SEC back in familiar spot in BCS title game - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

SEC back in familiar spot in BCS title game

Posted: Updated:
Auburn offensive linesman Avery Young (56) carries the championship trophy after the second half of the Southeastern Conference NCAA football championship game against Missouri, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) Auburn offensive linesman Avery Young (56) carries the championship trophy after the second half of the Southeastern Conference NCAA football championship game against Missouri, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

ATLANTA (AP) — A week ago, the Southeastern Conference looked as though it had finally been vanquished.

The rest of the nation breathed a sigh of relief, clearly relieved it wouldn't have to watch the haughty SEC celebrate another national championship.

Not so fast.

After a wild Saturday in this most unpredictable of seasons, the SEC was back in a familiar position — playing for a BCS title, albeit not in its usual role of favorite.

No. 2 Auburn (12-1) landed a spot in the championship game against top-ranked Florida State (13-0) when the BCS pairings were announced Sunday night, the fallout from Ohio State losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.

The Seminoles were established as an early touchdown favorite for the Jan. 6 game at the Rose Bowl.

Auburn doesn't sound the least bit intimidated.

"We feel we're the best team in college football," star running back Tre Mason said. "We've got to continue to prove it."

Ohio State had not lost a game in two years under coach Urban Meyer and needed one more victory to lock up a trip to Pasadena. Alas, in what has been a familiar theme since 2006, the SEC champion Tigers stepped up to claim the spot when the Buckeyes were upset by Michigan State 34-24.

Auburn felt it deserved a shot at the title, no matter what Ohio State did.

There's no argument now, despite that collective groan from the SEC's detractors, who have gotten downright tired of watching this conference win the final game year after year.

Four SEC teams — Alabama, Florida, LSU and Auburn — have combined to win the last seven BCS championships, an unprecedented streak of dominance by a single league.

In this part of the country, there's a sense of entitlement that came across even before the Tigers defeated Missouri 59-42 in an SEC shootout. These guys believe they're the best conference in the country, and they're not shy about stating it over and over again.

Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs started lobbying for a BCS berth as soon as his team knocked off two-time defending champion Alabama, a game that seemingly eliminated the conference's best hope. The Tigers followed up with a video game-like performance in Atlanta, totaling a record 677 yards against Missouri — including 545 on the ground.

"It's nine words," Jacobs said. "Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule. Strength of schedule."

Alabama was unbeaten and ranked No. 1 when it fell to Auburn. Missouri went into the SEC title game ranked No. 5 and sporting one of the nation's top-ranked defenses, but had no answer for Auburn's hurry-up spread offense led by Mason and quarterback Nick Marshall.

Mason ran 304 yards and four touchdowns.

During the regular season, Auburn beat three other teams — Texas A&M, Mississippi and Georgia — that were ranked at the time.

"Who else has knocked off two top-five teams in the last week?" Jacobs asked. "Who else has knocked off five Top 25 teams? Show me who they are, and I'll tell you they belong instead of us."

Turns out, he didn't need to plead his case.

In a game that started about the time Auburn was finishing off Missouri, Ohio State rallied from an early 17-0 deficit but couldn't hold on. The Spartans dominated down the stretch, a result that surely pleased the folks down South.

After all, Meyer guided Florida to a national title that launched the SEC's record run and won another two years later, only to leave the Gators after the 2010 season, saying he needed to devote more time to his health and his family.

One year later, he turned up as Ohio State's new coach, sparking plenty of bitterness in Gainesville — and plenty of giddiness in SEC country when Meyer's new team came up short.

Now, the SEC will pin its hopes on a team that doesn't have the league's usual DNA. Under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, Auburn produced one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history largely on the back of its dynamic offense, a striking change from previous champs that relied on stifling defense.

It will be interesting to see if the Tigers, who rank 88th nationally in yards allowed (423.5 per game), can outscore the explosive Seminoles, who have the overwhelming Heisman favorite, quarterback Jameis Winston, and have beaten every opponent by at least 14 points.

The Tigers feel like they've got something special going, a mojo that can't be measured by stats after improbable wins over Alabama and Georgia.

"A lot of teams aren't getting better each week," Malzahn said. "This team is."

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Blount County DA cracking down on degrading social media accounts

    Thursday, April 24 2014 10:06 PM EDT2014-04-25 02:06:14 GMT
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
    Blount County District Attorney Pamela Casey is on a mission to shut down several Instagram accounts degrading young women throughout the county. The accounts with names such as "WHORESOFBLOUNTCOUNTY" and "SLUTSOFSUSANMORE" show pictures of teenagers with degrading comments underneath. Casey said the pictures are used without the girls' permission. One site has been taken down, and Casey has asked the social media website to remove them all.More >>
  • IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    IndyCar drivers Power, Pagenaud enter Barber weekend with tension over Long Beach incident

    Thursday, April 24 2014 9:00 PM EDT2014-04-25 01:00:42 GMT
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.More >>
    A week off did nothing to mellow the tension between Simon Pagenaud and Will Power stemming from contact between the two at Long Beach.
    More >>
  • Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Tuscaloosa documents city's post-tornado progress in three videos

    Thursday, April 24 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-04-25 00:08:47 GMT
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
     Motto: Safer, Smarter & StrongerMore >>
  • Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Authorities find body of Riverside man who went missing in Lake Logan Martin

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:57:29 GMT
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
    ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ala. -- Authorities have found the body of a Riverside man who went missing in Logan Martin Lake last weekend."At approximately 2:40 pm today the body of Mr. Willie Cosby was recovered from Logan Martin Lake in Riverside by search personnel," St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said in a released statement. "Mr. Cosby was located in the area where multiple agencies have been searching since Monday morning."Cosby, 48, was fishing with his wife when he fell from the boat at ...More >>
  • Birmingham leaders criticize teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Birmingham leaders criticize teen "wet" and "twerk" parties

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:40 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:40:34 GMT
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
    Recent parties asking teens to "freak," "twerk" and "get wet" are raising safety concerns among Birmingham City leaders.Some of the parties have been held at the Continental Ballroom and other venues for quite some time. Earlier this month, a shooting at the Continental Ballroom resulted in one teenager's injuries. City leaders, consequently, revoked the owner and party promoter's business licenses for that incident and prior complaints.But other upcoming teen parties are planned. They all ch...More >>
  • Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Shelby County mom expected in court next week

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:39 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:39:08 GMT
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
    Prosecutors in Shelby County have asked a judge to require an Alabaster mother to undergo random drug and alcohol screenings.More >>
  • Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Housing director: pipe replacement complete in Marks Village

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:37 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:37:50 GMT
    All piping inside the Mark Village Housing Development in Gate City has been replaced, according to Naomi Truman, executive director of the Housing Authority--Birmingham District. Truman told ABC 33/40More >>
    Continuing coverageMore >>
  • Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Benefit concert to assist and celebrate rehab of injured Gadsden officer

    Thursday, April 24 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-04-24 22:06:29 GMT
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>
    An Etowah County drug investigator who suffered a severe brain injury last month began taking steps in rehab this week.A truck collided with Gary Pierce as he rode his motorcycle while off duty March 15. He spent four week in intensive care at UAB before a transfer to Spain Rehabilitation Center.Pierce walked more than 250 feet Wednesday with the assistance of a walker. His commander at the Etowah County Drug Task Force, Rob Savage, said Pierce shows signs of improvement every day."He's talki...More >>