Another week has come and gone in the college football season. The SEC consistently gives the sport amazing games, moments, and players. Here are my five biggest takeaways in the conference from week fourteen.
1. Alabama Lost….You Just Hate To See It
Gather around, folks. Gather around and listen to the absolute best sound in college football so far this season:
That huge “THUD” you just heard was the hopes and dreams of thousands of Alabama fans across the country as the Crimson Tide are officially eliminated from the college football playoff for the first time since its inception.
It just wasn’t Alabama’s season this year. They lost their best defensive player before the season even started, then they lost a Heisman level quarterback in Tua a few weeks ago.
They haven’t beaten a single truly good team this season, and they recorded the most penalties ever under coach Nick Saban during Saturday’s game against Auburn. The magic ran out, and Alabama just wasn't great this season.
This makes the playoff picture much more clearer (more on that in a second), but more importantly, Saban and company are finally not going to be in the picture at the end of the season.
2. The Legend of Lynn Bowden
Whew boy. Mr. Lynn Bowden ran into the record books on Saturday as the Wildcats embarrassed and blew out a decent Louisville football team. You just love to see it.https://twitter.com/KyleTucker_ATH/status/1201175538125152256?s=20 https://twitter.com/ericcrawford/status/1201145114862718981?s=20
Let’s give credit where credit is due: This was an impressive coaching job by Mark Stoops. Kentucky had three quarterbacks injured so they stuck a talented wide receiver at quarterback, and they found a way to go 5-2 in that span. That’s incredible.
But I would personally give more credit to Bowden here, and I think Stoops would say the same as well. The talented receiver just absolutely took the SEC by storm down the stretch of the season.
He turned out to easily be one of the top five best players in the conference this year, and I didn't think that was possible before the season started.
The Wildcats finished somehow 7-5 and they should be in a pretty nice bowl game against a talented power-five team. This legend isn’t over just yet — Bowden can further cement his legacy with one, final great performance.
3. The Stupidity of Georgia
The Bulldogs dominated Georgia Tech yesterday as expected, but it was the actions of their star wide receiver which took the spotlight.
Pickens was easily the most dependable receiver for Jake Fromm this year, and now he will be out for the whole first half next week against LSU.
To only make matters worse, running D’andre Swift significantly hurt his shoulder and may not play in the SEC Championship game.https://twitter.com/MichaelWBratton/status/1200865040397750274?s=20
It goes without saying, but Georgia has to win in order to make the playoff. With all of these losses, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to pull off the upset over an LSU team that’s on fire right now.
4. Tennessee Is…Close To Being Back
Right behind Mark Stoops in terms of coaching jobs in the SEC this season has to be Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee. After two brutal losses to start the season, unreasonable Volunteer fans wanted the second-year head coach fired.
Instead, the administration stood behind their head coach, and all he did was lead them to a 7-3 record over the next 10 games. Wowza.https://twitter.com/wesrucker247/status/1200954310374219777?s=20
Now, I’m not saying the Volunteers are fully back just yet. They still lost five games this season and were nowhere near close to competing with Georgia or Florida. However, this year was a great step in the right direction in their rebuilding phase as they finished third in the SEC East.
I have no idea what the future holds for this program, but if they win their bowl game over a quality opponent and finish 8-5 then they will have a mountain of momentum heading into 2020.
5. The Playoff Picture
With Alabama losing, the playoff picture becomes a lot more clear. First off, LSU and Ohio State are in no matter what happens in their conference championship games. This is certain, and two spots are gone.
While I would debate that Clemson should also be in no matter what, their weak schedule could say otherwise. But they should of course win the ACC and walk in as the third team.
That leaves just one spot open. Georgia is currently ranked at No. 4 in that spot, but if they lose to LSU they aren’t getting in with two losses (one of those being against a bad South Carolina team).
If the Bulldogs win, they are in. If not, then things get very weird.
Essentially, it would become a debate between the merits of the Big 12 and the Pac-12. Either Oklahoma or Baylor will win the Big 12 with one loss, and if Utah defeats Oregon then they would win the Pac-12 with one loss.
So, who should be the fourth team in that scenario? Well, Utah actually has a decent case as their one loss was to a ranked USC team. In comparison, Oklahoma’s loss was to Kansas State. Baylor is interesting because if they win they would avenge their one loss.
However, Oregon would be Utah’s only good win whereas Oklahoma and Baylor each have a couple of good wins. Believe it or not, I think Baylor would have the best case out of the three teams if they avenge their one loss and win the Big 12. If the Sooners and Utah win, however, I think it comes down to a coin flip.
Personally, I would put Jalen Hurts in the playoff. He and the Sooners would probably have the best chance of winning a game, but that’s admittedly a biased response with little evidence to support it.
Hopefully, Oregon wins the Pac-12, and LSU beats Georgia. That way the winner of the Big 12 walks into the playoff with no controversy. But we all know its never that easy in college football.