We're off and running with conference look-aheads, and for our second installment of "The Oregon Trail" previews, we turn our attention to the SEC. (You can check out the Big Ten here.)
A quick reminder of how this works: The trail leader is the conference. The traveling party consists of the four highest-ranked programs in a randomized order. Why do I do this? Any veteran Trail player knows the leader is the last to have anything happen to them, which would make it easy to rig. The random order, all in the two through five slots, ensures disaster will strike all equally.
We dial back food to bare bones rations and set the pace to grueling to ensure the most misery for everyone and that health will get to "very poor" as soon as possible. I buy plenty of food, oxen, clothes and bullets, just to have them.
We send our fearless group off in May because that ensures they travel through the meat of the trail in the hottest months, which means they get hit with the most illnesses. The only way this works is if three members of the travel party die, so I need carnage. At rivers, the wagon gets caulked and floated every time. No fording (that always ends in death) and no using the ferry or Indian guides (that always gets across).
Once three teams have died, you have your conference champion. If two teams make it somehow (this rarely happens but is possible), or if the last two die together (this can happen on the river), we go to Sudden Death Trail. Those two get sent off again, same rules, but with each team listed twice. First one to die loses.
Those are the rules. Welcome to the Trail.
Tennessee is the lone SEC East team to make it to the Trail off ranking, so apologies to Georgia or Florida or any other SEC East team with delusions of grandeur coming into the season. The system isn't perfect, but then again we're also predicting the future with a computer game from the early 90s, cut me some slack.
Well that escalated quickly. This happened on the second river, 10 days into our journey. Farewell, Vols. Usually you make it to at least the fourth quarter before collapsing.
Not the best start for the Rebels, but you can rub some dirt on that and keep powering through.
This makes three years in a row the Tide have taken an L at the hands of Ole Miss.
You put Lane Kiffin in charge for one day.
I'm assuming that it's because I was not allowed to purchase bourbon before this trip that Ole Miss is struggling to function.
Could it be? Could we be seeing the end of Bama this early?
Well this just makes sense. Everyone knows the most effective way to weaken Les Miles is with inadequate grass.
Ole Miss is really an overachiever on the Trail. So far the Rebels have had typhoid, measles and exhaustion.
Now LSU's falling apart. Time to put Les on the hot seat.
And then there were two. Alabama and LSU, as it should be.
Well that didn't take long. That makes Alabama your SEC champions for 2016.
However, there was still more Trail to traverse. at the next river, Alabama drowned (I accidentally clicked through so I didn't get a screenshot of it, sorry everyone). Anyways, that meant the rest of the Trail was done by the SEC, which led to some fun screenshots, so here's how the trip went.
Where's that SEC speed?!
Let's be honest, quarterback's the weakest position in the conference anyways. You don't need an arm to run the dang ball.
What does all of this mean? I'm going to say it means Alabama fails to make it past the College Football Playoff semifinals. I think that's what the Oracle of the Trail is trying to tell me. Sorry, Tide.