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Alabama’s Saban Says No To Twitter

twitter-logo-birdTwitter has become a key recruiting tool for coaches across the country.  It’s a means of keeping tabs on recruits and what they’re thinking on a minute-by-minute basis.  It’s an opportunity to link to information that you want prospects to see.  In general, it’s just one more arrow in the quiver when it comes to landing top athletes.

It’s also completely unnecessary when your list of recent accomplishments reads like this:

 

*  First man to win national titles with two different schools since World War II

*  Winner of four BCS championships since 2003

*  Winner of two straight BCS championships

*  Winner of three of the last four BCS championships

*  Undefeated and barreling toward a third straight BCS championship, which would be five overall and four of the last five

 

Nick Saban’s quiver is so full of arrows at the moment that he doesn’t need to join the Twitter-craze.  “I’ve never considered joining Twitter,” he said yesterday.  “Nor do I know anybody who would.  There’s a lot of people that do and I guess that I’m one of the ones in the minority.”

Very much so.  The only other SEC coach not on Twitter is South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, another former national crown-winner.

Below are links to the other 12 coaches’ Twitter feeds:

 

Arkansas’ Bret Bielema (1,473 tweets, 77,739 followers)

Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (193 tweets, 47,392 followers)

Florida’s Will Muschamp (352 tweets, 48,420 followers)

Georgia’s Mark Richt (360 tweets, 89,165 followers)

Kentucky’s Mark Stoops (543 tweets, 54,302 followers)

LSU’s Les Miles (677 tweets, 120,100 followers)

Miss. State’s Dan Mullen (1,738 tweets, 49,569 followers)

Missouri’s Gary Pinkel (2,902 tweets, 36,894 followers)

Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze (5,180 tweets, 57,708 followers)

Tennessee’s Butch Jones (4,501 tweets, 100,488 followers)

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin (1,679 tweets, 44,461 followers)

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin (1,391 tweets, 25,734 followers)

 

And as always, you can follow our own Twitter feed — ranked by Maxim Magazine and Athlon Sports as one of the feeds all guys and all sports fans should follow — by clicking right here.

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After Half A Season, Fans And Media Not Happy About New Targeting Rule

gfx - honest opinionThe NCAA’s new targeting rule is living up to it’s billing.  Back on July 22nd I wrote that it “will be the most controversial rule change in ages.”  Well, we’re just halfway through the 2013 season and already lots of folks are saying that the rule needs to be changed.

And just wait until we reach November, when conference titles and spots in the BCS title game are on the line.  The worst is clearly yet to come with the new 15-yards-and-an-ejection penalty.

The push to alter the new rule will be led by coaches this offseason.  For all the fan and media outrage, if coaches and their ADs get behind a change, a change will likely come.  Georgia’s Mark Richt — whose voice may carry more weight because he seldom raises it — was stung by the rule in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt (see the second link above) and he would like to see it changed.  He’s already got an idea for fixing this well-meaning but difficult-to-call penalty:

 

“My guess is (video reversals) will be one of the biggest topics, the hottest topics, on this rule.  Whether or not you’re going to review it to let a guy stay in the game because you don’t think it was targeting, (then) you might possibly take the penalty away (as well).”

 

Makes sense.  Such a move wouldn’t change the fact that players need to avoid targeting-style hits on their foes.  And that type of alteration would be deemed “fairer” by fans, media and coaches alike.

However…

If the NCAA opens the door to review judgement call penalties, there’s no telling what will come next.  You’d better believe some would clamor for interference calls to be reviewed.  Then holding calls.  Then all calls.  Do that and the officials on the field will be so gun-shy about tossing flags and being corrected by an eye in the sky that they’ll not properly do their jobs.

Yes, that is probably an overly strong usage of the “slippery slope” argument, but allowing booth reviews on judgement calls would be a large step.  It’s one thing to check and see if a player’s foot landed in bounds or out of bounds.  It’s quite another for a booth official to overrule a ref on the field because one thinks a kid was targeting and the other doesn’t.  Video evidence — hard, clear evidence — can be used to overturn fumble calls and juggled catches.  It would simply be a matter of opinion as to whether or not a player intentionally targeted another player or not.

Look, I’m in favor of that change and a booth official already has the power to “un-eject” a player based on his opinion of a hit.  But when it comes to waving off a flag based on nothing more than opinion — “I don’t think he meant to do it” — that’s a big step.

