We are almost halfway through the 2013 college football season and conference play is about to heat up.
As expected, the SEC has emerged once again as the best conference in the nation. The league has seven teams in the AP Poll, with four of those schools in the Top 10.
But one league that is quickly making a name for itself this year is the Pac-12. The West Coast bias might be on its way out the door. With five teams currently ranked, the Pac-12 is on the rise.
How exactly does it match up against the powerful SEC?
This will be a head-to-head comparison of each division.
The best team from the Pac-12 North will go up against the best team from the SEC West and so on. Then the best squad from the Pac-12 South will be pitted against the best squad from the SEC East.
There will be a predicted winner from each matchup.
Which conference will come out on top?
*Since the SEC has two more teams, one school from each division was left out. That means Mississippi State and Kentucky will not be listed.
*Scores are based on the game being played at a neutral location.
These are not only the two best teams in their respective conferences, they are the two highest ranked squads in the entire country.
What better way to start off the list than with these two?
The Oregon Ducks are an offensive powerhouse. They currently lead the country in rushing yards and rank second in the country, averaging 59.8 points a game. The defense is not too shabby either, allowing only 10.8 points a contest.
Alabama, on the other hand, does not have the stats that Oregon does, but the Crimson Tide are the deepest and most complete team in the entire country.
If these two do square off in the national championship, it will likely be a high-scoring game, similar to what happened when Alabama took on Texas A&M.
Oregon has enough talent up front to hang with Alabama and the speed on offense to put up plenty of points.
In the end, the Crimson Tide might have just a little too much for Oregon.
Winner: Alabama 42-40
Next up are two more national powerhouses. Both Stanford and LSU have national title aspirations and are perennial top 10 teams.
The Stanford Cardinal of 2013 are looking a lot like LSU has the past few years. The Cardinal win with defense and a front seven that is possibly the best in the country.
LSU is not as talented on defense as it has been in years past, particularly in the secondary. But Stanford is not exactly a high-flying passing attack, so that might not come into play as much as it would against other teams.
This game would likely be very close; similar to Alabama and Oregon, but it would be a lot lower scoring.
It could go either way, but the Cardinal are just a little more talented up front than LSU.
A stellar running game and ball control would prove to be the difference in this one.
Winner: Stanford 31-24
Two more nationally ranked teams go head-to-head in this one.
These two teams are offensive juggernauts and might put up more points than any other combination of teams on this list.
Texas A&M is currently sixth in the country at 49.2 points a game, while Washington is averaging nearly 40 points a contest.
The difference between these two teams is Huskies defense. Texas A&M has trouble stopping anybody, while Washington is only allowing 10.8 points a game and is ranked fourth in the country.
Still, Texas A&M is an offense that Washington has not seen yet. The Huskies allowed 24 points against Illinois. That number would likely be much higher against a team like Texas A&M.
The Aggies would have trouble slowing down the talented players of Washington. Quarterback Keith Price would have a field day against a Texas A&M secondary that is susceptible to the pass.
We would almost certainly have another high-scoring barn burner with the team having the ball last coming out on top.
Winner: Texas A&M 38-35
This is where the matchups start to get a little unbalanced. The bottom of the SEC West is much stronger than the bottom of the Pac-12 North. It all starts with this game.
Oregon State is 4-1. The Beavers have bounced back nicely since the season opening loss to Eastern Washington of the FCS ranks.
Still, the Beavers narrowly defeated a one-win San Diego State team and were taken to overtime against Utah.
Ole Miss is nationally ranked, with its only loss coming at Alabama. The Rebels have victories at Vanderbilt and at Texas.
The Rebels do not have any offensive stars, but there is talent, led by quarterback Bo Wallace and wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
Oregon State has one of the best passers in the country in Sean Mannion. He would be able to chalk up some yards against the Ole Miss secondary, but the Rebels would not have much trouble scoring on an Oregon State defense allowing nearly 32 points a game.
Ole Miss by double-digits in this one.
Winner: Ole Miss 38-27
The fifth place teams in each of these divisions have already gone head-to-head once with Auburn coming out on top on the road.
There is nothing to say that the outcome would not be the same if these two teams met again.
The Tigers knocked off the Cougars 31-24 the first game of the season. Washington State has since gone 3-1 with its only loss coming against Stanford.
Auburn on the other hand has had an excellent season. The Tigers are 3-1 with their only loss coming at LSU.
These two teams are fairly evenly matched, but the Auburn rushing attack is just too much for Washington State to handle.
This one might be close for a while, but the Tigers are 10 points better on a neutral field.
Winner: Auburn 35-24
Arkansas gets the slight edge over Mississippi State to represent the conference, but either one would suffice.
Going up against a team like California is not a major challenge.
The Razorbacks are 3-2 so far on the season with their only two losses coming to Rutgers and Texas A&M.
California has struggled early on this year. The Golden Bears are 1-3 on the season with their only win coming by seven points over Portland State. California is being outscored by an average of 45-29. The defense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 124th.
