by Jules Gonsoulin
This weekend, we witnessed Mississippi State and Ole Miss win huge statement games yet again. With multiple teams in the top 10, there is no doubt that the Southwestern Conference is the best performing conference in college football right now, and Mississippi State and Ole Miss are playing the best in that conference, but what about the one- and two-loss teams? Texas A&M and Alabama could arguably be better than non-SEC top five teams such as Florida State and Baylor. Last week, Auburn proved while playing LSU that it can produce big numbers offensively and compete with top programs. But with a loss on their seasons, Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama are all practically cut from playoff contention.
The fact is—good is just not good enough in the SEC. Already, fans are calling for Ole Miss and Mississippi State to butt heads in the College Football Playoff. This, however, is not possible. Mississippi State and Ole Miss will play each other in the Egg Bowl, and the loser of that game will probably drop at least three spots, likely putting them out of playoff contention. Who is to say that a one-loss Mississippi State or Ole Miss team is not better than an undefeated Florida State, a team which has had a very easy schedule thus far? Florida State has beaten such lightweights as North Carolina, Syracuse, and Oklahoma State, although they get their chance to prove their power against Notre Dame this weekend.
When SEC teams start their conference schedule, every game is like a bowl game; there are rarely puffball opponents at this point in the season. Can you really say the same about Florida State, who topped Syracuse this weekend? What about Notre Dame, who barely beat North Carolina? If SEC teams played these kinds of games every week, they too could all go undefeated. They cannot all go undefeated, though, when they play in the most powerful conference in the nation. This leaves only one or two SEC teams at the top of the rankings every year, and plenty of very good one- or two-loss teams low in the rankings.
This is what makes the SEC the most exciting conference in the nation. Almost every team in the conference is nationally relevant, so every game is huge. There will be none mightier than Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss at the end of the season. In a year where the state of Mississippi controls football, that game could decide who the eventual national champion will be.