As you should know by now, the Sooners roll into the Sugar Bowl tomorrow night on the tails of a nine-game winning streak that saw them conquer the Big 12. For now, it’s time for OU fans to turn their attention elsewhere: the postseason.
Oklahoma may not be in the playoffs this year, but they’ve still earned a spot in one of college football’s major bowl games. And if you were thinking about getting complacent, don’t forget that the opponent in this one gives OU a chance to knock the SEC down a peg. We’ve only played Auburn once before (we won), but we’ve definitely got beef with their conference. So read up, take to the comment boards across the internet, and don’t let anyone tell you to calm down. This is why we hate the SEC.
They’re really good...
Sometimes it gets hard to root for a group after long stretches of success. From 2003 to 2015, the SEC won nine of the thirteen college football championships. It doesn’t help that two of those wins were against Oklahoma (LSU in 2003 and Florida in 2008). It just gets a little old.
…but they’re not that good
Yes, winning 9/13 titles (and at one point seven in a row) earns you a bit of swag. But the national story is now that the Southeastern Conference is dominant—to the point where every conference win is a quality one, and where the winner of the conference surely deserves a spot in the playoffs.
The reality is, though, that the SEC isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if you consider every team. The SEC currently has 14 members for football. Every football championship the conference claims since 2000 was won by only one of four teams, though: LSU, Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. That leaves ten teams getting lumped into this conversation simply because four other teams have been carrying the load. The type of conversations we have about the SEC matter, particularly when it comes to rankings. The Playoff Committee and other voters, with their poorly disguised biases, routinely overrate the SEC when possible. Remember when the Aggies debuted at the number four spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings (ahead of undefeated Washington) only to lose four of their next five games, all to unranked opponents? Yeah.
This year, only four teams in the conference had a winning record against SEC teams. Only one of those teams was in the SEC East (Florida), and UF was 0-1 against ranked opponents on the season.
By comparison, the Big 12 had four teams with winning records in-conference, and they've got four fewer teams than the SEC. The Pac 12 had six teams with winning conference records (three in each division), the Big 10 had eight such teams (with at least three in each division), and the ACC had seven such teams (again with at least three in each division). While the SEC might be top-heavy, the parity is probably the worst of all Power 5 conferences.
Add that up, and the narrative of the SEC's greatness gets old fast.
I'll take one powder puff for the road, please
You may be aware that some teams (Baylor) repeatedly get put on blast for scheduling three weak non-conference games each year. Committee members use it as a key reason to discount those teams' (Baylor's) overall resume at the end of the year. What you might not know is that the SEC teams also schedule three weak non-conference games pretty much every year.
In the Big 12, each team plays each other team. I'll save you some calculations and just tell you: that's nine conference games per year. The SEC, meanwhile, plays only eight conference games. So while Alabama did schedule USC this year, they also scheduled Western Kentucky, Kent State, and Chattanooga. Praise Auburn for scheduling Clemson if you want, but while OU was playing West Virginia this year on November 19, Auburn got to replace a conference game with a match-up against Alabama A&M. In case you were curious, their other non-conference games were Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe. They may have scheduled teams with "Alabama," "Arkansas," or "Louisiana" in their names, but don't let that fool you; that doesn't add up to a good non-conference effort.
The typical narrative used to defend this practice is that the SEC is just so good that they need a break. But Florida won the SEC East without beating a single ranked team, so you tell me how much water that bucket of nonsense holds.
That SEC defense, though!
Why is the SEC better than [insert your conference here]? Because they play downright amazing defense. At least, that's what Paul Finebaum would have you believe. Let's examine the merit of that claim, though, because I have a feeling that it may not be true, and could be a product of playing against typically poor offenses.
I threw a figurative dart at a figurative wheel and landed on Georgia. Georgia boasts the #12 overall defense in college football this year in terms of yards allowed. That's impressive.
Against Missouri, though, Georgia allowed 27 points. Missouri only scored more points than that four times, and those games were against Eastern Michigan, Delaware State, Middle Tennessee, and Regular Tennessee. Against non-SEC Power 5 schools, Missouri was held to 11 points by WVU. Georgia also allowed 24 points in a loss to Florida. Including Florida's non-conference schedule of North Texas, UMass, and Florida State, Florida only averaged 23.4 points-per-game, so Georgia was actually more forgiving than most. For the record, Florida's lone Power 5 non-conference opponent held the Gators to only 13 points. In context, it's hard to tell whether Georgia's defense is really any better than average.
Switching gears a bit, let's look at Auburn. In the SEC, Auburn averaged 26.25 points-per-game. In their only non-conference game against a Power 5 opponent, they managed only 13 points.
The real issue here appears to be that the SEC offenses are just not very good. Here's how their some offenses fared against Power 5 non-conference opponents:
-LSU: 14 ppg
-MSU: Technically did not schedule any non-conference P5 opponents, but scored 21 against BYU and 17 against Miami (OH) in their bowl game.
-Mizzou: 11 ppg
-Florida: 13 ppg
-South Carolina: 7 ppg
-Vanderbilt: 7 ppg.
Not all the teams are that bad. Kentucky put up 41 on Louisville, A&M managed 31 against UCLA, and Alabama demolished USC. The point is that the offenses that these SEC defenses line up against for most of the season just aren't that good. The Florida offense was so inept against Alabama in the conference championship game that the following play was actually listed as a POSITIVE for the offense by hailfloridahail.com:
This seam route missed by a 5 year senior. BP4 Wide open. pic.twitter.com/PU1HBqaCvm— Nick Gonzalez (@ByNickGonzalez) December 3, 2016
At the time of this writing, Florida is playing Iowa. The Florida quarterback is the only player so far to complete a pass to an Iowa player, and he's done it twice...
We've mentioned him before, but one of the major stars of ESPN's SEC network is Paul Finebaum. You may have heard him call Bob Stoops "irrelevant," or say (when asked if he gave OU any chance at all in the Sugar Bowl two years ago) "I don't. I really don't...I'll be shocked if Alabama doesn't just come out and unleash unholy anxiety on the Sooners."
I get it; his job is to tout the conference he's being paid to talk about. But he's among the worst people to suffer through unless you're a massive SEC homer.
As a bonus, he also fields calls on his shows to allow the class of the SEC fandom to voice their opinions. Have a listen to Phyllis here:
Between the ridiculous hype train, chants of “S-E-C!” by fans of programs that have never really been relevant in college football (I’m looking at you, Mississippi State fans), and having to listen to Paul Finebaum, we really hate the SEC. Here's to hoping Oklahoma gives us plenty to say tonight!