The SEC and the BCS: How the SEC Could Cannibalize Itself in 2012
Domination, six straight national champions, chants of SEC and fans throughout the south sticking their chest out proudly to proclaim their league is in fact the best on the college football landscape.
For six years straight, regardless of the competitor or the SEC representative, the results are the same. The BCS trophy has made a home in the Southeastern Conference, and as the first BCS standings were released this past weekend six SEC teams are in the top 15 and four of the top eight teams are from the Southeastern Conference.
With Alabama at No. 1 and Florida at No. 2 and LSU following suit with South Carolina, many feel it is a foregone conclusion that at least one SEC team will challenge for that seventh straight title, and with a little luck, may repeat last year's title game that hosted two competitors from the SEC.
Alabama would love to win its third title in four years and other SEC contenders would love to hoist the trophy themselves, but what if no SEC teams make the title game? You think I have lost my mind? Maybe, but with the parity that is in the SEC this year, let's look at a scenario over the next six weeks where the SEC could cannibalize itself and be left totally out of the equation.
The Dominos Could Begin to Fall in Gainsville This Weekend
Will Muschamp has brought fire and passion back to the Florida Gators. Their defense is arguably the best in the league, and they have shown the ability to run the football.
What the Gators cannot do is throw the ball. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is averaging right at 139 yards per game in the air, and sooner or later, you have to be able to throw it.
South Carolina's defense is good enough to shut down the Gator running game and are not scared of Driskel beating it with his arm.
The Carolina offense is balanced enough to score enough points to squeak out a win in Gainsville.
If this happens, the Gators will slide from the No. 2 spot.
October 27: Probably Won't Be a Nice Day to Be a Dawg
Assuming Mississippi State wins this weekend against Middle Tennessee and Alabama takes care of Tennessee, both teams will go into next weekend's game undefeated, and for Mississippi State, it will be its biggest game since traveling to Tuscaloosa in 1999.
The Bulldogs will put up a fight, but in the end, the Crimson Tide will be too much for the Bulldogs, ending their bid at an undefeated season. Even if the Bulldogs could run the table the rest of the way, their schedule would end up probably hurting them in the eyes of the pollsters.
Over in Jacksonville, Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs will tangle with the Florida Gators as a pair of one-loss teams will look to stay on track for a possible BCS Bowl game. The Georgia Bulldogs won this game last year, but Muschamp has arguably the best defense in the league, and that should be enough to give Georgia its second loss.
Alabama vs LSU: Need I Say More
Alabama vs LSU was labeled the SEC game of the year in the preseason. Many felt the winner of this game would represent the SEC in the BCS Championship, and the winner very well may.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams in the last year. LSU already dropped a game at Florida, so it will be in survival mode. Alabama has lost several players for the year, and although it has continued to win in dominating fashion, this game may be different.
Both teams play great defense, both teams run the ball well and yes, Alabama's quarterback situation is better than the Tigers. But, it's at Tiger Stadium and Les Miles is due some magic in 2012. This could be the day he gets it.
Tigers Go Up, Then Come Down
Mississippi State has beaten LSU once since 1992, and that was in Starkville in 1999. Yes, the Tigers have owned the Bulldogs, but since Dan Mullen arrived in Starkville, he has tightened the gap and his teams have played LSU very close.
Many have said this could be the year that State knocked off either Alabama or LSU. Mississippi State will bring just enough balance on offense to score some points and a defense that can keep LSU out of the end zone, giving the Bulldogs and their head coach a huge win. If this happens LSU, would have its second loss of the season and most likely be out of the National Championship scene for 2012.
Florida Is Still a Year Away
Will Muschamp is building the Gators back into a National Championship contender, but he still needs another year. Florida has lost its last two against the Seminoles of Florida State, and even though the Gators defense is much improved, the Seminole offense and the home crowd at Doak Walker Stadium will be too much for the Gators, giving Muschamp his second defeat of the year and eliminating any hopes of a late season surge to the national championship game.
The SEC Championship and What This All Would Mean
Alabama would battle South Carolina in the SEC Championship, and both teams will come in with 11-1 records. To the victor goes a BCS game. Most years, this would be good enough for the winner to advance to the national championship, but this year may end up different.
Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame sit in the three through five slots as of today in the current BCS standings, and all three have much easier paths to the title game.
Notre Dame has games remaining at Oklahoma and at USC, and if it wins both of those, you can bet your fancy the Domers get a spot in the title game.
Oregon still has games with USC, Oregon State and Stanford and would have to win the Pac-12 Championship, but its road is still not as rugged as the SEC, and nobody up to this point has challenged the Ducks.
Kansas State still has games at TCU and at West Virginia and end the season against Texas. Again, not nearly as tough as the SEC, and the Wildcats have proven they can go on the road and win. Just ask Oklahoma.
All three teams have games they could stumble in, but if two of the three go unbeaten and the SEC beats up on each other like it very well could, then the SEC will have cannibalized itself in 2012.
But, I am probably so far off on all of this that either Alabama will go unbeaten and it is all for nothing, or everyone in the country will end up with at least one loss, and if we get to that point, we return to a place of BCS normalcy. A place of what-ifs and debates on who should play in the big game.
It should be fun either way; I can't wait.