Blog...SEC Championship Game Implications
The first time in a decade that the Southeastern Conference has had a team ranked number one vying for a national title berth.
By: BE Coleman
When number one Alabama meets number four Florida Saturday night in Atlanta, it will mark the first time in 10 years that the SEC has had a team ranked number one vying for a national title berth.
The last occurrence took place in 1998, when the very first BCS game played saw Tennessee facing off with Mississippi State in the Georgia Dome for a national title appearance on the line.
Jump ahead one decade and Alabama comes rolling into the 2008 SEC Championship ranked number one as Tennessee had been. It has been a long ride to find two SEC teams with undefeated regular season records.
To make it through the Southeastern Conference unscathed is remarkable for any of the 12 teams. Finding the conference’s two winningest programs in Tennessee and Alabama to have done it, yield a 2 in 11 chance of accomplishing such a feat in the new millennium.
The odds of surviving mathematically in doing this are 0.181818182, less than 1% in the 12 team league.
When SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer instituted the BCS that year, it was hoped the game would be a play in game for the SEC by hosting Championship Week to create a way to clearly define a national champion.
Over the last decade of SEC Championship games played, there have been numerous numbers two and three enter into the game and then be vaulted into the BCS title game.
The downside of playing the conference championship was seeing a top ranked team knocked out of the BCS Title Game that occurred back in 2001, and to be denied the national title game appearance.
While the SEC has been playing for Championships for 16 years to mark the end of the regular season, the last ten have been under the Bowl Championship Series that find four BCS crystals housed out of the ten awarded are in the SEC.
Last year saw number two LSU holding on for dear life as Tennessee came close to sending them back to Baton Rouge with only a western division crown. Mistakes late in the game by the Vols passing game sent LSU on its way.
In 2006, number two Florida met Arkansas with the 2nd greatest implications for the SEC when the Razorbacks fought back late to keep the Gators from leaping into the national title game. It failed and Florida claimed the big prize.
In 2003, 3rd ranked LSU drummed Georgia in the SEC Championship to maintain the final BCS ranking at number two, to make the national title game with relative ease.
In 2001, the SEC Title game hosted number two Tennessee facing western division champion LSU, with a win the Vols were headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since their 1940 appearance.
But, LSU did not let it happen by upsetting Tennessee and vaulting into the SEC’s traditional Sugar Bowl contest for its season reward.
In the last decade, teams have won and lost their opportunity to play for the national title game in the SEC Championship game. 2008 finds the same pattern is in play as Alabama tries to guard its chance to play for it all.
A loss by Alabama will send heavily favored, fourth ranked Florida into the BCS Title game for a 2nd appearance in three years. The Crimson Tide have not seen the SEC Title Game since 1999. Florida, LSU and Tennessee combined have seen it nine times since 1999.
Either way it ends in Atlanta, the SEC will send one of two teams back into the National Championship game for a third straight season. The SEC has not lost a national title appearance since the BCS inception took place in ‘98.
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