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Pac-10 doesn’t take a backseat to SEC in head-to-head matchups

When Oregon lined up at Tennessee earlier this season, the Ducks ended up routing the Vols.
Photo by Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The BCS national championship game between Auburn and Oregon should be a dandy. Dynamic offenses. Played at a fast pace. Star players, including Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn.

And it’s the SEC vs. the Pac-10.

This is a rare postseason clash for the leagues at any level. The last time an SEC team played a Pac-10 squad in the postseason it was 1989. Washington beat Florida 34-7 in the Freedom Bowl.

The SEC vs. the Pac-10: You know which conference is going to get the benefit of the doubt in this matchup.

The SEC deserves whatever praise it gets. It’s the best football conference in the country. The most elite teams, the biggest stadiums, craziest fans, highest salaries …

The Pac-10? Dadgum, they sure do play some cute football out there in the West …

But there has been a disconnect between perception and reality when it comes to the two leagues. They have met 21 teams since 2000, and here is the scoreboard:

The Pac-10 is 12-9 in those games.

OK, you say. The matchups probably favored the Pac-10. After all, if USC played Vanderbilt 20 times, the Pac-10 would be 20-0 against the SEC.

Let’s look deeper.

The SEC was favored to win 12 of those 20 games … but won only eight times as the favorite.

Overall, the Pac-10 is 14-6-1 against the spread in its last 21 games against the SEC.

Head-to-head or against the spread, the Pac-10 comes out ahead.

So, yes, Auburn is about a three-point favorite against the Ducks for Monday night’s game. But remember that public perception almost always tilts too heavily in favor of the SEC when it plays the Pac-10.

Here is the breakdown of those 21 games (per the first comment on this story, I have changed the numbers on my original post to reflect the 2008 Arizona State-Georgia game):

Year Matchup Result Spread
2000 No. 3 Alabama at UCLA UCLA, 35-24 Alabama by 7
2001 No. 17 UCLA at No. 25 Alabama UCLA, 20-17 Alabama by 2
2002 Auburn at No. 19 USC USC, 24-17 USC by 7
2002 Mississippi State at No. 15 Oregon Oregon, 36-13 Oregon by 13
2003 No. 13 LSU at Arizona LSU, 59-13 LSU by 11
2003 No. 8 USC at No. 6 Auburn USC, 23-0 Auburn by 3
2003 Oregon at Mississippi State Oregon, 42-34 Oregon by 3
2004 Oregon State at No. 4 LSU LSU, 22-21, OT LSU by 18
2005 No. 5 LSU at No. 15 Arizona State LSU, 35-31 ASU by 1
2005 Arkansas at No. 1 USC USC 70-17 USC by 30
2006 Arizona at No. 8 LSU LSU, 45-3 LSU by 15
2006 No. 9 Cal at No. 23 Tennessee Tennessee, 35-18 Cal by 2
2006 No. 6 USC at Arkansas USC, 50-14 USC by 7
2006 Washington State at No. 4 Auburn Auburn, 40-14 Auburn by 14
2007 No. 15 Tennessee at No. 12 Cal Cal, 45-31 Cal by 6
2008 No. 18 Tennessee at UCLA UCLA, 27-24 (OT) Tennessee by 7.5
2008 No. xx Georgia at Arizona State No. 3 Georgia, 27-10 Georgia by 7
2009 No. 11 LSU at Washington LSU, 31-23 LSU by 17.5
2009 UCLA at Tennessee UCLA, 19-15 Tennessee by 8
2009 Arizona State at Georgia Georgia, 20-17 Georgia by 7
2010 No. 7 Oregon at Tennessee Oregon, 48-13 Oregon by 10.5
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