SEC again big bowls success

SEC again big bowls success

January 10th, 2012 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Fans cheer inside the Superdome during the first half of the BCS National Championship college football game Alabama and LSU Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in New Orleans.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NEW ORLEANS -- Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive didn't need Monday night's Alabama-LSU outcome to know that his league went 6-3 in bowl games this season.

"You've got to put an asterisk by that three, because that's our own three," Slive said. "We did that to ourselves."

The SEC again showcased its elite by winning a record sixth consecutive BCS championship, and it continues to display its strength down through the ranks. The conference is 36-19 in bowl games over the past six seasons, and it has not endured a losing bowl record since going 3-4 in 2002.

No team has aided the SEC more in its recent postseason success than Auburn, which won a fifth consecutive bowl by whipping Virginia 43-24 on New Year's Eve in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Tigers captured the fifth straight BCS title for the league last January by topping Oregon 22-19.

SEC teams had been 7-0 in BCS title games before Monday night, and it took Alabama's defeat of LSU to provide the first blemish. It's enough to make one wonder if Slive still has any friends left among the other conference commissioners.

"It's really on the contrary," Slive said. "These guys have all come up to me to a man and congratulated me and told me what a phenomenal achievement it was, and that's been nice. We all spend time together and we're all in competition together, but they've all been very gracious.

"This is a goal every league will now aspire to."

Smelley's late surge

Alabama senior tight end Brad Smelley finished his career on a high note.

After amassing six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the 42-14 win at Auburn, the 6-foot-3, 229-pounder from Tuscaloosa caught seven passes for 39 yards in the first three quarters against LSU. In the next to last game of the regular season, he had four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns against Georgia Southern.

In the first meeting with LSU, Smelley had one catch for 8 yards.

More stout defense

By shutting LSU out in the first half, Alabama has allowed seven points or less in 15 of its last 16 first halves against Bowl Subdivision opponents. Over that span, the Crimson Tide have surrendered three points or less on nine occasions, including six shutouts.

Alabama allowed only one first down in the first half, which left LSU with one combined first-half first down in the SEC and BCS championship games.

BCS odds and ends

Marquis Maze's 49-yard punt return in the first quarter was the longest in a BCS title game since Miami's Roscoe Parrish had a 50-yarder against Ohio State in the matchup after the 2002 season. ... Alabama improved to 49-3 under Nick Saban when leading at halftime. ... The Superdome wound up hosting four games in a nine days -- a New Orleans Saints regular-season game, the Sugar Bowl, a Saints playoff game and the BCS title game.