Starting 11: SEC West Is the Best Division In CFB History

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FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS – APRIL 26: Head Coach Bret Bielema of the Arkansas Razorbacks watches his team warm up before the Red White Spring Football game at Razorback Stadium on April 26, 2014 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) Wesley Hitt Getty Images North America

The SEC West is the best division in the history of college football. In fact, we don’t even need to debate which conference is the best any longer. The seven team SEC West standing alone would be the best conference in college football. Arkansas, the 7th best team in the division, went on the road and beat Texas Tech by 21. The Razorbacks ran the ball on thirty consecutive plays to end the game. The only loss from any SEC West team so far? Arkansas’s loss at Auburn to begin the season. The division is 19-1 on the season. 

This week’s polls have five SEC West teams in the top ten. That’s insane. But what’s even more insane is that Mississippi State and Arkansas might have cases to be ranked in the top 25 too. Screw the argument that the SEC might deserve two teams in the inaugural playoff. Doesn’t the SEC West deserve two teams in the inaugural playoff?

1. The ACC did its best Big Ten impression this week, eliminating every decent team from playoff contention — save Florida State — with epic collapses from Virginia Tech and Louisville.

No team in America follows up a big win with a big loss better than Virginia Tech. It’s such an easy bet, I have no idea why I didn’t take East Carolina to cover at Virginia Tech. That was stupid of me. As for their top rival, Virginia, they’ve been fairly impressive in the early part of the season — playing UCLA tough — and now knocking off the only ACC team that many of us thought could give FSU fits by the time they play, Louisville. 

The end result is that FSU is now the only team from the ACC that has any shot of making the inaugural playoff. 

As I wrote on Sunday in Outkick’s top ten, it’s early in the season, but we’ve already eliminated nearly two entire conferences from playoff contention. This decision could end up being wild for the committee, the early part of this season has a distinct 2007 feel to it. As a refresher, 2007 was the year LSU won the BCS title with two losses. 

2. Georgia gave away the game at South Carolina by not running Todd Gurley. 

When Georgia took over with a first and goal at the four, there is a 99% chance the Bulldogs score a touchdown if they give the ball to Todd Gurley on three straight plays. The only way they don’t score is if Gurley fumbles or Hutson Mason drops the snap. That’s it. You know it, I know it, everyone in the stadium knew it. So naturally Georgia decided to get cute with a roll out play on first down.

This is a classic case of over coaching.

On that rollout play you get an intentional grounding call, costing yourself ten yards and a down. Then on second and goal from the 14 you hand off to Gurley to gain three yards. The third down pass is incomplete.

Ball game.

This is one of the most Georgia ways possible to lose. I’m sorry Bulldog fans.   

3. USC got destroyed by Boston College.

Boston College ran for 452 yards against USC. 


USC had twenty yards rushing. This was just a curb stomping. Most of you haven’t even looked at this box score. Do it. The one positive from this Trojan destruction is we don’t have to worry about Pat Haden’s impartiality being called into question. The Trojans are out of the playoff mix. 

4. There is no third best team in the Big 12. 

I wish there was, but once Auburn beats Kansas State on Thursday night, every team in the Big 12 will have a loss except for Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU. Texas Tech just lost by 21 to the 7th best team in the SEC West. TCU will start 3-0, but then will lose three straight games to Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State. 

The gap between Oklahoma and Baylor and the rest of this conference is seismic. The only game that truly matters in this conference is Baylor at Oklahoma on November 8th. Everything else is just window dressing.  

Having said all this, I’m taking WVU to keep it close against Oklahoma this weekend. 

5. James Franklin and his staff will start 5-0 at Penn State. 

It’s really not ludicrous at all to believe that Penn State could win the eastern division in Franklin’s first year in Happy Valley. Both Ohio State and Michigan State come to PSU. With road games at Michigan, at Illinois, and at Indiana, all of these games are winnable too. Penn State’s not going to go undefeated and make the playoff, but I think they’ll win ten games. 

Does this make Franklin national coach of the year? It certainly could. 

