Ready as they may be to spin it, neither Paul Finebaum nor Clay Fratbaum nor Bret Bielema – especially Bret Bielema – can spin the ugly of the SEC’s Week 2.
There’s no putting any lipstick on the Hogs losing at home to the Mid-American Conference’s Toledo Rockets. The 16-12 result coming the same week Arkansas’ head coach lamented Ohio State’s schedule elicits the above Bielema-inspired hashtag.
Ohio State beat Hawaii, 38-0, by the way.
Arkansas’ loss high(low?)lights a regrettable Week 2 for the SEC, but only because Jacksonville State head coach John Grass picked an inopportune time to get ultra-conservative. The Gamecocks’ squandered an opportunity to fell the nation’s sixth-ranked team and a popular pick for the SEC championship.
Damage control got started quickly.
Auburn's fortunate to say the least, but a reminder to those taking shots! Some FCS schools (many in the South) are really deserving teams.
— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) September 12, 2015
Overtime saved Auburn’s season, but it ruined Tennessee’s hope for a long sought-after, marquee win. Tennessee let a two-touchdown lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, surrendered a pair of overtime scores to Oklahoma, and added another notch in the L-column against Top 25 opponents.
That’s 30 since Phil Fulmer’s tenure ended. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners now have a win over SEC competition in each of the last three seasons, including two in the conference’s geographic footprint.
Given the various ways Tennessee has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against top-tier competition in recent years, Clemsoning or Cougin’ It has competition from Voling.
Florida was sluggish against East Carolina, a team projected to be middle-of-the-pack in the American Athletic. Missouri needed to rally against Arkansas State, a Sun Belt opponent fresh off a 49-point loss to USC.
SEC fans can expect to hear and read a lot about this weekend, and what it means for the conference’s perception. And it will all ultimately be as meaningless as the complaints about Ohio State’s schedule heading into this week or any crowing to emanate from the Southeast previously.
One bad weekend, particularly in early September, doesn’t preclude a conference from hosting a national champion. Last season proved that rather emphatically.
National titles became the primary metric by which conference prowess is measured, a byproduct of the SEC’s dominant run from 2006 through 2012. Alabama is and will remain firmly in that hunt all season, especially if Derrick Henry continues to go off for three-touchdown games.
Georgia is 2-0. Ole Miss football is scoring at a pace reminiscent of the Rebel basketball team’s First Four game against BYU. Heck, Auburn played two downright games and the Tigers are still undefeated.
Saturday’s results around the SEC aren’t a definitive referendum on the conference. While they did help to dispel the rhetoric those like Bielema are so apt to spread – the SEC is top to bottom vastly superior and thus deserving special treatment – most without an agenda already knew that was wildly overblown.
The only real declaration to take from these games is that the bullied will rally around to cheer when a bully gets a bloody nose.
The SEC has long been college football’s Nelson Muntz. Saturday was “Bart the General.”
Bullies regroup, and the SEC will be back to doling out wedgies and stuffing MAC and FCS opponents in lockers soon enough. The spin you can except from SEC hangers-on in the days to come will go back to being chest-thumping.
In the interim, however? #Karma.