By: Greg Dailey, KCOU Sports
Rumors and scenarios swirled throughout championship week.
Would the Southeasten Conference be faced with the unthinkable? Would the upstart Missouri Tigers from the East knock off the mighty Crimson Tide and possibly leave football’s premiere conference without a representative in the College Football Playoff?
Saturday afternoon, Alabama put those discussions to rest with an authoritative 42-13 demolition of Missouri in the SEC Championship. While it was just a one-possession game heading into the fourth quarter (21-13), it was only a matter of time before the Alabama put its foot down and separated itself from Missouri.
In addition to reaffirming itself as the top team in the SEC, Alabama performed like a team worthy of its top-ranked status. The Crimson Tide feature an elite receiver (Amari Cooper), two running backs who will get drafted at the next level (T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry), a talented do-it-all quarterback (Blake Sims), a solid defense and one of the best coaches in the history of college football. Not a bad recipe for success, and although it isn’t one of coach Nick Saban’s best teams, the 2014 edition of the Crimson Tide is by no means a pushover.
Alabama (Sugar) is the lone SEC representative in the playoff, but the conference is still well-represented throughout the remainder of the bowl season. South Carolina (Independence), Texas A&M (Liberty), Arkansas (Texas), LSU (Music City), Georgia (Belk), Ole Miss (Peach), Mississippi State (Orange), Auburn (Outback), Missouri (Citrus), Tennessee (Taxslayer), and Florida (Birmingham) round out the rest of the conference. 12 out of 14 teams with at least six wins and being bowl eligible legitimizes the claim to the SEC being the top dog when it comes to the college gridiron.
The most intriguing of these matchups will obviously involve the more highly-ranked teams. Mississippi squares off against Texas Christian in a battle of top-10 teams that narrowly missed the playoffs. Mississippi State and Georgia Tech are two squads that were possibly just one win away from the top four teams. Arkansas and Texas features old Southwestern Conference rivals and also schools with new coaches trying to rebuild their programs. Auburn and Wisconsin both had disappointing seasons by their standards, but that game may be decided by the first team to score 50.
And then there is Alabama, which gets to face a familiar face on the opposing sideline. The Crimson Tide will face off against Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes, who knocked TCU out of the playoff with a convincing 59-0 win over Wisconsin.
Alabama began the season ranked only behind the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles and finished the year second to nobody. The top team in the SEC is the top team in the country, just like it should be.