6. Meanwhile, Derek Mason and his Vandy staff barely snuck past UMASS. 

If Mason had lost to UMASS, I would have advocated firing him at the end of the season. I’ve never called for a coach to be fired after one year, but that’s how bad Vandy has looked so far this year. Luckily for Mason the Commodores managed to steal a win from UMASS — seriously, I can’t believe I wrote this — and have an FBS win left on the schedule, Charleston Southern and a newly promoted FBS team, Old Dominion. I think they’ll go 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC. That’s probably enough to bring Mason back for a second season, but he’d better stick with Patton Robinette for the rest of the year at quarterback. Sure, Robinette has limitations, but the team believes in him. Switching quarterbacks like he’s done so far, looks desperate. You’re a 3-9 team no matter who is at quarterback, at least give your offense a chance to do something by getting used to a leader. 

Let me also add in a bit of commentary on Tennessee at Oklahoma — if the Vols had Justin Worley coming back next year, they’d be a preseason top 25 team contending for the SEC East. Instead, Dooley blew Worley’s redshirt to hand off against Alabama. Last year at Oregon Tennessee wasn’t ready to play against a top ten team on the road. This year at Oklahoma, Tennessee was nearly ready. Credit Oklahoma for keeping the Vols out of the end zone — including a 100 yard interception return on 3rd and goal — but the Vols were very close to making this a ten point game. Oklahoma was better, but they weren’t that much better.  

7. UCLA reminds me of Notre Dame in 2012.

The Bruins have now won three games by a total of 18 points. Remember how in 2012 Notre Dame beat a lot of weak teams by small margins, kept winning, and just about everyone bought into the idea that they were the number one team in the country? Then they got destroyed by Alabama in the BCS title game? That’s UCLA this year. I’m not sure when it’s going to happen, but UCLA will keep winning until they just get obliterated in a game. I’m not sure who it will be or when it will happen, but at least one team will beat UCLA by three touchdowns or more.  

8. Look out for Missouri. 

Missouri just keeps winning — and covering. Everyone seems to hate Mizzou despite the fact that this team is 15-2 in its last 17. Before the season it looked like Mizzou was set up well in drawing Texas A&M and Arkansas as its opponents. Now it’s clear that every team in the SEC West is good this year. After taking out Indiana this coming weekend, the Tigers will be 4-0 and have eight straight weeks of SEC opponents. Beginning with at South Carolina, Georgia, and at Florida back-to-back-to-back (there’s a bye week in there too.)

Can Mizzou repeat in the east? Certainly. Will they? We’ll have a good idea before long.  

9. LSU has outscored opponents 108-0 since going down 24-7 against Wisconsin. 

Sure, I could write some about LSU, but wouldn’t you rather watch a couple of students drunkenly make out and fall over in the bleachers? Sure you would. 

10. Kentucky got screwed against Florida. 

Despite the fact that the play clock had expired, Florida was allowed to snap the ball and throw a touchdown pass to tie the game in the first overtime. It was 4th and 7. A penalty should have been called and it should have been 4th and 12. 

Here was the league’s official response to the blown call:

“At the request of the University of Kentucky, consistent with SEC protocol, the conference office reviewed the fourth down play in the first overtime of the Kentucky-Florida game and has determined the officials applied the proper mechanics and guidelines that are in place to determine when a flag should be thrown for delay of game. The back judge is responsible for delay of game calls. The procedure for the back judge is for his eyes to stay on the clock when it nears zero. When the clock hits zero, he immediately looks from the clock to the ball. If the ball is moving, there is no delay of game. If the ball is stationary, a delay of game penalty is called.”

Yeah, the ball was stationary. 

11. Here are our SEC power rankings.

And let me just say this before y’all get all upset about where your teams are ranked. I believe this is the best the SEC has ever been 1-13. Right now I have Tennessee at 13th and I think they would be the third or fourth best team in the ACC this season. Hell, they might be the third best team in the Big 12. Tennessee could definitely win the Big Ten west and play in the league title game this year. And I’m not even joking about that:

1. Texas A&M

2. Auburn

3. LSU

4. Alabama

5. Ole Miss

6. Missouri

7. South Carolina

8. Georgia

9. Mississippi State

10. Arkansas

11. Florida

12. Kentucky

13. Tennessee

14. Vanderbilt 

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.