(RNN) – It was wonderful not to have to care about Oregon this week (they won, by the way, and as always, looked ridiculous doing it).
If you didn't see the crime against humanity the Ducks called a uniform this week, here's a description: It was hideous. (We saw highlights – and highlighters.) While they beat Oregon State, Stanford beat UCLA and gets to play UCLA again next week for the Pac-12 championship.
That means Oregon will be in whatever bowl game Pac-12 teams that don't go to the Rose Bowl go to (Fiesta? Meineke Car Care? Hank's Hardware House?), and we can ignore them again. This has been a great season.
Below is the weekly list of what we learned from watching SEC games in Week 13. Sadly, this was the final week.
1. An SEC team will play for the national championship. This news broke about six years ago, we just didn't know it back then. Oh how naïve we were thinking everyone got a fair chance to be national champion.
Now we know better. We know that an SEC team will be in the championship game no matter what, and will most likely win it. We also know that when there isn't a clear-cut choice from another strata of college football, a second SEC team will fill that void as well.
Georgia (11-1, 7-1) destroyed Georgia Tech and Alabama (11-1, 7-1) gave Auburn its worst loss of the season (which was not as easy as it might sound) to set up a de facto semifinal for the right to play for the national title or go to the Capital One Bowl.
Florida (11-1, 7-1) chomped Florida State and put itself in position to play in the national championship or the Sugar Bowl. The Gators did what they needed to do, but …
2. … only one SEC team will play for the national championship, because Notre Dame woke up some of those famous echoes.
A lot of people hate Notre Dame simply because it's Notre Dame. That's a waste of energy that could be better spent hating Oregon, Southern Cal and anyone else who refuses to play defense. Whether you love or hate Notre Dame, you have to admit that college football is more interesting when talking about Notre Dame is actually a relevant thing to do.
The matchup that Notre Dame provides for the title game is interesting no matter who ends up surviving Atlanta.
The Irish (12-0) are a combined 5-2 all time against Alabama and Georgia, and all of those wins came against the Crimson Tide. We'll get to that matchup in a minute. Georgia and Alabama are very similar teams in terms of style. Alabama has the edge on defense, Georgia a slight edge on offense.
The best illustration of this is in a stat that no one understands. Alabama has the most efficient passing game in the nation, and Georgia is second. Alabama's rating is 175.05. Georgia's is 174.42. But Aaron Murray is the nation's most efficient quarterback with a rating of 177. 15. AJ McCarron is second with 176.26.
There's of plenty of time to analyze that game, but when Notre Dame enters the picture, the most interesting matchup would be Alabama because the Irish and Tide both have nicknames that end in something other than s. They're also tied for the most AP national championships with eight.
No matter who plays the Irish, it will be the most green an SEC team has seen in a football stadium since Teddy Roosevelt threatened to ban the sport.
This might be a good time to spout about the virtues of a playoff in our usual holier-than-thou tone, but we think the entire BCS system has made such a great argument against itself that we don't feel the need to pile on. We'll use that energy to hate Oregon.
3. Ole Miss learned how to win. After three successful attempts at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Rebels (6-6, 3-5) finally figured out that a football scoreboard doesn't work the same way as one in golf. Either way, their record for the season is the same, and they're bowl eligible.
Being intimately familiar with the Magnolia State, we're going to blame the Rebels' year on Southern hospitality. When you have an out of town guest, you roll out the welcome mat and want to make them feel at home. That's why the Rebels gave up late wins to Texas A&M and Vanderbilt at home. Then going on the road against LSU, you don't want to be rude, so you make your bed, clean up your mess, put your dishes in the sink and send a nice little ‘thank you' note.
But when family comes to visit, it's a different story. Out of town-ers can have their run of your house and you grin and bear it, but when those ungrateful in-laws from Starkvegas (aka The Land That Fun Forgot) come over, a speck of mud on your carpet and it's World War III. Mississippi State made the mistake of tracking in a little mud with their lead in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4) had the further gall to put their feet on the sofa when they tied it at halftime, so by the time the game was over, Ole Miss wasn't speaking to them and threatened to never invite them over again and – *GASP!!* – not return their casserole dish.
They'll return it next year when they travel to Starkville, but it will be filled with something made with kale.
4. Johnny Football will win the Heisman Trophy. How can he not at this point? He torched Missouri for 372 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another 67 yards and two TDs on the ground in a 59-29 win, in which he got hurt. The only thing that will keep him from it is the fact that he's a freshman.
That's absurd ageism, and we loathe the very thought of it. The award goes to the "most outstanding player in college football." It doesn't go to the "most outstanding player in college in college football who has played at least two years." It also doesn't go to "the most outstanding player in college football who plays for a team in the national championship game." Furthermore, it doesn't go to "someone from Notre Dame." (Historically speaking, though, it kinda does.)
Don't take the last one as a shot at Manti Te'o. If we had a vote, we would vote Te'o second behind Manziel and probably Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller third. Collin Klein would be our next choice. Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, who was a finalist last season, would be another deserving candidate after setting the FBS record for career touchdowns. The Heisman is not a lifetime achievement award, but the people who voted for Ron Dayne didn't know that, so why not Ball?
