For the past several years in college football, the SEC has been king.
Nobody can touch their dominate defenses, relentless rushing attacks, and plethora of pro-ready quarterbacks.
The SEC teams, fans, and occasionally officials live in their own sweet world of success, sheltered by the BCS and raised to glory by our media outlets.
Four years have come and gone since an SEC team has failed to win the National Championship. Big 12 teams, namely Oklahoma and Texas have been the last to fall to the machine that is SEC football.
This constant success ever heightened by the BCS ranking system has created within itself a relative list of truths.
No conference plays defense like the SEC.
No conference runs the ball like the SEC.
No conference has the same number of pro-ready players as the SEC.
The Big 12 Conference has been heralded for changing the landscape of college football with high-octane spread offenses. It is generally considered the second best conference in the FBS, but is not even close to the prestige of the SEC.
Coming into this year's National Championship Game, Texas was hardly given a chance to defeat Alabama.
Alabama's SEC quality defense would be too good for Texas's Big 12 offense. Heisman-winning running back Mark Ingram of Alabama was expected to run all over the No. 1 rushing defense of Texas. General conscience was that Texas played soft running attacks all year which gave them an appearance of a good defense, and that Alabama would expose this.
Instead, Texas not only exposed Alabama, they exposed the entire SEC.
The final score would be 37-21 Alabama. But the final score hardly tells the story.
Alabama did not play the real McCoy that night in Pasadena. No, they played a team ripped of it's heart and soul, crippled from the beginning. And I know you are probably thinking, "Here we go again with another lame McCoy excuse". Well not exactly... I am simply creating perspective, not an excuse.
Colt McCoy, the All-American senior quarterback for Texas left the game early in the first quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. He would not return and the hopes for a Texas National Championship would lie squarely on the shoulders of true freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
This occurrence not only affected the offense of Texas, but equally the defense. Up until it was apparent that McCoy's injury was serious, the Texas defense had shut Alabama's offense down. They were playing with confidence and were taking risks.
With McCoy out, the defense lost its confidence and stopped taking risks, knowing their offense was most likely not going to score very many points with a freshman under center.
Alabama would put two rushing touchdowns on Texas and tack on a field goal as the end of the second quarter approached.
With very little time left in the first half, Gilbert tried a short shuttle pass to the running back which was picked off and run back for a touchdown.
Those who question the play call have obviously not considered how high percentage this play is. A toss or pitch play have essentially the same chances of being picked off.
It was not the skill of Alabama that caused this play, but the misfortune of a freshman quarterback. The ball fell right into the hands of the Alabama player and he was still barely able to hold on.
Going into halftime the score was 24-6 Alabama. A seemingly impossible deficit for Texas to overcome.
In the second half Gilbert became more comfortable and threw two touchdowns to Jordan Shipley as well as successfully attempting a two-point conversion.
24-21 Alabama. The defense of Texas completely shutdown Alabama in the second half.
Then the dagger struck. Texas was on what appeared to be a game tying/winning drive when Alabama stripped the ball from Gilbert's grasp with 3:14 left in the fourth quarter.
Alabama would recover on the Texas three yard line. Texas held Alabama for two plays before Mark Ingram punched the ball in for a touchdown.
With the game out of reach, Alabama rushed for one more touchdown to seal the deal and end the game with a final score of 37-21—leaving the appearance of a dominating performance, when in reality Alabama came within a single play of the biggest choke in National Championship history.
The point of this is not to take anything away from Alabama, they won the title fairly. It is not to make excuses for Texas for when a player gets hurt on a clean play, it is not the opponents fault, but your own.
I write this for the Big 12 Conference as a whole. Big 12 teams have played the real McCoy all year. Texas won every game and was pitted against the best of the SEC, Alabama, who too won every game.
It is unfair to judge the best a conference has to offer when the player that makes that team so good is not even playing.
Texas as an extension of the Big 12 proved that they can play defense, only giving up two legitimate touchdowns and completely shutting Alabama down in the second half. They proved that they can score on an SEC defense, even without their quarterback. They proved the SEC is not as dominate as the world seems to think.
For if Alabama truly was the most dominate team in the nation, they would have put on a much more convincing show against a crippled Texas team.
SEC fans, honestly ask yourself if Mark Ingram, Alabama's best player had not played in the game how would it have turned out? The third and beginning of the fourth quarter should be a rather good indicator. While Mark Ingram was out with cramps, Texas scored 15 points. Their defense held Alabama to three straight three-and-outs for a total of 0 yards and a missed field goal.
My wish is that fans across the nation will realize that the best of the Big 12 without their All American quarterback nearly took down the best of the SEC who was completely healthy minus a scare by Mark Ingram.
Perhaps, the Big 12 is better than people give them credit for. Perhaps, the SEC is just not quite as dominate as they are made out to be. Just perhaps...