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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES 11/17

By Joe Nelson
Posted 11/19/2008 at 12:39 PM

The SEC has been given a tremendous amount of praise in recent seasons but this year the conference has been vastly overrated. Alabama and Florida have been very impressive but the fall after the top two is significant. LSU and Georgia have strong records but have been far from impressive. Auburn, Tennessee, and South Carolina have been huge disappointments and Mississippi and Arkansas are in a rebuild process with new coaches. Conference strength goes in cycles and although the SEC had a nice run, that run has ended.

The Big 12 has been the premier conference this season, ranking second by most accounts is the ACC, despite lacking a top tier team the conference also lacks teams at the bottom tier. Vanderbilt is a nice story out of the SEC, as the Commodores clinched their first bowl berth in 26 years last week. Vanderbilt is also a favorite against Tennessee this week. As we’ve mentioned the BCS picture will get very messy if Oklahoma beats Texas Tech this week.

Oklahoma would still have to beat a very good Oklahoma State team the next week but they are in control of their destiny. Should Oklahoma win out, they will win in all likelihood win the division tie-breaker meaning that potential 1-loss Texas or 1-loss Texas Tech will not make a BCS bowl. Those teams could both finish in the top five of the rankings (as they all currently are) yet one will be left out.

Humor us with this scenario: Missouri wins the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma, Texas, or Texas Tech. Oregon State wins out and wins the Pac-10. Who plays the SEC champion in the BCS title game? The ratings would certainly have a team that did not win its conference (likely USC or one of the Big 12 teams) as the second ranked team. This scenario created a lot of controversy the last time it happened with Oklahoma facing USC over an undefeated Auburn team in 2004.

Pro football was not without controversy this week as Steelers backers were given a tough break with the final touchdown not being counted. The bizarre officiating explanation and scramble at the end of the game was exactly what the NFL did not need in a year where officiating has been heavily scrutinized. Millions of dollars swung on that incorrect decision and for the second time this season the Chargers were involved in the officiating snafu. A much less exciting finish led to the first tie in the NFL since 2002 as the Eagles and Bengals traded punts in the overtime period. The tie was crushing for Philadelphia’s playoff hopes but was sadly somewhat encouraging for Cincinnati.

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