7:30 AM ETconnelly_bill Why the SEC must scrap divisions, and extra Week 6 ideas

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You’ve got in all probability heard by now that Auburn and Florida, who meet in Gainesville on Saturday, have performed one another solely as soon as up to now 11 seasons. This can be a long-standing rivalry, and this would be the eighth time the applications meet as top-10 groups, however they barely play anymore.

Georgia will not play Texas A&M for the primary time as a convention rival till later this season. LSU will not go to Missouri for the primary time till 2023, 11 years after A&M and Mizzou joined the SEC.

This barely qualifies as a convention.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen stated as a lot final week, noting that Florida has extra video games scheduled in opposition to USF than Mississippi State. “I feel it is an injustice for the youngsters. We should always combine these video games up, and it’s best to play extra groups from the West and get the chance to play extra SEC video games.” When you’ve got 14 SEC groups taking part in eight-game convention schedules, and when seven of these eight spots are occupied by the identical seven groups yearly (six division foes, plus one everlasting inter-division rival), you are barely going to play the opposite six groups.

Why the SEC must scrap divisions, and extra Week 6 ideasFlorida and Auburn have not performed since 2011. We’ve a plan for repair that. Scott Cunningham/Getty Pictures

Going from eight convention video games to 9 would put an additional inter-division foe into the rotation and guarantee you are taking part in everyone twice in six years. Nonetheless, the SEC in all probability is not going to maneuver to nine-game schedules anytime quickly — the present construction works out fairly nicely for the league, which has positioned no less than one group (and on two events, two groups) within the nationwide title sport up to now 13 seasons.

Fortunately, there’s an excellent higher method. It would not even require including a convention sport, and it could serve the extra function of fixing occasional issues with unequal divisions.

Simply ban divisions altogether.

I’ve written about this earlier than, but it surely has picked up steam within the run-up to Auburn-Florida. Let’s stroll by way of the fundamentals of what we’ll name the convention pod construction.

1. As an alternative of divisions, every group has a set of three everlasting rivals. We’ve taken to calling them pods. Having three for every group satisfies most rivalry wants, as you may see beneath.

2. You play your three everlasting rivals yearly, and also you rotate between the opposite 10. Residence-and-homes in opposition to 5 of them for 2 years, then home-and-homes in opposition to the opposite 5 the following two years. Inside a pupil’s 4 years on campus, you’ve got performed everybody within the league no less than twice. Now that is a convention.

This identical construction, by the way in which, would work superbly for the ACC, which additionally performs eight-game convention schedules, would not even use geography for its divisions and options much more divisional imbalance than the SEC. And whereas the three-five construction works with excellent symmetry, it could work for conferences with nine-game convention schedules, too. (Good day, Huge Ten.)

A simulation

To see how this might work sooner or later, I appeared to the previous. I simulated the way it may need performed out had the SEC adopted this construction from the second it turned a 14-team league in 2012.

Listed below are the everlasting rivalries I selected:

Hypothetical SEC rivalry pods
Alabama: Auburn, LSU, Tennessee
Arkansas: Missouri, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Auburn: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State
Florida: Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee
Georgia: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Kentucky: Mississippi State, Missouri, Vanderbilt
LSU: Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M
Mississippi State: Auburn, Kentucky, Ole Miss
Missouri: Arkansas, Kentucky, Texas A&M
Ole Miss: Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi State
South Carolina: Florida, Georgia, Vanderbilt
Tennessee: Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt
Texas A&M: Arkansas, LSU, Missouri
Vanderbilt: Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee

For balanced scheduling, I referenced groups’ five-year common SP+ rankings (2007-11, which will be discovered at Soccer Outsiders). I used as many real-life video games as attainable, and for the brand new matchups that did not truly occur, I stored issues easy and decided the winner by who could be favored by that 12 months’s SP+ rankings. (No, this wasn’t meant to be completely scientific.)

Listed below are the outcomes.

2012 Standings
Alabama (7-1, 11-1)
Georgia (7-1, 11-1)
Florida (6-2, 10-2) (-1 win from actual life)
LSU (6-2, 10-2)
Texas A&M (6-2, 10-2)
South Carolina (5-Three, 9-Three) (-1 win)
Vanderbilt (5-Three, Eight-Four)
Ole Miss (Three-5, 6-6)
Mississippi State (Three-5, 7-5) (-1 win)
Arkansas (Three-5, 5-7) (+1 win)
Auburn (2-6, 5-7) (+2 wins)
Tennessee (2-6, 6-6) (+1 win)
Missouri (1-7, Four-Eight) (-1 win)
Kentucky (Zero-Eight, 2-10)

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SEC championship sport: Alabama vs. Georgia

The title sport would not change, however we see some shifts additional down within the standings. From the beginning of the league’s 14-team existence, the West has been far stronger than the East, and we see right here that West groups choose up a web two wins.

