"SEC" tag

Orange Bowl 2014: Has Urban Meyer Lost Big-Game Edge?

Everything was going Urban Meyer’s way to start his career at Ohio State. He was 24-0, and it appeared that no one could beat his Buckeyes from the Big Ten. Two games later and two Top 15 teams have now come out victorious over his Buckeyes, as Clemson beat OSU, 40-35, in the Orange Bowl on Friday night. Meyer is now on a two-game losing streak after seemingly doing no wrong during the Buckeyes’ 24-game win streak. How the last two losses have happened—questionable play-calling on offense and a lack of taking advantage of opportunities—have some questioning if the magic of Meyer in big games is gone. For as much as the past two games matter, it’s not just those losses that give us clues that Meyer’s big-game edge may have slipped. If you go in the way-back machine and enter 2010, you see the big-game edge crumbling in his final season at the University of Florida. That team went 8-5 on the year and just 4-4 in SEC play. More importantly, Meyer’s Gators went 0-4 against Top 25 teams that season, and a negative trend was being set. Perhaps that was the beginning of the end for the legend of Meyer as nearly invincible, especially coming off a loss in the 2009 SEC Championship Game. Yet, there was no questioning Meyer’s Buckeyes during the 24-game win streak, as they went 5-0 against Top 25 teams. However, those were just regular-season games, and when championships and BCS games were on the line for the first time,…

Tim Tebow: Not done with NFL despite ESPN job

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tim Tebow will continue chasing his goal to be a NFL quarterback, even after signing on to help ESPN launch the SEC Network this fall.

Big Ten Football: 3 Reasons Why the the Bowl Season Will Be a Colossal Dud

Some things are just given in sports. The Chicago Cubs not making the World Series, the Cleveland Browns missing the playoffs and the Big Ten laying an egg during bowl season. Already 0-2 after losses by Minnesota and Michigan, the nightmare scenario is unraveling for the conference once again. Of course the apologists will say that the lower-tiered bowls are meaningless. This is nonsense. The Wolverines and Golden Gophers are not good teams and neither are most of the other teams in the Big Ten. It is that simple. Others will argue that fans in the Big Ten root for their teams, not the conference. Give it a break. Sure, nonconference and bowl losses by other teams are not shared, but the abundance of losses over the last three years has been embarrassing for everyone. Consequently, any significant achievement made in conference play is immediately ridiculed. New Year’s Day provides an opportunity to restore some pride. It could also deliver another round of humiliation. Odds favor the latter, which will further cement the widespread opinion that the Big Ten is no longer relevant in the FBS. No conference takes more pride in sticking it to the Big Ten than the SEC. Few things get under the skin of Big Ten fans more than the SEC chant. Most will say they hate it because they feel SEC fans are taking credit for something not earned. The real reason is the chant represents something they don’t have: championships. Granted, Ohio…

SEC back in familiar spot – playing for a title

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 – set to play for a BCS title, albeit not in its usual role of favorite.No. 2 Auburn (12-1) was expected to land 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 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. View gallery Auburn fans roll Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Ala., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 following a win over Mi … 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. View gallery Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright (90) does snow angles in confetti after Auburn’s 59-42 win o … Mason ran 304 yards and four touchdowns.During the regular season, Auburn defeated 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. View gallery Auburn offensive linesman Avery Young (56) carries the championship trophy after the second half of  … 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/pnewberry1963Sports & RecreationAmerican FootballUrban Meyer

