Tell me another day that started with the loop's best ranked no better than fourth behind three undefeated teams, looking forward to what amounted to a day of leisure, and then by midnight finding themselves back in the national title conversation? It was like deciding you weren't going to work one day and then having your nap interrupted by Publisher's Clearinghouse at your door with cameras, balloons and dancing bears.
On Saturday, November 17, 2012, the SEC won the lottery pre-lim! They still have to go to the bank and make sure the check clears, so it isn't totally over, but after entering the day out of the national championship picture, the SEC - represented by Alabama and Georgia - finds itself in the familiar position of participant in the College Football Championship game come January.
The remarkable chain of events had nothing to do with most conference teams enjoying what amounted to a day off. It was Cupcake Saturday in the SEC as such juggernauts as Western Carolina, Jacksonville State, Wofford, Georgia State, Sam Houston State, Alabama A&M and Samford served themselves up as a pre-Thanksgiving feast for most league members. You might add Tennessee and Arkansas to that menu of ignominy and grits after they lost big to Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, respectively. What I would love to know is how did Missouri wind up scheduling Syracuse and getting beat? Oh well, they are still new and need to learn how things are done down here.
But after most schools were enjoying dessert, the games with national championship implications occupied the evening, and what an evening it was! Notre Dame, probably the least of the three undefeateds going into the day, was the only one that survived after blasting Wake Forest. The prime-time shockers, of course, were Kansas State's total annihilation at Baylor and Oregon's home field upset to Stanford. The Wildcats can blame the Sports Illustrated jinx for their loss after QB Collin Klein was featured on this week's cover, but Oregon has nobody to blame but the superb defensive suffocation by Stanford. That was the best game of the day, and not to be confused with Kentucky's win over Samford. The Cardinal tied the game late then won with a 37-yard field goal in OT after Oregon missed a 41-yarder.
The bottom line of all this is that today Notre Dame and Alabama are in line for the national championship game January 5 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Of course, Notre Dame still must defeat Southern Cal next week in the LA Coliseum, but the Trojans are a shell of their former glory. The Tide has a tougher task, facing Georgia in the SEC title game on December 1 in the Georgia Dome. Whichever team wins, it probably will face Notre Dame for the championship. It is highly unlikely that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive predicted that scenario when he dug into his cornflakes early on Cupcake Saturday.
by Jim W. Miller
His new book, "Where the Water Kept Rising," is now available in local bookstores, at Amazon.com and at his website: www.JWMillerSports.com
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