5. Steve Spurrier will be even more obnoxious now. Is this even possible? No one is more obnoxious and insufferable when he's winning than Steve Spurrier. And no one is more fun to listen to.
That school from upstate that used to beat South Carolina (10-2, 6-2) but doesn't beat them much anymore didn't come through this season, despite being at Death Valley. (Yeah, there's two of them.) It was a nice win for USC. Oh, wait. We meant South Carolina. USC is in California.
Nobody pokes a rival quite like Spurrier (Free Shoes U, anyone?). If you're losing and you trash talk, you sound bitter and whiny, but if you win and you trash talk you sound uppity and condescending. Spurrier is uppity and condescending no matter what, so when he has reason to be even more of himself than he already was it's a good day for everyone.
Well, except Clemson (10-2, 7-1 ACC). But they lost, so no one cares how they feel.
6. James Franklin (coach) needs to be on the phone with his agent right now. You know where this one is going. Say it with us…
Show … me … the … MONEY!!
Franklin just guided Vandy (8-4, 5-3) to its first eight-win season since 1982 and is a bowl game win away from equaling the most wins in school history.
If Vanderbilt doesn't lock Franklin down somehow, he's going to drop a mission statement on somebody's desk, walk out and take the office fish with him. And those fish will look fantastic in Knoxville, Fayetteville or Auburn.
7. Mississippi State earned another trip to the Gator Bowl. Get excited, Bulldog fans, you likely get to go to Jacksonville. If you find something interesting to do there, let us know.
Way to lay an egg. Somebody had to so your goofy trophy could have something on top of it. We have nothing else to say. The energy it takes to make fun of you can be better spent hating Oregon.
8. Tennessee won the right to hire its new coach first. At least that's what should have been on the line against Kentucky. In the Somebody Is Going To Get An SEC Win Bowl (aka the No Coach Bowl), Tennessee won 37-17 over Kentucky.
The Wildcats (2-10, 0-8) fired their coach first, but Tennessee (5-7, 1-7) should get first shot at the new guy because they proved they're the least bad, and should be rewarded for it. Kentucky also lost to Arkansas, so they're third in the coach-hiring pecking order.
Tennessee didn't play Arkansas, so that's a free-for-all. Auburn (3-9, 0-8) hasn't announced Gene Chizik's firing yet, but they will soon. Auburn lost to Arkansas, so they should have to wait until the Hogs pick someone (reportedly in the next 10 days) and then race Kentucky to see who can hire the coach most desperate for a job in the SEC.
Update: As if on cue, about three hours after this column was published, Chizik's firing was announced.
9. The SEC has great rivalries, but bad rivalry trophies. The Iron Bowl. Clean, OId-Fashioned Hate. The Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. The Third Saturday in October.
If you aren't compelled to say those out loud in a booming, guttural voice, stop reading right now and go get an issue of Glamour. None of those games have a trophy worth speaking of. The winner of the Iron Bowl gets the ODK-Foy Sportsmanship Award, which is terribly pathetic considering the quality of the game. A more appropriate trophy would be an actual iron bowl full of the loser's blood. That's a trophy we can support.
Even the two games in the SEC based around trophies are pretty lame. The Egg Bowl? It's not even an egg. Even if it was, nothing is inspiring about winning an egg unless it comes with three strips of bacon and a piece of toast.
The Battle for the Golden Boot is pretty cool, but you don't need both Louisiana and Arkansas to make the shape of a boot, and the rivalry only gained its name when the trophy was created in 1996. Smoking cigars after beating Tennessee/Alabama is also pretty cool, but you can't really put cigars in a trophy case. It doesn't matter anyway, because the NCAA considers it an inappropriate benefit and banned it.
Those just aren't able to compete with the Old Oaken Bucket or Paul Bunyan's Axe.
The best trophy the SEC awarded was in the game between Kentucky and Tennessee. It's known as the Battle for the Barrel. It was formerly known as the Battle for the Beer Barrel, and this year was informally the Battle for the Bottom of the Barrel. But the barrel is no longer presented because of an alcohol-related car crash involving Kentucky football players. It was a perfect trophy, though, because production of whiskey and bourbon is so central to those states' identities.
But Kentucky has only won once since 1985, so it isn't even really a rivalry. Kentucky should start a new rivalry with Missouri. That's a team the Wildcats may actually beat every now and then, Missouri created a ridiculous T-shirt to commemorate its win over the Wildcats and the two states have long been battling over which one contains the remains of Daniel Boone.
The War Over Daniel Boone's Rifle. We like it.
And while we're at it, Missouri and Texas A&M could have the Battle of the Big XII Traitors, where the loser is forced to display a bust of Benedict Arnold. Now we're really onto something.
10. We hate the end of football season. This needs no explanation.
Extra points: If you have to wake up the echo, is it really an echo?
What is kale? Does anybody actually like it?
We have nothing against Glamour, except for the fact that it's called Glamour.
If Prohibition hadn't been repealed, would Kentucky and Tennessee still be states? We say no.
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