Column: FSU, Ohio St wins should eliminate SEC

ATLANTA (AP) — Sorry, Southeastern Conference.You had your chance.Now, it’s out of your hands.If top-ranked Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State both win on Saturday, they deserve to play for the national title – and no amount of griping from the SEC should make a bit of difference.The Seminoles have done what they needed to do: win every game.Ditto for the Buckeyes, even if people want to gripe about the quality of the Big Ten.Neither No. 3 Auburn nor No. 5 Missouri – the one-loss teams that will meet Saturday at the Georgia Dome for the SEC title – should leapfrog Ohio State if the Buckeyes emerge with a victory in their own league championship game that night.The SEC has claimed an unprecedented seven straight national titles, and some would have you believe it’s almost a birthright that the country’s strongest conference (no argument there) should have a representative in the title game, no matter what.”It’s like being in the NFL,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Friday. ”Every week, you have a high-level game.””All I know,” added Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, ”is we’ve got the best league in college football.”But this isn’t about the best league, it’s about the two most worthy teams over the course of the entire season. Under this flawed system (which, thankfully, will be replaced next year by a four-team playoff), if you play in a major conference and win all your games, it takes a pretty compelling argument for a one-loss team to bump you out of a spot in the BCS championship. View gallery Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, left, and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel shake hands behind the Southeastern C … Auburn can’t make that case.Missouri can’t, either.Let’s start with the Tigers from Auburn. The best part of their resume is last week’s remarkable victory over two-time defending national champion Alabama, when they returned a missed field goal 109 yards for the winning touchdown on the final play. If you beat the best, they say, you deserve a chance to be the best.The Tigers also point to their overall schedule, which included four other games against teams that we ranked in the Top 25 when they played. But Auburn lost 35-21 at LSU – a game that really wasn’t that close – and victories over Mississippi, Texas A&M and Georgia don’t look quite as impressive in hindsight.Ole Miss finished 7-5. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies slumped to an 8-4 mark that proved you occasionally need to play a little defense. And the victory over Georgia might deserve the biggest asterisk of all, since Auburn blew a 20-point lead at home and needed the most fortuitous play of the season to pull out the victory: a 73-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-18 in the final minute, the ball deflected into the receiver’s hands when two defenders ran into each other going for the interception. View gallery Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, left, shakes hands with Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel during a phot … Auburn (11-1) could’ve bolstered its case with an impressive out-of-conference win, but there’s nothing persuasive about beating Washington State, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and lower-division Western Carolina. Nothing against the remarkable job done by first-year coach Malzahn, who won the SEC West with a team that went 3-9 a year ago and was winless in the SEC, but it’s not enough to overtake Ohio State.On to Missouri.These Tigers also had quite a bounce-back season, going from 5-7 their first year in the SEC to 11-1 and an East Division title in Year 2. But their case, should they upset Auburn, is even weaker than the other Tigers.Missouri has played five teams that were ranked when they met, but that includes a victory over Georgia, which was ravaged by injuries when the Tigers pulled off a 41-26 upset between the hedges, as well as wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M (already discussed). Pinkel’s team routed a ranked Florida team, but that means nothing after the Gators staggered to a 4-8 record. Which brings us to the Tigers’ only loss – a 27-24 setback to South Carolina in double-overtime.Missouri led 17-0, at home, entering the fourth quarter. If the Tigers had protected that lead, we’d be leading the call for them to play in the BCS championship ahead of Ohio State. But they didn’t. And that’s a big strike against Mizzou, which also played an extremely weak non-conference schedule: Murray State, Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. View gallery Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is reflected in a glass case showcasing his team’s helmet, top lef … Let’s consider Ohio State.The Buckeyes have 24 consecutive victories since Urban Meyer took over as coach, their biggest selling point. The biggest knock against them is a weak schedule.Their only major-conference opponent from outside the Big Ten was lowly California (1-11). The Buckeyes beat a couple of ranked teams, but a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin is the only one that still looks impressive. They also won at Northwestern, which was 16th at the time but tumbled to a 5-7 finish.Ohio State does deserve kudos, however, for a 63-14 blowout of a respectable Penn State team, not to mention a 34-24 triumph over rapidly improving Iowa. Critics of the Buckeyes say they should’ve blown out Michigan in what was a down year for the Wolverines, instead of needing to stop a two-point conversion to preserve the victory last week.

