By Damian C. Reynolds
Many people describe Southeastern Conference (SEC) football as overrated. College football began this past week, and everyone across the nation tuned in.
More importantly, many people wonder how the SEC will do this year considering that some of the greatest college quarterbacks, statistically speaking, left the conference. Quarterbacks such as A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger, and of course, the prolific Johnny Manziel went to the next level.
However, many people outside the conference, including Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops, find the SEC overrated. In May 2013, in an interview with Tulsa World, Stoops had strong words about the perception of a gap between the SEC versus other conferences.
“Well, it depends on what gap you’re talking about,” said Stoops. “What are the bottom six doing? It depends on who you want to listen to. Listen, they’ve had the best team in college football, meaning they’ve won the national championship. That doesn’t mean everything else is always the best.”
Who can blame Stoops for making these claims, especially after destroying Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide 45-31 in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl? Of course, the facts still remain, aside from last year, the national champion came from the SEC since 2006. (Alabama (3), Florida (2), LSU (1), and Auburn (1))
Looking at the numbers, only four SEC schools have won the national title since 2006. Maybe Stoops is correct. Maybe only a few teams from the SEC are consistently dominant.
Well, after Florida State, a non-SEC school, won the last national championship, many may think the SEC’s dominance came to an end. However, judging by the first week of college football, the majority of the SEC still appeared dominant.
No. 12 Georgia routed No. 16 Clemson 45-21 behind Todd Gurley’s 293 all-purpose yards and 4 touchdowns. No. 6 Auburn defeated Arkansas with the same score behind Cameron Artis-Payne’s 177 rushing yards, yet no one batted an eyelash.
Every SEC school who played a non-conference opponent won, excluding mistake-prone Vanderbilt who lost to Temple 37-7.
Some schools struggled to pull out a victory, such as Alabama and LSU. Consistently, everyone started slow.
SEC players who were expected to put up huge numbers did, such as Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon. Also, quarterback Bo Wallace of Ole Miss passed for 387 yards and 4 touchdowns despite throwing three first-half interceptions.
The biggest surprise, of course, was Kenny Hill’s coming-out party. The Texas A&M quarterback threw for 511 yards and three touchdowns as No. 21 Texas A&M demolished No. 9 South Carolina 52-28.
Although college football just started, SEC fans have little to worry about. The majority of the conference looked sharp this past weekend and not surprisingly, eight of the 14 SEC teams find themselves in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Of those eight, four of them are in the top ten.
Some could very well argue that the SEC is overrated, but for one more week, the SEC’s dominance reigns supreme.
Make sure to follow Damian on Twitter: @D_Rey15