Bowl performance is not always the best indicator of conference strength, but because of this season with so few non-conference games, it is really all we have to go on for the 2020-21 season. That being said, it hasn’t been the best year for the vaunted SEC so far.
A number of the games for the lesser SEC teams have been canceled. Mississippi State won its Armed Forces Bowl against Tulsa on Thursday, 28-26, but it was overshadowed by the really awful brawl at the end of the game. On Wednesday night, short-handed Florida got absolutely smacked by Oklahoma, 55-20, in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia just snuck by Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl, hitting a dramatic go-ahead field goal with three seconds left before sacking Desmond Ridder for a safety on the game’s last play. That was not a bad result for the Dawgs, but it certainly didn’t make the case that one of the SEC’s best teams was significantly better than the class of the AAC.
Northwestern is currently having its way with Auburn, 35-13. Alabama is a big favorite against Notre Dame in the College Football Playoff semifinal, which just kicked off. The Crimson Tide clearly stands apart from the rest of the pack in the league.
FS1’s Joel Klatt doesn’t think there’s a huge difference between the SEC and the often maligned ACC at this point. While we had LSU’s one-season surge last year, Alabama has a major grip over the conference, not too dissimilar from Clemson in the ACC. He hasn’t been too impressed with the depth of the league that most argue as the nation’s best.
I guess we can all see why @AlabamaFTBL led the country in margin of victory at 30.3 PPG (only played SEC teams)
The SEC was exactly like the ACC has been for the last few years…A one team league
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) January 1, 2021
Klatt’s tweet was sent while Georgia trailed Cincinnati by 11. I don’t know that the end result really did much to change the argument, since you’d typically assume the second or third team in a powerhouse conference like the SEC would handle business against a Group of Five school.
There is likely some reputation coming in ahead of reality here, but it also isn’t a bad thing for college football as a whole if there is more balance across the landscape. Of course, the bigger issue is the stagnance at the top of Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State dominating in recruiting and all being involved in the College Football Playoff virtually every year.
Hopefully next year we have a more full non-conference schedule to really hash this out.