Unfortunately, big steps are necessary when a well-meaning rule is so poorly written that no one is really sure what will be deemed as targeting from week to week and game to game.

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Auburn’s Barbee: “The SEC Is The Best Basketball League In The Country, Period.”

tony-barbee-coachesSomebody do a little research and find out just what Auburn hoops coach Tony Barbee has been smoking.  The hot-seat-strapped coach made the following mind-boggling statement yesterday at SEC Media Days:

 

“The SEC is the best basketball league in the country, period.  Look at the national titles we’ve won since, I think you’re talking the modern game, ’97.  We’ve won the most national titles as a league over any league.  I think that speaks for itself.  Look at the pros that this league puts out.  I think all of those things speak for itself.”

 

Good heavens.

Well, I’m sure I speak for many when I say Barbee is attempting to sell that which cannot be sold.  First, his math is wrong as the ACC has collected five national crowns to the SEC’s four since 1997.  Second, he’s basically talking about two schools — Kentucky and Florida — when trying to push SEC strength in “the modern game.”  (Does anyone believe the modern era of college basketball began in 1997?)

There’s a common argument from folks outside the SEC that goes like this: The rest of the Southeastern Conference can’t take credit for the football national championships won by a few SEC schools.  The trouble is, the SEC has been uber-deep in football.  Since the dawn of the BCS era in 1998, five different league members (Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU and Tennessee) have won national crowns.  That’s more than one-third of the current SEC members.  And that’s nine BCS titles in 15 years overall.  That is what it means to be “the best league in the country, period.”

But in basketball, Kentucky has won three titles since 1996 and Florida has won two.  No other SEC team has claimed first prize.  Check the NBA’s rosters and you’ll find they’re dotted with — you guessed it — ex-Wildcats and ex-Gators.  The SEC has had no true depth on a national scale.

Look, here’s hoping the SEC can kick things up a notch on the hardwood this winter.  But to even try to present the Southeastern Conference as the nation’s best in basketball is pure folly.  It’s foolish.  It’s crazy.

And it may just be the talk of a man desperately trying to convince his own fanbase (and boss) that his rebuilding efforts have taken longer than expected because of the level of tough competition he’s faced within his own league.  Unfortunately for Barbee, here’s guessing Auburn AD Jay Jacobs won’t buy that spin anymore than yours truly.

You can see Barbee’s comments from SEC Media Days right here on our Overtime page.

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Florida O-Coordinator Pease Says Muschamp Allowing Him To Do His Job

gfx - they said itFile this one under: “What’s he supposed to say?”

Florida’s offense just isn’t good enough to compete with the big boys.  Year Two under Brent Pease is not a whole lot better than Year One… or Charlie Weis’ one year.  Remember when Weis was the reason for the Gators’ offensive deficiencies?

Naturally, fans are starting to wonder if the common denominator — Will Muschamp — is allowing his offensive coordinators the freedom they need to win football games.  In other words, is he handcuffing them and ordering them to run the football?  Again and again and again?

Yesterday, Pease was asked that question.  His response:

 

“How much does he exert control on me?  Like any coach, we all have ideas we share.  He’s very open about what we do.  He allows us to do our job and do what we want to do to be successful.

Like he says, ‘Do what you’ve go to do to win a football game.’  That’s what we’ve got to do.  I think he’s got his philosophy on what the makeup of our team is.  Everybody is good with that, including myself.”

 

In 2011 under Weis, Florida threw the ball 236 times against BCS foes.  That ranked the Gators 10th in the then-12-team SEC.

In 2012 under Pease, Florida attempted 219 passes versus BCS teams and that ranked 13th in the 14-team league.

This year, the Gators have thrown 121 passes versus BCS teams.  That places the Gators in a tie for sixth in the league.  Tossing in non-BCS opponents, however, Florida has thrown the ball fewer times than any other team in the Southeastern Conference.

Whether he does or he doesn’t, it’s obvious why some are starting to think Muschamp is the man to blame for Florida’s offense — through three years and two coordinators his Gators have run the ball a helluva lot more than they’ve thrown it.

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SEC Stats: Bandits And Butterfingers

mrsec stat analysis newAs we’ve shown you before, turnovers mean just about everything when it comes to winning and losing SEC football games.  With the season nearing its halfway mark, we thought it might be a good time to check out our current Bandits and Butterfingers statistical categories.

