By Chris Dufresne Tribune Newspapers
August 26, 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 out Michigan for the No. 2 spot by a BCS score of .9445 to .9344. The Gators won in 2008 despite losing at home to Mississippi.
LSU conquered the BCS in 2003 even though USC was No. 1 in both polls, and four years later, the Tigers 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 10 other conferences that could have done something about it didn't.
"They have 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."
Here's a short list of ordinary-conference schools with an outside chance of ending the SEC's five-year stranglehold:
Oklahoma: This could be Stoops' best shot since 2000, when he won it all in his second year. Last season's Fiesta Bowl victory over Connecticut snapped Oklahoma's five-game losing streak in BCS games, including title-game losses in 2003 and '04. The combination of quarterback Landry Jones and receiver 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.
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 victory over LSU in the Sept. 3 opener would put the Ducks right back on course. Oregon has holes to fill on defense but returns quarterback Darron Thomas and tailback LaMichael James. Working against Ducks karma is the ongoing, and unresolved NCAA investigation involving a scouting service.
Boise State: The Broncos came within two plays on the same day — one in Tuscaloosa, one in Reno — of reaching last season's title game. Boise has the nucleus to make another run, despite having to replace receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis. Quarterback Kellen Moore returns along with tailback Doug Martin and one of the nation's best defensive fronts. Boise's chances begin, or end, with the Sept. 3 opener against Georgia in Atlanta.
Stanford: Don't go to sleep on the Farm. Yes, the Cardinal lost coach Jim Harbaugh to the 49ers, but of more importance in the short term was the return of quarterback Andrew Luck, last year's Heisman runner-up. One bad half at Oregon prevented Stanford from playing in last season's title game. Oregon has to play this year in Palo Alto, where it lost two years ago a week after routing USC.
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