Usurpers to the Throne: Potential New Contenders in the SEC

By Phil Clark
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Over the last decade, the SEC has established itself as the best conference in all of NCAA College Football.  They have the last six national champions with four different teams from the SEC winning titles during this current run.  They have produced three Heisman Trophy winners, and former Arkansas Razorbacks running back, Darren McFadden, was a back-to-back Heisman runner-up during the run.  However, in the last few years, the conference seems to have become a two-team race with the Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers exchanging periods of dominance over all others.

In a scenario where someone other than the Tide or the Tigers wins the SEC this season, I can only see two teams that have a chance of making it happen: the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Mississippi St. Bulldogs are having a nice start to their season on the field.  However, since they’re playing in the SEC west and have both the Tigers and the Tide on the road, it’s hard to see them anywhere other than eliminated from winning the division after those games.

Georgia’s best asset right now is their offense.  They’ve been very productive through this first batch of games, putting up big points and big amounts of yardage.  The win over the Missouri Tigers was the best indication this offense has gotten about its abilities due to the 24 unanswered points that it produced in the final sixteen minutes of play.  This demonstrated that this offense is capable of putting together scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

Scoring in the fourth may be the most important characteristic Georgia’s offense needs to possess with them having the Tennessee Volunteers, South Carolina, the Florida Gators, and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets left on the schedule.

With the Gamecocks, it’s their defense’s tenacity and strength under pressure that serves them the best.  Quarterback Connor Shaws unpredictable status, and the offense’s inability to put up big points against the Vanderbilt Commodores, in the Gamecocks’ only game against a competitive opponent so far, has created a greater need for the defense to perform.  However, in that game, they did exactly that. They held off the Commodores 17-13, and the Gamecocks’ defense has given up a total of 16 points combined in two games after the Commodores.

If Shaw or running back Marcus Lattimore can get the Gamecocks’ offense into gear, even a tough schedule (which the Gamecocks certainly possess) isn’t insurmountable for this team.  And even if the offense can’t get into a higher gear and become more productive, the defense is more than capable of winning many close, lower-scoring games.

Whatever you think of either team, which one will have the better shot at getting their shot at the Tide or Tigers will be decided on October 6 when these two teams tangle.

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