Going to college in the nation’s capital is a truly inspiring feeling. Every time l lean over the Village A rooftop railing and look out at the Washington Monument or the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, I am filled with a surge of patriotism that makes me reflect on the things that make me proud to be an American. The one thing that is unequivocally number one is the prevalence of college football in our nation.
However, much like housing on our campus, not all college football conferences are created equally. And, like securing a Nevils apartment, only the most blessed call themselves a fan of a Southeastern Conference, or SEC for short, school. Like it or not, the SEC has been the reigning conference in college football for at least the lifetime of a freshman, winning seven national championships over the past 19 years, not to mention the constant flow of highly drafted National Football League players. The level of talent exhibited in the conference gives credence to the conference’s slogan, “It just means more.”
I am from Starkville, Miss., home of Mississippi State University, so, naturally, I have been into college football, the SEC, in particular, my entire life. With this column, I will be explaining to the Georgetown University community what is happening in the SEC in detail, helping the community understand the highest levels of college football, as well as explaining what will happen in the near future. Hopefully, this column can lead to people being more excited about the big games to come.
Following this past weekend’s results, we can better analyze and profile the conference’s elite teams. No. 2 Alabama continued to be their undefeated selves and dominate South Carolina 47-23 to move to 3-0. The Alabama Crimson Tide’s schedule is quite easy for this stretch of the season so expect to see them cruise to 8-0 with only a potentially decent game against No. 17 Texas A&M, a team still seeking to relive their Johnny Manziel days. If someone does not have a home team and are looking to get into college football, then most fans hoping to see their team win on a consistent basis would be wise to become a fan of the Crimson Tide.
The Crimson Tide’s first competitive game comes against No. 4 LSU, which seems to have finally found a sufficient quarterback in Joe Burrow. The past few seasons have shown LSU to be consistently good but not nearly good enough to overcome Alabama to reach the SEC championship. However, LSU’s new passing attack might finally push them over Alabama and give them a chance at the title, which they haven’t won since 2011.
The other SEC team in the top five is the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs. At this point in the season, they are 3-0, but this record has been earned so far against mediocre teams. That situation changes next week as they play No. 7 Notre Dame, who need the win if they have any hope to make it to the playoffs. This matchup should be the first chance to see if this Georgia team is a legitimate title contender or simply bound for the New Year’s Six bowls, representing 12 of the best teams in the country who fell short of qualifying for the College Football Playoff.
They are led this season by the deepest running back core in the country, a group that should give the Notre Dame defensive line a lot of trouble next week. Furthermore, Jake Fromm, Georgia’s quarterback, is one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country, with NFL caliber skill and loads of experience from the past two seasons as Georgia’s starter, to make the attack even more threatening. While the defense is not as strong as years past, they should be able to control the Notre Dame offense which is facing struggles of their own.
With their defense, we should expect to see Georgia come out on top, poised to once again win the SEC East. The only real competition is No. 9 Florida, even with its starting quarterback Feleipe Franks out for the rest of the season with a dislocated and fractured ankle. However, the Gators looked sharp with backup Kyle Trask stepping in for their past two games. While Florida is still expected to lose, it might not be as big of a loss as it seemed initially.
No. 8 Auburn has looked good the past three weeks since a season opener win against No. 16 Oregon. They have a rough three weeks coming up as they go from Texas A&M to a formidable but unranked Mississippi State before coming up against Florida. If Auburn hopes to make the SEC Playoff they need to win all three games. Barring any Alabama upsets, they can only afford to lose one game to keep their playoff hopes alive before playing them, and LSU and Georgia are still later in the season.
The conference’s next best team, Mississippi State, was upset by Kansas State this past Saturday, but they must quickly turn the focus to Kentucky in order to avoid another untimely loss. This squad still has enough skill to compete against anyone and the season is not over for them. Two weeks from now they play Auburn in a game that should indicate how they’ll perform against future matchups with Alabama and LSU. As always, the SEC West is a real struggle to the top with Alabama blocking the path to the title game. Ole Miss and Arkansas are both dreadful this season, so the most exciting action all season for each team will happen at the tailgate before each game.
Looking ahead to the televised games this weekend, one of the two games to watch is Texas A&M versus Auburn to see who strengthens their spot in the SEC West. The other is Georgia versus Notre Dame to get insight into how Georgia will likely play into the postseason. Each of these games features two highly ranked teams with playoff aspirations which should feature well-played football with implications for the SEC title game and bowl games beyond that.
With no major upsets in the SEC thus far, one is bound to happen soon. The conference has five quality teams that will begin to face strong opposition in the near future. This weekend will see Auburn and Georgia take on real threats from outside the conference.
James Travis is a junior in the McDonough School of Business majoring in finance. TAILGATES AND TRADITIONS will appear online and in print every other Friday.