The Southeastern Conference has dominated college football for over a decade, winning 11 of the last 15 national championships. It’s not a surprise to find that the bulk of the expected starters of Super Bowl LV are from the schools of the SEC.
The SEC dominates the Super Bowl
Among conferences, the SEC has sent the most players to Super Bowl LV, with 23. The Big Ten Conference came a close second, with 19. No other conference sent more than nine.
Six Super Bowl participants come from LSU, more than from any other school. Three schools are tied for second, sending four players to the game. These are Big Ten schools Michigan and Iowa, along with the ACC’s Clemson. Tom Brady is, of course, a Michigan alum.
The biggest surprise among schools is Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. Two former Chippewas — cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and wide receiver Antonio Brown — are on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster. Another CMU alum, Pro Bowl tackle Eric Fisher, would have lined up for the Chiefs were it not for an Achilles tear that will sideline him for the Super Bowl.
From the lower ranks
Not all the players in Super Bowl LV came from big-time football factories. In fact, two of them came from tiny Colorado State-Pueblo, who play in NCAA Division II. According to AL.com, only four players from that school’s football team, the ThunderWolves, have ever reached the NFL level. Yet two of them — Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen and Chiefs defensive tackle Mike Pennel — will line up on opposite sides for the big game.
In all, 20 players on the teams’ active rosters came from levels below the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, what is considered “major” college football. In fact, one player — the Bucs’ Antony Auclair — didn’t play his college football in the United States at all. He played Canadian football at Laval University in Quebec City.
An unexpected absence
Despite the proliferation of SEC talent in Super Bowl LV, one school might be conspicuously absent from the big game.
Alabama is the undisputed class of college football. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide have won six of the last 12 national championships. Yet shockingly, there may be no Alabama Crimson Tide alumni in the lineup for either of the Super Bowl teams. Tight end O.J. Howard, the only Alabama draftee on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury back in October.
The only Tide player on the Chiefs’ payroll is wide receiver Gehrig Dieter, who has gone back and forth between the team’s active roster and the practice squad this season. Dieter has one catch for 10 yards in 2020. If the Chiefs activate Dieter for the game, he will be the only one flying the flag for Alabama.