2013 Standings
Alabama (7-1, 11-1)
Auburn (6-2, 10-2) (-1 win)
Mississippi State (6-2, 9-Three) (+Three wins!)
Missouri (6-2, 10-2) (-1 win)
Georgia (6-2, 9-Three) (+1 win)
LSU (5-Three, 9-Three)
Texas A&M (5-Three, 9-Three) (+1 win)
South Carolina (5-Three, 9-Three) (-1 win)
Ole Miss (Four-Four, Eight-Four) (+1 win)
Vanderbilt (Three-5, 7-5) (-1 win)
Florida (1-7, 2-10) (-2 wins)
Arkansas (1-7, Four-Eight) (+1 win)
Tennessee (1-7, Four-Eight) (-1 win)
Kentucky (Zero-Eight, 2-10)

SEC championship sport: Alabama vs. Auburn

Right here, we encounter what some may take into account a disadvantage of the no-divisions construction: instant rematches. Auburn completed the 2013 common season with possibly probably the most dramatic pair of wins in school soccer’s 150-year historical past, beating Georgia through Ricardo Louis’ miraculous deflected landing, then beating Alabama through Chris Davis’ 109-yard missed discipline aim return.

On this actuality, the Kick Six merely units up a rematch the following week. Missouri, which might have in any other case received a tiebreaker as a consequence of its highway win over Georgia, finally ends up screwed by the Kick Six, not Alabama, which might have been the odds-on favourite to win the rematch and play within the BCS title sport.

2014 Standings
Alabama (7-1, 11-1)
Mississippi State (6-2, 10-2)
Missouri (6-2, 9-Three) (-1 win)
LSU (5-Three, 9-Three) (+1 win)
Georgia (5-Three, Eight-Four) (-1 win)
Texas A&M (Four-Four, Eight-Four) (+1 win)
Auburn (Four-Four, Eight-Four)
South Carolina (Four-Four, 7-5) (+1 win)
Ole Miss (Four-Four, Eight-Four) (-1 win)
Florida (Four-Four, 6-5)
Arkansas (Three-5, 7-5) (+1 win)
Tennessee (2-6, 5-7) (-1 win)
Kentucky (2-6, 5-7)
Vanderbilt (Zero-Eight, Three-9)

SEC championship sport: Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Missouri, which received the real-life East in each 2013 and 2014, as an alternative narrowly misses out on the title sport twice in a row, this time as a consequence of a head-to-head loss to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, who spent a piece of the season unbeaten and No. 1 within the nation, get a late shot at redemption after faltering late within the 12 months.

2 Associated

2015 Standings
Ole Miss (7-1, 10-2) (+1 win)
Alabama (7-1, 11-1)
Georgia (6-2, 10-2) (+1 win)
LSU (6-2, 9-2) (+1 win)
Arkansas (6-2, Eight-Four) (+1 win)
Florida (5-Three, Eight-Four) (-2 wins)
Auburn (Four-Four, Eight-Four) (+2 wins)
Tennessee (Four-Four, 7-5) (-1 win)
Texas A&M (Four-Four, Eight-Four)
Mississippi State (Three-5, 7-5) (-1 win)
Kentucky (2-6, 5-7)
South Carolina (1-7, Three-9)
Vanderbilt (1-7, Three-9) (-1 win)
Missouri (Zero-Eight, Four-Eight) (-1 win)

SEC championship sport: Ole Miss vs. Alabama

On this actuality, the superb Hunter Henry Sport would not price Ole Miss its first spot within the convention title sport. In the meantime, Georgia and LSU every fare higher than in actual life, making the Mark Richt and Les Miles firings much more awkward than they already had been.

2016 Standings
Alabama (Eight-Zero, 12-Zero)
LSU (6-2, Eight-Three) (+1 win)
Texas A&M (5-Three, 9-Three) (+1 win)
Auburn (5-Three, Eight-Four)
Florida (5-Three, Eight-Three) (-1 win)
Tennessee (Four-Four, Eight-Four)
Georgia (Four-Four, 7-5)
Mississippi State (Four-Four, 6-6) (+1 win)
Arkansas (Three-5, 7-5)
Ole Miss (Three-5, 6-6) (+1 win)
South Carolina (Three-5, 6-6)
Kentucky (2-6, 5-7) (-2 wins)
Vanderbilt (2-6, 5-7) (-1 win)
Missouri (2-6, Four-Eight)

SEC championship sport: Alabama vs. LSU

The West picks up 4 web wins right here, and a Florida group that received the East in actual life, as an alternative finishes fifth within the convention. In the meantime, with fewer video games in opposition to the worst groups within the convention, the Mark Stoops period is absolutely struggling to get off the bottom. He has but to make a bowl.

