Tag Archives: Georgia Southern

SEC Football Scheduling – Timing is Everything

Florida 20
Florida Atlantic 14

Citadel 23
South Carolina 22

Georgia 23
Georgia Southern 17

This is what November scheduling looks like in the SEC and it’s been like this for as long as I can remember. There were other SEC teams playing November non-conference games this past Saturday against opponents such as these, but Alabama, Auburn and Kentucky did a superior job in taking care of business.

In the grand scheme of things, opponents like Florida Atlantic have the same meaning if they are played in September or if they are played in November. However, there is a scenario where losing to the Citadel or Georgia Southern hold different meaning if they are played in September as opposed to November.

Think back to September of 2014. Virginia Tech strolled into Columbus, Ohio and left with a win over eventual national champion, Ohio St. This loss was considered to be the worst loss by a national champion.

Do you want to know what made it possible for Ohio St. to win the 2014 national championship after suffering a loss that would have seemed to have been catastrophic? Timing.

If Ohio St. and the Big Ten used the SEC model for scheduling, the Buckeyes never would have made the college football playoff let alone win the national championship. If Florida, South Carolina or Georgia were truly in the discussion for a playoff spot, a close win or outright loss to one of these check cashing non-conference opponents would have sunk their final four chances. Like I said, timing is everything.

The SEC scheduling model is unique in scheduling non-conference games in November. This scheduling model is also unique because it creates more conference games in September. It is a trade-off that has paid off.

Other conferences use these non-conference games against the SEC. The SEC spews a lot of bravado in regards to their overall strength and the conference’s detractors use the November schedule against the SEC. When your conference isn’t the SEC, you have to cling to any criticism you can muster.

These SEC haters say that the SEC should be playing a 9 game conference schedule. You know, it’s about balance and “one true champion.”

To be fair, there are also some SEC coaches who are supportive of a 9 game conference schedule. Nick Saban is the loudest SEC supporter of the 9 game conference schedule.

“I personally feel like strength of schedule is going to be a real important thing in the future. I know there are people out there who say we have fixed opponents that are very, very good teams. Well, let’s make a deal and let’s all play 10 good games. We’ll still play Virginia Tech or Wisconsin or West Virginia or Michigan or one of these teams in the first game of the year and go play nine conference games too.

“I think all those things make your team better and it’s really better for the fans. I think we should spend a lot more time thinking about the people that support and make college football what it is.”

Saban is correct and the SEC haters are just hypocritical.

Saban’s strength of schedule argument is a valid one. Power 5 teams have no business playing teams such as The Citadel, because there is virtually no benefit in beating a low level team like them. Beat them and everyone says that you should have beaten them. Lose and you look unmotivated and unprepared. You know, something about “shit through a tin horn.” The only way this will change is if an Alabama type of team loses one of these November games and thus misses out on the playoff.

As for the SEC haters, they’re completely hypocritical. Is there a louder SEC hater than the Big 12? No, no there isn’t. The scenario that would cause the Big 12 to write their best Taylor Swift song is if the SEC had multiple teams in the playoff while the entire Big 12 was shutout of the playoff. Bob Stoops would sing the “woe is me” song about the travesty of the SEC scheduling model. Baylor felt as if the Big 12’s “one true champion” model robbed them of their rightful place in the 2014 playoff. They seem to be positioning themselves for a similar “we were screwed” argument this year, but have you looked at the non-conference schedule for a team like Baylor? SMU, Lamar, and Rice. The Big 12 is a blank space. Their games will leave you breathless but in the end they just create a nasty scar.

If the SEC ever uses a 9 game conference scheduling model or stops playing a lousy opponent in November, it won’t be because they are striving for “one true champion.” It will be because a November non-conference opponent cost the conference a spot in the playoff.

Remember, timing is everything.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

The Crossroads: The Season-Defining Games Have Arrived

The new college football playoff has changed the sport.

Last Saturday, from the moment the Notre Dame and Auburn games kicked off through the fourth quarter of the Oregon game, fans were treated to almost 10 straight hours of heart-racing, pulse-pounding action.

However, the increased attention on the playoff has removed interest in the other four New Year’s Six bowls. A year ago, we’d be focused on whether Michigan State or Notre Dame could still reach a BCS game. This year, I’ve heard no one discuss potential Fiesta Bowl matchups. We’ll see in January if people still tune in for these major non-playoff bowls. We’ll see this week if people still care.

You see, beyond the playoff, there are many, many seasons on the line this weekend. Sure, Florida/South Carolina may have no impact on the playoff but it will shape how both programs are perceived this year and next.

For this week’s Crossroads, we step away from the playoff – I’m sure many, many others will write about Alabama/Mississippi State – and look at a whole bunch of important games that may be off your radar.

