Before I write a post in which I rattle off all kinds of stats from the 44-10 stomping of UW that the Ducks issued last Saturday night (which I promise I will), I am going to add to the never-ending argument about college football conference strength. I hit on this argument in a previous post, and given a recent blog posting by my main man Ted Miller, who writes the Pac-10 blog for ESPN’s website, I decided it was important to reiterate. But don’t go thinking I just feed off of other people’s blogs for my own material (although I often reference Ted Miller), I was also inspired to write about this after watching UCLA knock of Tennessee in overtime Monday night.
Every season, we hear about how strong the SEC is and just how much in front of the other BCS conferences they are. They have “incredible depth” and “extremely tough schedules” which allows the pundits to forgive multiple losses and let them play in major bowl games while teams from the other “weaker” conferences get left out. Yes, the SEC has long been successful, and it has much to do with their geographic locale and the culture that exists there.
The Big 12 and the Big Ten have also been lauded throughout history as being football powerhouses, and it cannot be denied that in the past, they indeed have produced much success. Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State (among others), are all tremendous programs that have perennially been competitors. Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska have been great in the past, although lately the latter two have been replaced in the marquee by Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Tech. This speaks to the verifiable strength of the Big 12. Now, while the Big 12 will make a lot of noise this year and should be rewarded for it, the Big Ten is more a less a joke. Ohio State is going to get beat soundly by USC, Michigan is going to struggle again, and we all know what Oregon is going to do to Purdue. I’ll give the Big Ten Penn State, they will probably have a solid year.
The beef that I have (again, reiterating) is with the SEC’s insistence that they are so much stronger than the Pac-10. Since 1998, when the BCS era began, the Pac-10 is 10-6 vs. the SEC. Ten wins, six losses. Sure, its not total domination or anything, but it is a comfortable margin, and given the fact that the SEC seems to think they dominate other conferences, it’s an interesting contradiction.
A highlight in this argument as of late was Monday night’s shocker in Pasadena. UCLA, a team picked by many to finish in the middle of the bottom half of the Pac-10, knocked off an 18th ranked Tennessee team that many pundits said was flying under the radar in the SEC and was poised to challenge for the conference title. Sure, it wasn’t a blowout, and in the first half it was totally ugly. But they bottom line is that UCLA gave Tennessee the ball FOUR TIMES in the first half on interceptions, and even with those turnovers the Vols were unable to get it done against a team they were supposed to easily dispose of. That’s two years in a row that Tennessee has come out west and been beaten by a Pac-10 team at the beginning of the season (last year they were beaten by Cal at Memorial Stadium).
We’ll see what the Sun Devils can do when Georgia rolls into the desert in a few weeks. Honestly I think that will bump the count to 10-7 overall, but it would really strengthen my argument if they pull the upset in Tempe.
And to reiterate yet again, USC is going to beat Ohio State, but that is hardly going out on a limb.
MOST LIKELY TO:
Win in Tempe – Georgia Bulldogs
Beat SEC opponents in major bowl games – Pac-10 teams
Still refer to the depth of the SEC even after Tenn and MSU got upset in Week 1 – sports writers from anywhere other than West Coast
Do hundreds and hundreds of pushups on Saturdays this season – me (Oregon points)
Suffer a letdown after a great victory in their opener – UCLA
Start reading this blog – millions of people