English: Nick Saban after the Alabama vs. Arkansas game, thanking the Alabama student section. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The SEC may be considered the strongest conference in college football, but so far the 2012/13 bowl season hasn’t shown it.
Through Thursday’s games, in fact, the SEC is batting a mere .500 (a 3-3 record), with surprising losses for Florida (to Louisville) and LSU (to Clemson), and Mississippi State falling to a Northwestern program that had not previously won a bowl game of any kind dating all the way back to 1949.
Now admittedly 3-3 might be considered a decent tally for most conferences, but not so for the SEC which has won the previous six national titles and holds a very impressive 8-1 mark in BCS title games, with the lone loss coming against another SEC team when Alabama defeated LSU in last season’s championship showdown.
The SEC also has a record 16 BCS bowl game victories over the years, four better than the next best conference (the Big Ten), while posting a BCS-best .666 winning percentage in BCS games.
The conference everyone outside of the South East loves to hate these days still has plenty of time to improve on its .500 mark in 2012/13, with three more bowl appearances, including a second consecutive national title showdown for Alabama when the Crimson Tide take on Notre Dame Monday night.
A win for the Tide would not just give the SEC a seventh straight national crown, but would also be Alabama’s third national title in just four years under the guidance of head coach Nick Saban.
Saban reassured Tide fans this week when he took himself out of consideration for any of the multiple NFL coaching vacancies.
Meanwhile, Alabama’s SEC rivals, No. 9 Texas A&M, the only team to defeat the Tide this season, will play No. 11 Oklahoma in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Friday night, with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel leading the way, while Ole Miss will face Pitt in Saturday’s BBVA Compass Bowl, giving the SEC a total of nine teams in this season’s bowl games, more than any other conference except the Big 12, which also has nine.
The ACC, meanwhile, has thus far fared better than any other conference with four wins in six games, including notable victories for Georgia Tech (over USC), Florida State (over Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl) and Clemson (over LSU).
The BIG-12 and PAC-12 each also have four wins to go with four losses apiece, with the BIG-12 going for a fifth victory when Oklahoma takes on Texas A&M.
The Big Ten, meanwhile, closed out the bowl season a disappointing 2-5, with Northwestern (over Mississippi State) and Michigan State (over TCU) the lone victors, while the Big East has posted an impressive 3-1 record so far, with Pitt looking to join Cincinnati, Syracuse and Louisville as winners and make it four out of five.
When it comes to the big games, however, no other conference could match the PAC-12 in 2012/13, with the West Coast conference taking two of the five BCS games, as Oregon cruised past Kansas State 35-17 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Thursday, following Stanford’s impressive 20-14 win over Wisconsin in Tuesday’s Rose Bowl, the Cardinal’s first Rose Bowl win since 1972.
The ACC and BIG East each also has one BCS win this season (Florida State and Louisville).