Louisville’s flattening of Florida in last night’s Sugar Bowl was an eye-opener in a lot of respects. It introduced a national audience to the talents of one Teddy Bridgewater. It confirmed the coaching ability of Charlie Strong. It showed that on given day a team from the Big East can rise up and spank a “football” school from a BCS conference.
But it did also expose the SEC as an overrated league?
Six SEC teams have played in bowl games to this point and so far the nation’s most intimidating conference is a less-than-intimidating 3-3. Mississippi State lost to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. LSU let its bonehead show and lost to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. And Florida got its Gators’ tails kicked by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Even the SEC wins have been less than, well, impressive. South Carolina had to rally to beat a middle-of-the-pack Michigan team in the Outback Bowl. Georgia finally pulled away from Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl after Nebraska had surrendered 70 points in the Big 10 Championship Game to Wisconsin, which lost in turn to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
The most impressive SEC bowl team to this point has been Vanderbilt. That’s right, Vanderbilt. The Commodores clocked North Carolina State 38-24 in the Music City Bowl. Not that North Carolina State is a juggernaut, mind you. The Wolfpack fired its coach at season’s end. But this is Vanderbilt we’re talking about, and a Vanderbilt that won nine football games this season.
Does Louisville’s takedown of the Gators mean the Cardinals could compete on an every Saturday basis in the SEC? This Louisville team, yes. Charlie Strong’s team wouldn’t end up in the league title game, but it could definitely win its share of SEC games. Next year’s Louisville team could, as well.
Does that mean the SEC is overrated? Not necessarily, but in reality the gap does not appear to be as wide as some may think.
And that could be good news for Notre Dame when the Irish plays Alabama in the BCS title game on Monday.
(AP photo/Butch Dill)