Average FEI-Plus: +14.4%
Average FEI-Plus Ranking: 2nd
I've flirted with making this switch all year, but I didn't think it was warranted until looking at the numbers. The SEC isn't down, per se, and it might even be deeper than it was in 2012; it's just not the best conference in the land.
Interestingly enough, the SEC's average F/+ has gone up since last season, when it finished at 12.6 percent, but the lack of top-end depth in 2013 is disturbing.
Last year, the SEC had three of the top four; four of the top six; five of the top 10; and six of the top 13 teams in America, according to the final F/+ rankings.
This year, it has one of the top four; one of the top six; one of the top 10; and two of the top 13 teams in America, a troubling downward trend, where only Alabama and Missouri have played well enough to be ranked among the top baker's dozen.
Yes, five of the top 11 teams in the current BCS standings hail from the SEC. If you choose to use that as your metric, by all means, feel free to disagree with me.
I prefer to use F/+, which is immune to preseason perception and regional bias because I think it more accurately reflects what has happened on the field. I do not think, for example, that Auburn is the seventh best team in the country; I am more inclined to agree with an assessment that it's in the mid-teens.
The SEC is still very good. Its teams that don't rank as highly have essentially the same F/+ score as last year—that is, they're playing about just as well. There's a reason their raw scores are similar but their relative scores are lower.
A different conference is playing incredible football.