After seven consecutive national championships, the Southeastern Conference is the standard to which every other conference is compared to in the world of college football. The Atlantic Coast Conference may have to deal with those comparisons more so than any other conference in the country due to several of its members being in close proximity to surrounding SEC schools. The SEC and ACC are the premier athletic conferences in the southeast region of the country and provide the country with some of the more fascinating out of conference match-ups on a year-to-year basis. For football fans everywhere, here is a look at how the top teams in each conference stack up with one another and what a Top 10 list might look like if these two power conferences were indeed one.
1) Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 2-0) AP Rank: 1
The premier football program in all of college football resides in Tuscaloosa. The Tide dismantled #21 Ole Miss 25-0 last weekend for their second win against a ranked conference opponent on the year. With Georgia State and Kentucky as the Tide’s next two opponents, their spot atop the rankings should be safe for a fortnight at least.
Next Up: Georgia State (0-4)
2) Clemson Tigers (4-0, 2-0) AP Rank: 3
The Tigers are cruising after pounding an overmatched Wake Forest tea 56-7 in their first home conference game of the year. Senior quarterback Tajh Boyd remains one of the Heisman Trophy frontrunners after he racked up 380 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in less than three quarters of play against the Demon Deacons. He also moved into second place in ACC History for touchdowns accounted for over the weekend. The Tiger’s legitimacy among college football’s elite also seems to be further solidified every weekend due to the performances Georgia has displayed since the Tiger’s 38-35 win over the Bulldogs to start the season.
Next Up: @Syracuse (2-2)
3) Georgia Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) AP Rank: 6
Speaking of Georgia, their 44-41 win over LSU this weekend was the Bulldog’s second win over a Top-10 of the season. Georgia has undoubtedly had the toughest schedule in the country to date but has emerged from it still ranked in the Top 10 and in the driver seat to make it to the SEC Championship for the third consecutive year. Quarterback Aaron Murray needs only 100 yards to break the all-time SEC passing record held by former Georgia quarterback David Greene.
Next Up: @ Tennessee (3-2)
4) Florida State Seminoles (4-0, 2-0) AP Rank: 8
The Seminoles second road game of the season provided Florida State with their first real taste of adversity on the young season. Boston College jumped out to a 17 point lead in the first half but couldn’t hold on against a Nole’s offense that exceeded the 40-point mark for their fourth consecutive game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston’s numbers so far: 67/91, 73.6 completion percentage, 1048 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Wow. FSU will need Winston’s best when they host a Maryland team full of confidence.
Next Up: #25 Maryland (4-0)
5) LSU Tigers (4-1, 1-1) AP Rank: 10
Les Mile’s Tigers lost a heartbreaker on the road against Georgia last Saturday but passes the eye test of a team that can make a ton of noise in the race to Pasadena. Their schedule is brutal with four remaining ranked opponents on the schedule (Florida, @Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and @Alabama) but with a young defense that should improve over the course of the season and an offense led by a much improved Zach Mettenburger at quarterback, I expect this team to be a mainstay in the Top 10 throughout the course of the season.
Next Up: @Mississippi State (2-2)
6) Texas A&M Aggies (4-1, 1-1) AP Rank: 9
The Aggies sure aren’t having a hard time finding the endzone this season which should come as no surprise with Jonny Football still calling the shots. Manziel and the A&M offense currently have the third highest scoring offense in the country, averaging just under 50 points-per-game. Expect another shootout when TAMU travels to Oxford to take on an Ole Miss team rebounding from an embarrassing performance against Alabama.
Next up: #24 Ole Miss (3-1)
7) Miami Hurricanes (4-0, 0-0) AP Rank: 14
The publicity surrounding Miami has been relatively quiet despite the fact that the Hurricanes are undefeated and boast an out-of-conference win over SEC foe Florida earlier in the season. Quarterback Stephen Morris has been forced to leave each of the last two contests early due to a right ankle injury. It will be something to keep an eye on as Miami enters the meat of it’s conference schedule and a potentially huge match-up with Florida State three weeks down the road.
Next up: Georgia Tech (3-1)
8) South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1) AP Rank: 13
Head Coach Steve Spurrier was none too pleased with how his team closed their game out with Central Florida this past weekend. Despite leading by 18 points in the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks had to recover an attempted onside kick by UCF to secure a 28-25 win. The fact remains though that a win is a win and that’s something this team has grown accustomed to. Starting quarterback Connor Shaw’s status for this weekend is unknown after leaving last weekend’s game early following a shoulder injury. However, backup Dylan Thompson has plenty of experience to lead the Gamecock offense in Shaw’s absence if needed. Expect the Gamecocks to continue to lean heavily on running back Mike Davis who has emerged as a rising star and is averaging over seven yards-per-carry on the ground.
Next up: Kentucky (1-3)
9) Florida Gators (3-1, 2-0) AP Rank: 18
It hasn’t been the smoothest September ever experienced by Gator nation to start a season. First there was a 21-16 defeat suffered against Miami in Coral Cables in the second week of the season. That was then followed with by a home win against Tennessee that saw starting quarterback Jeff Driskel’s season end due to a broken right leg. Top it off with the loss of All-American defensive tackle Dominique Easley with a season-ending injury knee injury followed by his announcement to forego his senior season next year to declare for the NFL draft, and it’s easy to understand any frustration Florida fans may be experiencing. The good news though is that the defense is still an elite unit and is only giving up 12 points-per-game. If they can maintain playing at that type of level even in Easley’s absence, they’ll have an opportunity to win a lot of games.
Next up: Arkansas (3-1)
10) Maryland Terrapins (4-0, 0-0) AP Rank: 25
Maryland may just be the best team that no one is talking about. Despite a 4-0 unblemished record, that includes a double digit win against UCONN (something Michigan wishes they could have done) and a 37 point demolition of West Virginia (Mike Riley and Oklahoma State fans everywhere shake their head), Maryland finds themselves ranked in the AP Top-25 for the first time since 2010. Quarterback CJ Brown has looked brilliant after missing all of last year with a torn ACL and Stefon Diggs is among the nation’s most explosive wide receivers (he’s averaging over 20 yards-per catch). Maryland will get a chance to prove their validity among the Top-25 when they travel to Tallahassee to take on #8 Florida State this weekend.
Next up: @ #8 Florida State (4-0)
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