The SEC East Title Race

I’ve always been fascinated by the SEC East because it wraps up so early. With Georgia, South Carolina and Florida ending with in-state, non-conference rivals, the division is usually decided weeks before others. This year could be no different. Or it could very different.

Who knew Florida/South Carolina could mean something? Yes, Florida has a very minute but still realistic chance of winning the division – they need 1 Georgia loss and 2 Missouri losses. Those two are both in play Saturday with Georgia playing Auburn and Missouri playing Texas A&M.

Or Georgia could win, Missouri could lose and the Bulldogs would wrap up the division. Or Georgia and Florida could lose and Missouri could essentially clinch. It will be one intriguing Saturday to see who will play in the SEC Title Game and play the role of ultimate spoiler.

East Carolina’s New Year’s Day hopes

Who will represent the Group of Five in a New Year’s Six bowl? The selection committee identified the five contenders, though it feels like Northern Illinois and Marshall just don’t have enough on the resume. Colorado State might be the best team and might have the best win, but its loss to Boise State means it may not even win its conference.

It feels like this will come down to Boise State and East Carolina. Both have tricky games down the stretch, though East Carolina faces maybe its toughest test left with a road game at Cincinnati. The Bearcats have been terrible on defense but can score points and are still in the thick of the AAC race. It would be a decent win for East Carolina and it’s a must-win.

Oregon State’s bowl dreams

There is no rational explanation for picking Oregon State against Arizona State. Except it’s a late-night Pac-12 game. Except that it’s in Corvallis. Except that it’s the biggest TRAP game you could possibly imagine. Except that Oregon State’s entire season is on the line.

The ACC’s Orange Bowl spot

As long as Florida State keeps winning, there will be an undeserving ACC team in the Orange Bowl. And it’s really stupid. But we have to accept it. So instead of a Top 10, say, Michigan State or Arizona playing in a big bowl game, an ACC team on the fringe of the rankings will be playing on New Year’s Eve.

So who will this team be? There’s a very, very good chance it will be the winner of the Clemson/Georgia Tech game on Saturday.

Minnesota’s potential

How good can Minnesota be? Their ceiling has always seemed to be 7 or 8 wins. Is this the year everything changes? The win over Iowa was an eye-opener, to say the least. This week, they get Ohio State in their building for an early start – an 11 a.m. local kick that the Gophers seem to do every week while the Buckeyes seem to only play at night.

No one will fault Minnesota if they lose this game. They are playing with house money. Teams playing with house money are always dangerous.

Bo Pelini

On the Big Ten Network this week, the analysts were flabbergasted Nebraska was ranked so low and had an honest-to-goodness debate about their playoff chances. Playoffs? We’re talking playoffs??

Nebraska has been stuck in four-loss hell for years and people seem to think Bo Pelini has finally shown he can win at Nebraska. Uh, what? Do you know what the Big Ten record is of the four teams Nebraska has beat? It’s 3-18. 3-18!! Nebraska plays Wisconsin in Camp Randall on Saturday. Let’s see if Nebraska is still ranked next week.

Michigan State’s program

Michigan State could win 10 games for the fourth time in five years. There is no doubt the program has become one of the Big Ten’s elite, essentially replacing Michigan at the top of the heap in the past five years. Elite programs bounce back from bad losses.

Simply put – can Michigan State re-focus and beat Maryland on the road Saturday night? The Spartans’ goals, from the Big Ten title to the playoffs to even a New Year’s Six bowl, may all be unreachable. They need to prove their greatness by disposing of what will be a fired up Terps teams.

Arkansas

The Razorbacks get LSU at home a week after the Tigers went toe-to-toe against Alabama in an epic, low-scoring, high-hitting overtime game. I don’t see a better opportunity for Arkansas to get its first SEC win in forever. They have to get over the hump and beat a ranked opponent.

Marshall’s undefeated season

Is Rice the toughest game left for Marshall? There is Louisiana Tech looming in the Conference USA Title Game but Rice might be the better team. Rice, if you don’t remember, is the defending conference champion that opened the season 0-3 following road trips to Notre Dame and Texas A&M, ouch. After a bad loss to Old Dominion, they have reeled off six wins in a row. They are 21-point underdogs and shouldn’t win, but they may be a live longshot.

Georgia Southern’ s dream season

What a bizarre situation – Georgia Southern is 8-2 and undefeated in the Sun Belt yet likely won’t play in a bowl due to its transistional status from FCS. Their only two losses were road nail-biters to ACC teams N.C. State and Georgia Tech, the latter of which is now a Top 25 team. Imagine if they had won that.

Instead, Georgia Southern must merely strive for a remarkable 10-win season. To do so, they must beat Navy on Saturday in a fascinating game between two options teams, which means it should run about two hours. You’ll probably be watching Alabama/Mississippi State Saturday afternoon – you should check in on this though.