Mark Goldman/Icon SMI
The USC-Ohio State game offered the Conference Power Rankings its biggest matchup of the season, and the Trojans sent a pretty loud message over a three-hour period in Los Angeles.
To describe the far-reaching effects of USC's 35-3 victory, I'll turn to former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, who called the game for ABC. Toward the end of the telecast, Herbstreit let the Big Ten have it for OSU's underwhelming performance.
"When you get outside of the Midwest, the Big Ten has kind of become a punch line to the people around the country," Herbstreit told his audience. "When [fans] talk about how overexposed and overhyped and a bit of a fraud the conference is overall ... the team captain of that, of course, is Ohio State. This hurts the Big Ten as much as it hurts Ohio State."
Herbstreit didn't exactly sugarcoat it for his alma mater. The Buckeyes could have legitimized the conference in a big way and lost by 32. The league better hope Penn State ends up representing it in the BCS this year.
NOTE: The BCS+ notation reflects BCS conference teams, plus other teams ranked in the current AP Top 25.
1. SEC (23-3 overall, 4-2 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 1
The Good: A 6-0 non-conference mark with an average margin of victory of more than 24 points.
The Bad: Kentucky needed a tackle at the one-yard line after a Hail Mary completion on the final play to beat Middle Tennessee State 20-14. South Carolina, Georgia, Auburn and Mississippi State combined for a whopping two touchdowns in two league games.
The Verdict: The SEC is barely holding on. In fact, if the Texas-Arkansas game had not been postponed and the Longhorns won, the Big 12 would have the best BCS+ record and may have taken the top spot.
2. Big 12 (28-4, 5-3 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 2
The Good: All six non-conference wins came by at least 28 points. Oklahoma continues to look like a legit national title contender, and Chase Daniel appears headed for New York as a Heisman finalist.
The Bad: Iowa State couldn't make it two straight over Iowa, and Kansas lost a heartbreaker to South Florida on the road.
The Verdict: Next week's schedule includes four non-conference BCS games (Kansas State at Louisville, West Virginia at Colorado, Baylor at Connecticut and Miami at Texas A&M). An unbeaten run could propel the Big 12 right to the top.
3. ACC (17-8, 4-8 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 5
The Good: North Carolina looked much improved in smoking Rutgers on the road. Maryland scored a very nice win over Cal. Clemson and Florida State moved into the Top 25, bumping out Pac-10ers Cal and Arizona State.
The Bad: Virginia stunk it up at UConn, the conference's lone loss this week.
The Verdict: Sorry, Pac-10. The ACC had to sneak by you this week thanks to Maryland-Cal. Not sure the ACC would be 0-5 against the Mountain West.
4. Pac-10 (10-10, 5-7 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 3
The Good: USC looked like an unstoppable force against Ohio State, even leaving a few points on the field in its 35-3 win. That was about the only good news for the conference.
The Bad: The league went 3-7, with four losses to the Mountain West (bringing the season record to 0-5). Oregon barely beat a mid-level Big Ten team (Purdue). Stanford was crushed by TCU. UCLA lost by 59 at BYU. Arizona State lost at home to UNLV. Washington lost by 41 to Oklahoma. Washington State lost by 28 to Baylor. There was carnage up and down the coast.
The Verdict: You have to credit the Pac-10 for scheduling tough, but a .500 non-conference record doesn't cut it. The league has just two Top 25 teams, one of which (Oregon) probably would have lost its spot had Purdue made a 44-yard field goal on the final play of regulation. The league can get a boost next week if Arizona State beats Georgia in Tempe.
5. Big Ten (25-6, 6-6 vs. BCS+)
Last Rank: 4
The Good: Penn State has looked fantastic ON the field this season and is on its way to the Top 10. Wisconsin picked up a quality win at Fresno State.
The Bad: The league's two signature programs, Ohio State and Michigan, flopped on the same Saturday. The Wolverines didn't give themselves a chance against a suspect Notre Dame squad.
The Verdict: You could make an argument for the Big Ten to be in the four slot, but not 48 hours after the undressing at the Coliseum that Stewart Mandel documented.
6. Big East (10-9, 2-8 BCS+)
Last Rank: 6
The Good: With the help of a clutch kicker, South Florida avoided what would have been a damaging loss to the conference with a narrow victory against Kansas. The Bulls can carry the torch for the league with a respectable AP ranking (12).
The Bad: Rutgers has clearly lost its way with two home losses of at least 17 points, which is as many as Rutgers has had over the last five years.
The Verdict: The league has some work to do to get out of the cellar, but four BCS opponents this week offers the opportunity.