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Saturday, August 25, 2012
SEC title run tops 2012 storylines

By ESPN Stats & Information


Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireA school from the SEC has won a record six consecutive BCS National Championships.

We’re less than a week away from the first college football Saturday of the season and there are certainly a lot of compelling storylines heading into the year. Among them is the question of whether or not the SEC can continue its run of dominance.

The SEC has won six straight and eight of the 14 BCS National Championships since the format was implemented prior to the 1998 season. During that span, no other conference has won more than two titles and the six consecutive championships are the most by any conference in college football history.

The SEC will have a good chance to extend its run in 2012 if the Preseason AP Poll is any indication. In all, six SEC teams were ranked in the Top 25 (T-most among all conferences) including five in the Top 10.

Off the field, the conference added new members for the first time since 1992 and both Missouri and Texas A&M will be tested against ranked opponents in their conference debuts. In Week 2, Texas A&M hosts No. 23 Florida (3:30 ET, ESPN) and Mizzou hosts No. 6 Georgia (7:45 ET, ESPN 2).

Across the country, the USC Trojans have completed their two-year bowl ban and enter the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll. Recent history is working against them (No preseason No. 1 has finished the year atop the poll since the 2004 Trojans), but they hope to become the first school since Oklahoma in 1975 to win a national championship in its first season following a bowl ban.

If the Trojans do win it all, it will likely be thanks to the play of Heisman contender, Matt Barkley. Barkley enters the season with over 9,000 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in 36 career starts (27-9) and is on pace to become USC’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.

Like Barkley, Wisconsin's Montee Ball comes into the year with Heisman aspirations after a tremendous 2011 season. Ball’s 33 rushing touchdowns were the second most in a single season in FBS history and his 39 total touchdowns tied the FBS record set by Barry Sanders in 1988. He also set the FBS single season record with two or more scores in each of his first 13 games of the season.

At South Carolina, Marcus Lattimore is another running back garnering Heisman hype. Lattimore scored 11 touchdowns and had rushed for over 800 yards in seven games before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Mississippi State on October 15.

All three are certainly worthy of the praise, but perhaps the 2012 Heisman winner is not among the preseason favorites.

Over the last five years, winners of the trophy have included three sophomores (Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Mark Ingram), three first-year starters (Tebow, Ingram, Cam Newton), a pair of QBs with three regular-season losses (Tebow, Robert Griffin III) and a player from a program with very little winning tradition (Griffin III). Will another unknown crash the party in 2012?