Arkansas would have no problem exposing the weak California defense with a rushing attack that ranks 21st in the country.
A blowout would likely be in store in this matchup.
Winner: Arkansas 42-21
We now move on to the Pac-12 South against the SEC East. Once again, the divisions are very close at the top, but these two leagues are also a little more competitive near the bottom.
UCLA is undefeated and possesses one of the most complete offenses in the country. The Bruins are averaging 48 points a game. That ranks seventh in the nation. The defense is also in the top 40.
What the Bruins have is balance on offense. Quarterback Brett Hundley leads the way through the air and running back Jordon James contributes on the ground.
Georgia is just a slight step above UCLA in talent. There is a little more experience on the Bulldogs roster, led by fifth-year quarterback Aaron Murray.
The Bulldogs also have perhaps the most complete running back in the country in sophomore Todd Gurley.
This would be another high-scoring game, but the experience of Georgia would prevail in the end.
Winner: Georgia 42-38
The next matchup is two more nationally ranked teams. Both Arizona State and South Carolina each have a loss, but those came against very talented teams.
The Sun Devils were defeated by Stanford, and the Gamecocks lost to Georgia.
South Carolina has not looked as impressive as some thought it would before the season began. The Gamecocks struggled to knock off Central Florida the weekend.
Arizona State has been excellent and has a victory over Wisconsin on its resume.
The offense of Arizona State is not only balanced but also one of the best in the nation, averaging 44.3 points a game.
This one would likely come down to turnovers and the play of the quarterbacks on each team.
No doubt, it would be another close encounter.
Winner: South Carolina 30-28
Arizona is quickly developing into a talented team under second-year head coach Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats are buying into the offensive scheme and currently rank ninth in the country at 291.5 rushing yards a game.
Running back Ka’Deem Carey led the nation in rushing last season. He is off to an excellent start in 2013 with 431 yards and five touchdowns in only three games.
Carey will have his hands full against a very talented Florida defense. The Gators are as stingy as they come on that side of the ball. Florida is only allowing 12.8 points a game, ranking eighth in the country. The offense has struggled for most of the season, averaging only 23.8 points a game.
This one will probably be the lowest scoring game of any on the list. The Arizona defense is excellent as well, only allowing 14.3 points a game.
Both teams would try to control the game with the run, but the Florida defense is just slightly better than Arizona’s.
Winner: Florida 21-17
These are two similar teams. Both struggled to 5-7 campaigns in 2012, due in large part to injuries at the quarterback position.
This year both teams are healthy and off to excellent starts. Missouri is undefeated with victories over Indiana and Toledo. Utah is 3-2, but the Utes have victories over the likes of Utah State and BYU with close losses coming in overtime to Oregon State and by seven to UCLA.
As is the case with most teams in these two conferences, offense would be the name of this game. Both teams rank in the top 20 in points per game.
Quarterback James Franklin at Missouri has been excellent all season and Travis Wilson has done the same at quarterback for Utah.
Once again, these are two very evenly matched teams in a game that could go either way.
The slight edge here goes to Utah, but this one seems to be a virtual tossup.
Winner: Utah 28-27
Vanderbilt and USC are two teams that are not exactly off to the starts they were expecting when the season began.
The Commodores are 3-2, but have lost their only two challenging games on the schedule, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
These two teams are middle of the pack offensively, but the Vanderbilt group has proven to be slightly stronger than USC, particularly in recent weeks.
The Trojans struggle to score points against talented defenses and Vanderbilt has the ability to hold the Trojans in check.
The Commodores are the slightly better team, but this is another game that could end up going to either team.
Winner: Vanderbilt 28-17
Rounding out the games between these two conferences is a battle between two of the worst teams in these leagues.
Tennessee and Colorado are bottom-feeders in their respective conferences but are still very talented teams.
The Buffaloes are having a slightly better season than last year. At 2-1 Colorado has shown signs of improvement. Still, a 44-17 loss against Oregon State is not a good sign, especially with Oregon on the horizon.
Tennessee started strong, but the Vols have lost two of three and narrowly defeated South Alabama at home last week. Still at 3-2, Tennessee is winning the games it is supposed to.
The strength of the Vols is along the offensive line. That has shown in its rushing attack that averages over 215 yards a game.
Colorado has trouble running the football. Tennessee should be able to control the ball and come away with a hard-fought victory over the Buffaloes.
Winner: Tennessee 31-17
The SEC comes out on top in 10 of these 12 games, but it is easy to see that the gap is not that large.
While the 10-2 record might seem like a huge advantage, most of these games are exceptionally close. The Pac-12 has come a long way to get as close as it is to the SEC, but it is easy to see a slight advantage still goes to the SEC.
The records of these two conferences are almost identical. The Pac-12 is a remarkable 29-4 in non-league games, while the SEC is a very impressive 32-7.
Even considering the fact that the Pac-12 has come a long way, the league has still not caught up to the SEC in talent and depth.
Once again, the SEC reigns supreme in this comparison.