The Sweep

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Texas and Texas Tech are two of the Big 12 South's four national-title contenders. :: Karl Anderson/Icon SMI

A note to the Big 12 conference: You're way out in front. There's no need to even debate.

So, this week's discussion focuses primarily on the No. 2 slot, where the SEC and ACC are in a much closer battle than those who support the nation's most hallowed (read: obsessive?) conference care to concede.

The truth is, some of the SEC's traditional powers are pitiful right now. At this point, Tennessee couldn't score a touchdown against eight defenders. Auburn probably couldn't, either. LSU's vaunted defense has given up 50 points twice this season, and its offense doesn't really scare anyone.

If Tennessee or Auburn were in the ACC, they would both be in the lower echelon of that league, too. The ACC's middle-to-upper tier teams have proven they can beat the SEC. Duke never trailed in a win at Vanderbilt (which has three SEC wins to its credit) and Georgia Tech routed Mississippi State 38-7.

Of course, the top teams in the SEC are clearly superior. Either Alabama, Florida or Georgia would win the ACC hands down, which ends up being the deciding factor in the SEC's favor. But remember -- there are still four ACC-SEC games remaining this year: Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Wake Forest-Vanderbilt and Florida State-Florida. If the ACC takes three of four, it'll pass its more mouthy brethern on the conference food chain.

NOTE: The BCS+ notation reflects BCS conference teams plus other teams ranked in the current AP Top 25. Also, the BCS+ records do not add up to .500 because of Notre Dame and the ranked non-BCS teams.

1. Big 12 (38-10 nonconference, 7-8 vs. BCS+)

The Good: The top four teams in the Big 12 South would all qualify in a mythical eight-team playoff. The Texas Tech-Texas game was as good as it gets.

The Bad: Nebraska still has a long way to go before it returns to elite status, and whoever wins the Big 12 North is sort of looking like a sacrifical lamb for the Big 12 title game.

The Verdict: There's a real chance the league is going to knock itself out of the BCS title game. That's a real shame.

2. SEC (30-6, 5-6)

The Good: The way its defense is playing, Florida looks like it could take anyone on a neutral field right now. And oh yeah -- Alabama's currently the nation's top team.

The Bad: The aforementioned Tennessee and Auburn meltdowns continue, and Vanderbilt is a week away (hosting Florida) from falling to 5-4 after a 5-0 start.

The Verdict: The chicken-and-egg, bad offenses versus good defenses debate continues. Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn, Ole Miss and Kentucky all scored 17 points or less this week.

3. ACC (32-10, 11-8)

The Good: My colleague Gennaro Filice illustrated the league's depth this weekend and it's clear this will be one exciting November for the conference.

The Bad: Lack of star power. No. 19 North Carolina is the league's highest-rated team in the BCS standings, and that's not really a number befitting a power conference.

The Verdict: Whoever emerges from this group will have outfought some decent teams and will have earned this league title.

4. Mountain West (24-11, 8-4)

The Good: The league has three teams (No. 8 Utah, No. 12 TCU and No. 15 BYU) in the BCS's top 15. That's the same number as the SEC and as many as the Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East and ACC combined.

The Bad: As good as its BCS+ record is, the league still has seven 'bad' losses on its résumé.

The Verdict: Just like the ACC, this is going to be an exciting November in the Mountain West, as TCU battles Utah on Nov. 6 and Utah takes on BYU on Nov. 22. Whoever survives that round-robin (TCU already beat BYU) should earn a BCS bid.

5. Big East (22-12, 7-9)

The Good: Since we last did these rankings three weeks ago, the Big East has gone 4-0 in non-league play, including wins over Auburn and Notre Dame.

The Bad: As in the ACC, the Big East doesn't have any teams remotely close to national-championship quality, and the top Big East team (West Virginia) is No. 25 in the BCS standings.

The Verdict: At least the ACC has some meat in the middle. The Big East? Not so much ... and there's plenty of dead weight.

6. Big Ten (31-11, 6-9)

The Good: The Big Ten produced some of the most exciting football of the weekend, including Purdue's sweet hook-and-ladder score that allowed the Boilers to slip by Michigan 48-42.

The Bad: The only nonconference game the last three weeks was another loss to the MAC (the third this season), as Indiana fell to Central Michigan. By the way, Central Michigan's backup quarterback threw for 485 yards and four touchdowns.

The Verdict: Hard to be impressed when two of the 'sexier' bowl teams in the league are Minnesota (which lost at home to Northwestern) and Northwestern (which lost to two-time MAC loser Indiana).

7. Pac-10 (11-14, 6-12)

The Good: Since being upset by Oregon State, USC has outscored its last five opponents 214-20. Would you like to play this team on a neutral field?

The Bad: Oregon State, the conference's first-place team and controller of its own destiny, lost to Utah, Stanford and Penn State and only beat 2-6 Arizona State by two points Saturday.

The Verdict: The Pac-10's ranked last, so the verdict's clear, but here's an observation: It's a rare day when Oregon has far better-looking uniforms than its opponent, but that is what happened against Cal this weekend.

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