SEC Repeat in 2008?


It has been a couple of good years for the SEC in football. We’ve won two consecutive championships over Ohio State. To be fair, this past year, it is hard to say who the best two teams out there were. I figure poor Southern Cal should have been there instead of Ohio State. That is with the benefit of hindsight though. That Stanford game looked pretty bad on the ol’ resume.

So who is going to win next year? The only things that are pretty sure are that it won’t be Duke or Ohio State. I can’t imagine anyone voting OSU, or any Big 10 team, into the top two without an undefeated team that dominates everyone, including a solid challenge out-of-conference opponent. Technically if OSU can go to Southern Cal to start the year and win big and sweep everyone else, then they may make it if there are no other undefeated teams.

How do we look at the list of probable contenders and narrow it down? Time to crunch some numbers.

What Makes a Champion?

A couple of weeks ago, Rivals.com took a look at the common traits of the BCS champions. They were interesting and seemed fairly obvious. When thrown against the field, they make an interesting topic for debate. Let’s look at the five common traits:

  1. Play in a BCS conference. One word for you, Hawaii. Forget Boise State. Nobody is going to remember how Hawaii faired against a motivated Georgia team. As for Oklahoma, until their pride started to take a hit in the Fiesta Bowl, they had the motivational profile of a slug. By the time they got their act together, those Broncos were believers and it was too late.
  2. Win at least seven games the previous year. Simple enough. You can only improve so much. Plus, when you lose too much, you don’t get the decent pre-season ranking that helps setup for a shot at the title, recent evidence withstanding.
  3. Finish the previous season with a bowl win. To be fair, accomplishing this accomplishes the previous qualification. The same logic applies to this one as well. Ending on a high-note can help with the next season, but losing a bowl game can provide motivation to improve. This was only a 50% indicator, even with the last 4 have won it. I think this one warrants a closer look than Rivals.com gave it. Let’s look back at the last 10 AP champions before the BCS. Based on my previous work on the all-time ranking and with some help from NationalChamps.net and their All-Time Database, it was easy to determine that for those 10 AP champions, only half won a bowl game the previous year. So this one is a no-go in my book. 50% over 20 years is basically a coin-flip.
  4. Have an experienced quarterback. They define experienced as a junior or senior with starting experience. This one is very key in my opinion and 90% of the champs had one. They don’t count junior college transfers as valid qualifiers here as they haven’t started on the DI level.
  5. Return a strong defense. Basically, return more than half (6+) of a top-40 defense. They say that defense wins championships. This backs it up with 90% again meeting these numbers.

Do you know what I find surprising? No observation on the Offensive Line. Having seen an otherwise good team in the past suffer with a young O-Line, I surprised that this didn’t get mentioned. Maybe one day I’ll go back and run those numbers. That is a little beyond my time and resources right now.

And the Winner Is…

So, they came up with a list of qualifiers. Obviously injury can thwart this, but their list is with the returning defense count and old ranking:

  • Georgia (9 from 14th ranked unit)
  • Southern Cal (7 from 2nd)
  • Wake Forest (7 from 27th)
  • Kansas (9 from 12th)
  • Rutgers (8 from 17th)
  • Alabama (6 from 31st)

Looks good for the SEC as the only conference with two teams qualifying. I listed these guys by my perceived order that I would rank them. Georgia has a great QB, Matthew Stafford, and RB, Knowshon Moreno, coming back next year. Kansas has a favorable schedule, but I think that will hurt them because they won’t be tested enough to win in the end. As for Bama, I like to rank them last on principle.

Auburn With the Spread

As for my Auburn Tigers, they fail on the Experienced Quarterback. Kodi Burns has experience, but he will only be a sophmore, while the junior with experience is juco transfer Chris Todd. A strong offensive line and running-back corps should help out.

As for the Defense, Rivals.com didn’t evaluate Auburn as they had already been eliminated. They have 2 cornerbacks, 3 linebackers, and 2 defensive linemen returning on the 6th ranked Total Defense, 8th in Scoring Defense which Rivals.com used. So 7 guys returning is pretty good. I’d say that Auburn has a shot.

That is until you realize that they are going to have both a new Defensive Coordinator and Offensive Coordinator. That is going to make it tricky. That in itself is enough reason to doubt the result. However, you have to have faith in Tommy or why bother watching the games?

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