<
>

The SEC was downgraded to ordinary over the weekend

Saturday was tough on Josh Dobbs and his Volunteers, who blew a big lead against Oklahoma. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A week ago, college football fans were all in a tizzy over 10 SEC teams being ranked in the AP Top 25. The announcement brought the majority of folks outside of the Mason-Dixon Line to fever pitch, as the SEC puffed out its Vineyard Vine-cloaked chest and turned its attention to what should have been a mostly easygoing second weekend.

But then the games were played, and most of the league resembled disorganized backyard football in a forgettable weekend that saw three ranked SEC teams lose -- including one to an unranked opponent that had its first game canceled because of severe weather.

The SEC wasn't exactly reduced to rubble, but maybe we got ahead of ourselves with the whole 10-ranked teams idea. Maybe, the SEC should pump the breaks a little with the talk about other conferences and how they choose to schedule.

Maybe, we should all just wait for more games to play out before we crown or cripple these conferences.

The SEC is a great example of what happens when hype gets to your head.

When the lights came on, the colossal video boards flickered and the aroma of overly fried food formed a thin layer in the southern atmosphere Saturday morning, all seemed normal. But before the sun set in the South, the SEC looked blindsided.

The league boasted as the best the sport has to offer watched as SEC West Division darling Arkansas lost an embarrassing game to Toledo in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tennessee blew a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter before falling to Oklahoma in double overtime. Auburn eked out a clunker of a "win" over FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Florida and Missouri let East Carolina and Arkansas State, respectively, hang around with them for far too long. And Georgia's passing game apparently never made it to Nashville for an ugly 31-14 win over Vanderbilt.

All in all, the SEC went 6-2 in nonconference play, but it didn't look great in the process. And the league left the weekend with only a few teams that appear to have legitimate playoff aspirations. Still, though, even those teams have questions, reducing the SEC to -- dare I say -- normal.

Normality set in around 6:45 p.m. CT in Little Rock after Brandon Allen's last-ditch effort of a pass sailed over Keon Hatcher in the end zone to clinch a stunning 16-12 win for the Rockets. It was a bad loss for the 18th-ranked Razorbacks, who went from SEC West darkhorse to out of the top 25 and scrambling for answers.

Earlier in the week, Bret Bielema took shots at Ohio State's soft schedule, adding that his team would see eight straight ranked opponents. Well, if the Hogs couldn't beat Toledo ...

A few hours later, Knoxville was rocked by a nightmarish fourth quarter in which the Vols blew a 14-point lead to a reeling Oklahoma team. The 19th-ranked Sooners went from stymied on offense to spirited behind two touchdowns and 140 yards. Oklahoma prevailed in double overtime thanks to a tight-rope touchdown by Sterling Shepard and a Joshua Dobbs interception on the ensuing drive.

Arguably the worst performance of the day was staged during the early slot -- when the snoozers are supposedly stashed -- when No. 6 Auburn stumbled through a laugher against Jacksonville State. Jeremy Johnson did nothing to shake his poor start to his career as Auburn's quarterback by throwing two more interceptions and looking lost when the Gamecocks threw exotic schemes at him. The defense, which was supposed to be much better under Will Muschamp, surrendered 438 yards 10.7 yards per completion.

Auburn needed overtime to beat mighty Jacksonville State at home.

After Georgia's offense lumbered through a lethargic win at Vandy, the evening didn't get much easier, as Florida held off East Carolina 31-24 at home in dreadful all-orange attire, while Missouri escaped Jonesboro, Arkansas -- and a crowd of a little more than 29,000 -- with a 27-20 win.

While Alabama, Ole Miss and Texas A&M gobbled up their respective cupcakes, the league's exhaustive day was somewhat salvaged by a thrilling 21-19 LSU win at Mississippi State. We entered the season with mounting questions about both teams and left Starkville more impressed with them.

For as good as the SEC still is, the conference was exposed. Name recognition alone doesn't win games.

There are cracks in the SEC's foundation, and the league doesn't feel as strong from top to bottom as we expected. The top could be great, but the middle and bottom have plenty of flaws that turned the league from elite into just ordinary on Saturday.