HomecolumnTracing the SEC West Stink Fest

Tracing the SEC West Stink Fest

Over the last seven FBS national championships, five have been claimed by teams from the SEC West.

This division has often been hailed as the pinnacle of college football.

However, as the 2014 season unfolded, it became evident that the talent needed to uphold this reputation was lacking.

This represented a noteworthy transformation in the college football scene, exemplified by Alabama’s defeat at the hands of a Big Ten team led by its third-string quarterback.

Now, let’s delve into the unraveling of the SEC West Division in 2014.

Week 1

No. 9 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Texas A&M

After Johnny Manziel’s departure, the Aggies faced the challenge of finding a worthy successor. That’s when Kenny Hill, a formidable quarterback, emerged.

Hill’s remarkable performance saw him throw for an astounding 511 yards, shattering Manziel’s previous single-game school passing record and securing three touchdowns.

This victory was a resounding affirmation of Texas A&M’s status as a formidable contender, propelling them to ninth place in the Associated Press Top 25 poll in a mere week.

AP Image
A.P. Image

Week 6

No. 6 Texas A&M vs. No. 12 Mississippi State

In the lead-up to this pivotal game, Texas A&M secured victories against Lamar, Rice, and SMU and clinched an overtime win against conference rival Arkansas.

This string of successes catapulted the Aggies to the sixth spot in the A.P. Top 25 rankings.

With an undefeated 5-0 record, they confronted another formidable SEC West opponent – the twelfth-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs, also boasting a perfect 5-0 record, had notched wins against Southern Miss, UAB, South Alabama, and LSU.

In this clash, Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs outperformed the Aggies convincingly, clinching a 48-31 victory.

Despite Kenny Hill’s impressive display of 365 passing yards and four touchdowns, this marked the end of the “Kenny Hill for Heisman” talk.

Hill encountered difficulties in the subsequent weeks and was eventually benched for the remainder of the season.

Conversely, Mississippi State’s quarterback Dak Prescott emerged as an early Heisman contender, throwing for 268 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Furthermore, the eleventh-ranked Ole Miss Rebels pulled off an upset against Alabama the same weekend, elevating them to the third spot (tied with the Bulldogs) in the A.P. poll.

While some critics attributed this victory to a fluke and attributed it to a subpar performance by Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims, the outcome sparked considerable debate.

Week 7

No. 3 Ole Miss vs. No. 14 Texas A&M

Ole Miss’s triumph against none other than the fourteenth-ranked Texas A&M was seen as a validation of the Rebels’ lofty No. 3 ranking.

However, hindsight reveals the trajectory Texas A&M was on.

Mississippi State’s victory over Auburn propelled them past the defending national champions, Florida State, in the subsequent poll, making them the new top-ranked team in the nation.

Week 8

No. 7 Alabama shut out No. 21 A&M 59-0

Alabama wins against a team on a downward spiral in the rankings, reclaiming a spot in the A.P.’s top four after defeating the struggling Aggies.

AP Image
AP Image

Week 10

The initial rankings from the College Football Playoff Committee have been released. Subsequent rankings will mirror those determined by the CFB committee.

Week 11

This week marked the unveiling of the SEC West’s actual performance.

Quarterback Kyle Allen, making his first start, delivered a stellar performance with four touchdowns, leading unranked A&M (7-3) to an upset victory over No. 3 Auburn (7-2).

Despite being perceived as a display of the division’s prowess, in hindsight, it was a glaring indicator of mediocrity that went largely unnoticed by most.

AP Image
AP Image

Week 12

Team Alabama, ranked fifth, dealt the previously undefeated No. 1 Mississippi State its first loss of the season.

Surprisingly, the playoff committee only pushed the Bulldogs down to fourth place, indicating a general inclination to view the SEC with a favorable bias.

Meanwhile, there were several other one-loss teams, such as TCU, Baylor, and Ohio State, that seemed equally worthy of the coveted fourth spot.

Additionally, No. 24 Texas A&M was defeated by unranked Missouri.

Week 14

During the rivalry weekend, the nineteenth-ranked Ole Miss triumphed over the fourth-ranked Mississippi State, while the top-ranked Alabama secured the SEC West title by beating the fifteenth-ranked Auburn.

Mississippi State’s defeat served as a clear indication that the widespread speculation of having two SEC teams in the CFB Playoff was now off the table.

With only the conference championship games left, it became implausible for any other SEC team to break into the top four.

Bowl Game Results:

Music City Bowl

No. 23 LSU lost to unranked Notre Dame 31-28. Notre Dame played two quarterbacks hoping to find its 2015 starter, and both played well against a supposed “tough” SEC defense.

It appears as if LSU will struggle to find a Q.B. for 2015…

Peach Bowl

The ninth-ranked Ole Miss suffered a 42-3 defeat at the hands of the sixth-ranked TCU.

