The SEC East is bad. No compelling argument exists to counter the reality cruelly evident Saturday.
FCS Playoff-bound The Citadel outplayed thoroughly outplayed South Carolina. There was nothing fluky in the Bulldogs’ option offense rolling up 350 rushing yards en route to a 23-22 victory — even if a penalty negated a would-be, fourth-down game-winning touchdown for Pharoh Cooper.
Florida sewed up the SEC East championship two weeks ago in a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt, one week removed from the Commodores’ 34-0 depantsing at Houston.
Transitive property isn’t a fair metric by which a team is measured, particularly when comparing nonconference results to conference play. League opponents are acquainted with each other’s tendencies.
No such argument exists for Florida’s overtime win over Florida Atlantic. The Gators’ offensive ineptitude — and FAU not getting the stripes’ benefit of the doubt as The Citadel had — nearly eliminated the SEC East champions from College Football Playoff contention.
Florida won because of an uncalled pass interference. https://t.co/fv7veZ1bsZ
— Dog (@TheDogOG) November 21, 2015
Head coach Jim McElwain and his staff did a tremendous job this season, taking a team with such glaring offensive woes to a divisional championship. A wildly flawed SEC East made it possible.
South Carolina hit bottom of a tumultuous season, high(low?)lighted by Steve Spurrier’s abrupt, midseason retirement. Health concerns are sending two-time SEC East champion Gary Pinkel into retirement as well, and his Missouri Tigers need a win in one of their final two against Tennessee and Arkansas.
As it stands today, Tennessee might be the SEC East’s best team. Since rallying to beat rival Georgia and throw gasoline on the dumpster fire raging in Athens, the Vols’ only loss is a 19-14 decision at Alabama Tennessee probably should have won.
While the case for Tennessee can certainly be made now, its sluggish start eliminated it from representing the SEC East in Atlanta. Giving up a pair of late touchdowns to Florida’s anemic offense feels especially inexcusable in retrospect, even with suspended Will Grier behind center for the Gators that week.
With Treon Harris captaining an offense that scored a combined 23 points in regulation against Vanderbilt and FAU, Florida would be fortunate to score at all in the SEC Championship Game in a likely matchup with Alabama.