SEC should dominate AP’s final Top 10

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Ho hum, what else is new.

The Southeastern Conference continues to dominate college football.

Beginning with an LSU win over Clemson on New Year’s Eve and an Alabama beatdown in Miami, it’s certainly feasible that the SEC lands six schools in the AP Poll’s final Top 10 at season’s end, the most ever for a league that has won six straight national championships. With a little help from Wisconsin in the Rose, it could happen.

Looking at end-of-season Top 10 locks, go ahead and throw Notre Dame and Ohio State in the safe pile. The Irish are No. 1, currently unbeaten, and would only fall a spot or two with a loss to Alabama. Ohio State is not postseason eligible, so Urban Meyer will enjoy an unblemished campaign in Year 1 with three wins over ranked teams. Oregon, ranked No. 5 with one loss, won’t fall out of the Top 10 with a loss to Kansas State, but a Wildcat win would effectively keep Bill Snyder’s team within striking distance of the Top 5.

Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon and Kansas State stay in the Top 10 regardless of what happens in the BCS. This leaves six spots for the SEC. Stanford, currently eighth, would need to lose in Pasadena to the 7-5 Badgers to slip to No. 11 or No. 12.

Florida, Georgia and LSU are all favored as higher-ranked teams. They’re in barring upsets. It gets a little tricky for Texas A&M and South Carolina, representing the West and East Divisions at No. 10 and 11 respectively. The Aggies and Gamecocks must beat ranked opponents in the Cotton and Outback Bowls to move up and Johnny Manziel could the Heisman haze clouding his vision. With victories, each school would be 11-2 fighting with an 11-2 Kansas State (if the Wildcats lose to Oregon in the Fiesta) for a Top 10 bid.

In a simple breakdown, here’s how it needs to shake out to see six SEC teams in the final Top 10 of the AP Poll:

  • No. 2 Alabama over No. 1 Notre Dame for the BCS title (‘Bama goes to No. 1, Notre Dame finishes third behind Ohio State)
  • No. 4 Florida beats No. 22 Louisville in the Sugar Bowl (Gators stay put or move up to No. 3)
  • No. 5 Oregon takes care of No. 7 Kansas State by 2+ TDs (Should be convincing enough to knock Wildcats out of Top 10)
  • No. 6 Georgia handles No. 23 Nebraska (Bulldogs a lock with a win)
  • Wisconsin upsets No. 8 Stanford (A BCS setback to a five-loss team would be unforgiving for Badgers)
  • No. 9 LSU stomps No. 14 Clemson (Defense-first mentality should keep LSU in Top 10 in Atlanta)
  • No. 10 Texas A&M over No. 12 Oklahoma (Aggies need to outscore Sooners in this exciting matchup)
  • No. 11 South Carolina beats No. 19 Michigan (An SC win — its fifth straight — creates logjam of 11-2 teams)

It comes as no surprise that five of the six SEC teams that could finish in the Top 10 with wins are also ranked in 247sports’ Top 10 incoming recruiting classes. Keeping up in the SEC starts with the players and Alabama, LSU and Florida are consistently dominant on National Signing Day. A bit of a surprise is Texas A&M’s projection at No. 7 for 2013 incoming freshman, a hefty 34-member class headlined by ATH Ricky Seals-Jones, WR Derrick Griffin and DT Justin Manning. Nick Saban is used to hand-picking who he wants from the five-star crop along with LSU’s Les Miles, especially on defense.

Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

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