Last season, the USC Trojans, were picked #1 on the AP Poll, preseason. They ended up having a 7-6 season and losing their bowl game, not beating a single ranked team along the way. Meanwhile, the SEC (Alabama) won another BCS national title and five teams in the top 10 of the final college football rankings.
The only team that beat Alabama on their way to a third national title in the past four years? Texas A&M, another SEC team, that destroyed Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The last time a non-SEC team beat the Tide was over four years ago, when Utah stunned them in the Sugar Bowl, finishing the season undefeated.
Yes, it’s been that kind of ride, and not just for Alabama. Georgia, who came a few yards short from beating Alabama and reaching the national title game ended up playing Nebraska and dominating them in the Bowl game. Same goes for South Carolina meeting Michigan. LSU and Florida did mess it up a bit when it comes to SEC pride, losing to Clemson and Louisville respectively. In games that mean something, it’s hard to see anyone beating the SEC.
SO the Trojans fell apart as the season went along. Notre Dame were humiliated in the BCS championship game. Oregon looked like the best team in the nation, regardless of what the polls said, but an overtime loss to Stanford ended that hope. Oregon have been the closest team in recent years to a change of direction, losing to Auburn after the 2010 season by only 3 points, unlike the usual double digit demolition we see when teams face the power of the SEC.
Who can do it next year? According to most of those releasing very early preseason rankings, it’s going to be between Texas A&M and Alabama. Yes, once again we’re stuck with SEC dominance. Maybe Stanford, maybe Oregon can get in the way, but they face each other and might not be as dominant in the Pac-12 as they were this year. Not a lot of people think Ohio State can pull off another 12-0 season, and even if they do, they won’t be good enough to challenge an SEC powerhouse before 2014, if Braxton Miller stays for another year, according to the Urban Meyer blueprint.