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October 28, 2011

Which league is best in 2011: SEC or Big 12?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: We're two-thirds of the way into the season. Which league is the best?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
It's still the SEC. How can that be debated? Six teams are ranked in the BCS standings, and Alabama and LSU could be the two best teams in the country. Arkansas' only loss is to Alabama. SEC teams have posted wins over Penn State (7-1), Oregon (6-1), West Virginia (5-2), Texas A&M (5-2) and Cincinnati (6-1). Sure, the league has some losses, too. But Georgia lost to unbeaten Boise State, Auburn lost to unbeaten Clemson and Ole Miss blew a game to 6-2 BYU - and Ole Miss is the SEC's worst team.

David Fox's answer:
This essentially is a decision between the Big 12 and the SEC. The Big 12 is 26-3 against non-conference competition, the SEC 31-4. The SEC has the head-to-head edge because of one game - Arkansas' comeback against Texas A&M. The SEC has the edge at the top with LSU and Alabama. Still, I'm going to pick the Big 12 for the overall edge. After LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and maybe South Carolina, there's not much to get excited about in the SEC this season. Oklahoma is still very good. Oklahoma State may compete for the national title, and Kansas State is still lingering out there as an unlikely undefeated team. A&M finally got its act together after consecutive second-half collapses. Texas and Missouri are at least as good as Florida or Tennessee this season. No one in the Big 12 may be as good as LSU or Alabama, but how many Big 12 teams could win the SEC East? I say at least five or six.

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Mike Huguenin's answer:
It's either the Big 12 or the SEC. A huge plus for the SEC is that Alabama and LSU are the best teams in the league and the best teams in the nation. But depth gives the Big 12 the advantage. Arkansas is the third-best team in the SEC, but who's the fourth-best? South Carolina, which no longer has Marcus Lattimore? Georgia? Auburn, which no longer seems to have an offense? Yes, Arkansas beat Texas A&M, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are better than Arkansas, and while A&M didn't beat Arkansas, the Aggies could beat anyone outside the top three in the SEC this season. Texas Tech, Kansas State, Texas, even Baylor - their chances against anyone outside the SEC's top three would be darned good. A big difference between the Big 12 and the SEC is that the Big 12 has vastly better quarterbacks top to bottom. The SEC seems likely to have the national champion, but for the first time in a while, it can't claim to be hands-down the best league.

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Steve Megargee's answer:
The SEC doesn't have as much balance as usual, but I can't think of a better league. Nobody else in the conference has really challenged LSU or Alabama, as both teams have won all their games by double-digit margins. But those two teams are so strong - clearly the best in the nation thus far - that they help make an otherwise weaker-than-usual SEC the strongest conference in the country. The one thing that does concern me about the SEC is a lack of quality non-conference performances by anyone aside from LSU and Alabama. Tennessee whipped Big East leader Cincinnati 45-23, but there aren't many other non-conference wins that stick out. Georgia lost to Boise State. South Carolina struggled past a Navy team that's below .500. Auburn lost to Clemson and needed an onside kick conversion to rally past Utah State. Kentucky fell to Louisville. Mississippi State needed overtime to beat Louisiana Tech. It will be interesting to see how this conference fares in bowl season.

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