Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.If you still think Richard Petty is king, have all of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s albums on vinyl and believe grits are great with any meal, I have news that might shake your world.
The Southeastern Conference is only half as good as it used to be.
That’s right, the almighty, all-powerful SEC, king of college football. The conference that has produced the winners of the last five Bowl Championship Series title games and seven of the 13 that have been played.
I realize Louisiana State and Alabama are 1-2 in the first BCS standings and the winner of the Nov. 5 game between the teams in Tuscaloosa is the de facto title game. That’s not the problem.
Take a look to the East and you’ll see where the SEC is eroding.
After Florida won the second of its two BCS titles on Jan. 8, 2008, the SEC’s East Division started its decline. Today, it is something resembling — God forgive — the Big Ten.
Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are a combined 23-16. Nothing special when you consider that SEC teams regularly pack their nonconference schedules with opponents from the Sun Belt, service academies and Division I-AA.
Against the spread it’s even worse. The six East members are a pedestrian 18-18-3.
Meanwhile, the SEC West — LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Mississippi — has become the tower of power in college football.
Combined the six teams are 29-11 — 23-16 against the spread.
In the 12 games played between teams from the East and West, the West holds a 7-5 advantage. Against the spread it’s 8-4. While those numbers aren’t overpowering, there’s a good chance they will be by season’s end.
South Carolina, the defending champion of the East and team to beat again this year, booted quarterback Stephen Garcia off the team last week. Then the real crusher came Saturday when running back Marcus Lattimore was lost for the season because of a left knee injury suffered against Mississippi State.
There are only seven regular-season games left between teams from the East and West, but bettors should give serious consideration to each one. Arkansas will benefit the most because it has three games remaining against East opponents. Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and Mississippi all have one.
Yes, the situation is dire for the East, just like it was last year when its six members were a combined 36-36 in the regular season. Meanwhile, the West had racked up a 53-19 record.
Then came the league’s title game, a rematch between South Carolina and Auburn. The Tigers, playing at home, won the first meeting, 35-27, and the so-called experts said it would be different this time because the Gamecocks, playing on a neutral field, knew what to expect.
The sharps loaded up on Auburn and it paid off. The Tigers crushed the Gamecocks, 56-17.
Expect a similar result when East meets West in this year’s title game. MGM Mirage oddsmaker Jeff Stoneback told Covers.com
LSU and Alabama would both be a double-digit favorite against any team from the SEC East in the conference title game.
Week 7 impressions:
Following up last week’s column detailing the success of teams in the Associated Press
top 10 covering the spread. The trend continued last Saturday, with elite teams going 7-1-1 (Arkansas was idle). That puts the season mark at 48-13-2, or 78.7 percent.
They might as well call off voting for coach of the year. Is there any choice other than Kansas State’s Bill Snyder? No other high-priced hotshot could come close to pulling off what Snyder has in Manhattan.
Indiana and Wisconsin ran the same number of offensive plays (65) last week in their game at Madison. Apparently, the Badgers ran theirs better.
News that Boise State and Air Force may join the Big East for football has prompted a serious question throughout the country. Namely, the Big East has football?
There are rumblings that Utah, Arizona and Colorado are all tanking games so they can take Andrew Luck with the first pick next year.
How much football did I watch last Saturday? Late in the evening, when I got up and walked to the kitchen, I saw a computer-generated first-down line near the fridge.
Hunch of the week: Snyder always has made it a priority to bury Kansas when he has the team to do it. This is one of those teams. Lay the points and take Kansas State.
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