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im4aubie ( on 10/14/2007 - 7:48 p.m. says: ( 236 views , 2 likes )

"More Fodder for your Argument"


SEC: Too Good for Its Own Good

Sunday, October 14, 2007; D15

Louisiana State's triple-overtime loss at Kentucky blurred the national title picture but added some clarity to an argument that has gained traction in recent years: The Southeastern Conference has become too strong for its own good.

That has never been clearer than this season, which has left all SEC teams battered and beaten midway through the schedule. The image of LSU running back Jacob Hester limping from the field before the definitive fourth-down play in the third overtime was a perfect advertisement for the country's most brutal conference.

The way it looks now, LSU Coach Les Miles was on point when he said in the summer that the Tigers had a more treacherous route to the national title game than Southern California, which he mockingly said had to play some "real juggernauts" like Stanford. (Well, perhaps Stanford was a real juggernaut one night.)

Watch a game from another conference on television and then watch a game in the SEC and note the difference in speed and overall physical brutality. No conference makes it more difficult for its teams to emerge from a season with an unbeaten record.

LSU beat South Carolina, which beat Kentucky, which beat LSU. Tennessee beat Mississippi State, which beat Auburn, which beat Florida, which came within a whisker of beating LSU.

There are not five teams in the country more difficult to beat than LSU and Florida. But they have a combined three losses, and only LSU retains hope of playing for the national title. And Florida could spoil those aspirations in a rematch with LSU in the SEC title game.

All SEC teams have played four or fewer conference games, but the carnage is already apparent. No SEC team is undefeated in conference play. Only three schools -- Kentucky, South Carolina and LSU -- have fewer than two overall losses.

Last year, the SEC was ultimately rewarded in the end. Florida suffered a regular season loss to Auburn that could have ruined its national title hopes. But the Gators won out to secure the No. 2 spot in the final BCS ratings to earn a trip to the national title game, where they ran Ohio State off the field.

An SEC team could travel the same journey this season, if any is left standing by Dec. 1.

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