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National Columnist

SEC must have cracked the BCS codes, because league is overrated this year

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If this were an episode of Survivor, I'd be voted off the island for what I'm about to do. But did you see what I just did? I very casually name-dropped a hit CBS series into a sports story, because that TV show and my website are under the same corporate umbrella. That's called synergy. And sucking up.

All in effort to make up for the treachery coming in the next sentence:

When I say the SEC is overrated.

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Well, it is -- this season anyway. For proof, look at the Associated Press Top 25. See the team there at No. 2? It's Alabama. No. 3 is Georgia. No. 6 is Florida, No. 8 is LSU and No. 9 is Texas A&M.

Five SEC teams in the top nine of the AP polls -- six in the top 12 of the BCS standings -- and that's ridiculous. And those are ridiculous words for me to write, seeing how CBS is the home of the SEC. Nobody has ever told me what I could and could not write, probably because it goes without saying that at CBSSports.com you are free to write anything you want, as long as you don't write that the SEC is overrated.

And most years, it's not. That run of six consecutive national titles doesn't lie, and it's not just one SEC team doing all that winning. Titles have been won by Alabama, Auburn, Florida and LSU -- and Georgia had an argument for being the best team in the country in 2007, though it was another two-loss SEC team (LSU) that beat Ohio State for the title.

The SEC is awesome, usually, so a season like this was probably inevitable -- a year when the league would live off its reputation. Meanwhile, one-loss teams Florida State, Oregon and Kansas State have almost no shot at the BCS title game because they come from the wrong conference.

It's a Ponzi scheme, this 2012 SEC fraud, built upon layers of air. Georgia is great because it has beaten Florida. Florida is great because it has beaten Texas A&M. Texas A&M is great because it has beaten Alabama. And Alabama is great because it has beaten ... um, who has Alabama beaten, anyway?

Alabama's best win in the league came against LSU, which struggled with mediocre Ole Miss and lousy Auburn and was given a scare by Towson or Towson State or Towson Christian or whatever that school is called. Before LSU, Alabama's signature victory was a 38-7 destruction of undefeated and then-No. 13 Mississippi State -- and Mississippi State hadn't beaten anybody either.

But we're about to see another SEC team get into the national title game, and we could see another all-SEC showdown if Southern California beats Notre Dame on Saturday. No, Notre Dame fans, I'm not predicting a USC win. But that would open the door to a national championship game featuring two teams from the SEC, a league that has scheduled gutlessly and seen itself rewarded by voters who don't know better and computers that need to be rebooted.

The computers love the SEC so much that I'm reminded of something former Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said of the Missouri Valley Conference in 2006: The Valley got four teams into the NCAA Tournament, Williams said, because it "cracked the RPI code."

The SEC has cracked the computer code.

Schedule easy non-conference games, win them all, and then lose only to each other in league play. Voila! It's love, computer style. The SEC isn't playing football -- it's playing eHarmony.

At this moment the computers have six SEC teams in the top 10. Alabama is third despite playing just one team worth mentioning out of conference, No. 20 Michigan. Otherwise the Tide scheduled Division I-AA Western Carolina and two non-BCS schools still in their first decade at the Division I-A level (3-8 FAU and 6-5 Western Kentucky). And for that, and for beating Mississippi State and LSU, Alabama's computer ranking is third nationally?

To play Alabama for the SEC championship -- and therefore to be on the cusp of a spot in the BCS title game -- Georgia has only to beat 6-5 ACC team Georgia Tech on Saturday. The rest of the Bulldogs' non-conference schedule is a laugh riot of gigglers against FAU (3-8), Buffalo (4-7 in the MAC) and sub-division Georgia Southern.

At No. 2, Florida is the SEC's highest rated team in the computers thanks to non-conference wins against Bowling Green (7-4), Louisiana-Lafayette (6-4) and subdivision Jacksonville State.

South Carolina's best non-conference victory: East Carolina. LSU? It beat Washington. Texas A&M? It beat Louisiana Tech -- but it was 59-57 and I promise you this: Had the Aggies known little LaTech from the WAC was going to be such a thorny 9-2, they would've scheduled someone else from the great state of Louisiana. Like Centenary. And I have no idea if Centenary plays football.

Then again, I'm not sure it matters. The computers wouldn't care. Unless Notre Dame beats USC on Saturday, the BCS title game will be another SEC marriage straight out of (re)Match.com.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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