The Sweep

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The 2008 debut of the Conference Power Rankings generated a whopping 128 comments from the college football faithful last week, demonstrating the passion this subject generates. Here's my personal favorite from last week, which compared the rankings (which were published prior to Monday's UCLA-Tennessee game) to the history of World War II:
 
How can this guy call himself credible and write an article before all the games are complete? It is like writing the history of WWII just after the Germany invaded France. "The Thousand Year Reich is going to be DOMINANT for a very long time, folks. I see maybe a TWO Thousand year Reich. Nobody on the Continent can touch them and there is little chance that either the Brits or the Americans will be able to unseat Adolf's Annihilators."
 
What a fricken joke. Shame on SI for even letting this article see the light of day.
-- protonm, Sept. 2, 2008
 
Keep 'em coming, folks.
 
Unfortunately for the rankings, there were fewer meaningful non-conference games this week as the BCS conferences mostly loaded up on patsies. Still, there was more to learn as the mother of all non-conference games (Ohio State at USC) approaches.
 
NOTE: The BCS+ notation reflects BCS conference teams, plus other teams ranked in the current AP Top 25.
 
1. SEC (17-3 non-conference, 4-2 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank:

The Good: SI.com's Andy Staples pointed out that Florida didn't look as good as it should've against Miami, but I'll still give the Gators props for a 23-point win against an emotional and athletic opponent. Georgia looked scary good on offense at times against Central Michigan, and Ole Miss took ACC leader Wake Forest to the gun on the road.
 
The Bad: Arkansas, again. The Razorbacks survived another fourth-down situation on a game-winning drive, and had to sweat out a missed field goal against ... UL-Monroe, for a 28-27 win. The Razorbacks have to be the least impressive 2-0 BCS team in the nation. Honorable mention was Alabama's listless 20-6 win over Tulane in which the Tide were outgained by 146 yards.
 
The Verdict: Not an overly impressive week by the nation's best conference, but no other conference jumped up.
 
2. Big 12 (22-2, 3-1 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank: 2

The Good: It is tough to reward such a weak schedule, but the league was 12-0 and almost every game was a blowout. Oklahoma pounded Cincinnati, and eight of the 12 wins were by 20 points or more.
 
The Bad: Colorado barely beat Eastern Washington, returning an interception for a touchdown in the final minutes, then picking off a pass in the end zone on the final play to preserve a 31-24 win. Not exactly how you want to head into the West Virginia game in two weeks.
 
The Verdict: A warm-up week before four BCS teams appear on next week's non-conference slate -- Washington (vs. Oklahoma), Washington State (at Baylor), Arkansas (at Texas) and Iowa (vs. Iowa State).
 
3. Pac-10 (7-3, 3-3 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank: 3

The Good: Washington has to fall into this category, playing BYU virtually even for four quarters, only to have an untimely flag spoil a potential overtime. Also, Cal running back Jahvid Best (384 total yards in two weeks) looks like a guy who can lift the Golden Bears into the elite of the league, and the nation.
 
The Bad: Oregon State was overwhelmed by a Penn State squad that dealt with more off-the-field adversity prior to the game. The Beavers should have been out for redemption after their opening loss to Stanford. Instead, they were run over.
 
The Verdict: The Pac-10 has had its share of conference games, and it still has seven BCS+ games. No question, this league has more guts in the scheduling department than any other major conference.
 
4. Big Ten (18-3, 3-3 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank: 4

The Good: Penn State whipped Oregon State, and Stewart Mandel says the Lions' offense has clicked into high gear sooner than expected. Wisconsin also had a dominating win, over Marshall, and Northwestern won at Duke. An unbeaten week, but again, the competition left something to be desired.
 
The Bad: Ohio State and Michigan both struggled against MAC teams. While most are not worried about Ohio State, especially if it can get Beanie Wells back, Michigan is another matter. Week 2 was more of the same from Week 1 as the square pegs try to run the round-hole offense.
 
The Verdict: Not much to be learned with nine non-BCS opponents, but Ohio State will carry the conference's flag this week to Los Angeles against USC. Fair or not, that game will paint this league a certain way.
 
5. ACC (13-7, 2-7 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank: 6

The Good: Wake Forest prevented some embarrassment with a last-second field goal by the clutch Sam Swank. A loss by the ACC favorite to a mid-level SEC team at home would have been another flesh wound to a hurting conference. Florida State put up some pretty numbers in a 69-0 win over Western Carolina. Hey, 69 points is a lot.
 
The Bad: Duke needed to beat Northwestern at home to help boost the league in these standings. Maryland, you got some 'splaining to do after a 24-14 loss to Middle Tennessee. Plus, Virginia Tech and Virginia were underwhelming against Furman and Richmond, respectively.
 
The Verdict: The 'Bad' is clearly outweighing the 'Good' in this conference after two weeks, though Miami looked respectable at The Swamp.
 
6. Big East (8-7, 0-6 vs. BCS+)

Last Rank: 5

The Good: Ummm ... South Florida survived in overtime at Central Florida. That's good, right?
 
The Bad: UConn had to go OT vs. Temple. Cincinnati was routed by Oklahoma. Syracuse lost by two TDs at home to Akron. West Virginia looked lost against East Carolina. That enough?
 
The Verdict: Who is the best team in the this league? Or, worse yet, who is the second best? Four non-conference games await this week against four BCS opponents. If the league wants to shape up, Week 3 brings a big opportunity.

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