Chris Dufresne commentary: SEC has stranglehold on BCS national title

Los Angeles TimesAugust 3, 2011 

The Southeastern Conference must think it invented football. Winning five straight Bowl Championship Series titles, and seven out of the 13 played, can give you a superiority complex.

Never mind how much fortune, along with will and skill, was involved.

Tennessee got to the first BCS title game, and won, only because Arkansas’ quarterback fumbled without being touched.

Florida owned 2006 after beating Michigan out for the No. 2 spot by a BCS score of .9445 to .9344. Florida won in 2008 despite losing at home to Mississippi.

Louisiana State conquered the BCS in 2003 even though USC was No. 1 in both polls and, four years later, LSU became the only two-loss team to get in the title game only after West Virginia pulled an all-time choke job at home against Pittsburgh.

Alabama, in 2009, needed Terrence Cody’s giant meatloaf arms to block two kicks against Tennessee while Auburn, last season, needed Cam Newton, The Miracles and the NCAA to reach the championship game, where it defeated Oregon in the last second.

And you know what? Ten other conferences that could have done something about it … didn’t.

“They’ve won the last five here for five years,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “So it’s our job as other conferences, or other schools, to win it. And then you can claim it.”

Any Goliath-slayers out there willing to pick up a slingshot?

Here’s a short list of ordinary-conference schools with an outside chance of ending the SEC’s five-year stranglehold streak:

1: Oklahoma. This could be Stoops’ best shot since 2000, when he won it all. Last year’s Fiesta Bowl win over Connecticut snapped Oklahoma’s five-game losing streak in BCS games, including title losses in 2003 and ’04. The quarterback-receiver combination of Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles gives the Sooners plenty of firepower, and there’s no longer a Big 12 title game to mess up a Dream Team’s dream.

2: Oregon. “We’ll be back” were Chip Kelly’s words on the field after losing last season’s title game to Auburn in Arizona. Well? A win over Louisiana State in the Sept. 3 opener puts the Ducks right back on course. Oregon has holes to fill on defense, but returns quarterback Darron Thomas and tailback LaMichael James.

3: Boise State: The Broncos came within two plays on the same day, one in Tuscaloosa, one in Reno, from reaching last season’s title game. Boise’s chances begin, or end, with the Sept. 3 opener against Georgia in Atlanta.

4: Stanford: Don’t go to sleep on the Farm. Yes, the Cardinal lost coach Jim Harbaugh to the San Francisco 49ers, but more important in the short term was the return of quarterback Andrew Luck. One bad half at Oregon prevented Stanford from playing in last year’s title game. Oregon also has to play this year in Palo Alto, where they lost two years ago a week after routing USC.

-- Chris Dufresne is a columnist for the L.A. Times.

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