SEC football Misery Index: Is Texas A&M proof that Lincoln Riley is right to leave Oklahoma?

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The SEC's regular season is over, but the misery is not.

Like USC's private jet landing in Norman, Oklahoma, after a Sunday afternoon stroll, the SEC Misery Index is here for Week 13.

HEISMAN: Did Bryce Young wrap up Heisman Trophy race vs. Auburn? Where contenders stand after Week 13

CFP: Where do teams stand after Week 13?

Miserable: Auburn pushes for Iron Bowl win to salvage season, does neither

What's worse than losing to your bitter in-state rival? Blowing a 10-point lead to your bitter in-state rival, then losing to it in four overtimes.

There is no way more cruel to lose than that, and given how Auburn usually reacts to mediocre seasons, losing 24-22 to Alabama to cap off a 6-6 season is like a turn of the knife.

Auburn Tigers linebackers Barton Lester (51) and Zakoby McClain (9) react to the loss during the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Auburn Tigers 24-22 in 4OT.
Auburn Tigers linebackers Barton Lester (51) and Zakoby McClain (9) react to the loss during the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Alabama Crimson Tide defeated Auburn Tigers 24-22 in 4OT.

For coach Bryan Harsin, the initial signs following his first regular season at Auburn are not great. The 6-6 mark is the third-worst record at Auburn since 2000. The offense was fairly average; outside of the 60-point outbursts against Alabama State and Akron, Auburn averaged 23.3 points per game.

Recruiting wise, it's not great either. The Tigers' 2022 class ranks 33rd, per 247Sports, and it's likely to be Auburn's second straight class outside the top 15. And in the SEC, outside of the top 15 equals bottom half of the conference. Auburn is in the wrong division for that.

The Tigers could have had a program-boosting moment on Saturday. Now it's fair to wonder if that can happen in the Harsin era.

Pretty Miserable: Texas A&M, a disappointing season?

Texas A&M beat Alabama and won eight games. Is that good enough? Is a win over Nick Saban worth as much goodwill as losses to a bad LSU team and decent Arkansas and Mississippi State squads take away?

Why would Lincoln Riley opt for USC when he already coaches Oklahoma? It could be that the SEC is very hard place to win consistently. The Aggies were the first team out of the College Football Playoff last season, have strung together three dynamite recruiting classes and still find themselves at 8-4 at the end of the year.

Sure, A&M lost its starting quarterback in September. But this is the league where Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench. It's a tough league, and circumstances can produce unreasonable expectations.

Jimbo Fisher's contract also is large enough to produce high expectations. Eight wins in College Station is fine once, especially after looking like the league's second-best team last season.

Miserable, but can deal with it: South Carolina gets an orange dose of reality

The good PR that Shane Beamer got after the Gamecocks won their sixth game of the season against Auburn will not extend another week.

South Carolina was unprepared on its first drive, getting a too-many-men-in-the-huddle penalty and using a timeout to get an 11th player on the field on punt team. And while the Gamecocks didn't look that unorganized throughout the game, they did get shut out, 30-0, by in-state rival Clemson.

All the Beamer praise makes sense when considering how messy South Carolina's quarterback room has been in 2021. An FCS transfer, a graduate assistant and an injured presumed starter created one of the most challenging QB situations in FBS. South Carolina did well in managing 6-6.

But the Clemson defense is one of the best in the country, and it's no surprise that the Gamecocks struggled so much on Saturday.

Changes are on the horizon, though it's difficult to judge offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield on this one challenging season. More talent is needed, as the Clemson tape is sure to scream out. It would not surprise the Misery Index to see South Carolina look totally different, both in personnel and in scheme, in 2022.

Not everyone is miserable...

  • Alabama's CFP hopes are just barely alive, but anything can happen when Georgia and Alabama play in the SEC Championship game.

  • Kentucky destroyed Louisville 52-21 in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. Few programs and their fans will be more pleased for a Jan. 1 bowl game than the Wildcats', who should be going to either Tampa or Orlando.

  • Florida and LSU get on this side of the Misery Index for the first time in weeks, as both won their sixth games to become bowl eligible. Don't expect Coach O to be coaching the Tigers into December, though.

  • Florida has a new coach: Louisiana head coach Billy Napier.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Is Texas A&M proof that Lincoln Riley is right to leave Oklahoma?