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Power Ranking the BCS Divisions in College Football

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2013

Power Ranking the BCS Divisions in College Football

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    The ACC Atlantic and the SEC West have earned this season's biggest bragging rights, each putting a team into the national title game.

    With two teams ranked in the top three of the BCS rankings, the West is looking like college football's juggernaut division—but which are challenging the SEC's championship group?

    The Pac-12 boasts two strong divisions, while the Big 12 and the ACC Atlantic will each send two teams to the BCS.

    Elsewhere, was Michigan State's Big Ten title win over Ohio State enough to send the Legends ahead of the Leaders in the Midwest?

    Click on to see the divisional power rankings of all six BCS conferences.

     

    Note: Rankings based on final BCS standings. Since the Big 12 and AAC aren't split into divisions, they were treated as one division.

10. American Athletic Conference

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    Ranked Teams: 15. UCF, 18. Louisville

    Bowl-Eligibles: Five (out of 10)

     

    The American Athletic Conference is strong at the top with league champion Central Florida and Louisville both in the top 20.

    In addition to running through the season at 11-1, the Knights fell short of a marquee win over South Carolina, 28-25. Even in the loss, a three-point defeat to a Top 10 team from college football's strongest conference reflects well on UCF and the AAC.

    UL began the season as the overwhelming favorite to take the conference crown but fell to UCF in October. The Knights held on through the rest of league play to take the title, winning several games by a whisker.

    Outside of UL and UCF, the American boasts three solid teams: Cincinnati, Houston and Rutgers.

    The main drawback for the AAC, aside from Cincy's blowout loss to Illinois, is the bottom of the league. Four AAC teams have three or fewer wins, which is more than any other BCS conference.

    While UCF and Louisville have the AAC looking like a BCS conference at the top, Temple, Memphis and others have it looking like a non-AQ at the bottom.

9. ACC Coastal

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    Ranked Teams: 24. Duke

    Bowl-Eligibles: Six (out of seven)

     

    Duke's run to the ACC Coastal title was one of the remarkable stories of the college football season.

    The Blue Devils had never won a divisional title and had never won 10 games in a season. They accomplished both goals to carry the flag for the division.

    The Coastal, with no clear-cut leaders, was expected to be a bit of a mess before the season. However, no one could've predicted that it would take a Duke win over North Carolina in the last week of the regular season to avoid a five-way tie atop the division.

    This division wasn't in turmoil because there were so many powerful teams, but because none of the leaders seemed to want to close out the title. Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all faltered, opening the door for Duke.

    The Blue Devils were crushed by Florida State in the ACC title game leaving them barely in the BCS rankings at No. 25. No other Coastal teams are ranked and, looking at Duke's date with Texas A&M in the bowl season, there's a chance the league could finish without a ranked team.

8. Big Ten Leaders

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    Ranked Teams: 7. Ohio State, 19. Wisconsin

    Bowl-Eligibles: Two (out of six)

     

    The Big Ten Leaders division nearly had a representative in the national title game, but Ohio State fell in the conference title game to Michigan State.

    Wisconsin was also a BCS at-large hopeful but fell to Penn State, ending those hopes.

    Those two results crashed what was looking like a solid season for the leaders of the Leaders.

    While those losses hurt the division's appeal, it is also hurt by lack of depth. Penn State is the only team in the division besides Ohio State and Wisconsin to post a winning record, but it isn't eligible for a bowl due to sanctions.

    The Big Ten's three worst teams, Indiana, Illinois and Purdue, all are in the Leaders, dragging the division down.

7. ACC Atlantic

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    Ranked Teams: 1. Florida State, 12. Clemson

    Bowl-Eligibles: Five (out of seven)

     

    Having the No. 1 team in the nation certainly helps, but it isn't nearly enough to make the ACC Atlantic one of the nation's best divisions.

    Outside of Florida State, Clemson brings a decent resume to the table and will be going BCS bowling. However, the Tigers fell flat in a chance to prove the division's worth against rival South Carolina at the end of the regular season.

    Of the three other bowl-eligible squads in the division—Syracuse, Boston College and Maryland—none are better than 7-5.

    If it weren't for the Seminoles and the Tigers, this division would be one of the nation's weakest.

6. Big Ten Legends

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    Ranked Teams: 4. Michigan State

    Bowl-Eligibles: Five (out of six)

     

    As the champion group of the conference, the Legends Division comes in slightly higher than the Leaders.

