Down SEC could still be best conference

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

While Southern Miss’s 1-point squeaker over Troy in the New Orleans Bowl was fun (except for that injury to Eagles receiver DeAndre Brown that was the single most gruesome thing I’ve ever seen happen on a football field), and the Bowl in Birmingham featured a surprisingly exciting atmosphere, you’ll have to excuse me if I need to see some Southeastern Conference teams in action before I succumb to the spirit of the bowl season.

I’ll get my wish today as Vanderbilt takes on Boston College in the Music City Bowl. With this game, we’ll see the beginning of a trend that will be common among all eight of the bowl games that involve SEC teams: In not one of those games will the SEC team have a better record than the team it’s playing.

In the BCS National Championship Game, both Florida and Oklahoma come in with 12-1 records, and both Georgia and Michigan State will play the Capital One Bowl with 9-3 records. In the other six games, though, the SEC team comes in with more losses than its opponent. And it’s not just the records, with SEC teams being underdogs in five games.

This is worth mentioning because these bowl games, in which teams play for themselves and the pride of the other squads they share a league with, always help determine perceptions of the conferences.

Most seem to think the SEC is down this year and probably not as strong as the Big 12. These upcoming bowl games, especially the national title tilt, will either confirm the belief in the SEC as the nation’s premier conference or prove that the league really has slipped.

If SEC teams go, let’s say, 4-4 or better (with Florida claiming one of the wins) in bowl games against what could be considered superior competition in what could be considered a down year for the conference, it’s going to be difficult to make an argument against the SEC anytime soon.

In the last decade, the SEC owns a 44-30 bowl record (59.4 percent) against teams from other BCS conferences. The next closest is the Big 12 at 50.7 percent. SEC teams are also winning BCS games at a 73.3 percent clip and are 4-0 in national title games.

Those are some trends you can expect to continue, even in a down year.