Monday, January 3, 2011

Countdown to "The Natty" - Does Winning the SEC Give Auburn an Advantage?

Is the fact that Auburn plays in the SEC and won that league this year reason enough to believe they will win the big game?

No, it is not.

The SEC is an excellent league, that’s for sure. But, the mere fact that Auburn plays in that conference and won it does not mean they are automatically better than any other undefeated team in any given year nor does it mean they will easily win the game against Oregon.

Yes, the SEC has depth, has consistently fielded high ranked teams and won most of the BCS-era national championships. Give them their due. They're good.

But on the other hand there are some areas of softness: 1) SEC teams don’t always play each other each year, with good teams often avoiding playing each other, 2) SEC teams (like teams from most conferences other than the Pac-10) play four non-conference games each year and you guessed it, they mostly schedule “cream puff” opponents, and 3) SEC teams typically only play four road games each year.

So, between playing a quarter of their schedule against cream puffs, more than half of it at home and not playing every other team in their league…yes, the SEC teams do manage to inflate their records and generate high rankings, but in those maneuvers there is reason to question the all-mighty status of the SEC when it comes to playing teams from other conferences. There is some evidence of this, for example, in how SEC teams are faring vs. other conferences in the bowl season. So far, the SEC teams have won 3 games and lost 4. If they were so dominate from top to bottom, wouldn't it be more like 6-1 or 7-0 at this point? Wouldn't Georgia be able to beat South Florida? Wouldn't Tennessee be able to beat North Carolina? Etc.

All of this simply means to me that the SEC winner is not automatically better than an undefeated champion from another conference. It just means that they are a very good team from a very good conference. That’s it.

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