    In addition to having the league champion and its highest-ranked team, the Legends' depth crushes that of the Leaders.

    The Legends division boasts four solid teams besides Michigan State—Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Michigan—which makes it one of the deeper divisions in the nation.

    Its last-place team is decent as well. Northwestern began the season on the short list of conference title contenders, but a second-half skid left it out of bowl eligibility at 5-7.

    With MSU one of the strongest teams in the nation at the close of the season, the Legends can hang its hat on strength at the top, as well as depth, despite having just one team in the BCS rankings.

5. Pac-12 South

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    Ranked Teams: 14. Arizona State, 17. UCLA, 25. USC

    Bowl-Eligibles: Four (out of six)

     

    The Pac-12 South looked to be a clear cut below the Pac-12 North early this season, but it came out not far behind.

    Arizona State represented the South in the league title game but was crushed by Stanford, leaving the division still slightly behind its northern counterpart.

    Even outside of ASU, the South saw strong seasons from UCLA and USC, including a big upset by the Trojans over the Cardinal.

    Utah also posted a win over Stanford, giving the South another boost. Additionally, the division boasts one of the nation's best running backs, Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey.

    Though the division doesn't have a BCS representative, it is still one of the most dangerous in the country.

4. Big 12

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    Ranked Teams: 6. Baylor, 11. Oklahoma, 13. Oklahoma State

    Bowl-Eligibles: Six (out of 10)

     

    It was expected to be a bit of a down year for the Big 12 Conference, as several of its best teams would be breaking in new quarterbacks.

    As it turned out, two of those teams with new signal-callers, Baylor and Oklahoma, would end up representing the league in the BCS.

    In addition to the Bears and the Sooners, the Big 12 touts a third 10-win team, Oklahoma State. 

    The Big 12 wasn't as strong at the bottom as it was last season. While an astounding nine Big 12 teams went bowling last year, only six made it this time around.

    West Virginia, TCU and Iowa State all had down seasons, which detracted from the conference's overall strength.

3. SEC East

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    Ranked Teams: 8. Missouri, 9. South Carolina, 22. Georgia

    Bowl-Eligibles: Four (out of seven)

     

    None of the SEC East's three favorites—South Carolina, Georgia and Florida—ended up representing the division in Atlanta for the conference title.

    Missouri, one of college football's biggest surprise teams, came from the depths to win the league crown behind an explosive offense and a talented defensive front.

    The Tigers came up short in the SEC title game against Auburn, leaving the East once again as the second-best division in the conference.

    Still, with three ranked teams and two in the Top 10, the East is one of the best divisions in college football.

    The only drawback for the East is its lack of depth. Kentucky was the SEC's worst team, while Tennessee wasn't far ahead. The division's biggest disappointment was Florida, which went from a conference title hopeful to ineligible for a bowl at 4-8.

2. Pac-12 North

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    Ranked Teams: 5. Stanford, 10. Oregon

    Bowl-Eligibles: Five (out of six)

     

    The Pac-12 North was pushing the SEC West as the nation's best division early in the season.

    While Stanford and Oregon were on a tear, the North was looking vicious, especially thanks to the depth added by Washington, Oregon State and Washington State.

    But then, Oregon fell out of the national title picture, losing to Stanford and Arizona. Stanford's shot at the crystal football took a hit against Utah then died against USC.

    UW lost four games down the stretch, including two to South foes. Oregon State, meanwhile, lost its last five games.

    UO was left out of the BCS, but the division still will send five squads to bowl games, including conference champion Stanford to the Rose Bowl.

    It was a solid season for the North, but not as impressive as it could've been.

1. SEC West

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    Ranked Teams: 2. Auburn, 3. Alabama, 16. LSU, 21. Texas A&M

    Bowl-Eligibles: Six (out of seven)

     

    Surprised? Didn't think so.

    With two of the top three teams in college football, there's no question that the SEC West is the strongest division in college football.

    Either Alabama or Auburn could compete with, and likely beat, any team in the country, which is why they'll both be headed to the BCS in January.

    It also boast two more teams that had legitimate national title hopes throughout the season, LSU and Texas A&M. If placed in a weaker division, the Tigers and the Aggies might be playing for a crystal football, or at least in a BCS bowl, in the coming weeks.

    The West also touts Ole Miss and Mississippi State, making six bowl-eligible teams. 

    The West remains king and likely will until another division can produce four (potentially five) straight national titles.

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