The Horned Frogs, widely regarded as one of the most well-rounded teams in the nation, sent a powerful message to the CFB Playoff committee, potentially accelerating talks of transitioning to an eight-team playoff format.

Ole Miss’s defense was outplayed and overpowered.

Their offense struggled, leaving QB Bo Wallace under constant pressure throughout the game.

It was a dismal showing, providing a significant insight into the state of affairs for the SEC.

AP Image
AP Image

Orange Bowl

The seventh-ranked Mississippi State faced a decisive 49-34 defeat against the twelfth-ranked Georgia Tech.

The accuracy issues that troubled Prescott in the latter part of the season persisted into the bowl game.

Quarterback Justin Thomas earned the title of Orange Bowl MVP, spearheading a rushing assault that amassed an impressive 452 yards.

It raises questions about whether this team, which was once considered playoff-worthy, truly lived up to that potential.

AP Image
AP Image

Outback Bowl

The nineteenth-ranked Auburn suffered a heart-wrenching overtime loss of 34-31 to the eighteenth-ranked Wisconsin.

This defeat stung, mainly because some SEC fans perceived this matchup as the most lopsided of the entire bowl season.

This sentiment was amplified by the fact that the Badgers had been thoroughly dominated by Ohio State in a 59-0 loss.

Auburn’s defense proved unable to halt Melvin Gordon and his teammates, resulting in a comeback victory for Wisconsin.

Sugar Bowl

The top-ranked Alabama suffered a loss to the fourth-ranked Ohio State.

Despite the widespread success and accolades garnered by Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, he found himself outplayed in this showdown.

Alabama failed to anticipate Cardale Jones’ rushing capabilities, leading to sustained drives for the Buckeyes.

On the offensive front, the Tide deviated from utilizing the influential running duo of Derrick Henry and T.J. Yeldon.

Instead, Sims threw an interception in the red zone while attempting a pass to T.E. O.J.

Howard, a situation that should have been avoided altogether.

Sims’ playing style differs significantly from the quarterback archetype that contributed to Saban’s previous national championships.

Placing Sims in such a critical position ultimately proved costly for the Tide.

AP Image
AP Image

Texas A&M and Arkansas secured victories in their respective bowl games, yet these teams find themselves at the lower end of the West division and faced somewhat average Big 12 opponents.

While intradivision play within the West showcased competitiveness, it didn’t necessarily establish the conference as the unmistakable “best in the country.”

Throughout the season, SEC West teams grappled with inconsistency, primarily due to a shortage of proficient passers.

Alabama lacked seasoned quarterbacks like Greg McElroy or A.J. McCarron, who excelled in making astute decisions and employing play-action passes.

Instead, they relied on a revamped offense under new coordinator Lane Kiffin, often targeting Amari Cooper a staggering 20 times per game.

While Sims, a former running back turned quarterback, performed commendably given the circumstances, it was apparent that he wasn’t poised to deliver Saban another national championship.

In the Music City Bowl, LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron called for 14 passes with QB Anthony Jennings.

This conservative approach doesn’t instill much confidence in your quarterback, especially in a game that culminates the season.

Ole Miss’s Wallace, with a 10-for-23 performance, tallying only 109 yards and three interceptions, encapsulated the division’s struggles.

The losses incurred by Ole Miss this season were undoubtedly exacerbated by subpar quarterback play.

Prescott arguably exhibited the most impressive quarterbacking in the SEC, but he leans heavily towards a run-first style of play.

With that said Prescott stands as the sole returning quarterback with the potential to enhance his passing prowess in hopes of becoming a prolific passer.

Ultimately, the SEC West teams were arguably overrated at the start of the 2014 season.

Previous achievements were relied upon as indicators of future success, overlooking the fact that these programs were lacking crucial elements that had contributed to their success in the last year.

Ultimately, the SEC West teams were arguably overrated at the start of the 2014 season.

Previous achievements were relied upon as indicators of future success, overlooking the fact that these programs were lacking crucial elements that had contributed to their success in the last year.

If the same approach is taken and the previous season’s records are used to formulate the 2015 rankings, the Pac-12 should receive considerable consideration well into the next season.

With a 6-2 record in bowl games and Oregon still in contention for the national championship, the Pac-12 has demonstrated its strength.

Without the four-team playoff, the national title match would have likely featured Florida State against Alabama, based on the final A.P. poll and projected Bowl Championship Series calculations.

This new era in college football is undoubtedly a positive development.

Interestingly, the SEC had been advocating for a playoff all along, yet it hasn’t necessarily played out to their advantage.

Instead, the conference seemed more like a reflection of past SEC national championship teams, prompting any future voter to critically assess the validity of the longstanding “best division in college football” label.

Aditya Rana
Aditya Rana
Aditya is a student currently pursuing his Bachelors degree in Business Studies. He is a writing enthusiast who enjoys creating unique contents, especially about the sports industry.


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