The SEC West remains a fun mess after Ole Miss, Arkansas play another thriller
Who is the best in the SEC West after Alabama? The answer isn't so clear
The SEC West is no longer the clear dominant division in college football it was just a few years ago.
Aside from Alabama, there are questions everywhere you look in the rest of the division. The Big Ten East and ACC Atlantic both have significant arguments to be made for the title of the best division, especially at the top and in the upper-middle class.
Meanwhile, the SEC West has become less terrifying at the top with LSU, Ole Miss and others taking some steps back. It has become one of college football's most entertaining divisions. Once the home of brutally slow-paced offenses and one of the last bastions of power football, the SEC West has entered the new era of up-tempo spread offenses and it has made for exceptionally entertaining football this season.
Ole Miss-Arkansas, for the second straight year, played in a tremendously entertaining contest on Saturday and for the second straight year, Arkansas emerged victorious in a tight game late. This time, the Hogs won thanks to a late fourth quarter touchdown drive capped off by a Jared Cornelius six-yard touchdown run. Last year, the Razorbacks won on one of the craziest plays of the year with a wild lateral that went for a touchdown in overtime en route to a 53-52 win.
The middle of the SEC West between Alabama at the top and Mississippi State at the bottom is a group of five teams that all seem to be capable of winning any game they play in, but none of them seem to have the ability to really put an opponent away with conviction.
Texas A&M is the best of this group and very well could be a College Football Playoff contender. The Aggies appear to be legit and passed a big test at home against Tennessee a week ago. But with Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU all remaining on the schedule, we still have some things to learn about them. Few teams are as confounding as the Aggies, with a roster loaded with talent that often appears like a dominant team, but far too often goes through spells of poor play that keeps them from beating an opponent as handily as they should -- see: fourth quarters against UCLA, Tennessee.
Ole Miss and Arkansas are a pair of quality, entertaining teams that have both been beaten by Alabama at home. Both have explosive offenses that can put up big points, while also having defenses susceptible to big plays.
LSU was supposed to be good, looked awful to start the season, had its best player get injured, fired its coach and now is a little bit terrifying under interim coach Ed Orgeron and should be getting star Leonard Fournette back soon.
Auburn looked awful early, snuck away with a win against LSU, but has always looked good on defense. Malzahn appears to have figured out how to get some points out of the offense and all of a sudden the Tigers are fun again.
All of this is to say, the SEC West might not have a team that can take down Alabama, which just steamrolled Tennessee on the road to assert its dominance over the best team in the East. However, week in and week out, the SEC West has a lot of excitement potential as each of the five teams in the middle class of the conference has the talent to win each game and shows at the least flashes of brilliance, but each also appear to have just enough issues that you can't ever feel completely comfortable with them pulling out a win.
That is a recipe for exciting football, even if after next week, the fate of the division might not be in question.
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