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College football: SEC championship game has propelled league forward

by Jason Kersey Modified: August 28, 2013 at 9:00 am •  Published: August 25, 2013

Despite those few anomalies, though, a conference-title game — or the lack of one — has likely contributed at least twice to the SEC's incredible streak of national titles.

The week after No. 1 Ohio State beat No. 2 Michigan in late November 2006, the rivals remained atop the BCS standings, creating the strong possibility of a national title game rematch.

But after Florida beat No. 9 Arkansas in the SEC title game, the Gators leapfrogged the idle Wolverines in the BCS standings, and then slaughtered Ohio State 41-14 to win the first of the SEC's now seven straight national championships.

In 2011, the Big 12's first season in its 10-team, round-robin format, league champion and 11-1 Oklahoma State was excluded from the national title game, which instead featured an LSU vs. Alabama rematch.

The Crimson Tide had lost at home to LSU during the regular season and didn't play in the SEC title game, but was still ranked just above the Cowboys in the final BCS standings.

Might a conference championship game victory have elevated OSU over Alabama? We'll never know.

After only two seasons without a title game, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby was already discussing its possible resurrection earlier this year.

Bowlsby said in January that the conference might petition for the right to play a title game despite NCAA rules requiring a league to have 12 teams to stage one.

A renewed Big 12 Championship Game might become even more important when the College Football Playoff replaces the BCS after this season.

The four-team field will be chosen by a human selection committee, which will surely factor strength of schedule into its decision.

Regardless, the SEC Championship Game continues to thrive entering its 22nd season of existence.

“(Former SEC Commissioner Roy) Kramer knew what he was doing,” said CBS college football analyst Tim Brando. “He was way ahead of the curve. It not only bolstered and enhanced the SEC, but also, the conference championship game in Atlanta became the destination.

“Every team in the SEC, their coaches and players all dream of going to Atlanta the first Saturday in December. The Big 12 never created the same sort of vibe about having a conference championship game that the SEC did.”