Through four weeks of the college football season there are only four undefeated teams remaining in the Southeastern Conference. Nobody would be surprised that Alabama and Georgia are two of those teams. Not only are the Tide and the Bulldogs two teams living up to their billing as being among the best in the country, neither has yet to face a formidable opponent.
LSU has beaten two top-10 teams already this season, which has to be considered a surprise. Kentucky being 4-0 is probably what would have kept anyone from winning the superfecta of predicting which four teams would still be undefeated at this point.
You know why there are only four undefeated teams remaining before we get to the final weekend of September? Because it’s really hard to put together a winning streak in football.
Among those four undefeated SEC teams, only Alabama’s winning streak stretches back beyond this season. The Tide has won six games in a row since being handled by Auburn to end the 2017 regular season. Georgia, LSU and Kentucky all lost their last postseason game to end 2017.
Alabama’s six wins in a row trail Central Florida’s 19 straight. Ohio State has won eight in a row.
On the high school level, only one team in the Alabama High School Athletic Association currently has a double-digit winning streak. UMS-Wright lost its regular-season finale to St. Paul’s in 2017, then won five playoff games to claim the Class 4A state championship. The Bulldogs are off to a 5-0 start this season to extend their winning streak to 10 games. Their next opponent is Hillcrest-Evergreen, which won the Class 3A state championship last season but lost to open this season. The Jaguars have won 16 of their last 17 games.
Other than UMS-Wright, no team in Mobile or Baldwin county has a current winning streak of more than five games. Saraland is off to an impressive 5-0 start this season. Vigor, Citronelle and Cottage Hill are undefeated through four games. Theodore, St. Paul’s, Spanish Fort and St. Luke’s all lost their season openers but have since reeled off four straight wins.
The only Alabama high school team with more consecutive wins than UMS-Wright is Monroe Academy, which plays in the Alabama Independent Schools Association and has won 19 in a row and 30 of 31.
While Alabama, LSU, Georgia and Kentucky all have a clear path to the SEC championship, they aren’t the only teams controlling their own destiny.
Mississippi State will win the SEC West if it wins the rest of its conference games. The other nine teams will need some help in order to reach the SEC Championship Game.
Who could have imagined that the SEC East championship would be decided Nov. 3 in Lexington, Kentucky? Kentucky is already 2-0 in the SEC. Not only that, but the Wildcats have taken care of two of their toughest opponents. First, they won at Florida for the first time in more than 30 years, then they beat a Mississippi State team that was ranked in the top 15.
Kentucky’s next four conference games are against South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Missouri. If the Wildcats can go 3-1 in those games, the SEC East championship will be on the line when Georgia visits Kentucky in early November.
In the West, it’s hard to imagine the winner of the Alabama-LSU game in Baton Rouge on the same date as the Kentucky-Georgia game won’t decide the division championship. I’m still not convinced LSU is ready to be considered a national championship contender — despite moving into the top 5 this week — but there isn’t a game between now and Nov. 3 that is going to be nearly as challenging as the Tigers’ visit to Auburn, which LSU has already conquered.
Auburn’s path back to the SEC Championship Game is also pretty simple, although nobody is in the mood to talk about championships after the way the Tigers played in a loss to LSU and a sluggish win over Arkansas in consecutive weeks. If both Auburn and Alabama win out on the way to the Iron Bowl, then that matchup will again be for a share of the division title.
That’s a tall task for an Auburn team that still has to play road games against Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Georgia before visiting Alabama. There’s also a tough home game against Texas A&M to overcome.
Through a quarter of the regular season, here’s how I rank the 14 SEC teams: 1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. LSU; 4. Texas A&M; 5. Kentucky; 6. Auburn; 7. Mississippi State; 8. South Carolina; 9. Missouri; 10. Vanderbilt; 11. Florida; 12. Ole Miss; 13. Tennessee; and 14. Arkansas.
Randy Kennedy writes a weekly column for Lagniappe and is co-host of “Sports Drive” every weekday from 3-6 p.m. on WNSP 105.5 FM, the country’s first all-sports FM station.
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