Six straight years of hearing "S-E-C" chanted after every National Championship Game. I'm a fan of an SEC team and let me say that I am absolutely sick of it. One reason being that my team has been irrelevant for the entirety of that run, but I'm also tired of the lack of competition from other conferences.
I consider myself an outlier amongst SEC fans in that the overall success of the conference isn't important to me. I want to see my team win and our rivals lose, it's as simple as that. Every other team in the conference is naturally a rival. Maybe not a rival in the deepest sense of the word such as the Iron Bowl, OSU-Michigan etc. But a rival in that there is a regular clash with them, they are a common foe.
We will never understand why it is that SEC fans have such a fierce loyalty to the conference. Maybe it's leftover anger from the Civil War (Damn Yankees), or the fact that our region isn't known for it's NFL teams. Either way, SEC fans love their college football.
The purpose of this article is to help the rest of the nation understand who you are pulling for to knock of the tyranny of the Southeastern Conference and realistically, who has the best chance. Who will be the William Wallace, to lead the oppressed to freedom? Who will be the Luke Skywalker to strike down the evil Empire? The best chance lies in the Pac-12 with Oregon.
While I wasn't very high on Arizona to start with, it doesn't take away from the fact that Oregon beat a ranked team 49-0. They shutdown what had been a prolific offense, and despite six trips to the red zone, the Wildcats couldn't muster a single point on the Oregon defense.
Chip Kelly's offense is its usual potent self. Marcus Mariota, though in my opinion, still untested, is gelling nicely with the unit. Mariota is currently completeing 67% of his passes with 10 TD's and only 2 interceptions. But we all know passing is not the goal of this offense, it's the rushing game. Oregon is currently averaging 303 yards per game on the ground. That kind of dominance is nearly impossible to stop.
Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas have picked up where LaMichael James left off as Oregon's top play makers. Barner has had the bulk of the carries, but Thomas has been unstoppable nearly every time he has touched the ball, whether carrying or catching. On the ground Thomas is averaging 11 yards per carry, in the air it's currently at 12.7 yards per catch and he's scored a total of 9 touchdowns on the year. That's toeing the line with being not even fair.
But the most impressive thing about Oregon this season has been the defense. While the numbers haven't been great, you have to consider that the starters have yet to play a complete game. Before the season, Chip Kelly called this the best defense he has ever had, and I don't think he was exaggerating. The offense at Oregon can generally be assumed, but the difference maker, and the element that will put this team over the top is the defense.
Oregon has a fairly easy schedule the next couple of weeks. They travel to Washington State, get Washington at home, at Arizona State, then Colorado at home. Then on November 3 comes the matchup with USC. If the Trojans have revealed anything, it's that their depth is an issue, and they're softer than we thought. Stanford played a more physical game, they got to Matt Barkley and made sure he was never comfortable in the pocket. USC is not invincible by any means, Matt Barkley is human, and the Ducks will already have revenge on their minds from last year's loss in Eugene that kept Oregon out of the National Title picture.
After USC, Oregon travels to Cal, then finish with Stanford at home, which will be the next toughest test. But don't discount Oregon's final game at Oregon State. The Beavers are making progress and won't bow down so easily. That Civil War could very much be a trap game if Oregon has their sights set on the Pac-12 Championship game the following week, which could very well be another matchup with USC.
I speak for the minority in SEC country, but for the rest of the nation, I'm fairly confident we are all sick of SEC dominance. I know Florida State has looked very promising this season. They have a fairly easy path to Miami. But FSU to me is still too unpredictable. Oregon is a much surer bet. The Ducks have been in a national title game in the last two years. They know the territory and what is required of them.
Get behind the Ducks. They're the best hope we've got.