SEC Football: Did New Year's Day Bowl Games Expose the SEC as Overrated in 2012?

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2013

January 01, 2013; Orlando, FL, USA;  Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive tackle Thad Randle (53) tries to get to Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) during the second half of the Capital One bowl at The Citrus Bowl. Georgia defeated Nebraska 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC had a few scares on New Year’s Day as well as a throttling at the hands of one Big Ten team. Georgia and South Carolina were able to pull out close wins, but Northwestern had its way with Mississippi State for a 34-20 victory in the Gator Bowl. 

The question is immediately raised—especially after LSU’s meltdown and loss to Clemson on New Year’s Eve—whether or not the bowl games have exposed an overrated SEC. 

While it is obvious that the SEC is not as strong as in years past top to bottom, this bowl balance is nothing new, and the conference is still the best in the college game. 

The SEC is sitting at 3-2, with a number of games remaining. A hot Ole Miss team still has to face Pittsburgh, Texas A&M has Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and two BCS games remain. 

Traditionally strong in the BCS, the SEC is holding an all-time record of 17-7 in BCS bowls. The conference is going for its seventh straight national title this year when the Crimson Tide take on the Fighting Irish in Miami. 

This seasons record may be mediocre for the 2012-13 bowl season right now, but there is a lot of time left for the conference to climb back on top. The SEC plays well in the big games, and at times finds out that its lower-tiered talent is right in line with other conferences. 

The SEC has teams that are as good as anyone else in the country from top to bottom. That doesn’t mean the SEC school wins every game it plays in, though. 

It seems obvious that the SEC will increase its bowl standing as the final week of play winds down, with a number of mismatches left on the bowl schedule. 

This conference is having a bit of a down year, and it may be slightly overrated from top to bottom due to an overabundance of hype, but so were the Big Ten and the Big 12. College football had a down year and overall failed to meet expectations. 

The way that Georgia was able to seal a win against Nebraska late was impressive. The ground game for the Bulldogs proved to be trustworthy, and quarterback Aaron Murray had a career day for Georgia. 

It was the type of performance that convinces players to leave early—even if they shouldn’t. 

South Carolina played a physical game, as Michigan was looking for a hard-fought defensive win. The Gamecocks quarterbacks were able to deliver through the air on some big throws, connecting on deep routes for big plays and scores on more than one occasion. 

The SEC won games that it should have and lost games that were questionable. The conference may have struggled with some opponents, but the overall ending to this story will likely be dominance.

Look for the conference to continue its winning ways throughout the week leading to the big showdown in Miami next Monday. 

This is not a down year for the SEC—it is falling right in line where it always does. The conference will stand strong when it counts.