Last season, the Big East was roundly considered the worst of the "AQ Conferences" in college football. Why, some even posited that they were worse than the Mountain West, and considering the MWC contained Utah and TCU, that wasn’t an unreasonable argument. However, a mere season later, I personally find it safe to say that the Big East isn’t the worst conference of the AQs. In fact, I think they are a pretty good conference… and maybe the third best conference in college football.
We’re all pretty much in agreement the SEC is the best conference, right? At least, we probably should be. Alabama and Florida are there, as well as a bunch of other good teams. Only Vanderbilt would I consider a bad team. Stick Mississippi State in a difference conference and you might have a bowl team. Then, I would say the Pac-10 is solidly second this year, even with USC falling a bit. Oregon has been good, Arizona is under the radar, and Stanford, Oregon State, and Cal all have had rather good seasons.
So, this leaves five reasonable contenders for the title of third best conference: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, and the Mountain West. As much as the MWC is impressive up top, and you could make the case TCU should play for the national title if Texas falters, the presence of winless New Mexico, who only achieved any relevance due to their face punching coach, leaves them out in my book. The ACC has Georgia Tech, who is really fun to watch, an up and coming Miami (FL) team, a down but still good Virginia Tech who has been really let down by Tyrod Taylor, and Clemson who’s pretty good because they have C.J. Spiller. Also, Duke might make a bowl game, which would be cool. However, they also have a lot of mediocre teams. Clemson might make the ACC title game simply from playing in the bad half of the conference.
Speaking of conferences with uneven divisions, I’ll talk about the Big 12 now. Actually, since I think they are at least the fourth best conference, allow me to get the Big Ten out of the way first. No national title contender. A less than stellar Ohio State team might win it. Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, and Indiana all play there. I think people were too hard on them last season, but this year they are definitely down. Now, it comes down to the Big East and the Big 12.
The Big 12 has the best team, I’ll give you that. Texas is better than Cincinnati. That said, I think I might take the Big East’s top three (Cincy, Pitt, and WVU) over the next best team in the Big 12 (Oklahoma State?). No matter who is under center the Bearcats are winning. Bill Stull has done a complete 180 this season for the Panthers, and stud freshman wide receiver Dion Lewis has certainly helped. West Virginia is good as per usual. Meanwhile, Big 12 powers from recent years such as Oklahoma and Missouri are having down years. So are Texas Tech and Nebraska. Kansas State might win the Big 12 North. A tribute to Bill Snyder’s coaching ability? Sure. A referendum on the lack of talent in that division? Yeah, it’s probably that too.
Yes, the Big East has two lousy teams in their cellar, and as an eight team conference that really hurts. However, the Big 12 has way more mediocre teams than it usually does, and the Big East is still really good at the top. You can take the Big 12 if you want, but I’m taking the Big East this season.