Column: FSU, Ohio St wins should eliminate SEC

ATLANTA (AP) — Sorry, Southeastern Conference.You had your chance.Now, it’s out of your hands.If top-ranked Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State both win on Saturday, they deserve to play for the national title – and no amount of griping from the SEC should make a bit of difference.The Seminoles have done what they needed to do: win every game.Ditto for the Buckeyes, even if people want to gripe about the quality of the Big Ten.Neither No. 3 Auburn nor No. 5 Missouri – the one-loss teams that will meet Saturday at the Georgia Dome for the SEC title – should leapfrog Ohio State if the Buckeyes emerge with a victory in their own league championship game that night.The SEC has claimed an unprecedented seven straight national titles, and some would have you believe it’s almost a birthright that the country’s strongest conference (no argument there) should have a representative in the title game, no matter what.”It’s like being in the NFL,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Friday. ”Every week, you have a high-level game.””All I know,” added Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, ”is we’ve got the best league in college football.”But this isn’t about the best league, it’s about the two most worthy teams over the course of the entire season. Under this flawed system (which, thankfully, will be replaced next year by a four-team playoff), if you play in a major conference and win all your games, it takes a pretty compelling argument for a one-loss team to bump you out of a spot in the BCS championship. View gallery Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, left, and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel shake hands behind the Southeastern C … Auburn can’t make that case.Missouri can’t, either.Let’s start with the Tigers from Auburn. The best part of their resume is last week’s remarkable victory over two-time defending national champion Alabama, when they returned a missed field goal 109 yards for the winning touchdown on the final play. If you beat the best, they say, you deserve a chance to be the best.The Tigers also point to their overall schedule, which included four other games against teams that we ranked in the Top 25 when they played. But Auburn lost 35-21 at LSU – a game that really wasn’t that close – and victories over Mississippi, Texas A&M and Georgia don’t look quite as impressive in hindsight.Ole Miss finished 7-5. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies slumped to an 8-4 mark that proved you occasionally need to play a little defense. And the victory over Georgia might deserve the biggest asterisk of all, since Auburn blew a 20-point lead at home and needed the most fortuitous play of the season to pull out the victory: a 73-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-18 in the final minute, the ball deflected into the receiver’s hands when two defenders ran into each other going for the interception. View gallery Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, left, shakes hands with Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel during a phot … Auburn (11-1) could’ve bolstered its case with an impressive out-of-conference win, but there’s nothing persuasive about beating Washington State, Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic and lower-division Western Carolina. Nothing against the remarkable job done by first-year coach Malzahn, who won the SEC West with a team that went 3-9 a year ago and was winless in the SEC, but it’s not enough to overtake Ohio State.On to Missouri.These Tigers also had quite a bounce-back season, going from 5-7 their first year in the SEC to 11-1 and an East Division title in Year 2. But their case, should they upset Auburn, is even weaker than the other Tigers.Missouri has played five teams that were ranked when they met, but that includes a victory over Georgia, which was ravaged by injuries when the Tigers pulled off a 41-26 upset between the hedges, as well as wins over Ole Miss and Texas A&M (already discussed). Pinkel’s team routed a ranked Florida team, but that means nothing after the Gators staggered to a 4-8 record. Which brings us to the Tigers’ only loss – a 27-24 setback to South Carolina in double-overtime.Missouri led 17-0, at home, entering the fourth quarter. If the Tigers had protected that lead, we’d be leading the call for them to play in the BCS championship ahead of Ohio State. But they didn’t. And that’s a big strike against Mizzou, which also played an extremely weak non-conference schedule: Murray State, Toledo, Indiana and Arkansas State. View gallery Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is reflected in a glass case showcasing his team’s helmet, top lef … Let’s consider Ohio State.The Buckeyes have 24 consecutive victories since Urban Meyer took over as coach, their biggest selling point. The biggest knock against them is a weak schedule.Their only major-conference opponent from outside the Big Ten was lowly California (1-11). The Buckeyes beat a couple of ranked teams, but a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin is the only one that still looks impressive. They also won at Northwestern, which was 16th at the time but tumbled to a 5-7 finish.Ohio State does deserve kudos, however, for a 63-14 blowout of a respectable Penn State team, not to mention a 34-24 triumph over rapidly improving Iowa. Critics of the Buckeyes say they should’ve blown out Michigan in what was a down year for the Wolverines, instead of needing to stop a two-point conversion to preserve the victory last week.

