The SEC has won the last seven BCS championships, but it is scheduled to take some non-league losses this season.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops is not the only coach who believes there is a slobbering love affair between the media and the Southeastern Conference.
Walk into a collection of Big Ten coaches and players. Mention there are five SEC teams ranked in the Top 10. They will look at you as if you haven't brushed your teeth since 2002.
Of course, 2002 happens to be the last time a Big Ten team won the national title. During that stretch the SEC has won seven straight BCS titles as well as eight of the last 10.
Doesn't matter. Once Stoops said the constant talk of SEC superiority was "propaganda," other coaches and players were also empowered.
"I think a lot of it has to do right now with sex appeal," said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. "I think a lot of it has to do with 24-hour new cycle. I think a lot of it has to do with a lot of those (SEC) schools are the only show in town or the only show in the state.
"You look at Big Ten country, a little bit different. I think all those things are great for fans and have zero to do with the outcome of games.
"They have what's called the SEC Network known as ESPN. And we have the Big Ten Network. I don't know if it's an advantage, I just think that's who their network is. We're also on the ESPN platform.
"I don't know. I'm taller than you. Ha-ha. I mean, who cares? As a coach, you don't care. It really has zero net impact. It's propaganda. It's all a bunch of stuff. It's posters. I have no problem saying we're not a hash-tag league."
"There are good players that come out of both conferences," said Wisconsin running back James White, a Florida native who chose to play in the Big Ten. "There's no way to tell which conference is completely better."
But we try.
Here is the part of the SEC story that is not propaganda. It was the only league to win better than 77 percent of its non-league games last season, finishing 13-9 against the five other BCS leagues. Having a record 63 guys taken in the NFL Draft, including a dozen in the first round, also feeds the beast.
What can the rest of college football do?
Beat the SEC whenever there is an opportunity. It's not complicated. Win games against the SEC, the way Louisville did in the Sugar Bowl when the Cardinals overwhelmed Florida.
This season the SEC is not scheduled for success as strongly as it has been in recent years. SEC teams play 18 non-conference games against opponents from other BCS conferences. Seven are at home, three at neutral sites and eight on the road.
Here are the 10 Best Chances To Knock The SEC Off Its Throne.
1. Georgia At Clemson, Aug. 31 – Some call this a National Championship elimination game. Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are not in that group.
It is absolutely fair to call this an ACC-SEC bragging rights game. Clemson is a Top 10 team that has won 13 of its last 14 home games. Georgia has lost either its first or second game in three of the last four seasons. The Bulldogs are usually very good, but just not Alabama good.
This is SEC Superiority Game of The Year – at least the first one.
2. LSU vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas, Aug. 31 – Both teams start the season ranked in the Top 20 of the coaches' poll. Both have played in multiple BCS-level bowl games this decade. Both expect to contend in their leagues. Both have respected coaches, although Gary Patterson took a pretty good shot at Les Miles' approach to player discipline last week. Good for Patterson.
TCU needs to win this game for the Big 12 – and Bob Stoops. That's not propaganda.
3. Florida at Miami (Fla.), Sept. 7 –You don't have to be Nevin Shapiro to understand Miami isn't Miami any more. The sass, swagger and success have been missing. Michael Irvin ain't walking through that door.
Al Golden (Miami) and Will Muschamp (Florida) are starting year three of establishing their programs. Golden has upgraded Miami's talent and closed the gap.
Now he needs his Howard Schnellenberger moment. Beating the Gators would qualify.
4. Washington State at Auburn, Aug. 31 – Wasn't Auburn just playing for the national championship 20 minutes ago? Auburn could finish sixth in the SEC West. Last time we saw the Tigers they finished 49 points behind Alabama. They're just a team.
I've got that. But it would be a blow to SEC pride if Auburn lost to Washington State because the Cougars are just a team in a lesser league, failing to deliver a winning season since 2006. Mike Leach, the WSU coach, could parlay a win in this game into a better job.
5. Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in Atlanta, Aug. 31 – The Hokies aren't going to beat The Sabans in the Georgia Dome. They're three-touchdown underdogs. But I don't think Frank Beamer has lost every inch off his fastball. Maybe he can make the Crimson Tide sweat. OK, maybe not.
6. Mississippi at Texas, Sept. 14 – The Rebels are a program in ascent. Check the recruiting rankings. The Longhorns are a program in decline. Check the record. It shows at least four losses in each of the last three seasons.
The SEC has more to gain than lose, especially with the game in Austin. The Rebels see this as a Coming Out party. A Texas victory would give the SEC one less reason to brag. Even Stoops will be flashing a Hook ‘em, Horns sign.
7. Missouri at Indiana Sept. 21 – There is only one Big Ten/SEC regular season game. It will be played at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. The Hoosiers have a puncher's chance. It wouldn't be the Big Ten's best beating the SEC's best, but I'm sure Stoops would let out a long holler if his former assistant (Kevin Wilson) kicks an SEC opponent.
8. Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State in Houston Aug. 31 -- Another example of a great way to start the season – teams from BCS leagues meeting in a neutral-site NFL stadium.
Thank you Dan Mullen. Thank you, Mike Gundy.
This is Year Five for Mullen with the Bulldogs and they've lost ground to Ole Miss. Losing this game would not be a colossal embarrassment for the SEC. It would be a reminder that not every SEC team is the Baltimore Ravens.
9. Arkansas at Rutgers, Sept. 21 – The Scarlet Knights won last season in Fayetteville. That score created two results: A.) John L. Smith was finished as the Razorbacks' coach. And B.) Nobody gave Rutgers credit because everybody said Arkansas was terrible.
Back-to-back Rutgers wins would be more difficult to dismiss.
10. Tennessee at Oregon Sept. 14 – Another sign of how dramatically Tennessee has fallen since Phil Fulmer got the thumb. This game doesn't rank higher on the list because nobody believes Tennessee has a chance not in Eugene, not in Knoxville, not on the Moon.