As we have now officially hit the halfway point in the 2021 college football season, we finally have a basis for every team’s identity moving forward. With that being said, I am going to be handing out superlatives for every Southeastern Conference team.
Most likely to make the College Football Playoff with one loss:
We start off our superlative list with the Alabama Crimson Tide. While the Tide did fall to the Texas A&M Aggies just a few weeks ago, falling out their No. 1 spot, the Tide is right back in the mix sitting at No. 4 in The Associated Press poll. With the remainder of the Tide’s schedule comprised of lackluster teams, If the defending SEC champions can clinch the SEC West and reclaim their title in Atlanta over Georgia, I would be shocked if the committee would leave Alabama out of the College Football Playoff.
Most likely to have a Heisman candidate next season:
Arkansas has been a fun team to watch this year, at one point early in the season fighting for a New Year’s Six bowl game. After a pair of disappointing loses to Ole Miss and Auburn, it seems that Arkansas’ dream season has come to a screeching halt.
Although their dreams of contending for a conference title are over for the Razorbacks, the future is bright, especially with KJ Jefferson at the helm. Jefferson reminds me a lot of Cam Newton at Auburn, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound play-caller has the same power running along with the ability to throw the ball accurately down the field that Newton excelled at. So far this season, Jefferson is 100 of 161 passing attempts, throwing for nearly 1,500 yards with 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions. That’s not even mentioning his rushing attack, where he is averaging almost five yards per carry with five touchdowns.
The Razorbacks have one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, and I expect his name to be in the discussion for best player in the nation next season.
Most likely to be a contender next season:
The SEC is full of great teams that are contending for national titles year after year. The team that I expect to make a huge jump next season and be a team that is in that national discussion is the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers have shown flashes of impressive firepower on the offensive side of the ball, but the draft has depleted the Tigers on the defensive side of the ball. I think as the quarterback room for the Tigers continues to develop and the team reloads on the defense, Jordan Hare will be the spot for a lot of big-time games next season.
Every year, all the fan bases build up their hopes and believe that it is their year. That statement has been especially true in The Swamp. Since the Dan Mullen era began back in 2018, the Gators have been a favorite to win the SEC East and have made it to the SEC championship just last year. Although the success has been there for the Gators, it seems that the Gator fan base this season is starting to lose its patience, especially after shocking loses to both Kentucky and LSU. This team has a ton of talent, but it looks like the Gators will be fighting for a bid to the Outback Bowl.
The team next on the list is by far the best team in not only the SEC, but the nation, and it’s not even close. Georgia has been playing at a historic level so far this season. The defense is letting up an average of 6.6 points a game this season. If this stat stands, this defense will be the best defense in modern college football history.
The team is anchored by the nation’s best defender in defensive tackle Jordan Davis. The No. 1 team in the nation has annihilated all its competition so far and is hoping to be the nation’s top team as the regular season comes to a close.
This year, we have seen a lot of surprising teams that have winning records and are sitting pretty in the AP Top 25, but a team a lot of us did not expect to be fighting for a New Year’s Six bowl game is the Kentucky Wildcats. Mark Stoops and Co. have the Wildcats going above and beyond this year, and minus the loss to Georgia last week, the Wildcats are having a dream season. If the second half of the season follows the trend, we could be watching the Wildcats playing on New Year’s Day in the Sugar Bowl.
While some teams are having great seasons, others not so much. Just two years ago, the Tigers of LSU were the nation’s best team with Heisman-winner Joe Burrow lighting up SEC defenses every Saturday. Since his departure, along with nearly all of that 2019 team now playing at the next level, the program has fell off to unacceptable levels for such a well-known program.
With the departure of head coach Ed Orgeron at the end of this season, the Tigers look to rebuild and bounce back to national championship contention soon, but for now, they are this season’s most disappointing team.
