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Can the Pac-12 De-throne SEC Supremecy?
- Updated: September 14, 2012
Six. That number stands out for college football fans across the country. It’s the number of points scored with a touchdown.
More importantly, though, six is the number of consecutive National Championships won in the FBS by schools from the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
It’s the conference the media loves so much. Every conference matchup feels like a playoff game with the competition in the league. From top to bottom, there is no better conference in regards to competition amongst each other.
And it’s tough to think they won’t do it again. Alabama dominated Michigan 41-14 in the Cowboys Kickoff Classic and are number one in the land. In fact, four of the top 10 schools in college football are from the SEC, and Florida Tennessee in the top 25 makes six schools from that conference ranked entering week three.
So should we all hop on the media bandwagon and just expect an SEC school to win the National Championship again?
In the words of ESPN College Football Analyst Lee Corse, “not so fast!”
Out west, the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) is having a fast, surprising start this college football season. Perhaps they are the conference to de-throne the SEC this season.
Two teams in particular have a shot. One has reloaded and looks to shine again on its way to a fourth straight conference championship. The other is out of the shadow of a post-season ban and in the discussion for college football supremecy.
USC is out of the dark from a two year NCAA bowl ban amid the Reggie Bush scandal, and the Trojans are flying high so far. USC started number one in the country, and even though moved down to number two by way of Alabama, the Trojans have looked impressive.
Quarterback Matt Barkley returned for his senior year and one final shot at a heisman trophy and national championship. So far, Barkley has thrown for 559 yards on 67.6% completion, while throwing 10 touchdowns to one interception. The Trojans rolled over Hawaii in week one 49-10, and went from the pacific time zone to the eastern time zone and MetLife Stadium to knock off Syracuse 42-29.
The Trojans are loaded with weapons on offense. Barkley has two of the best receivers in college football to throw to on the outside. Marqise Lee has hauled in 21 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns. Robert Woods has grabbed 16 receptions for 135 yards and four touchdowns as well.
USC added a big weapon this summer when Silas Redd, the former running back for Penn State who left after the NCAA sanctions handed down for the Nittany Lions, is the leading rusher with 163 yards and a touchdown.
As for the defense, Monte Kiffin has revamped that side of the ball which struggled in his first season as defensive coordinator last year. So far, the Trojans have allowed only 19.5 points per game, ranking them in the top 50. With an explosive offense like USC, that will be enough to have them winning at the end of the game.
USC looks to continue its hot start this Saturday in Palo Alto, where the Trojans will play 21st ranked Stanford. Matt Barkley will look for his first win against the Cardinal, hoping to avenge a 56-48 three overtime loss last season in the Coliseum.
But it is not only USC that has earned national recognition and potential National Championship consideration. Up in Eugene, the Oregon Ducks are flying high and reloading an explosive squad, looking for a fourth straight Pac-12 Championship this season.
There were a few questions with Oregon having to replace two key members who left for the NFL Draft last year. Running back LaMichael James had 2,175 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns last year before getting drafted by the 49ers. Quarterback Darron Thomas, who combined passing and rushing for 2,967 yards and 36 touchdowns, shocked the program when he announced his decision to enter the NFL Draft early, where he was not selected.
This year, Chip Kelly has shown the Ducks are reloaded, not rebuilding.
Oregon is flying on offense by way of the running game, averaging 331.5 yards rushing per game, 3rd in all of college football. Kenjon Barner leads the attack with 267 yards and five touchdowns.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has shined early this season, completing 75.5% of his passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns. Sophomore De’Anthony Thomas has been on the receiving end of two of those passing touchdowns, as well as 166 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Oregon will play FCS Tennessee Tech this Saturday in Eugene.
Two teams that look like the teams that could knock off the SEC from the National Championship this season. But what could prevent that from happening?
November 3rd in Pasedena.
Both the Ducks and Trojans will play a conference showdown with each other in Pasedena the first weekend of November, with what could be National Championship consideration on the line. Should both schools finish at the top of the North division (Oregon) and South division (USC) at the end of the regular season, both schools will be in a rematch for the Pac-12 Championship on Friday, November 30.
If both schools finish with one loss on the season, they could both knock each other out of the National Championship game, yet both could still head to a BCS game. However, if one team remains unbeaten with the Pac-12 Championship, a message will be sent loud and cloud.
For the USC Trojans or the Oregon Ducks, an undefeated run could mean a bid for the National Championship game, where high-powered offenses could bring home the title.
So for everyone on the SEC bandwagon for a seventh straight National Championship this season, there is one message the Pac-12 would like to send you.
Do not count out the Trojans or the Ducks just yet.
You have been warned