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SEC Might Finally Beat Itself Up in 2015

The long prophesied occurrence might actually come to pass.

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

During the SEC's national championship streak, there was a constant refrain from people cautioning that it would end eventually that one year, everyone in the league would beat each other up so much that no team would play for the national championship.

Nine years running, that hasn't happened yet. The conference's streak may have ended in 2013, but it ended with a conference member on the national championship game field. It did not resume in 2014, but the reason it didn't resume wasn't that the league was too tough to put a team in the College Football Playoff.

The 2015 season might finally be the first since 2005 where the SEC fails to win a national championship because it didn't produce a team with few enough wins to be in the running for it.

For Whom the Cowbell Tolls highlighted new win total over/unders for the conference this year. The highest was for Alabama at 9.5 wins. I was able to find over/unders for 20142013, and 2012 (EastWest) easily enough and each of them had a team whose line was set at 10 wins or higher. They all had at least three teams at the 9.5 level, but we got only one this year.

Part of the issue is that Alabama has been consistently getting an O/U of 10 wins or more, but it has glaring flaws this year (QB, WR) and also has a fairly tough schedule. Part of it is that the West doesn't have an obvious weak team in it. All of them could be among the 25 best teams in the nation this year.

Part of it is that the East may not have a team that could swoop in and head to the Playoff with an upset in Atlanta unless Georgia's quarterback and receiver issues aren't as bad as they now look. That side is getting better, with UGA and Missouri doing fine and Tennessee likely coming out of its rebuilding phase. Mark Stoops has Kentucky to a point where it isn't a pushover either, and Florida won't be too bad if Jim McElwain can find health potions for his starting offensive linemen.

Add it all up, and this could be the year where the SEC has a two-loss champion that doesn't play for it all. It had one of those in 2007, but that year's stars aligned for LSU to win the title anyway. With loss-order ranking still being very much alive, having more than one loss might just be enough to eliminate the conference from playoff positioning.

The SEC wasn't always dynamite from top-to-bottom during its national title run. The 2009 season looked like a Alabama-Florida death march, and it turned out to be so with the Gators even clinching the East before October ended. It didn't take long for the 2011 season to feel like that with Bama and LSU, and we got to see them play twice.

In 2015, only Vandy sticks out as a potentially hopeless team. Everyone else looks like a potential bowl team at the least, and I've never seen a division so loaded as the West this year. Without anyone looking just yet like a singularly great team, it's not too hard to envision a playoff without an SEC team this fall.