By winning both of their National Semifinal games, the SEC once again shows why they are still college football‘s most dominant conference.
On New Year’s Day, the rest of the nation observed what many in the Southeastern Conference have known for a long time – the SEC is the best conference in college football.
On Jan. 8, 2018, the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs will play for the College Football National Championship. This will be the second championship game featuring two teams from the same conference since the national title game was introduced in 1998. On Jan. 9, 2012, Alabama defeated LSU in the BCS Championship game. That was an all-SEC National Championship Game as well.
While fans of the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC can make all the arguments they want, the SEC is head and shoulders above the rest of them. The Big Ten is close, but still not as good as the SEC.
The nation would have seen this matchup a month ago if Auburn didn’t upset Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Instead, that gave Georgia a chance at revenge on the only team that had beaten them this season. On Nov. 11, the Bulldogs were soundly beaten by the Tigers, 40-17. After Auburn defeated the Crimson Tide to win the SEC West, Georgia earned their spot in the National Semifinals with a 28-7 victory in the SEC Championship Game.
When Alabama was picked as the final team in the College Football Playoff by the selection committee, groans went out among Ohio State fans as to why. Despite losing only one game in the SEC, Buckeye fans thought their team was more deserving, despite two losses. While just one of Ohio State’s two losses was in Big Ten play, it was a 55-24 trouncing of an 8-5 Iowa team. Alabama destroyed their conference opponents in their seven wins, winning their games by an average of 32 points per game. Their lone loss was by 12 points against Auburn, who showed how good they were by winning the same division Alabama was in.
One can make a solid argument for the Big Ten being close to the SEC as the best conference. The Big Ten’s 7-1 record this bowl season was impressive. In comparison, the SEC went just 4-5. However, in head to head competition, the conference’s split their two games. South Carolina defeated Michigan, 26-19, while Northwestern came out on top against Kentucky, 24-23.
Arguments can be made all day about minor differences between each conference, and I would not deflect the fact that the Big Ten deserves many accolades. However, from top to bottom, the SEC is still better. We can hold those arguments at another time if you are a believer that the Big Ten is better. However, for this season, the SEC won the Bowl Games that matter, and two of their teams will be playing for the National Championship.
#All Stats from ESPN Stats & Information
SABAN FACES FORMER ASSISTANT
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was an assistant coach under Nick Saban at LSU in 2004 and at Alabama from 2007-15. This will be the 12th meeting between Saban and a former assistant coach. He is 11-0 in those matchups, winning each game by at least 14 points.
|Former Assistants vs Nick Saban|
|>>Saban will face Kirby Smart in title game|
Alabama is seeking its 5th national title in the last 9 seasons. The shortest span needed to win five titles in the poll era is 16 seasons by Alabama from 1964-79 under Bear Bryant.
The Tide has won 11 national titles in the AP Poll Era, 3 more than any other school.
|Most Nat’l Championships Won – AP Poll Era|
Nick Saban has as many national championships at the FBS level as all other active coaches combined. His five titles are one shy of Bear Bryant for most in the AP Poll Era.
|FBS Nat’l Championships Won|
|Active FBS Head Coaches|
|Nick Saban, ALA||5>>||2015|
|Urban Meyer, OSU||3||2014|
|Dabo Swinney, CLEM||1||2016|
|Jimbo Fisher, TA&M||1||2013|
|>>Second most by a head coach in poll era (Bear Bryant, 6)|
ALABAMA TRYING TO MAKE HISTORY AGAIN
With a win, Alabama would be the third conference-affiliated national champion in the AP Poll Era (since 1936) not to win its conference. In 2011, the Tide won the BCS Championship despite not playing in the SEC Championship. In 1936, Minnesota was recognized as the inaugural AP-national champion despite finishing 2nd in the Big Ten to Northwestern.
|National Champions Without Conference Title|
|>>Does not include independents|
GEORGIA LOOKING FOR FIRST TITLE SINCE 1980
Georgia is looking to end a 36-year national title drought (last won in 1980). That would be the longest drought snapped by a national champion since Auburn ended a 52-year drought in 2010 (hadn’t won since 1957).
The Bulldogs will be the 7th team to play the title game in their home state since the BCS was introduced in 1998. The first 6 teams went 3-3. Alabama is the away team this year, but the Tide won their last national title game against a team playing in its home state (2011 vs LSU in New Orleans).
|Played Nat’l Title Game in Home State|
|Since BCS Introduced in 1998|
|2008||Florida||Miami Gardens, FL|
|2000||Florida St.>>||Miami Gardens, FL|
This will be the second-straight National Championship Game featuring a true freshman QB in Georgia’s Jake Fromm. Last year, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts took the field as a true freshman for the Tide. No true freshman QB has won a national championship since Oklahoma’s Jamelle Holieway in the 1985 season.
Kirby Smart is looking to become the 11th head coach to win a national championship with his Alma mater and first since Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer in 1998.
Smart would be the seventh head coach and first since Jim Tressel in 2002 to win a national championship in one of his first two seasons as a major college head coach.
DOWN SEASON FOR SEC, YET THEY STILL HAVE TWO TEAMS IN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Whether or not you are a fan of the SEC, this overall was a poor season for the conference. Normal powerhouse Florida had a down season. Arkansas and Tennessee won just one conference game between them. LSU was inconsistent. However, the conference still had the highest win percentage (106-70, 60 percent), won the most non-conference games of any conference (49) and finished first in overall RPI.
While the Big Ten is no slouch by any means and is far and away the second-best conference, the SEC is still the standard setter in college football.