Rising star of the SEC:
Some teams take time to grow and flourish into dominating teams, and that is exactly what we are seeing this season in Starkvegas. Mississippi State has certainly improved this season since the last season, with now a full year with Will Rogers under center as the starting quarterback, the team is showing glimpses of how good they can be.
With nearly all of the 22 starters being either an underclassman or not having more than two years as a starter for the Bulldogs, there just isn’t the experience there to win the close games. As the team matures, develops chemistry and continues to learn head coach Mike Leach’s offense, this team will win the close games that they find themselves in.
Most likely to be searching for a new head coach:
Missouri has been heading in the wrong direction ever since the beginning of the 2015 football season. Mizzou was once a team to beat in the SEC East, but now is an afterthought. The program has tried its best to assume relevance again with transfer portal moves like Kelley Bryant and new head coach Eliah Drinkwitz. However, the Tigers are sitting at 3-4 on the year and without a win in conference play yet. The season could get very ugly for the Tigers.
While some schools struggle to land great coaching talents, other have made great moves for their football programs, and no team has turned it around faster than the Ole Miss Rebels. Head coach Lane Kiffin has turned the Ole Miss program around despite of coaching sandals, lackluster recruits and among many other things looming in Oxford, Mississippi.
The Rebels have been the center of a lot of attention this season as Kiffin is not afraid to take jabs at rival fan bases and coaches. With the comments made about the Alabama game just a few games ago, and the actions that took place in Knoxville, Tennessee, last week, it always seems the Rebels are getting the last laugh. Turn your Twitter notifications on for the rest of the season as I am sure the Rebels still have some more talking to do as we move on to the second half of the season.
Most likely to have to play a graduate assistant again:
There wasn’t a lot to find about the South Carolina Gamecocks, with their season starting out on a bizarre note having to have graduate assistant Zeb Noland start at quarterback. When a program is having to start a graduate coach at their most important position on the field the first thought isn’t contending for the SEC. As South Carolina finds itself in the same boat as Missouri, falling from the graces of contending the SEC East, the Gamecocks find themselves at a crossroads. While this odd story of grad assistant turned starting quarterback is unlikely to happen again, it will most likely happen at South Carolina.
We have seen Texas make their claims to back in national championship contention after every single win it has over a team with a record over .500, and it is always hilarious to watch Longhorn fans get triggered from the infamous “horns down” hand gesture. While many SEC fans can’t wait to take part of this trolling tradition, we are blessed to have the Tennessee Volunteers for the meantime.
While the enthusiasm for the program by the fan base makes people believe that the Volunteers are a top team in the nation, no other statement could be further from the truth. With what transpired Saturday in Knoxville, Tennessee, being a mockery of sportsmanship and the game, it sure is funny to watch Tennessee not go to another bowl game this season.
Most confusing team:
Many opinions about Texas A&M are that the Aggies are an extremely overrated program, I am in that majority. Being placed in the top-10 almost every year just to fall to 7-5 by the end of the year has seemed to be the status quo for the Aggies.
With injuries to quarterback Hayes King and a close win against Colorado in Week 2, it seemed the Aggies were back to their old ways of choking. It was seeming more evident as back-to-back losses came to Arkansas and Mississippi State. Then out of nowhere they shock the world by beating Alabama. Only time will tell as the season continues to move on, but one thing is for certain, never bet the moneyline on Texas A&M.
Most likely to be identified as a baseball school and still not win a national championship:
When talking about Vanderbilt football, it seems you can never find any positives. It is amazing to think at one point the Commodores had James Franklin as head coach, but ever since his departure, the team has been anchored down by mediocre play calling and lack of fan engagement in the program.
It is near impossible to have success as program when even your home games are away games. Just ask Georgia fans how the seats are at Vanderbilt Stadium, they know better than the Commodore faithful. As the football program continues to be the blemish of the SEC, they can at least claim baseball as a sport they are good at. If only they had a 2021 College World Series championship to prove that...