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College Football Rankings 2011: Power Ranking All of the FBS Conferences

Pat MarrujoContributor IApril 18, 2011

College Football Rankings 2011: Power Ranking All of the FBS Conferences

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    This debate is one that can never truly be solved. Which conference is truly the best in the nation?

    In recent years, the SEC has made a case why they are the best. However, the Pac-12, the Big Ten and the Big 12 are right behind them.

    Even smaller conferences, like the Mountain West, are making a push towards becoming consistent powers.

    The following is a power ranking of the conferences in the 2011 season. The conferences are judged on the current state of the program and how they will do in the 2011 season.

11. Sun Belt

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    Preseason Ranked Teams: None

    If I asked you to name three teams in the Sun Belt, could you do it?

    I highly doubt it.

    The Sun Belt champion, Florida International, did not win a single non-conference game last season and finished the regular season with a record of just 6-6.

    The most “impressive” team entering the 2011 season in the Sun Belt is Troy. Last season they had the 11th best passing game in the nation behind freshman quarterback Corey Robinson.

10. Mid-American (MAC)

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    Preseason Ranked Teams: None

    The MAC is just about as irrelevant as the Sun Belt. They feature four of the worst teams in college football: Akron, Buffalo, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

    The only reason they are ranked higher on this list is because of Miami (Ohio) and Northern Illinois.

    Both of these teams posted double digit win totals last season, but that could be in large part to their lack of competition.

    I am not sure there is a single team in this conference that would have a winning record in a BCS conference (other than maybe the Big East). 

9. WAC

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    Preseason Ranked Teams: None

    The WAC has taken a serious hit with Boise State moving to the Mountain West and will experience more once Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State follow them there after next season.

    Expect Nevada to win the conference next year, with Fresno State right behind them.

    The loss of quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua will make Nevada a totally different team in 2011, but still the best in the WAC.

    There will not be too many non-conference wins for the teams in the this deteriorating conference next season.

8. Conference USA

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: None

    This conference might not have any ranked teams yet, but they have multiple quality football teams.

    Last season, UCF and Tulsa both had double digit win totals and were two of the six teams that made a bowl game from the conference.

    Along with possible dark horse BCS busters in UCF and Tulsa, there are plenty of other solid squads in Conference USA.

    Teams like Houston, Eastern Carolina and Southern Mississippi all have reasonable chances to make bowl games and compete for a conference championship.

7. Big East

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: None

    The Big East has been the worst BCS conference for years, and will probably keep that title in 2011.

    The usual top dog, West Virginia, should emerge from the conference as champion. They return eight starters on offense, including quarterback Geno Smith.

    In the 2012 season, the Big East will get a new perennial power in TCU. The Horned Frogs will vastly improve the overall strength of the conference.

    If Pittsburgh can find consistency, UConn can continue to improve and West Virginia stays strong, the Big East can improve greatly in the near future.

    But 2011 just will not be the year for the lowly conference.

6. ACC

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    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 12 Florida State, No. 21 Virginia Tech

    Finally a conference with some teams that can make a serious splash nationally.

    For the most part, the ACC is filled with mediocre teams that cannot win quality non-conference games. But this year, there are two teams that have a little something to play for.

    Florida State is one of the most hyped teams in the country. They return 16 starters from a season ago and are thought to be a BCS title dark horse.

    Virginia Tech made a BCS bowl game last season, but are losing many key players from that team. Without four-year starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Hokies.

5. Mountain West

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 8 Boise State, No. 17 TCU

    The Mountain West is a two headed monster with Boise State and TCU.

    Both squads have won BCS bowl games recently and are in position to make it back to those games. However, only one will have a chance next season.

    The two squads play each other on November 12, a game that should decide who gets the bid.

    Other than TCU and Boise State, the Mountain West has two solid bowl teams in San Diego State and Air Force as well.

    They have a similar situation to the ACC, but the Mountain West inched them out on this list because last season they went an FBS best 4-1 in their bowl games.

4. Big Ten

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 5 Ohio State, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 14 Michigan State, No. 18 Nebraska

    When I look at the Big Ten, I don’t see any championship-caliber teams.

    Ohio State would be, but they might not make it past their first five games in which they will be missing key players like Terrelle Pryor and head Coach Jim Tressel.

    That being said, the battle for the Big Ten championship will be one of the most exciting in the country.

    All four of the teams mentioned above have a reasonable chance to win the conference next season.

    Don’t be surprised if the final standings end in a tie like the 2010 season’s did.

3. Pac-12

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 3 Oregon, No. 11 Stanford, No. 22 Arizona State

    The biggest differences between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 are BCS title contenders and star power.

    This conference arguably has the two top Heisman candidates in Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oregon’s LaMichael James.

    The Pac-12 is incredibly deep. Along with the three ranked teams above, there are plenty of other squads who could easily be ranked teams.

    USC, Utah, Washington and Oregon State all have the talent to fight there way into the Top 25 at some time during the season.

    In its inaugural season, the Pac-12 is very strong. This could be one of the craziest college football seasons the west has ever experienced.

2. Big 12

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Missouri, No. 25 Texas

    The battle for the Big 12 is a three team race. Missouri and Texas are not quite at the level of Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, but they are still solid football teams. 

    It will be very tough for anyone to make it through the entire season in the this conference without a loss. However, the Big 12 might be strong enough to deserve two BCS bids in 2011.

    Oklahoma is the early favorite to win the national championship next season. They return a lot of talent from a season ago, as do most of the teams in the conference.

    In most years, this would be the strongest conference in college football.

1. SEC

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Preseason Ranked Teams: No. 2 Alabama, No. 4 LSU, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 19 Mississippi State, No. 20 Georgia, No. 23 Auburn, No. 24 Florida

    This really isn’t even a question. The SEC is easily the strongest conference in college football.

    They have eight ranked teams entering the 2011 season, and numerous BCS title contenders.

    Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina are all as good as any team in the country.

    Like the Big 12, it will be nearly impossible for a team to go undefeated in this conference. However, that’s what people said about Auburn last season.

    I expect the national champion to come out of the SEC. They will be battle tested, and overall the conference has the best talent in the nation.

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