In the inaugural BCS Title Game, Tennessee walked away champions. It wouldn’t mark the beginning of a steak, but it foreshadowed the greatest run in college football history. A few short years later, Nick Saban led the LSU Tigers to the Championship Game, continuing to add fuel to a fire that would soon rage throughout the nation. The very next year the Auburn Tigers finished undefeated, but they were left out of the BCS Championship Game. It would be the last time this happened to an SEC team. After USC and Texas duked it out for the next BCS Title in a classic, the BCS Era changed.
In 2006 the Florida Gators, led by a two Quarterback tandem of Chris Leak and eventual Heisman Trophy Winner and multiple time Heisman Trophy Finalist Tim Tebow, were voted into the BCS Championship Game to play Big Ten Champions THE Ohio State Buckeyes. Most of the media picked the Buckeyes to roll to a National Title, after looking almost untouchable most of the season. The Florida Gators won the game 41-14, after not allowing a single score in the second half. The next year, two loss LSU would once again raise the Crystal Football. Suddenly, the SEC had won 2 straight titles, and teams from the conference were 4-0 in the title game. However, it was this season that truly marked the change of College Football as we know it. Former LSU Head Coach Nick Saban would return to college after a short two year stint with the Miami Dolphins. He didn’t just return to College Football. He returned to the SEC. More specifically, the SEC West. He wasn’t coming to coach the Tigers, but to coach the stumbling Alabama Crimson Tide.
A team with a long history of winning titles, Alabama had won 12 National Titles before Saban arrived. The most recent of which had come 15 years earlier in 1992 when the Tide, led by Gene Stallings, went unbeaten. The program was on a down spin, and it needed the right coach to come in. The Tide didn’t need another Bear Bryant, they needed someone to bring them back to national relevance. They got both.
After a 7-6 season where even the losses gave hope to the Tide faithful, Alabama roared to a 12-0 regular season, and were set to take on the Florida Gators in the SEC Title Game. It was an Unofficial National Semi-Final, the winner would play for the BCS Championship. Florida, having won a title two years before, secured the win, and went on to win their second BCS Championship in three years. 3 straight for the South Eastern Conference.
A year later in 2009, Alabama and Florida would again meet for the SEC Championship, both 12-0. Again, the winner would play for the National Title, this time against the Texas Longhorns, led by one of the best in the history of College Football, Colt McCoy. This time, the Tide would win, and then go on to defeat the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl to make it 4 straight for the SEC, and bring the conference record to 6-0 in BCS Title Games.
The next season was wild for the SEC. The defending champions Alabama would fall mid season to a scrappy South Carolina team, who would go on to win the East. The Tide also fell too LSU a few weeks later. Speaking of LSU, they would end their regular season with two losses as well. Arkansas did the same. Over in the East Division, the once Dynasty bound Florida Gators stumbled to an 8-5 season.
But on the plains of Auburn, a 6’6″ 260lb Quarterback named Cam Newton would arrive from Blinn Junior College, ready to test the SEC. Test them he did, as Auburn would go 11-0 before Newton led one of the greatest comebacks in football history, rallying his team from 24 down against the defending champions to secure a perfect regular season. The Tigers would go on to destroy South Carolina in Atlanta, and defeat the Oregon Ducks in Phoenix by a Field Goal. 5 straight for the SEC, 7-0 in BCS Title Games.
2011 was the season that would end it all. Alabama and LSU raced out to 8-0 records, destroying every team they faced. On November 5th, 2011, the #2 Crimson Tide hosted the top ranked LSU Tigers, in what was coined as the “Game of the Century”. The game lived up to the billing, as 4 quarters could not decide a victor. The game went to overtime, tied at 6 a piece, neither team finding the end zone. As the story goes, Bama missed Field Goal after Field Goal, and in Overtime it was no different, as Cade Foster missed one final Field Goal before LSU would capture a win. After a few magical moments, the final BCS Rankings pitted the two teams together in a rematch, this time with the BCS Title on the line. Arguably two of the best teams of all time, they would have to meet on more time, in LSU’s home away from home, the Super Dome in New Orleans. The Crimson Tide put on one of the greatest defensive performances of all time, shutting out the Tigers 21-0. The streak would improve to 6 straight, but the SEC’s flawless record would be no more, now 8-1 in BCS Title Games. Of course one team HAD to lose, but it was LSU that was the first SEC team to fall in a BCS Title Game.
The next season, Alabama would again capture the BCS Title, winning their second straight, and third in four years. The streak reached 7-0, and the conference was 9-1 in the title game. But still, the 1 loss was the only blemish on an extraordinary run. The 1 loss was the only thing that made the streak seem…imperfect.
But now, two days away from one more clash in the BCS Era, the LSU Tigers, having fallen to 7-2, have upset on their minds. They will travel to Title Town to take on the defending champions, the unbeaten Alabama Crimson Tide. There is only one problem. 4 other teams from major conference are currently unbeaten, with favorable schedules in ahead of them. Tonight, Oregon and Baylor may very well fall to Stanford and Oklahoma. But as it stands now, Alabama is the SEC’s only hope to win the Final BCS Championship. Of course LSU should try to win the game, but if they do, the streak will end, and LSU will be the team responsible for the two blemishes on the SEC’s BCS run.