Below are the turnover-related numbers for SEC teams playing against BCS-level foes.  The deeper we get into the season, the more these numbers will mean.  For now, these stats will at least give a pretty good idea of which offenses need to improve and which defenses need to keep on keeping on…

 

Bandits (Snaps per Defensive Takeaway vs BCS-Level Foes)

  School   Takeaways   Def. Snaps   Snaps/Takeaway
  Florida   10   229   22.90
  LSU   8   276   34.50
  Texas A&M   6   216   36.00
  Alabama   5   187   37.40
  Missouri   4   158   39.50
  Auburn   7   311   44.42
  Ole Miss   6   279   46.50
  S. Carolina   7   332   47.42
  Miss. State   4   211   52.75
  Kentucky   3   194   64.66
  Georgia   4   282   70.50
  Arkansas   3   216   72.00
  Tennessee   3   224   74.66
  Vanderbilt   3   242   80.66

 

Not surprisingly, the top six teams in the above category are a combined 27-4 overall, 15-4 versus BCS-level competition.  The bottom three teams on that list — those teams who rarely force turnovers — are a combined 0-9 versus BCS foes.

 

Butterfingers (Snaps per Offensive Giveaway vs BCS-Level Foes)

  School   Giveaways   Off. Snaps   Snaps/Giveaway
  Georgia   3   288   96.00
  Texas A&M   3   228   76.00
  Alabama   3   200   66.66
  Ole Miss   5   302   60.40
  LSU   5   287   57.40
  Missouri   3   168   56.00
  Miss. State   4   205   51.25
  Arkansas   4   200   50.00
  Kentucky   4   175   43.75
  Vanderbilt   5   203   40.60
  S. Carolina   9   349   38.77
  Auburn   9   286   31.77
  Florida   9   279   31.00
  Tennessee   8   196   24.50

 

Again, the top six in this category are thriving.  Overall they’re a combined 26-5 overall.  Interestingly, aside from Tennessee, the bottom four in this area have done well despite giving the ball away.  But a check of the top table shows that all three of those squads — South Carolina, Auburn, and Florida — rank pretty well in forcing turnovers as well.

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Condi On The Committee? Ex-Auburn Coach Dye Not A Fan… And He’s Right

Condoleezza_Rice_croppedThe addition of Condoleezza Rice to the new college football playoff selection committee is being widely hailed as a genius move.  At this point — as Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com points out — no one can dare question the intelligence of any of those selected to be on the most-powerful panel in the history of college football:

 

“After reviewing the names of the 12 named to date, one word comes to mind: unassailable.  This isn’t a sports committee, it’s a presidential cabinet.  Rice is part of it.  So is (ex-Stanford coach Tyrone) Willingham.  Even in football coaching absentia, he projects an air of authority, knowledge and trust.  So do Archie Manning, USC’s Pat Haden, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez and Tom Osborne.

There’s a retired lieutenant general who was superintendent of the Air Force Academy.  How do you ask Michael Gould, a man who has spent a life training men to go to war, why Boise State didn’t get in?

As national security adviser, Rice spent part of her life outscheming terrorists.  It seems almost inappropriate chatting her up on how Alabama outschemed Georgia.

You see what the BCS commissioners — oops, now called the Management Committee — have done here, right?  They’ve made what projects to be the most powerful body in amateur athletics Teflon.  I’m sure there will be tough questions to ask these people in the future I’m just not sure how to ask them.  After reading the roster, football just doesn’t seem important.”

 

That, of course, is the problem with putting non-football people — like Rice — on the panel.  “Football doesn’t seem important.”

But point out that fact as former Auburn coach Pat Dye did yesterday and you’ll be labeled a chauvinist.  That’s where CBSSports.com’s Tom Fornelli went when he heard these comments from Dye:

 

“All she knows about football is what somebody told here.  Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television.  To understand football, you’ve got to play with your hand in the dirt.

I love Condoleezze Rice and she’s probably a good statesman and all of that, but how in the hell does she know what it’s like out there when you can’t get your breath and it’s 110 degrees and the coach asks you to go some more?”

 

Fornelli wrote: “Maybe what Dye meant to say was that Rice doesn’t know anything about football because she isn’t a man.”

