It's very hard in college football to be completely objective when comparing the successes of different teams because of the perception we as fans have had pounded into our brains by the national media. Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, USC, etc. will always be seen as "elite" teams in college football, regardless of their most recent successes. Well, to truly take these perceptions out and figure out who really has had recent success, it is important to remove the name of the school you are looking at, thus removing that school's history and reputation. (No, I am not disregarding tradition, and yes this is only five years old. I understand, storied programs have down years, but it is not relevant to bring up tradition when discussing current success.) Five years is a decent length of time to figure out where a program is and where a program is headed. Specifically, we will look at each team in the SEC East, and their Points Per Game (PPG), Points Allowed per game, Strength of Schedule (SOS, see bottom of post for more on how this was determined), and each team's total wins from each year. Then, we will average those together and compare them between each team without actually seeing the name of the school.
|Team 1||Team 2||Team 3||Team 4||Team 5||Team 6||Team 7|
Ok, so let's start with Team 1. An average SOS of 20.8, ranking 4th in the SEC East, while averaging 6.6 wins a year. Not spectacular on offense averaging 25.28 PPG, but not too shabby on defense, allowing 22.34 PPG. Anyone have a guess as to who Team 1 might be? Yep, the numbers say it all, this is the team that has generally occupied the middle of the pack these past five years. Tennessee.
Team 2. Pretty damn close to being elite (if not elite), having the third toughest SOS with an average of 17 and averaging the third most wins a year with 9. Consistently posts up strong offensive numbers averaging 31.42 PPG, and looking pretty solid on defense too, only allowing 22.66 PPG. Managing to average 9 wins a year with an average SOS of 17 is the sign of a pretty solid football program, and after winning ten games last year, this program is on the rise. Many say this team is the favorite to win the East this year. Georgia.
Moving on to Team 3. Easily the worst team in the East over these past five years, but after improving from two wins in 2010 to six wins in 2011, things maybe looking up. This team faces pretty stiff competition every year, averaging a SOS of 22.4, and the record indicates they have been on the losing end of most of those games with an average win total of only 4.4. The offense could definitely use a little work, only averaging 20.16 PPG over the span of the last half decade. 2011 showed improvement, but the offense still is not where it should be if they expect to win more games. The defense isn't terrible, allowing 23.66, but when your averages show you're allowing more points than you're scoring, it's a sign that your football team just isn't very good. Vanderbilt.
Team 4 may have been a dead give away with the win totals. Averaging a somewhat surprising 9.6 wins and having a decent SOS with an average of 26.2, this team may deserve more respect than what it is given. The second most prolific offense over the past five years, averaging 34.74 PPG, and boasting a better-than-advertised defense only allowing an average of 23.1 PPG. Yes, this team played in a different conference these past five years, but that was why I included the SOS stat. Missouri.
Team 5 has easily been the best team in the SEC East over the past five years, even if the last couple years have been a little rough. Averaging double digit wins with 10 and boasting a ridiculously difficult SOS average with 12.4, this team managed to score an incredible 35.46 PPG and only allow 18.48. This team has been the definition of elite, and though the past two years have been a struggle, there is no reason this team should not be able to come back and compete in the near future. Florida.
Team 6 surprised me a little bit. Maybe it was my lack of knowledge about the non-traditional powers in the SEC, but I expected this team to be a little worse than I discovered. Then again, a very weak SOS average of only 38.8 may be why I was a tad surprised by the average win total of 6.6. Only barely managing to average more PPG than points allowed, this team scored 26.44 and allowed 25.38. Football is not horrendous, but I think it's safe to say this is a basketball school anyway. Kentucky.
And finally, Team 7. A team that has just very recently blossomed into a real contender, improving upon win totals of six, seven, and seven in the first three years of the five we are looking at here to winning nine games in 2010 and eleven in 2011. Another team considered to be a real contender in 2012 for the SEC East title, they have paid their dues with a SOS average of 13 and have found themselves still winning an average of 8 games a year. A decent offense posted up 25.7 PPG, and a pretty good defense only allowed 21.3 PPG. A strong running game and solid defense may carry this team to the next level in 2012. South Carolina.
So what can we take from all of this? Well, that the SEC East maybe trending toward more parity with the decline of Florida (but probably not for long), the rise of South Carolina, the addition of Missouri and the consistent play of Georgia. With Vandy quickly improving and Tennessee finally getting a little stability at the head coach position, this should be a fun division to keep up with. Obviously as a Missouri fan, I like to see that Mizzou is not out of place in this division, and if the past five years are any indicator, the Tigers should be in the mix of things come September.
SOS Strength of Schedule; a rating of strength of schedule. The rating is denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average. Non-major games are excluded from the ratings. Doug Drinen of Pro-Football-Reference.com has written a great explanation of this method.
All data acquired from http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/ .