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Can SEC continue BCS title dominance?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The question already has been asked over the last six weeks dozens of times — in laconic Southern drawls, in thick Brooklyn accents, by Canadians and Hawaiians. But if the Crimson Tide are motivated by the thought of continuing the Southeastern Conference’s domination, or if the Irish are playing to rescue the nation from SEC fatigue, nobody’s letting on.

The only SEC fatigue here in Florida is from people asking about the SEC and its six straight national championships.

“All those remarks about the South and their style of football, they deserve it,” said Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond. “They’ve won the games. I don’t feel like we’re carrying the banner [for the Midwest] by any means. We’re just representing Notre Dame, who we are, and who we’ve always been.”

But the questions changed a bit on Thursday morning, following fourth-ranked Florida’s poor showing in a 33-23 Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville that wasn’t nearly as close as the score suggests.

In fact, the SEC is just 3-3 in bowl games so far, with Florida, LSU and Mississippi State all losing. Tide players distanced themselves from their conference brethren on Thursday.

“When you look at these bowl games, it’s not really SEC teams, it’s each individual team and the preparation they have,” Alabama guard Chance Warmack said.

Center Barrett Jones compared Florida’s loss with the Tide’s 31-17 loss to Utah in the Sugar Bowl following the 2008 season, Jones’ freshman year.

“I think we’ve seen in a few bowl games this year — I’m not going to name any specific names, but you guys probably know who I’m talking about — that probably the better team hasn’t won the game,” he said. “I think a lot of that has to do with preparation and the kind of mindset you take into preparing. Obviously, watching last night, I couldn’t help but think of ‘08, my first bowl game against Utah. It’s not about who has the better team, it’s about who fights the better fight that night.”

Irish defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore didn’t take the bait when he was asked if the losses were a sign that the SEC isn’t quite as invincible as it has been in recent years.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “The SEC has been the dominant force in football the past couple of years. It’s a great thing for the BCS, seeing [other] teams win and stuff, but we have to focus on Alabama. We’re not playing Florida. Alabama is Alabama.”



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