Yeah.  Maybe that’s what he meant.  Or maybe he meant Rice has never had a thing to do with football and is just a fan.  Which is the case.  Aside from the fact she served in the George W. Bush administration — and half the country would view that as a negative rather than a positive — what football clout can she boast other than being a mega-fan?

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SEC Defenses Have Dipped In Yards-Allowed-Per-Play Too

mrsec stat analysis newA quick admission at the start of this one: It’s mucho frustrating to spend time digging up statistics, analyzing them, and then posting the numbers and the views for free… only to have the first comment beneath said post inevitably be, “Yeah, but I want to see a different stat.”  My first thought is to tell said commenter that he’s got just as much time and just as much access to stats as I do.  He can look up on his own stats if he prefers them to what’s been provided by MrSEC.com.

(And, yes, I know that many a smart aleck will now start posting such comments under every single statistical piece we provide.)

Yesterday, a regular reader looked at our exploration into the current state of SEC defenses and wondered if our facts and figures really meant much of anything at all.  His thinking being: Scoring is up because teams are running more plays in their hurry-up offenses.  (We showed that the majority of SEC defenses were also poorer in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and total yards allowed.).  So the reader wanted to know if SEC defenses were allowing more yards per play than they were a year ago.

The “yeah, but” might’ve been a little annoying, but that didn’t make the reader’s point any less interesting.  So I took the bait and looked up the numbers.

Know what I found?

Yep, SEC defenses are worse in that statistic, too.  You can see for yourself below how each squad has done versus BCS-level competition this season and how they did last season.  Italics denotes a poorer number than a year ago.

 

SEC Yards-Allowed-Per-Play Vs BCS-Level Foes

  School   2013   2012
  Alabama   5.59   4.38
  Arkansas   6.03   6.18
  Auburn   6.02   6.48
  Florida   3.85   4.33
  Georgia   6.52   5.27
  Kentucky   6.77   6.01
  LSU   5.69   4.64
  Miss. State   6.23   5.67
  Missouri   6.01   5.78
  Ole Miss   5.51   5.79
  S. Carolina   5.60   4.63
  Tennessee   7.03   6.49
  Texas A&M   6.88   5.45
  Vanderbilt   6.25   5.00

 

That’s 10 of the 14 SEC schools that are allowing more yards per play than they did a season ago.  Congrats to Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Ole Miss.  Everyone else — including top-ranked Alabama — has moved in the wrong direction.

Now, as was posted on this site yesterday, this could just be a one-year blip.  The league is filled with veteran quarterbacks and a number of the SEC’s strongest programs have had to use more youth on defense this year due to attrition.  That’s a combustible mix when it comes to offensive output.

Also, it’s still early in the season and the sample of SEC versus BCS-level foes is small.  These digits could change as we get deeper into the season.

But it’s also possible that the breakneck pace of today’s up-tempo offenses is finally taking a toll on SEC defenses.  When double-digit SEC defenses go South — no pun intended — across five different statistical categories all in the exact same year, it seems likely that there must be some sort of “big picture” change at play.

We can debate the causes, but one thing is certain — no matter how you slice it, SEC defenses are off to a bad start in 2013.

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The Defense Rests: Has The SEC’s DNA Changed?

mrsec stat analysis newYou’ve seen it with your own eyes.  You’ve read about offensive explosions and quarterback duels in SEC contests.  Now you can take a quick gander at the stats below and see just how down the SEC’s defenses really are in 2013.

And at this stage of the season… they’re down.  Way down.

Granted, it’s early in the season and many SEC squads have yet to play more than one or two games against BCS-level competition.  But the nearly across-the-board decline in defensive play is still alarming.  That’s especially true when you consider the fact that the SEC’s recent dominance at the top of the college football food chain has been attributable largely to the league’s brand of stiff defense.

As of today, eight of the SEC’s 14 programs are allowing more points per game against BCS foes than they did last season.

Ten SEC schools are giving up more rushing yards than they did last season.

Ten are allowing more passing yards per contest.

And eleven are yielding more offensive yards overall to BCS opponents than they did in 2012.

See for yourself (italicized numbers are used to denote a decline in defensive performance).  (More analysis after the jump.)

