The BCS Championship Game is almost here, and the fans around our Swampland Footprint are very eager to see if Auburn can earn the SEC’s fifth straight national title. It’s quite the burden of pressure that the Tigers carry with them against Pac-10 Oregon. It’s tough enough to go undefeated in college football, and it’s especially difficult to do so in America’s roughest conference. But now Auburn must carry the flag of that hyper-intense league to Glendale, and Gene Chizik’s bunch does not want to be the fist SEC squad to drop a BCS Title tilt. There have been 12 Championship Games since the BCS format started in 1998, and the SEC has gone 6-0 in their appearances. Cam Newton and company will definitely have the support -- and pressure -- of their region when they take on the Ducks on Monday night.
It has been an interesting postseason for the SEC so far. The league got off to a terrible start; whether it was just getting beat (South Carolina), not showing up at all (Georgia), or getting jobbed by Big Ten referees at the end of regulation (Tennessee). However, the conference’s bowl fortunes changed for the positive in 2011 with a New Year’s Day massacre in the Sunshine State. Alabama, Mississippi State and Florida all beat Big Ten opponents by double-digits, with the cumulative score being 138-45 in the three games.
Arkansas played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but they were definitely not the ‘good hands people’. Between a ton of dropped balls and horrible tackling, the Razorbacks dug a hole in the first half they could not make up. To the frustration of the league, the Hogs gave Ohio State their first win in ten tries against an SEC opponent in bowl games. LSU had a resounding victory over Texas A&M in an exciting Cotton Bowl, while Kentucky struggled without quarterback Mike Hartline against Pitt. But the big one will be Monday night, when Auburn goes for the league’s fifth ring in a row versus Oregon.
Many Florida State fans were frustrated by the way Bobby Bowden was dismissed, but there is no arguing the positive effect that Jimbo Fisher has brought in Tallahassee. The Seminoles’ 26-17 victory over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl was just another sign of a potential rebirth of FSU on the national stage. Fisher and his staff have been cleaning up in recruiting, and they will most likely benefit from coaching changes at Florida and Miami. Look for Florida State to be a 2011 preseason favorite in the ACC and to move closer to the national prominence they enjoyed in the ‘90s.
Congratulations to TCU and coach Gary Patterson for winning the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin. The Horned Frogs had a wonderful 13-0 season in the Mountain West Conference. We at Swampland have written many times that the Big 12 should extend TCU (and Houston) an invitation to get the league back up to 12 teams, and that plea was echoed after their BCS win. Unfortunately, the Horned Frogs will join the Big East in 2012—a move that makes no sense for the fan base.