A year after two teams from the Southeastern Conference played in the BCS national title game and infuriated everyone not in the southern part of the country, the nation’s best conference may be left out of the big game entirely.
However, nobody outside the conference could knock the SEC off its run of six-straight national titles. Instead it had to be done by its own members.
With Texas A&M’s 29-24 defeat over then-No.1 Alabama, if the bowl season began today, the SEC wouldn’t have a team playing for the national championship for the first time since the 2005 game between USC and Texas.
However, there are still two weeks and a weekend of conference championships left to be played before it becomes official. So there is still a chance of an SEC team making it to the title game. For that to happen though, two of the three undefeated teams above Alabama would have to lose for the SEC to have a shot at seven-straight national title games.
It’s very possible in the crazy, anything-can-happen world of college football.
No.1 Kansas State has a road game to Baylor and hosts No.15 Texas to end its season. No.2 Oregon has the toughest road ahead with three games, including the Pac-12 title game, against ranked teams. This week the Ducks host No.13 Stanford (who already has one major upset on its resume) and then travel to No.16 Oregon State. After that is the conference championship game, which could be No.17 UCLA or No.18 USC. Notre Dame, ranked third by the BCS, hosts Wake Forest this weekend and then travels to USC for the season finale.
So, the three teams ahead of the six SEC teams in the top 10 (all ranked fourth through ninth) can’t go into cruise control. If two of those teams fall, then the door is reopened for an SEC team to play for the national title. If there are two undefeated teams, though, there is no way a one-loss SEC team would jump an undefeated team.
Even if the SEC doesn’t send a representative to Miami and despite what many might say, the SEC is still the best conference in the nation.
Again, six of the top 10 teams in this week’s BCS rankings are from the SEC. They are, from fourth through ninth: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina. The PAC-12 also has six teams (highest ranked is Oregon at No.2 followed by No.13 Stanford), Big 12 has five, two of which are in the top 15. The Big 10, ACC and Big East each have two.
Even if you look beyond the ranked teams from the SEC, you’ll find tough competition. Mississippi State is 7-3 with its losses coming from Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Teams like Vanderbilt and Ole Miss (despite what jokes I may make about the Rebels’ delusional fan base) have more talent than any team from the Big East and would win the ACC Coastal division with ease.
One popular question you may hear, or at least I’ve heard on more than one occasion, is would Kansas State, Oregon or Notre Dame be undefeated if it played an SEC schedule?
Its one thing to have a great team with great talent, but it’s an entirely different season when you’re playing teams with just as much talent as you week in and week out.
So, unless the voters and computers completely change their minds, the SEC is still the best conference in the nation even without a representative in the national title game.