With South Carolina’s huge 35-21 victory over Alabama, the SEC’s current streak of four straight National Championships looks to be in jeopardy. Only Auburn and LSU remain unbeaten in the league, and the 2010 season looks to be one where no team in America’s toughest conference gets through undefeated. Could an unbeaten Auburn get left out again—like they did in 2004? It seems unfathomable, and a prominent BCS analyst talks about the argument for an SEC team with a perfect record:
"But because the SEC has won the last four national titles, I think if a team from that conference goes unbeaten and is unbeaten late into the season, the voters, at least some of them, are going to feel a little bit of pressure and maybe to some degree an obligation to put an undefeated SEC team into the top two. I think it could be really intriguing to see how an undefeated SEC will be treated if it gets that far late in the season, and whether they jump over some of the other big-name schools. Especially if it's Auburn because Auburn was undefeated in 2004 and they got left out of the championship game and I think a lot of voters still feel bad for them to this day."
So that answers the case for an SEC unbeaten, but what about a one-loss Alabama or South Carolina? I believe most fans in our Swampland Footprint see a one-loss SEC Champion as more worthy to play for the National Title than the WAC Champ, but there are many voters who will “pull for the underdog”. Some in the media are tired of the SEC’s reign at the top of college football, but you have to hope in the end they will vote for the teams with the best bodies of work. We’ll write more on this in about a month when there are less unbeaten teams and the BCS picture really takes shape.
The biggest game of this Saturday has to be Arkansas at Auburn. This SEC West clash will feature an amazing quarterback matchup -- Ryan Mallett, the SEC's leading passer, will try to lead the Razorbacks to a victory over the Tigers and their new star Cameron Newton, the SEC's leading rusher. Gene Chizik’s bunch has lived dangerously on the way to a 6-0 start, but a win over the Hogs would begin a lot of national title talk ‘on the Plains’. Expect another exciting SEC thriller and a ton of pints at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Perhaps the biggest road block to an undefeated Oklahoma-Nebraska matchup in the Big 12 title game is this Saturday when the Cornhuskers host Texas. The Longhorns come to Lincoln angry, having lost two in row. Mack Brown has only lost three in a row one time (1999) during his tenure in Austin, and they had a bye week to regroup and prepare for the Nebraska running attack. The Big Red fan base will have plenty of emotion as well, as they are still pained by last season’s loss to the ‘Horns for the league crown. There is also the feeling that Texas’ greed forced them to defect to the Big Ten starting next year. This game will definitely have an electric atmosphere, and the effects will be huge on the Big 12 landscape.
Florida State looks like the team to beat in this league after their 45-17 beatdown of rival Miami. However, because of the league’s struggles, the Seminoles still feel like they have something to prove. The damage to the ACC’s reputation was done in a fateful Week 2: FSU and Miami lost marquee games (to Oklahoma and Ohio State) by double digits; Virginia Tech was shocked by James Madison; Georgia Tech lost to downtrodden Kansas squad that had been betaen by North Dakota State the week before. To get the respect of the big boys, the ‘Noles, ‘Canes and Hokies are going to have to win non-conference Top 20 matchups and carry over the momentum to league play.
Jimbo Fisher and his staff have started to recruit well enough to get FSU back to being a national program. The 'Noles have the ability in the near future to set the bar very high for the rest of the ACC to try and catch. If Virginia Tech remains consistently good and Miami and/or Clemson can join Florida State on the national stage, the conference will rise up and be a player in the BCS Title conversation.
Enjoy a great weekend of pigskin around our Swampland Footprint!