Sunday, October 10, 2010

Alabama Lost!! No National Title for the SEC? The End is Nigh!

My friend Paul Finebaum has the week off, because his work was done for him on Saturday. I'm pretty sure that Bobby from Homewood, I-Man, Charles from Reeltown, and Tammy are already on hold ready to talk about the Tide. (Shane from Center Point doesn't have to hold, of course - he's got the hotline number.)

It was a week ago that most of the national writers and talking heads proclaimed the SEC as a one-team league. And while I thought Alabama was the best team in the conference, I didn't want to classify it in such a way. "One-team league" to me connotates the notions of those USC/Pac-10 years and the early '00s with Ohio State/Big Ten.

It's all changed now. Alabama falls to number eight in the coaches poll, and with the BCS rankings a week away, the SEC could have some issues with picking up its fifth straight national championship. While on the surface the odds look good - the SEC does have over 38% of the top 13 teams (Big Ten: 15%, Big XII: 15%, Mtn West: 15%, Pac-10: 7.7%, WAC: 7.7%) - if it were poker hands, the SEC would be looking alright.

But with Auburn, Arkansas, and LSU all still with two games left between each other, and Alabama still owing games to LSU and Auburn - someone is going to need to do something extra special for the SEC to make its way back to the title game. On the eastern side, it's pretty much down to the November 13th matchup between South Carolina and Florida. For the SEC to have a shot at continued BCS glory, the Gamecocks would have to win here and go to Atlanta with only their one loss.

And check that ranking for Florida - a bit brutal to fall to 22 isn't it? Lose by a hair (literally) to a higher ranked opponent, and they find themselves down with Nevada and Air Force. Wasn't it only 9 days ago that Florida was a national title contender? Polls are dumb.

And for today's obvious statement: this year, the SEC is going to need some help if it wants to make it back.

Obviously they'll get help, because at some point, Oklahoma or Nebraska will lose, but the SEC needs both those teams to leave the Big XII championship game with one loss. And, Oregon or Ohio State will need to falter.

My prediction is that Oregon will get snakebit down the line (it just seems to happen in the Pac-10), but Ohio State will finish out the year undefeated.

So, the question for us all to ponder: in this season, will a one-loss SEC team bypass an undefeated Boise State or undefeated Utah/TCU? Or both? Trickier in this year than others is that these teams will go in to the early portion of the BCS ranked higher.

And, to frustrate us even more, will the SEC teams hurt themselves by beating each other down the stretch? (Florida has already fallen to 22, remember.)

So I guess I'm proposing that those who proclaimed the SEC as the new Big Ten/Pac-10 'one-team' league will be revising their words going forward. This past weekend, the SEC showed that it is still the nation's most competitive conference, and why it's the most difficult league to make the national title game.

Maybe it will all sort itself out down the line - maybe Auburn or (God forbid) LSU will run the table and claim the spot outright. We do still live in a world where an undefeated SEC team makes the title game, right?