Can The Big Ten Still Hang?
In a recent bowl outlook we noted that Ohio State’s 2013 football schedule was nothing compared to the gauntlets run by one-loss SEC heavyweights Auburn, Alabama and Missouri.
Which is not exactly a minority view among college football enthusiasts …
Seriously … in other news “water is wet.”
The second-ranked Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) will face their first Top Ten opponent in this weekend’s conference championship game against Michigan State. Up until now, Urban Meyer’s squad has just two victories against ranked opponents – wins at home against then No. 23 (now No. 15) Wisconsin and on the road against then No. 16 (now unranked) Northwestern.
Auburn? Counting this weekend’s SEC championship, the Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC) will have lined up against six ranked teams – including four Top Ten opponents. Signature wins include a thrilling come-from-behind home victory over then No. 1 Alabama and a road win against then No. 7 Texas A&M.
Missouri? These Tigers (11-1, 7-1 SEC) also feature six ranked teams on their schedule – including a pair of Top Ten foes. Their biggest win? A 41-26 victory over then No. 7 Georgia on the road (the Bulldogs only home loss of the season).
Alabama? The two-time defending national champion Crimson Tide (11-1, 7-1 SEC) played four ranked teams this year – beating then No. 6 Texas A&M on the road and No. 13 LSU (9-3, 5-3 SEC) at home.
So … let’s go ahead and say what everyone else is thinking: Being ranked in the Big Ten isn’t the same thing as being ranked in the SEC. Not even close.
Consider this: Since Florida defeated Ohio State to win the 2006 national championship, the SEC has doubled up on the Big Ten – posting a 16-8 record in head-to-head match-ups.
Here’s a recap of those games …
9/21/2013: Missouri 45 – Indiana 28
1/1/2013: South Carolina 33 – Michigan 28 (Outback Bowl)
1/1/2013: Northwestern 34 – Mississippi State 20 (Gator Bowl)
1/1/2013: Georgia 45 – Nebraska 31 (Capital One Bowl)
9/8/2012: Northwestern 23 – Vanderbilt 13
9/1/2012: Alabama 41 – Michigan 14
1/2/2012: Florida 24 – Ohio State 17 (Gator Bowl)
1/2/2012: South Carolina 30 – Nebraska 13 (Capital One Bowl)
1/2/2012: Michigan State 33 – Georgia 30 (Outback Bowl)
9/10/2011: Alabama 27 – Penn State 11
1/4/2011: Ohio State 31 – Arkansas 27 (Sugar Bowl)
1/1/2011: Florida 37 – Penn State 24 (Outback Bowl)
1/1/2011: Alabama 49 – Michigan St 7 (Capital One Bowl)
1/1/2011: Mississippi St 52 – Michigan 14 (Gator Bowl)
9/11/2010: Alabama 24 – Penn State 3
9/4/2010: Northwestern 23 – Vanderbilt 21
1/1/2010: Penn State 19 – LSU 17 (Capital One Bowl)
1/1/2010: Auburn 38 – Northwestern 35 (Outback Bowl)
1/1/2009: Iowa 31 – South Carolina 10 (Outback Bowl)
1/1/2009: Georgia 24 – Michigan State 12 (Capital One Bowl)
1/7/2008: LSU 38 – Ohio State 24 (BCS Championship Game)
1/1/2008: Tennessee 21 – Wisconsin 17 (Outback Bowl)
1/1/2008: Michigan 41 – Florida 35 (Capital One Bowl)
1/8/2007: Florida 41 – Ohio State 14 (BCS Championship Game)
Overall the series is a bit more competitive (with the SEC enjoying a 78-53-2 advantage) but to opine that an undefeated Ohio State team deserves to play in a national championship game over a one-loss SEC squad simply strains credulity in light of recent history.
Oh … and then there are those seven straight national titles, including one year in which the SEC was so strong it placed two teams in the championship game.
In 2014 college football will get rid of its ridiculous BCS system in favor of a four team playoff – with participating programs chosen by a panel of fourteen experts. Were such a system in place this year we’d probably be looking at Florida State playing against Alabama and Ohio State playing against Auburn for the right to go to the championship game.
That is if the season ended today …
Now, does anybody really want to bet against the SEC in either of those match-ups?
We don’t …
The SEC’s string of seven consecutive national championships may well end this season … but it won’t be because another conference took the crown from them. It will be because the SEC is “too good for its own good.”