BCS National Championship.
Why not this year?