BALLOT BREAKDOWN: SEC takes aim at Ohio State

Breaking down The Associated Press college football poll after Week 13 of the regular season.—CHANGE AT THE TOPFlorida State is the new No. 1 in The Associated Press college football poll. It’s the first time since 2000 the Seminoles have held the top spot.But that’s not what everybody is talking about Sunday.Ohio State moved up to No. 2 and Auburn to No. 3 after the Tigers’ latest mind-boggling magic trick resulted in Alabama’s first loss of the season.The Crimson Tide dropped from No. 1 to No. 4, and the Tigers advanced to the Southeastern Conference championship game to face No. 5 Missouri.The SEC championship has been something of a de facto play-in game to the BCS championship game over the past two seasons. This season, there is no guarantee the SEC champion will play for the national title, not with Florida State and Ohio State both unbeaten.The Seminoles play Duke in the ACC title game on Saturday. The Buckeyes get No. 10 Michigan State.Win and they’re off to Pasadena, Calif., for the BCS championship game on Jan. 6. The SEC’s streak of seven straight titles broken. Right?Well, the SEC will not go quietly.Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs started lobbying for the SEC’s one-loss champion moments after the Tigers’ 34-28 Iron Bowl victory. He told reporters it would be ”a disservice to college football” if a one-loss SEC champion did not play for the national title.”That has to happen,” Jacobs was quoted as saying by Al.com.This late in the season, no unbeaten team from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference has ever been ranked behind a one-loss team in the BCS standings, which were to be released later Sunday and do not include the AP poll.The strange thing is this has become an SEC or Ohio State debate, based strictly on strength of schedule. If the argument is solely based on quality of opposition, then Florida State should not get a pass.According to the Sagarin ratings, Auburn’s schedule rates as the 26th-best in Division I. Missouri’s is 41st. Ohio State’s is 61st. Florida State’s is 66th. The strength of schedule advanced metric created by Brian Fremeau of FootballOutsiders.com had Auburn 32nd, Missouri 58th, Florida State 90th and Ohio State 99th before this weekend’s games.But it’s not just about strength of schedule. If that was the case, then the Pac-12 could start arguing for its champion. No. 7 Stanford (10-2) and No. 11 Arizona State (10-2) both have schedules rated more difficult than Auburn’s.How well a team plays against its schedule is also important.Florida State has been the most dominant team in the country, even when you take its competition into account. The Seminoles are outscoring the opposition by 42.7 points per game, tops in the nation, and are No. 1 in the current Sagarin ratings. None of the Noles’ games has been close late. Only two were competitive for a half.Ohio State’s average margin of victory is 27.9 points and Sagarin has the Buckeyes seventh, behind Alabama, Arizona State, Oregon, Missouri (fifth) and Baylor. Ohio State has played four games that can reasonably be called competitive – 10-point wins against Northwestern and Iowa, a seven-point win against Wisconsin and Saturday’s wild 42-41 victory at Michigan.Auburn is outscoring opponents by an average of 16 points per game and is 11th in the Sagarin ratings, behind Stanford, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin. …

Pick 6: BCS championship game scenarios

Alabama is playing Chattanooga and Florida State is playing Idaho, so barring one of the greatest upsets in sports history there will be no changes at the very top of the BCS standings this week.With three weeks left before college football’s selection Sunday, the top-ranked Tide and No. 2 Seminoles control the race to Pasadena, Calif., where the BCS championship game will be played Jan. 6.Before you pencil in Alabama and Florida State, know that only six times since the BCS was implemented in 1998 have the top two teams in the BCS standings with three weeks to go in the regular season played in the championship game. So there’s hope Ohio State and Baylor. And Auburn and Oregon and Missouri.Lots can happen. Here are six scenarios.SIMPLE: Alabama and Florida State win out. Tide vs. Seminoles for the national championship, no matter what happens to the other unbeaten teams. Sorry, Buckeyes and Bears.BEARS OR BUCKEYES?: Florida State loses a game. Alabama, Baylor and Ohio State win out. The Buckeyes are currently third in the BCS standings and the Bears are fourth and gaining fast. If Baylor wins at No. 11 Oklahoma State on Saturday, it will probably pass Ohio State. But if Ohio State finishes with lopsided victories against Michigan and Michigan State that could be enough to pass the Bears. Ohio State or Baylor would be a close call. Educated guess: Alabama vs. Ohio State.View gallery.”FILE – In this Nov. 7, 2013 file photo, Baylor ‘s Clay Fuller, left, celebrates with quarterback Bry …NO SEC: Alabama beats Auburn, and then loses the Southeastern Conference title game to two-loss South Carolina. Florida State, Baylor and Ohio State win out. The Tide has won the last two national championships despite losing games after Nov. 1. Not happening in this scenario. The SEC effectively breaks its own seven-year hold on the national championship. Florida State gets the winner of the Baylor/Ohio State debate.SEC COMPLICATIONS: Auburn or Missouri wins the SEC title with one loss, beating Alabama along the way. …

Going Deep: Quiet coaching-change season in SEC?

Some Florida fans may be a little disappointed to hear this right now, but there’s a good chance no Southeastern Conference coach will be fired this season.

A&M, Mizzou transition helps bust one SEC myth

The question gets asked a lot by Southeastern Conference fans and it goes something like this: ”How would (highly ranked team) do in the SEC?” Often it’s not even a question, it’s an assertion, such as: ”(Highly ranked team not from the SEC) would be lucky to finish .500 if it played in the SEC.”

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