For a long time, the SEC has been ranked as the top conference in college football. The likes of Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Auburn have taken home championships in the past 10-plus years, so the honor has been earned.
However, in 2015, it appears things could be changing in the Southeast. With head-scratching performances from some of their top teams, the SEC is falling back to the pack in terms of power as a conference overall.
One league that is challenging the SEC’s status as top conference in the nation is the Big 12. With three teams in the top 10 in this week’s AP Poll and two in the top three, the Big 12 appears primed to make its mark by season’s end. In fact, they may have already overtaken the SEC as the best in the country. Let’s look at the Big 12’s case by analyzing their top-to-bottom power compared to that of the SEC.
At the top of the Big 12 are the TCU Horned Frogs, Baylor Bears, Oklahoma Sooners, and Oklahoma State Cowboys. All four of these teams are currently undefeated and in the top 21 in the country. Additionally, they all bolster some great offensive attacks, with TCU leading the nation in total offense, and Baylor and Oklahoma State not far behind. Each school has showcased some true dominance in 2015, owning large victories in their early schedules.
For the SEC, you have Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida all currently in the top 11 in the nation, which is an impressive feat that only the SEC seemed able to ever achieve. Alabama does have a loss, however, and LSU has looked questionable at times. Defense is more of the moniker for these schools (not a surprise), with LSU in the top 10 in the nation in total defense and Alabama and Florida holding great units in their own right. These teams also have the dominant capabilities of those Big 12 schools, just in a different manner.
Each conference has a crop of great teams at the top, but the SEC still has a bit more power leading it’s conference than the Big 12. In the end, the Big 12 may end up with a playoff berth (or two), but the SEC owns the depth in terms of powerful teams.
The Big 12 has some other solid teams like Texas Tech, West Virgina, and Kansas State — all boast some desirable characteristics for the making of a good team. Texas Tech challenged TCU a couple of weeks ago, putting them on the radar, but still holds two losses in their first five games.
Kansas State gave Oklahoma State all they could handle in their only loss. West Virginia was ranked, but fell off after losing to Oklahoma in blowout fashion. With some solid performances against the top teams in the league, these teams make the depth of the Big 12 better and increase the status of the league overall.
The SEC, however, is simply too much to compete with in terms of depth. You still have Ole Miss ranked in the top 15, even with a huge defeat at the hands of Florida. Georgia is still hanging in there after getting crushed by Alabama. There is a bit of a drop off after that, but teams like Missouri and Mississippi State are competitive at the bottom half of the league. No conference may ever beat the SEC in terms of top-to-bottom power.
Is the Big 12 now at the top?
Even with two teams, Baylor and TCU, near the top of the polls and two others in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the Big 12 has not quite caught up with the SEC for the honor of best conference in the nation yet. The SEC still has too many solid teams, while the Big 12 experiences a drop off after their top four or five schools.
Now, if we’re talking about the conference more likely to win the national championship this season, we might have a different result.