Because SEC home teams tend to win and road teams tend to lose, I came up with something I call the Home-Road Factor. Devised 25 years ago during my days at The Knoxville Journal, the Home-Road Factor awards a team two points for each road win and deducts two points for each home loss. For instance, a team that is 4-1 at home and 2-3 on the road would have a Home-Road rating of plus-2. Four points would be added for two road wins but two would be deducted for the home loss.
This gives a clearer picture of the SEC's divisional races than traditional standings, which reward teams who have fattened their record by playing a bunch of home games and punishes teams who have played more games on the road.
For instance, traditional standings show Kentucky leading the Eastern Division at 8-1, with Vanderbilt one game back at 7-2. What traditional standings don't show is that Kentucky has played five of its nine games at home, going 5-0, whereas Vandy has played just four of its nine at home, going 4-0. Conversely, the Commodores have played five of their nine on the road, going 3-2, whereas the Cats have played just four of their nine on the road, going 3-1.
Using my Home-Road ratings, Vandy and UK have earned six points each for posting three road wins. Neither team has incurred any deductions by suffering home losses. Thus, each team has a Home-Road rating of plus-6. That means each team projects to finish six games over .500 in league play, which would be 11-5.
Here's why: If Vanderbilt wins its four remaining home games and loses its three remaining road games - a distinct possibility - the Dores will finish 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road for a league record of 11-5. If Kentucky wins its three remaining home games and loses its four remaining road games - also a distinct possibility - the Cats will finish 8-0 at home and 3-5 on the road for a league record of 11-5.
Essentially, Kentucky and Vandy are tied for the SEC East lead, which is apparent if you look at the Home-Road ratings.
Tennessee (6-3 in SEC play) and Florida (6-4) have Home-Road ratings of plus-2, meaning they are on pace to finish two games over .500 in league action, or 9-7. Each team is 4-1 at home. The Vols are 2-2 on the road, the Gators are 2-3 on the road. If UT wins its three remaining home games and loses its four remaining road games, the Vols will be 7-1 at home, 2-6 on the road and 9-7 overall, which is two games over .500. If Florida wins its three remaining home games and loses its three remaining road games, it also will finish 7-1 at home, 2-6 at home and 9-7 overall.
A team with a Home-Road rating of zero projects to finish at .500, or 8-8. A team with a minus Home-Road rating projects to finish that many games below .500. For instance, Georgia's Home-Road rating of minus-4 equates to four games below .500, meaning the Dawgs are on pace to finish 6-10 if they win their remaining home games and lose their remaining road games.
That said, here are the current Home-Road Factor rankings:
Vanderbilt (7-2) ... 4-0 home, 3-2 road ... PLUS-6
Kentucky (8-1) ... 5-0 home, 3-1 road ... PLUS-6
Tennessee (6-3) ... 4-1 home, 2-2 road ... PLUS-2
Florida (6-4) ... 4-1 home, 2-3 road ... PLUS-2
S.Carolina (5-4) ... 4-1 home, 1-3 road ... ZERO
Georgia (2-7) ... 2-2 home, 0-5 road ... MINUS-4
Miss. State (5-4) ... 4-0 home, 1-4 road ... PLUS-2
Ole Miss (5-5) ... 2-2 home, 3-3 road ... PLUS-2
Arkansas (6-3) ... 4-1 home, 2-2 road ... PLUS-2
Alabama (3-7) ... 2-3 home, 1-4 road ... MINUS-4
Auburn (3-6) ... 2-3 home, 1-3 road ... MINUS-4
Louisiana St (0-10) ... 0-5 home, 0-5 road ... MINUS-10