The college football season is almost to its third week and already we're learning a lot about several conferences.
The ACC wasn't nearly as good as we thought, the Pac-10 seems to be getting stronger, the Big Ten has a few strong teams at the top, the Big East still remains known for basketball and not football, and the SEC may not be the power conference it's been in the past.
Speaking of the SEC and the Pac-10, that's what we're here to discuss. Which conference is better this year?
We'll talk about their schedules, their victories, their records against other conferences, their solid wins, their same ole same ole cupcake opponents and, finally, which conference is the best one in 2010.
There will be fans who will disagree and that's fine, that's what makes college football fun. Debate.
So, without further ado, here are 10 reasons why the Pac-10 is the best of the two conferences.
Stanford, Oregon, Arizona, Oregon State, USC are all ranked in the top 25. It makes up for half of the conference, or 50 percent. The same number that the SEC currently has (six ranked out of 12 teams).
My argument against the SEC has always been their non-conference schedule, or lack thereof.
While I see teams like USC taking on Notre Dame, Arizona traveling to take on No. 11 Wisconsin, or Washington taking on No. 8 Nebraska, SEC teams are scheduling the likes of Duke, Louisiana Lafayette, or Georgia State.
Sure, Alabama scheduled Penn State, Florida will be in Tallahassee to take on Florida State, LSU took on North Carolina, and Tennessee faced Oregon. But take the best in the SEC (Alabama) and the best in the Pac-10 (Oregon) right now and Penn State goes 0-2 on the road against both teams so I'm not ready to say that was a "solid" win for the Tide.
The Gators will face a Florida State team that got drop-kicked right out of the rankings by Oklahoma and LSU almost lost to a depleted North Carolina team. In fact, they were a fourth quarter dropped pass away from returning to Baton Rouge with a loss.
The one excuse I continue to hear from SEC fan is "we have the hardest conference schedule in all of college football," but looking at the conference I see games against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. Schools that could be beaten by most of the Pac-10 or less as Ole Miss has already fallen to an FCS school in Jacksonville State to open their season.
Sure the SEC has Alabama, Florida, LSU, and South Carolina to name a few but Alabama is the only one of those four that could legitimately stay in the top 10 the entire year.
In the Pac-10, Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State, and possibly Arizona could all crack the top 10 at some point during the season.
Of the 31 non-conference games played in the Pac-10, 18 of those are at home while the other 13 will be on the road.
The SEC, however, will play 47 non-conference games and 38 of those will be at home to just nine on the road.
Out of the 31 non-conference games played by the Pac-10, seven of those will be ranked opponents (TCU, Boise State, Houston, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas). Four of those seven games will come on the road (TCU, Boise State, Wisconsin, Texas).
The SEC, out of 47 non-conference games, will play just five ranked opponents, only two will be played on the road (North Carolina, Houston).
The combined record of the non-conference opponents played by the Pac-10 is 39-22.
The combined record of the non-conference opponents played by the SEC is 41-48
One thing that's not in question is the two best teams, in each conference, are the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oregon Ducks.
While most would say that Alabama has had the tougher schedule at the moment, having played No. 19 Penn State this past weekend, let's not forget they have also played San Jose State, a bottom feeder in the Western Athletic Conference. Both games were played at home.
As for Oregon, they've also played two games against New Mexico and Tennessee with the game against the Vols coming on the road. In neither game were the Ducks ever challenged, though you could say the same for the Tide as well.
Alabama has outscored their opponents 72-6, averaging 36 points per game.
Oregon, on the other hand, has outscored their two opponents 120-13. A 60 point per game average.
Both teams will play a 12-game schedule in 2010. Alabama will have seven of those 12 at home while Oregon will split six and six.
On a whole, combine the non-conference opponents and the conference schedule that the Pac-10 is going to play this season.
Keep in mind that the Pac-10 has five teams ranked in the top 25 and one of those is in the top five (Oregon). When you combine the schedules of the Pac-10 and look at who the SEC is playing, and not just their conference schedule, the Pac-10 is playing the tougher schedules in 2010.
Not only that, but the Pac-10 isn't scheduling all of their out of conference games at home to get them an even bigger advantage.
Both conferences have their good teams. Both conferences have their cellar dwellers. What the Pac-10 has that the SEC does not is a more competitive conference. There's no clear cut team that will take the conference title.
They have Oregon, Stanford, Arizona, and Oregon State could challenge for the top spot, you could even throw Washington in the mix. In the SEC, Alabama is the far and away favorite to, once again, win the SEC championship game. The other teams are playing for second best.
Ole Miss opened the 2010 season against one of those so called "cupcakes." Only problem was, it backfired.
The Rebels were upset by Jacksonville State in double overtime. Not exactly the black eye an SEC team really wanted to start the year.
I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion but I'm not here to blow sunshine up your skirt.
While I respect the SEC and the teams that have continued to dominate the bowl games, that was in the past and has no relevance to the 2010 season. There's an SEC team sitting atop the polls, but that won't last long.
The Oregon Ducks are just a few blowout wins away from taking over that spot and leave the rest of the polls looking up at them, a Pac-10 team.
While you can tell me that none of the teams in the Pac-10 could handle and SEC schedule that's not something that can be proven because none of the Pac-10 teams will play a full SEC schedule and none of the SEC teams will play a Pac-10 schedule.
It's a matter of opinion and, as far as I'm concerned, the Pac-10 has the upper hand as being the better conference between the two. There's more parity, there's more competitiveness, and they schedule better out of conference.
As the season rolls on, you'll start to see that the top teams in the Pac-10 continue to stay around as some of the best teams in the country while the teams that are ranked in the SEC, outside of possibly Alabama, will begin to fall towards the back of those same polls.
While football is king in the south, the crown has been put on the heads of the conference out west.