2017 Standings
Auburn (7-1, 10-2)
Alabama (7-1, 11-1)
Georgia (7-1, 11-1)
LSU (6-2, 9-Three)
Ole Miss (5-Three, Eight-Four) (+2 wins)
Mississippi State (5-Three, 9-Three) (+1 win)
Missouri (Four-Four, 7-5)
South Carolina (Four-Four, 7-5) (-1 win)
Texas A&M (Four-Four, 7-5)
Arkansas (2-6, 5-7) (+1 win)
Florida (2-6, Three-Eight) (-1 win)
Kentucky (2-6, 5-7) (-2 wins)
Vanderbilt (1-7, 5-7)
Tennessee (Zero-Eight, Four-Eight)

SEC championship sport: Auburn vs. Alabama

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Right here, along with instant rematches, we encounter one other potential drawback with pods: awkward tie-breakers. Auburn, Alabama and Georgia all end 7-1, however Alabama and Georgia did not play one another. Auburn finishes first with wins over each groups, however the Bama/Georgia tie just about must be damaged by who has the upper CFP rating. (Alabama was fifth at this level in actual life, Georgia sixth.)

The best way this performs out, although, Georgia in all probability nonetheless makes the CFP at 11-1 along with the Auburn-Bama winner.

2018 Standings
Alabama (Eight-Zero, 12-Zero)
Georgia (7-1, 11-1)
Auburn (6-2, 10-2) (+Three wins!)
Kentucky (6-2, 10-2) (+1 win)
Texas A&M (5-Three, Eight-Four)
LSU (5-Three, 9-Three)
Mississippi State (Four-Four, Eight-Four)
Florida (Four-Four, Eight-Four) (-1 win)
Missouri (Three-5, 7-5) (-1 win)
Ole Miss (2-6, 6-6) (+1 win)
South Carolina (2-6, 5-7) (-2 wins)
Vanderbilt (2-6, 5-7) (-1 win)
Tennessee (1-7, Four-Eight) (-1 win)
Arkansas (1-7, Three-9) (+1 win)

SEC championship sport: Alabama vs. Georgia

The title sport matchup would not change, however one-loss Georgia (which nonetheless loses to LSU) will get a reasonably stiff problem from each an Auburn group coping with a far lighter convention schedule and a Kentucky group that lastly discovered its rhythm (and, on this instance, misplaced to solely Tennessee and LSU).

Over the course of seven seasons, the West groups have benefited as you’ll count on, gaining a web 26 wins. Auburn and Arkansas every rating six additional convention wins, and Ole Miss beneficial properties 5, whereas the East’s Florida loses eight, Missouri loses 5, and Vandy and South Carolina lose 4 every.

This simulation fairly clearly spells out the pluses and minuses to a pod method.

Plus: Everyone performs everyone incessantly.

Minus: Some video games which can be awfully essential to sure fan bases — Arkansas-LSU, Tennessee-Georgia, and so on. — are nonetheless performed incessantly however now not yearly.

Plus: The schedules inside the convention are much more balanced, to some groups’ profit and others’ detriment. (This makes sure annual teaching scorching seat conversations play out fairly in another way, from Derek Dooley reaching a bowl and possibly not getting fired from Tennessee in 2012, to Stoops or Vandy’s Derek Mason reaching fewer bowls and maybe discovering bother extra shortly.)

Minus: The tiebreaker course of will find yourself breaking ties amongst groups that did not play one another. That is awkward and doubtlessly unsatisfying.

Plus: Convention title video games are much more prone to pit the perfect and second-best groups in opposition to one another, not greatest and fifth-best.

Minus: In the event you’re not a fan of instant rematches (however wish to maintain all the important thing rivalry video games, such because the Iron Bowl, on Thanksgiving weekend, when they need to be), you could be sometimes sad with the title sport pairings.

It is essential to notice, the positives far outweigh the negatives. I will commerce sometimes awkward tiebreakers for a better sense of rivalry, steadiness and equity.

The SEC was the primary FBS convention to implement a convention title sport. Although doubters had been legion at first, it benefited the convention enormously and have become commonplace inside the sport. The league may select to make a equally progressive transfer proper now; amongst all the opposite advantages, it could get Auburn to Gainesville fairly a bit extra usually.

Week 6 playlist

Listed below are 10 video games — no less than one from every weekend time slot — that it’s best to take note of if you wish to get absolutely the most out of the weekend, from each an info and leisure perspective.

All occasions Jap.

