Ole Miss collapse caps miserable weekend for SEC

We’ve heard the SEC hype for years, and now after all the smack talk, fans of the conference have to take their medicine.

Ole Miss came out strong, but then utterly wilted in the second half against a resilient Florida State team.

That capped a miserable weekend for the SEC, even with Alabama’s destruction of USC.

Looking back, an analyst on ESPN subbing for Mike & Mike (I can’t remember his name) summed up the SEC’s run pretty nicely when he pointed out that most of the success comes down to two all-time great coaches – Nick Saben and Urban Meyer. Outside of that, what can SEC fans really point to?

If you’re a Georgia, Tennessee Ole Miss fan, can you really pump your chest about the SEC when your team hasn’t won a title? Does it really make you feel good to pump your chest when the Alabama team that regularly crushes you is carrying the SEC banner?

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Maybe the SEC just isn’t that good this year

AUBURN, AL - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Jordan Jefferson  of the LSU Tigers breaks a tackle by Neiko Thorpe  of the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

I know it’s blasphemy in college football to even think it, but what if the conference that has ruled the sport for most of the last decade just isn’t that good this year?

Yes, there are still great athletes all over the field in these games. Yes, some of the best coaches in the country are leading these teams. But what exactly has the SEC done this year to prove that it’s worthy of being called the best conference in the country?

What are the conference’s big nonconference wins? LSU has two wins over other BCS conference teams, but those are against a scandal-ridden North Carolina team (a game the Tigers very nearly lost) and a mostly erratic West Virginia team. Alabama has a win over Penn State, but so what. Not only are the Nittany Lions down this year, but they were playing with a true freshman in his first road start.

The nation’s No. 2 team, Auburn, is even without a signature nonconference win. The Tigers struggled to put away a Clemson team that came into tonight 4-4 in the ACC.

I understand the difficulty of going through conference games, and that the physical play of the SEC is tough to go through week after week. But what, other than past performance, do we have to go on when judging the SEC this year?

If Auburn beats Alabama next week, it will go to the national title game, and that’s fine. I have no problem with that. But all the talk of a one-loss SEC team somehow finding its way into the title game seems based completely on what we’re used to, not what we’re seeing on the field.

If you want to bring past performance into it, how do you overlook Boise State, which hasn’t lost a game since the Poinsettia Bowl in 2008 against TCU? Or how about a TCU team that’s only loss over the last two years is that same Boise team in last year’s Fiesta Bowl?

I think everyone who’s voting should learn a lesson from the 2006 season, when many thought Michigan and Ohio State deserved a rematch in the title game because they had been so dominant all season. The problem was, the perceived tough games they played were all either in conference, or against teams with more tradition than punch (Notre Dame and Texas). Luckily, the voters voted against that and the Big Ten was exposed, oddly enough, by the SEC.

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