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Despite two BCS bowl losses, SEC still the conference to beat in 2014

The state of Alabama went 0-2 in BCS bowl games this season. That should come as a surprise to you for a number of reasons. First, the state has been home to four straight BCS championship teams between three won by Alabama and another won by Auburn. Auburn had the opportunity to keep that streak alive but failed to put away Florida State in Monday night’s BCS Championship game. Just days before it was Alabama, the two-time defending BCS champions, who failed to win a BCS bowl game. The SEC ends the BCS era in college football having lost three of their final four BCS bowl games, with the one win coming against a Notre Dame many expected to be overmatched to begin with.

Is the SEC cracking? Hardly.

The SEC ends the year without a national championship to brag about, but the final Associated Press ranking of the season includes three teams in the top five (No. 2 Auburn, No. 4 South Carolina, No. 5 Missouri) and four in the top ten with No. 7 Alabama. Seven teams from the conference finished ranked in the AP Top 25 (No. 14 LSU, No. 18 Texas A&M and No. 24 Vanderbilt).

And this was a down year for the conference, right?

Make no mistake about it, the SEC’s strength is still significant when everything is put in to the equation. While the gap may not be as wide as it once was, the SEC is still one of the best conferences in college football. Heading in to the 2014 season with a new four-team playoff model about to be unveiled, the odds will still be good for the SEC champion to make a run at a national championship, and the debate is already on for suggesting two teams from the SEC might be worthy of a playoff bid.

Next season should be a very interesting year for the SEC. Familiar faces such as AJ McCarronAaron Murray and Johnny Manziel will all have to be replaced. Auburn brings back most of this season’s team. Missouri continues to improve. Florida will not be down for long, and South Carolina continues to be a threat waiting for a chance to carry the SEC banner. The conference also goes live with the SEC Network, offering more games to fans in the biggest college football media development since the introduction of the Big Ten Network.

The SEC was 7-3 in bowl games this season, with more wins than any other conference this bowl season, although 0-2 in BCS bowl games. Still, the conference went 2-1 against the ACC and Big Ten, 1-1 against the Big 12, 1-0 against the American and Conference USA.

The SEC may not have the BCS championship ring to show off this season, but overall conference bragging rights still belong to the SEC for another year.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.