Thursday, January 10, 2013
The SEC owns bowl season ... again
By Edward Aschoff
The booming “S-E-C” chants that rang throughout South Beach during Alabama’s 42-14 romp against Notre Dame immediately served as another harsh reminder to the college football world that the SEC is still king.
Alabama’s utter domination of the No. 1 team in the country gave SEC commissioner Mike Slive and his league one more crystal ball to add to a stellar collection. It made seven BCS titles in row for the SEC, and continued to show the massive stronghold the SEC has built in college football.
Alabama’s win also gave the league a 6-3 bowl record, which was the best of any AQ conference. The last time the SEC failed to have a winning record in the postseason? Well, you have to go back to 2005 (3-3). The last time the SEC had a losing record: 2002 (3-4).
More importantly, the league has more crystal hardware for the rest of the nation to glare at.
Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M were part of another dominant postseason showing by the SEC.
Alabama’s win helped the SEC’s perception after a few sluggish bowl performances from the Tide’s peers.
Only days before Nick Saban's squad won its second straight national title and third in four years, fans from all over took to social media to berate the SEC for its bowl shortcomings, thanks to flat performances by Florida, LSU and Mississippi State. It didn’t matter that the SEC entered the final weekend of the bowl season with a winning record, those three losses had people screaming that the SEC wasn’t the beast it -- and the media -- portrayed it to be.
Sure, six teams finished the regular season ranked inside the top 10 of the BCS standings, but two fell at the hands of teams deemed inferior. First, it was No. 8 LSU, which appeared to have the Chick-fil-A Bowl in hand late in the third quarter before No. 14 Clemson roared back with three straight scoring drives to win 25-24 on a last-second field goal.
The next day, Northwestern blasted Mississippi State 34-20 before No. 3 Florida was run out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by No. 20 Louisville in a 33-23 loss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
Those three games had the SEC temporarily hunched over with its tail between its legs, but there was much more to the bowl season than just three losses.
You had Vanderbilt’s 38-24 win against NC State in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in which the Commodores dominated just about every moment of the game. Tenth-ranked South Carolina registered a thrilling, last-minute Outback Bowl win against No. 18 Michigan, while No. 7 Georgia won a back-and-forth game with 16th-ranked Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl to take some pride away from the Big Ten.
That was all before Johnny Manziel and his ninth-ranked Aggies rolled past No. 11 Oklahoma 41-13 in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, and Ole Miss creamed Pittsburgh 38-17.
Still, it took an Alabama beatdown for the rest of the country to quiet down about all the overrated talk. Did the SEC come up short in a couple of games? Absolutely. Florida and LSU were the more talented teams, but laid eggs for the league, while Mississippi State looked lost from the start against Northwestern.
The league was far from perfect, but it led BCS conferences in bowl wins and captured the biggest one of all -- for the seventh straight year -- to once again leave the rest of the country looking up at the South.