The Sweep

SI.com's All-American Blog Team

Trocchi_bill
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Oklahoma-state
By upending Missouri's drive for No. 1, Oklahoma State underscored the power of the Big 12.
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images


I have warned the tech folks here at SI.com -- FanNation division -- that there could be an overflow of  comments on this particular Sweep post. I base that statement solely on the reaction last season when -- for one week -- I ranked the SEC second in my conference power rankings. My inbox still has not forgiven me. But tell the truth I must. The Big 12 is the king of conferences right now. Quarterbacks, skill guys, and, yes, even defenses make this conference the tops in the land. Stewart Mandel says there is no way anyone is going undefeated in this league because there are too many quality teams. And this is a league that has already had three teams receive No. 1 votes, and two actually sit at No. 1.

NOTE: The BCS+ notation reflects BCS conference teams, plus other teams ranked in the current AP Top 25.

1. Big 12 (38-10 overall, 7-8 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 2

The Good: It seems like the whole conference is improving week to week. Oklahoma State and Texas came up huge away from home this weekend, Oklahoma and Missouri still have to be considered national title contenders, and, oh yeah, Texas Tech is still unbeaten and in the Top 10. Wow.

The Bad: Colorado is about the only team not to put up even a decent showing the last two weeks, but remember, it already has a solid win over West Virginia on its resume.

The Verdict: Iowa State pushed Kansas to the limit last week, Baylor posted a big win over that same team this week, and Kansas State got a 14-point road win. Top, middle and bottom -- this league is the best.

2. SEC (26-4, 5-4)
Last Rank: 1

The Good: The Gators' offense looked frightening against LSU, immediately making Florida look national title worthy again. Alabama appears able to turn it on when necessary and is sitting at the deserved No. 2 ranking. And just about every defense in the league is good-to-great (10 are ranked in the top 40 nationally).

The Bad: Too many bad offenses, especially when compared to the Big 12. Outside of Florida and Georgia, who REALLY scares you?

The Verdict: Vanderbilt, a team that mustered just over 100 yards on Saturday, leads the SEC East. That is a sign that something is amiss with what has traditionally been the nation's best conference.

3. ACC (31-10, 10-8)
Last Rank: 3

The Good: A 5-0 non-league record since our last rankings, including 2-0 BCS+ (North Carolina beat UConn and Notre Dame).

The Bad: The Clemson-Wake Forest game on Thursday night was poorly played, which was not a good advertisement for what are supposed to be two of the league's best teams.

The Verdict: Quietly the third best conference, and making up ground on the SEC.

4. Mountain West  (23-11, 8-4)
Last Rank: 5

The Good: Utah added an eighth BCS+ win to the league's ledger by edging Oregon State two weeks ago, and BYU and Utah are both in the Top 15.

The Bad: Air Force's loss to Navy stings in Colorado Springs.

The Verdict: The BYU-Utah game is still looking like one with BCS implications and millions of dollars on the line.

5. Big Ten (31-10, 6-9)
Last Rank: 4
 
The Good: Penn State seems to fill up this spot every week, but the Lions are waxing EVERYBODY. Replacing fading Wisconsin, Michigan State appears to be in the elite group along with Penn State and Ohio State.
 
The Bad: I'll let Michigan alum Gennaro Filice fill you in.
 
The Verdict: The demise of Michigan and Wisconsin is offset somewhat by improvement from bottom-feeders Northwestern and Minnesota, plus I think I would take Penn State on a neutral field against anyone right now.
 
6. Pac-10 (11-13, 6-11)
Last Rank: 6
 
The Good: USC is showing signs of recovering from that strange loss to Oregon State, but with so many teams seemingly in contention, it could be another year of Pete Carroll saying he wishes there was a playoff because his team is playing the best in January.
 
The Bad: After UCLA's Terrance Austin was carted off the field on a stretcher during the UCLA-Oregon game, another was needed to cart off a fan who had fallen to the turf during a fight in the stands. Austin and the fan were apparently okay.
 
The Verdict: Arizona failed in its bid to become "the second best team behind USC" with a loss to Stanford. Applications are still being accepted.
 
7. Big East (18-12, 6-9)
Last Rank: 7
 
The Good: Louisville beat former C-USA rival Memphis in a tough environment on Friday night.
 
The Bad: Best team in the league (South Florida) is ranked No. 19 in the nation.
 
The Verdict: How long ago was it that the Big East was basking in the glow of all of its bowl victories and top 10 teams? That was just LAST year?

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