Alabama is a monster right now. Some people don’t want to admit it and others are in denial. I have a relative that refuses to admit that Alabama is awesome. Their young sophomore quarterback is getting better and better and their running game is practically unstoppable. The defense is about as good as usual in spite of some big losses off of last year’s team. They are big, fast, aggressive and they will stop opponents behind the line of scrimmage time after time.
In 2016, the rest of the SEC was pretty average at best.
But, this is 2017.
LSU lost to Troy and all Tiger fans are questioning the wisdom of hiring Ed Orgeron after firing Les Miles last year. I still question their firing of Les Miles.
LSU has been considered Bama’s biggest challenge in the SEC West for the past few years, but that’s not going to be this year and maybe not for a long while.
So, who can challenge Alabama in the SEC?
Maybe it will be the Georgia Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs are 5-0 and the only challenge they have faced this season was in South Bend,
Indiana where they just barely beat the Fighting Irish 20-19. But, the Irish are 4-1 and they have beaten everyone else on their early schedule fairly severely.
It was also the very first start of true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. After last year’s true freshman starter, Jacob Eason, was injured in the first game against Appalachian State, what could have been a disaster has maybe turned into a potentially magical situation.
Jack Fromm is more than just a cool name that goes well with the State Farm Insurance commercial, he might just be special. He has that Buck Belue feel about him when thinking about Georgia football history. Like Trace McSorley at Penn State, some guys are just winners and have that certain ‘it’ factor.
The Bulldogs don’t throw the ball a lot and Fromm only has 734 yards passing and 8 touchdowns, but a quarterback is sometimes more than just a passer.
The Bulldogs running game is not as dominating as Alabama’s, but senior running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are taking advantage of their last season in college football. The Bulldogs also have young talents like D’Andre Swift from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Brian Herrion and Elijah Holyfield.
After surviving South Bend, the Bulldogs have rolled. They beat Samford easily, of course, but then they battered Mississippi State 31-3 in what was expected to be a close game. Then, they traveled to Knoxville, Tennessee and in what was supposed to be the SEC game of the week, they just obliterated the Vols on their home turf, 41-0. That’s a pretty severe beating. They dominated every facet of the game and made the Volunteers appear to be on the same level as Samford.
In head coach Kirby Smart’s second year as the head coach at Georgia, the Bulldogs appear to be going places.
Can they beat Alabama and win the SEC? Probably not, but they look like the best possible challenger from the SEC East right now.
Then, there is Auburn.
Unlike Georgia, the Auburn Tigers have lost a game. They did beat up on the usual softie in game one, Georgia Southern. But, they lost game two at Clemson to the defending national champions. Their defense played really well, but they gave up 12 quarterback sacks. New quarterback Jarrett Stidham must have been really sore the next morning and he didn’t have much of a chance that night. But, Clemson has the best defensive line in the country according to most experts.
The defense kept it close and the Clemson Tigers have a brand new quarterback this season after losing Deshaun Watson to the NFL.
The following game was not that much better as the Tigers struggled against Mercer. They won, but they didn’t impress at all.
But, something happened at that point and the War Eagles/Tigers have improved dramatically. They thrashed the Missouri version of the Tigers, 51-14. Of course, the Missouri Tigers are pretty bad. But, Auburn did not fool around with them and blew them out.
Then, they just destroyed a top 25 team in the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Georgia beat Mississippi State 31-3 and then Auburn beat them 49-10.
New quarterback Jarrett Stidham could do it in the Big 12 as a true freshman and now he can do it in the SEC. He’s starting to look like the quarterback that was expected that could get Gus
Malzahn’s offense rolling again as it did his first couple of seasons.
The Tigers also have that running game going with Kerryon Johnson, Kam Martin and Kamryn Pettway.
It might take a miracle, or a Kick 6, for Auburn to beat Alabama in 2017. But, the War Eagles are improving and looking like the only team in the SEC West that might give the Crimson Tide some competition.
Historically, the Alabama Crimson Tide has dominated the SEC. Auburn is the only team in the conference that is somewhat competitive with the Crimson Tide, record wise. The series currently stands at 43-35-1 in favor of the Tide.
I don’t honestly believe that Georgia, or Auburn, will beat Alabama. But, these two teams look better than most any other SEC teams in recent seasons and they have a reasonable shot at pulling an upset.