There is a lot of schadenfreude in college football these days.
You see it in the grins from commentators and the hardly suppressed chuckles on radio call-in shows. One highly ranked team takes an unexpected tumble or a much-hyped player has something less than a great day and a plethora of people can’t wait to pile on.
Championship Week often marks the pinnacle of that sort of revelry. It is the time when shakeouts and upsets are at their highest and the national championship picture becomes clear for all to see.
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But this year, Christmas came early for SEC haters, a group that seems to grow each year. With Alabama’s upset loss against Auburn and surprising absence from the SEC title game, those who have suffered through seven long years of SEC dominance are finally and perhaps celebrating the fall of the mighty.
But anyone waiting for the SEC to take a fall shouldn’t blow his party favor just yet. The conference is anything but down.
For 15 weeks from the preseason until the final second of the final regular-season game, the No.1 team in the nation was two-time defending champion Alabama. Throughout the year, as the top 10 ebbed and flowed, the SEC kept between four and five teams in the AP Top 10.
Even the top two BCS slots currently occupied by Florida State and Ohio State, those who are ecstatic about the SEC’s comeuppance should look a little further down.
Auburn sits at No. 3, Alabama dropped to No. 4 and Missouri lies in wait at No. 5.
Scrolling a little further down you find South Carolina at No. 8, meaning the SEC has maintained at least four teams in the top 10 the entire season.
Three more teams — LSU (14th), Texas A&M (22nd) and Georgia (25th) — give the SEC eight ranked teams at the end of the year.
Yes, yes, the critics scream, but the big, bad SEC is not the top team in the country anymore.
True, but there is still a week of football to be played.
If Auburn beats Missouri and Michigan State beats Ohio State, the Tigers and Buckeyes will both have one loss. And Auburn beat five ranked teams — including three in the top 10.
The Buckeyes barely squeaked past Michigan and Wisconsin and could have lost to Iowa and Northwestern.
Critics will point out that Auburn was lucky to get past Washington State in the season opener and that the Tigers’ final two victories were miracles, which are valid points.
But a tie usually goes to the titleholder; and when it comes to choosing a team to play for the final BCS trophy, a one-loss SEC champion is almost certain to get the nod.