 

SEC Scoring Defense Vs BCS-Level Foes

  School   2013   2012
  Alabama   17.3   13.3
  Arkansas   36.5   32.4
  Auburn   26.3   33.1
  Florida   15.0   15.4
  Georgia   36.3   19.8
  Kentucky   25.5   35.9
  LSU   30.7   17.8
  Miss. State   22.5   28.6
  Missouri   28.0   31.5
  Ole Miss   27.7   32.2
  S. Carolina   25.3   21.4
  Tennessee   45.0   37.9
  Texas A&M   31.7   20.1
  Vanderbilt   37.0   21.5

 

SEC Rushing Defense Vs BCS-Level Foes

  School   2013   2012
  Alabama   121.0   79.7
  Arkansas   158.0   127.7
  Auburn   183.3   233.4
  Florida   54.7   98.4
  Georgia   166.7   174.0
  Kentucky   244.0   176.9
  LSU   174.3   101.8
  Miss. State   203.0   174.1
  Missouri   98.0   160.5
  Ole Miss   168.0   153.0
  S. Carolina   129.0   121.3
  Tennessee   215.5   204.3
  Texas A&M   176.0   146.4
  Vanderbilt   213.0   158.8

 

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What Each SEC Team Has Really Accomplished Through Four Weeks

gfx - by the numbersWith four weekends of college football action now in the rearview, fans and pundits are now getting a feel for which teams are good and which aren’t.  Or are they?

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the records of the SEC’s teams in an attempt to better understand who’s really accomplished to date.  First, let’s start with the overall records of each SEC squad:

 

SEC Overall Records

1.  LSU 4-0

2.  Alabama, Missouri, Ole Miss 3-0

5.  Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M 3-1

8.  Florida, Georgia, South Carolina 2-1

11.  Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt 2-2

14.  Kentucky 1-2

 

If you’re a fan of any of those 10 squads boasting records of 2-1 or better, you have to feel pretty good at this stage of the season.  But let’s take a look at the records with wins over FCS opponents removed:

 

SEC Overall Records Without FCS Wins

1.  LSU 4-0

2.  Alabama 3-0

3.  Auburn 3-1

4.  Missouri, Ole Miss 2-0

6.  Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M 2-1

11.  Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt 1-2

 

Looks a bit different when you yank victories against inferior competition out of the mix, doesn’t it?  Well, let’s whittle things down to each team’s real accomplishments.  Below we look at each team’s record against BCS-level competition.  For each win an SEC squad has recorded against a BCS foe, we’ve awarded a point to the SEC team for each win their vanquished foe has recorded.  For example, South Carolina is 2-1 against BCS competition (beat North Carolina and Vanderbilt, lost to Georgia).  UNC and Vanderbilt have combined for three victories this season.  That’s Carolina’s tally.  The Gamecocks get no points for losing to Georgia.

Here’s how it looks:

 

SEC Records Vs BCS Opponents

1.  Alabama 3-0 overall, 2-0 vs BCS — 6 points (Virginia Tech and Texas A&M have three wins each)

2.  Auburn 3-1 overall, 2-1 vs BCS — 5 points (Washington State has three wins and Mississippi State has two)

3t.  LSU 4-0 overall, 2-0 vs BCS — 4 points (Auburn has three wins and TCU has one)

3t.  Ole Miss 3-0 overall, 2-0 vs BCS — 4 points (Vanderbilt and Texas have two wins each)

5.  South Carolina 2-1 overall, 2-1 vs BCS — 3 points (Vanderbilt has two wins and North Carolina has one)

6t.  Florida 2-1 overall, 1-1 vs BCS — 2 points (Tennessee has two wins)

6t.  Georgia 2-1 overall, 1-1 vs BCS — 2 points (South Carolina has two wins)

6t.  Missouri 3-0 overall, 1-0 vs BCS — 2 points (Indiana has two wins)

9.  Texas A&M 3-1 overall, 1-1 vs BCS — 1 point (SMU has one win)

10t.  Arkansas 3-1 overall, 0-1 vs BCS — 0 points

10t.  Mississippi State 2-2 overall, 0-2 vs BCS — 0 points

10t.  Tennessee 2-2 overall, 0-2 vs BCS — 0 points

10t.  Vanderbilt 2-2 overall, 0-2 vs BCS — 0 points

10t.  Kentucky 1-2 overall, 0-1 vs BCS — 0 points

 

Considering only what SEC squads have done against BCS foes (and the success of those foes), Alabama and Auburn have accomplished the most to this point of the season.  That’s appropriate.  Together they’ve won every BCS championship since 2009.  Most impressive for Bama is the fact that both of their BCS wins have come against three-win squads and both have come away from Bryant-Denny Stadium.