No. 18 UCF at Cincinnati (Eight p.m., ESPN)
Dartmouth-Penn must be an excellent second choice throughout industrial breaks, but it surely’s laborious to beat this one for a Friday night time affair. Regardless of a loss to Pitt, UCF remains to be the AAC East favourite, however Cincy QB Desmond Ridder is taking part in glorious ball, and after slipping to 62nd in SP+ after getting thumped by Ohio State, the Bearcats are again as much as 38th. The winner is your East fav.
SP+ projection: UCF 29, Cincy 22

Early Saturday
No. 14 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan (12 p.m., Fox)
Michigan dealt with Rutgers prefer it ought to have (and bought RU’s Chris Ash fired within the course of), however that is the Wolverines’ first likelihood to essentially show one thing after their debacle in opposition to Wisconsin. Iowa in all probability ought to have misplaced to Iowa State however is extraordinarily well-rounded — high 30 in offense, protection and particular groups, per SP+ — and if Michigan’s not a real top-20 caliber group, we’ll in all probability know after this one.
SP+ projection: Michigan 26, Iowa 22

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Why the SEC must scrap divisions, and extra Week 6 ideasCan Nate Stanley lead the Hawkeyes to a different large win or are the Wolverines prepared to show issues round? AP Photograph/Charlie Neibergall

Tulane at Military (12 p.m., CBS Sports activities)
Tulane hasn’t completed within the SP+ high 50 since 1998’s undefeated run, however the Inexperienced Wave are at the moment 51st and Three-1 total. Military, in the meantime, is Military — relentlessly option-heavy on offense, aggressively environment friendly on protection, and 57th total. This could possibly be probably the most run-heavy sport of the week this aspect of Air Power-Navy, and SP+ tasks it as a dead-on tossup. Sounds value your whereas.
SP+ projection: Military 27.2, Tulane 27.1

North Dakota State at Illinois State (1 p.m., ESPN+)
After a few warmups to begin the 12 months, NDSU performed at what was then FCS’ No. 18 group, Delaware, earlier than returning house to face No. Four UC Davis. Now, play begins in FCS’ most rugged convention, the Missouri Valley. Illinois State is Three-1 and No. 6 in FCS, having misplaced solely to Northern Illinois. ESPN+ will carry this one; can younger quarterback Trey Lance and NDSU maintain rolling?
SP+ projection: NDSU 32, ISU 25

Saturday afternoon (in addition to Auburn-Florida)
Baylor at Kansas State (Three:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Every week, the Huge 12 options no less than one sport key to the race for the second spot within the convention title sport. This week, it options three: TCU-Iowa State, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech and this one. Baylor has the second-best protection within the convention, per SP+, however Kansas State has among the finest go defenses within the nation. The Wildcats want this one.
SP+ projection: Baylor 27, Kansas State 23

Virginia Tech at Miami (Three:30 p.m., ESPN)
Auburn-Florida and Baylor-KSU ought to deal with most of your viewing wants, however I will be keeping track of this one, too, as a result of Tech is a little bit of a catastrophe in the intervening time. The two-2 Hokies barely survived Furman and bought crushed by Duke of their previous two video games, plummeting to 72nd in SP+. Can they maintain the underside from utterly falling out in opposition to a Miami group that’s principally promising however cannot block anyone?
SP+ projection: Miami 31, Virginia Tech 17

Saturday night
No. 25 Michigan State at No. Four Ohio State (7:30 p.m., ABC)
The largest sport of the night. Ohio State has been rattling close to untouchable to this point, not solely sprinting to 5-Zero however beating three SP+ top-40 groups by a mean of 41.Three factors. That Indiana group Michigan State barely beat final week? Buckeyes 51, Hoosiers 10. However … that is precisely the type of state of affairs by which the Spartans generally engineer an out-of-nowhere scare, proper?
SP+ projection: Ohio State 33, Michigan State 16

Tulsa at No. 24 SMU (7:30 p.m., ESPNU)
LANDMINE ALERT: SMU is ranked for the primary time since 1986 and has appeared the a part of a real New 12 months’s Six bowl contender. However loads of groups calm down after they have a motive to congratulate themselves, and SMU cannot afford to try this in opposition to a Tulsa group that beat Wyoming and made each Oklahoma State and Michigan State sweat.
SP+ projection: SMU 34, Tulsa 22

Cal at No. 13 Oregon (Eight p.m., Fox)
Cal in all probability would not have the offense to be a severe Pac-12 North contender, however the Golden Bears nonetheless have a protection, and so they have already confirmed their spoiler potential by beating Washington twice in two years. In his first sport in opposition to a vigorous protection because the irritating Auburn loss, can Oregon’s Justin Herbert show his draft hype and maintain the Geese unbeaten in convention play?
SP+ projection: Oregon 30, Cal 13

Late Saturday
No. 15 Washington at Stanford (10:30 p.m., ESPN)

Truthfully? It might take a reasonably dramatic rebound from Stanford for this to truly be a sport. Washington ought to cruise. However the guidelines are that I choose one thing from each time slot, and the one different choices had been Boise State at UNLV and SDSU at Colorado State. I am simply being sincere right here. You may in all probability go to mattress early this Saturday.
SP+ projection: Washington 38, Stanford 18