Grin and bear it for another year as we must, college football fans, because like the trophy with the Waterford football the triumphant Auburn Tigers hoisted high in the Arizona night, it was crystal clear the Southeastern Conference is the best in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Again and again and …
Well, if you are counting — and it is hard not to with ESPN’s talking heads pointing it out seemingly every other minute, the Tigers’ 22-19 triumph over Oregon last night was the SEC’s fifth consecutive BCS title. A school that last won a national championship in the sport in 1957 took its place alongside rivals Alabama, Florida (twice) and LSU as keepers of the growing SEC legacy of championship domination.
Welcome to the SEC Invitational, where all the rest — the Pac-10, Big Ten, etc. — pale on the biggest stage in college football.
Guess this means the analyst desk on ESPN will have to be expanded to include Auburn’s Gene Chizik next year, since past winners from the SEC, Alabama coach Nick Saban and ex-Gator coach Urban Meyer, were doing the honors last night. Lest you forget whose show this really is.
When even the well-funded and innovative University of Swoosh can’t break up the SEC monopoly you’ve got to wonder who in the name of fluorescent trim will. And, when?
Maybe 13-0 TCU, the only other remaining unbeaten team in the land, could have done what the Ducks were unable to do. It sure would have been worth a try. But we’ll never know because the Horned Frogs never got the chance in a real championship playoff.
Their consolation prize was an appearance in the Rose Bowl, where a victory over Wisconsin suggested they deserved a shot at last night’s winner but instead settled for a place in front of the TV along with the rest of us.
Instead, we are left with what has become an annual SEC highlight video, in which Oregon was but the latest befuddled challenger, its high-powered offense rendered largely impotent with but one second-half touchdown. The Auburn defense forced three turnovers and made an inspired goal-line stand to bring Oregon, a team that had toyed with its opposition and never trailed in the fourth quarter during the regular season, to a screeching halt.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t enough that the Tigers had the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, a 6-foot-6 250-pounder who towered over all but three of the Ducks’ defenders. When quarterback Cam Newton got dazed and later stripped of the ball by Casey Matthews late in the fourth quarter, the Tigers handed the ball — and game — to someone who might well follow in Newton’s bronzed footsteps some day, true freshman Michael Dyer.
When Auburn was in dire straits, Dyer gave the Tigers a game-high 143 yards on 22 carries and the play of the night, a remarkable go, stop, go 37-yard run. Seemingly stopped but not down, Dyer bounced back up off a prone defender and scurried in a head-shaking play that video review neither overturned nor did justice to. That and a subsequent 16-yard bolt to inside the 1-yard line set up the winning 19-yard field goal.
Of such things are 14-0 seasons, legends and national titles cobbled.
Once again — and probably not for the last time, either — this one was made in the SEC.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.