Counting Mississippi State's defeat of Ole Miss Thursday night in Starkville, home teams won all six SEC games this week and five of six last week. The lone exception found the league's best team (8-1 Kentucky) beating the league's worst team (0-10 LSU) Feb. 6 in Baton Rouge.
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