Week one of the 2017 season was a tough one for the SEC. Florida was humiliated by Michigan, and Texas A&M lost a heartbreaker to UCLA. It took a Tennessee overtime win over Georgia Tech to keep the conference from hitting the panic button.
In week two, a pair of SEC teams played road games as underdogs, hoping to restore the conference’s reputation. Georgia traveled to Notre Dame and Auburn to Clemson.
Alabama asserted its dominance in week one by defeating Florida State in what some called the greatest season opener of all time. But the conference has become top heavy, with few true national championship contenders outside of the Crimson Tide.
The SEC has fallen from its perch as the best conference in college football, having certainly been overtaken by the Big Ten and possibly the ACC as well.
At the end of the 2007 season, the SEC finished with five teams in the top 15 of the final AP poll, including LSU and Georgia finishing 1-2. The conference was also loaded with elite coaches: Les Miles (LSU), Urban Meyer (Florida), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Philip Fulmer (Tennessee), Mark Richt (Georgia), and Nick Saban had just finished his first season at Alabama.
Fast forward to 2012, and the SEC was without question the best conference in the nation. Alabama won the national title that season, and Georgia (No. 5), Texas A&M (No. 6), South Carolina (No. 8), and Florida (No. 9) all finished in the top ten.
Now, the conference lacks top talent at the two most important positions in college football: head coach and quarterback. Miles, Spurrier, Fulmer, and Richt are all gone. The last SEC quarterback to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft was Johnny Manziel in 2014.
Winning in South Bend without starting quarterback Jacob Eason was a tall order for the Bulldogs, but Georgia was able to down the Fighting Irish behind the arm of freshman gunslinger Jake Fromm. Auburn's offense was handled in a loss to the defending national champion Clemson Tigers, revealing some serious problems for a team that was expected to contend for an SEC title.
The conference will surely take the split. But with TCU's rout of Arkansas, the table is set for another down season in the SEC.