To say the SEC has dominated college football for the last 20 years would be an understatement. The SEC has claimed 14 of the last 20 national titles, six of nine in the College Football Playoff (CFP) era, and has never gone more than two consecutive years without claiming the sport’s top prize.
Georgia has solidified the conference’s positioning over the last two seasons by becoming the first back-to-back champion since the creation of the CFP. Michigan fans experienced this firsthand when the Wolverines ran into this buzzsaw in the national semifinal in 2021.
This loss left such an impact on the team that Michigan now has a “Beat Georgia” drill in practice to help keep the team’s eyes on the end-of-season prize. But despite the recent success, are the Bulldogs still the team to beat from the SEC again this season? If not Georgia, who from the SEC represents the greatest challenge to the Michigan Wolverines in a potential CFP showdown?
This time last year, LSU’s latest head coaching hire was drawing laughs from across the country. New head coach Brian Kelly was making awkward pep rally speeches with a phony southern accent and making cringe-worthy TikTok videos with recruits.
Everyone was already laughing at Kelly, and after a heart-breaking loss on a mixed extra point with no time remaining against Florida State, the noise only got louder. However, Kelly rallied his team with his unique style and took them where no one predicted in his first season.
Behind Kelly’s veteran leadership and quarterback Jayden Daniels, the duo led the Tigers to an upset victory over Alabama and claimed first place in the SEC West for the first time since 2019. LSU finished the season 10-4, which included a 63-7 pummeling of Purdue in the Citrus Bowl. With eight starters back on offense – including Daniels and the entire offensive line – the Tigers have their eyes set on not only repeating last year’s success, but improving upon it.
Defensively, the Tigers have three All-American caliber players in the front seven in edge Harold Perkins Jr., and defensive tackles Mekhi Wingo and Maason Smith. Unfortunately, Smith has been suspended for the season opener due to accepting impossible benefits, which I didn’t know was still a thing in the NIL era. The secondary for the Tigers was reloaded through the transfer portal, but with the talent up front, the back end only needs to be respectable in order for this unit to be productive. But even with all of this talent, LSU still plays in the hardest conference in college football.
For the second straight year, the Tigers open up with national title contender Florida State in Orlando. Fortunately, LSU gets two of its most difficult conference opponents (Arkansas, Florida) at home in Death Valley, but still has to face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on November 4.
Alabama cannot be counted out from winning the SEC and the national title this season either. Nick Saban has never gone three straight seasons without a national championship since arriving at Alabama in 2007. Just let that sink in.
Georgia will remain a threat to make history, and as Ric Flair once said, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” However, three-peating is a lofty goal in college football. After all, no team has won three consecutive national championships in football since Minnesota in 1934, 1935, and 1936.
Despite Saban’s history and Georgia’s quest for history of its own, this feels like the year for the Bayou Bengals to once again claim the conference crown and return for their second-ever trip to the playoff.
Just please spare us the Southern accent.