Happy Friday, everyone. After all the blogs and all the games and all the discussion since mid-July, it’s hard to believe that we are in the final days of the 2010 season. I was going to do Five Burning Questions to get us into the weekend but with the SEC involved in three bowl games in the next four days, I have only two questions for you this morning:
1. After an 0-3 start to bowl season, the SEC is now 3-4 after Arkansas’s loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. How will the SEC finish and can it avoid a losing bowl season?
2. The SEC has won four staight BCS National Championships. Will the run continue Monday night against Oregon in Glendale, Ariz.?
Let’s start with question No. 1: We knew the SEC East was significantly weaker than the SEC West this season but the final numbers were pretty striking. Here are the records of the SEC West teams against the East during the 2010 season:
Alabama, 2-1: (beat Florida, Tennessee; lost to South Carolina).
Arkansas, 3-0: (beat Georgia, Vandy, South Carolina).
Auburn, 4-0: (beat South Carolina twice, Kentucky, Georgia)
LSU, 3-0: (beat Vandy, Tennessee, Florida).
Ole Miss, 1-2: (lost to Vanderbilt, Tennessee; beat Kentucky).
Miss. State, 3-0: (beat Georgia, Florida, Kentucky).
So on the season the SEC West was 16-3 against the East. Four teams went undefeated and only one (Ole Miss) had a losing record.
The SEC West is 2-1 in bowls with Alabama winning the Cap One, Mississippi State winning the Gator, and Arkansas losing the Sugar. LSU plays Texas A&M tonight in the Cotton Bowl while Auburn plays Monday night in the BCS championship game. Kentucky will try to salvage something for the SEC East when it faces Pittsburgh (and interim coach Phil Bennett) on Saturday in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham. All three games look like tossups to me and the SEC needs to go 2-1 in order to finish .500 in the bowl season.
Now to the second question. We all know that the SEC has won four straight BCS national championships. When you throw in LSU’s 2003 championship and the 2004 Auburn team that went 13-0 and got shut out, the SEC has been in the national championship picture for seven of the past eight seasons. Here are some tidbits on that run you might find interesting, courtesy of the smart people from the SEC office:
**–A win by Auburn would give the SEC its fifth straight national championship, but just as significant would be the fact that Auburn would be the fourth different school to win a title in that five-year span: Florida (2006, 2008), LSU (2007), Alabama (2009).
**–Since 2006, half of the slots in the five BCS championship games (5 of 10) have been taken by SEC teams. The other five slots were taken by the Big Ten (2), the Big 12 (2), and the Pac-10 (1).
**–There have been 40 sets of BCS standings since October of 2006. In that span an SEC team has been ranked No. 1 in 18 of those 40 weeks. The rest of conferences: The Big Ten (13 weeks), Big 12 (five weeks), Pac-10 (four weeks).
**–In that same 40-week run, 11 of the 12 SEC teams have been ranked in the BCS Top 25 for at least one week. LSU leads that list with 37 weeks ranked. Vanderbilt was not ranked.
**–And finally, the SEC is 7-1 in BCS bowl games since 2006. Here is the breakdown of BCS records by conference:
That’s a lot of numbers but it points out that the SEC has had an unprecedented run in the BCS since 2006. Now in that stretch it should be noted that the SEC has never faced a Pac-1o team in a BCS bowl. The SEC’s five national championships in the BCS era, which started in 1998, have come against the Big 12 (Texas and Oklahoma), the Big Ten (Ohio State twice), and the ACC (Florida State).
In fact, ESPN.com’s Pat Forde points out that since 1959, the SEC and Pac-10 have met just nine times in bowl games. The score? SEC 5, Pac-10 4.
So, as we leave you and head to Glendale, Ariz., we ask: Will the SEC continue its remarkable run on Monday night?
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Barnhart and Durham: Today we preview tonight’s Cotton Bowl matchup between Texas A&M and LSU and look ahead to next Monday’s BCS championship in Arizona. Glenn Gilbeau, who covers LSU for the Gannett News Service, will join us from Dallas. Noted talk show host Paul Finebaum will join us from Arizona to talk BCS championship. We’ll also have an interview with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who grew up in Auburn, Ala., and will be in Glendale pulling for his Tigers. Please join us at 10 a.m. www.790thezone.com