LSU, Ole Miss and South Carolina follow closely behind the Alabama schools.  That schools have each done more on the field than Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas or Texas A&M, five schools with good overall records, but so-so BCS records.

Through four weeks, naturally there are some teams that look better than other.  But when peer at the SEC through a BCS-only lens, it’s easy to realize that looks can sometimes be deceiving.

CORRECTION — Texas A&M’s win over SMU — now a member of the AAC which is still a BCS conference this season — gives the Aggies a point in the chart above.

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The SEC’s BCS Championship Game Hopes Are Already Dimming

crystal-ball-soothsayerOne quarter of the way through the 2013 football season, the hopes for another SEC win in the BCS championship game seemed to have dimmed.  Yes, there are currently four league squads in the top 10 with one more sitting just outside that pack, but a quick check of the loss column should cause some concern.

Here is the current AP Poll (with USA Today Coaches’ Poll rankings in parentheses when different):

 

1.  Alabama 3-0

2.  Oregon 3-0

3.  Clemson 3-0 (#4)

4.  Ohio State 4-0 (#3)

5.  Stanford 3-0

6.  LSU 4-0

7.  Louisville 4-0

8.  Florida State 3-0

9.  Georgia 2-1 (#10)

10.  Texas A&M 3-1 (#9)

11.  Oklahoma State 3-0

12.  South Carolina 2-1 (#13)

13.  UCLA 3-0 (#14)

14.  Oklahoma 3-0 (#12)

15.  Miami, FL 3-0

16.  Washington 3-0 (#20)

17.  Northwestern 4-0 (#16)

18.  Michigan 4-0 (#17)

19.  Baylor 3-0 (#18)

20.  Florida 2-1 (#19)

 

Now let’s look see who in that list plays one another:

 

* In the SEC, undefeated Alabama will face undefeated LSU later in the season, so that means one of those squads will have a loss.  Missouri and Ole Miss are also undefeated at this point and they, too will play this season.  Ole Miss, of course, will play both Alabama and LSU, too.  So the odds are stacked against the Rebels finishing unscathed.  Mizzou isn’t expected to come close to an undefeated season, either.  Which means the SEC needs for the winner of the Alabama/LSU game to finish undefeated and win the SEC Championship Game in order to “guarantee” the league a spot in the BCS title game.  Could a one-loss SEC team make it?  Certainly.  But the more undefeated squads there are across the country, the tougher it will be for a one-loss SEC team to make that jump.

* In the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford will meet.  So basically one of those squads already has a loss.  UCLA and Washington — who are also clean at this point — will have to meet the Ducks and Cardinal, too.  UCLA will play Stanford and Oregon back-to-back and then Washington.  The Huskies also draw Stanford and Oregon back-to-back before their date with UCLA.  Oregon and Stanford appear to be the best hopes for the Pac-12.  One of those teams will need to survive the other, UCLA, Washington and the Pac-12 championship game to finish unbeaten.

*  In the ACC, we’ll slash Miami from the list as they’re not expected to keep winning.  Clemson and Florida State will play one another which means one of them already has a loss.  Should the winner of that game run the table and win the ACC title game, it could be bad news for the SEC (especially if the undefeated champ is a Clemson squad that’s already knocked off Georgia).

*  In the Big Ten, Ohio State appears to be on cruise control.  They’ll face Wisconsin this weekend and Michigan to close the season.  They will also face Northwestern.  The Big Ten Championship Game is also on the horizon.  But it appears as though the Buckeyes are the best bet from north of the Mason-Dixon line.  While their weak schedule might hurt them when the BCS system spits out its final championship game matchup, an unbeaten Ohio State squad will be hard to keep out of the national title game.

*  In the Big 12, Baylor would have to be a shock team to climb all the way into the BCS championship picture.  That leaves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who will play one another.  The Big 12 will need one of those two squads to finish unscathed to nab a slot in the BCS finals.

*  Finally, Louisville of the American Athletic Conference faces these eight foes the rest of the way: Temple, Rutgers, UCF, South Florida, UConn, Houston, Memphis, and Cincinnati.  Uh, yeah.  You’d have to say that the Cardinals will be favored in all of their remaining contests.

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