- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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No more waiting. No more counting down the days. It's here. The college football season kicks off Thursday night, and three SEC teams will be in action.
South Carolina takes on North Carolina in Columbia, S.C., at 6 p.m. ET, while Ole Miss and Vanderbilt follow from Nashville at 9:15 p.m. ET. Both games will be televised by ESPN.
We end our countdown with one final number, but a telling one: 7.
It's hardly a secret that the SEC has won seven straight national championships. SEC commissioner Mike Slive might be a little biased, but he doesn't think we'll ever see another streak like this in college football. The fact that Alabama has won three of the last four national titles speaks for itself, but three other SEC schools -- Florida in 2006 and 2008, LSU in 2007 and Auburn in 2010 -- have been a part of this remarkable run. Where will it end? Well, Alabama opens the 2013 season No. 1 in the polls, and four other SEC teams are ranked in the top 10. Even though Alabama has won the last two titles, the Crimson Tide did so despite losing November games at home. Alabama in 2009 and Auburn in 2010 are the only two teams during the SEC's streak to go unbeaten, so the odds are always going to be against anybody making it through the SEC unscathed. Alabama probably has the best chance this season, especially if the Crimson Tide can get out of College Station alive on Sept. 14. For the second straight season, Alabama avoids Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the East in the regular season. If everybody in the SEC has at least one loss for the second straight season, what are the chances of the ball bouncing just right again for the SEC and other teams losing late to pave the way for a one-loss SEC team to slide into one of those top two spots in the final BCS standings? If the SEC's streak is going to end this season, that's probably how it's going to happen -- two unbeaten teams from other leagues keeping a one-loss SEC team out of the title game. Ohio State is certainly a threat to go unbeaten. The same goes for Louisville, and maybe this is the year that Oregon, Stanford, Florida State or some other team lurking in the shadows manages to go unbeaten. We still have one more year of the BCS system before the four-team College Football Playoff is unveiled in 2014. The best hope for the rest of the country is that the SEC beats up on itself this season and is squeezed out of the BCS National Championship Game. The SEC is 9-1 in BCS National Championship Games, and that only loss came in 2011 when LSU fell to Alabama in an all-SEC affair. Let's face it. The BCS era has been the SEC era, and everybody else has been playing for second place.