This week LSU and Alabama will battle for 60 minutes of game time to decide who will have the inside track to the BCS National Championship Game. An SEC team has won BCS top honors in each of the past five seasons. Moreover, four separate schools have contributed to the historic streak.
During this impressive five-year streak, the Pac-10, Big 12 and Big 10 have all made it to the BCS championship game, and the three conferences have been defeated each time. Chances are it would had been six out of seven seasons had an undefeated Auburn team not been left out in 2004.
The SEC is the most physical conference in college football. Consider this season we have seen two preseason candidates to win the national championship lose their star players.
South Carolina lost Marcus Lattimore and Arkansas lost Knile Davis. Yet they have a combined record of 14-2.
Every conference goes through this process. There are teams all across the nation who lose players for extended time because of the grind of a college football season. Yet, each season an SEC rises to the top of the BCS rankings.
As a result, we are left to examine the question, "Why do SEC teams make it through the grind but other schools do not?"
For the answer, look no further than the NCAA recruiting trends. Over the past six seasons, the SEC has dominated the recruiting scene. If you track the top 11 teams in the recruiting rankings during that time, SEC teams filled 29 of the 66 available spots.
If the SEC fills, on average, five of the top 11 spots in the Rivals recruiting rankings, that means that 120 schools are left to battle each season for the remaining six spots.
Will an SEC team win the BCS championship this season?
This leaves the rest of the NCAA and a difficult position. It is possible to match the SEC in talent and execution, but it is proven more difficult to match them in depth.
Consider the Boise State Broncos. There is no doubt in my mind that the Broncos could have played well against any SEC team over the past three seasons in a bowl game. With the extra time to prepare, they are able to scheme effectively. However, at the same time, they could not compete in the SEC on a week-to-week basis.
The grind of the season would deplete the Broncos team, and it would become mediocre by the end of the season. I am not taking away what they can do in a one-game playoff, but over the course of a season, depth matters.
Another advantage the SEC teams hold because of depth is deeper rotations. Teams like LSU will play two- and three-deep into their depth chart almost every game at almost each position.
This keeps their players fresh over the course of a game and over the course of a season as well. It also allows the younger players to be more seasoned when their number is called.
The No. 2’s on most SEC teams are as good as the No. 1's, just less experienced. We mentioned the loss of Knile Davis this season earlier in the article. However, Davis wasn’t the starter at the beginning of last season. An injury above him in the depth chart led to his emergence.
He finished the season as the leading rusher among running backs. Not bad for a running back who started the season as the fourth man in a stable of running backs.
This is SEC depth. This is why they dominate. This is why the trend will continue.