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While You Were Out: Tennessee and the SEC East

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If everyone's bad, weird things can happen. I mean: why not, right?

This is the only happy picture from anyone in the SEC in the photo editor this week.
This is the only happy picture from anyone in the SEC in the photo editor this week.
Frederick Breedon

1. There's a very real chance six of the best seven teams in the SEC are in the West this year. I'm not as sure of seven of the best eight (basically comes down to who you trust more: South Carolina or Arkansas, I think), but Georgia's the only team so far that's shown the chops to hang with anyone in the SEC West, and even they have press-eject-on-wins button that is Mike Bobo calling plays in the red zone.

2. The highlights from the SEC East this week: Georgia obliterating Troy, South Carolina getting punched in the mouth by Vandy(!) before Vandy turning back into Vandy, whatever the heck Florida did in Tuscaloosa, and Missouri losing to Indiana. This division is 5-30% worse than we thought, and of the teams that looked best this week-Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky-two had the distinct advantage of not playing. If we didn't need six games to make a bowl I'd just suggest we keep doing that.

3. Meanwhile, in the West, Mississippi State won at LSU for the first time in decades, Arkansas did hideous things to an opponent on the ground again, and everyone else in that division is still ridiculously talented. Alabama is in Year One of the Lane Kiffin Decay Curve (great to decent to questionable to terrible) and will cause more problems than we hoped.

4. I mean, there's a non-zero chance every team in the SEC East goes 0-2 against the West, right? Georgia's the most likely to win a game, but they're on the road against Arkansas and at home vs. Auburn. South Carolina? Texas A&M and at Auburn. Florida? Alabama and LSU. Missouri? Texas A&M and Arkansas, both late. Georgia already has an in-division loss. Even Kentucky draws LSU and Mississippi State, and you know things are bad if I'm including Kentucky in this discussion.

5. Look, y'all know where I'm going with this: is it likely Tennessee wins the SEC East? Heck no. None of the problems Tennessee have will be made any easier as the season goes on, especially if anyone on the OL gets even slightly injured. But if everyone in the East goes 0-2 against the West and there's some eating of tails in the East (which there will be), why not? Spring a couple upsets and 5-3 might just be good enough depending on who the losses are. (This would also make them the eighth best team in the SEC, which is closer to what we thought was a best-case scenario; keep repeating that and you can talk yourself into this.)

6. Even the tangential stuff is in Tennessee's favor right now: Oklahoma's tough game against West Virginia likely means WVU is good (see their effort against Alabama), Missouri laid one heck of an egg against Indiana, and the biggest thing Tennessee needed-OL reps without the pressure of results-just showed up in the form of a bye week.

7. I have no idea how or why LSU got blitzed at home at night against Mississippi State; maybe we just take Les Miles for granted these days, or maybe this week was just weird. So was last week, though; we're not at trend stage yet, but hey, the weirder this year gets the more likely Tennessee rips off 5-1 against the East, so bring on the crazy.

8. Speaking of crazy: Kansas State should've at worst taken Auburn to overtime (0-3 on field goals will make life difficult), Oregon has no offensive line and Pullman is a weird place at night, Clemson and Florida State lost their game last night about seven times combined (Clemson, of course, lost last), South Carolina gave up two(!) kickoff return TDs,and Missouri lost to Indiana. Georgia State led Washington 14-0 at the half, Illinois escaped(!) against Texas State(!!), Arizona needed a Hail Mary to beat Cal, and Memphis won comfortably. MEMPHIS WON COMFORTABLY. USC has now gone seven days without losing a game to Boston College.

9. Virginia Tech beats Ohio State by two scores on the road then lose at home to East Carolina and Georgia Tech. East Carolina goes wrath-of-Loki against North Carolina. Wake Forest came back to beat Army. Old Dominion hit a game-winning field goal at Rice. Wisconsin kicked a game-clinching field goal to go up 51 against Bowling Green. Florida's margin of victory over Eastern Michigan was more than Michigan State's margin of victory. Iowa inexplicably beat Pitt, which is the most normal thing to happen this week outside of Athens.

10. Previous years acted like they were going to be this nuts but the favorites pulled it out. This year doesn't look like that so far, and when that happens it's almost better to be on the outside. I'm not saying it's likely that Tennessee will go 5-1 against the SEC East with their only loss being to Vanderbilt; I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised it if happened.

11. This is probably just the kind of insanity built of the kind of fever dream that you get when you ignore Georgia beating Troy 66-0 and look at the huge holes in the rest of the East, but who do you trust in this division to excel in every game this year? Todd Gurley, right? Cam Sutton? Sure. Anyone else? Dylan Thompson? Maybe? Does anyone trust any offense or defense entirely? If you were to rank each offense and defense in the East individually, what happens? What kind of mess does that look like before you throw your hands up and give up?

12. Again: it's not likely Tennessee wins the East. NOT LIKELY AT ALL. However, things can always get weird, and this year things seem weirder than normal.