Power Dozen: SEC Reigns Again
The SEC again can make a strong case as the nation's best conference this week, starting with Alabama, a unanimous No. 1 in our Power Dozen.
Oregon fell to No. 6 in our poll after falling to Stanford in what at one point was a 26-0 bloodbath. Meanwhile, Baylor looked impressive against previous No. 11 Oklahoma on Thursday, remaining unbeaten, but somehow barely squeaked past the Cardinal for No. 4. (Yes, somehow — many forget Stanford lost to 4-5 Utah. What's the equivalent? Mississippi State? Maryland?)
Back to the SEC. Gone from our initial Power Dozen are Georgia, LSU and Florida. In are Auburn and Missouri. The conference lost three Power Dozen teams and still claims five of the 12 slots. How many others could ever say that? And before you cite bias, realize that more than one-third of our voters are from western states.
There's more: The ACC and Pac-12, the next two conferences in my mind, don't come close. Florida State is an approximation of Alabama, and Clemson is No. 8. That's two strong teams. But Clemson is surrounded by No. 7 Auburn, No. 9 Missouri and No. 10 Texas A&M.
The Pac-12 does produce two Top-5 teams, the only conference that can claim that distinction. But its next-best team, UCLA, barely edges Fresno State in our list of teams that received consideration, but failed to make the Power Dozen. So the Pac-12's third-best team has a healthy gap to make up to catch the SEC's fifth-best team in South Carolina.
I don't know that it's fair to rank conferences solely based on its best team, but I don't think the "top-to-bottom" stuff matters much either. Are we really going to rank conferences by pitting Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa State, Purdue and Virginia?
I think the best way is to compare the top half or so. Let's say the Top 7. The top of the heap is obvious for our Power Dozen, and the SEC has three of the nation's seven nine-win programs.
For fringe top-half teams, Ole Miss and Florida don't even qualify in the SEC (Georgia, LSU), to which the ACC (Syracuse, Boston College) and Pac-12 (Arizona, Washington) middles don't compare. Big Ten (Michigan, Penn State) and Big 12 (Kansas State, West Virginia), don't even think about it.
|1||Alabama||9-0||0||—||at Mississippi State||1|
|2||Florida State||9-0||30||+30||vs. Syracuse||3|
|3||Ohio State||9-0||52||+22||at Illinois||4|
|4||Baylor||8-0||65||+13||vs. Texas Tech||5|
|8||Clemson||8-1||116||+2||vs. Georgia Tech (Thursday)||8|
|9||Missouri||9-1||126||+10||at Ole Miss (Nov. 23)||9|
|10||Texas A&M||8-2||161||+35||at LSU (Nov. 23)||12|
|11||Oklahoma State||8-1||173||+12||at Texas||—|
|12||South Carolina||7-2||191||+18||vs. Florida||—|
Less Than Max Score Of 225: Michigan State (201), UCLA (211), Fresno State (213), Louisville (215), UCF (219), LSU (223).
Dropped Out: LSU, Oklahoma.
Power Dozen Scuttlebutt
|1||Alabama||Air of inevitability around Tide in big games after controlling LSU late.|
|2||Florida State||Seminoles' work is done. Can cruise into ACC championship.|
|3||Ohio State||Can't decide if Buckeyes fans are excited or heartbroken to be No. 3.|
|4||Baylor||Can Bears impress by knocking off trio with at least seven wins?|
|5||Stanford||Second straight bittersweet win vs. UO has fans asking, "What if?"|
|6||Oregon||Ducks ought to be thankful it was Stanford and not Alabama.|
|7||Auburn||Tigers proving you still can ride run game into SEC contention.|
|8||Clemson||Once ranked No. 3, Tigers now fourth one-loss team thanks to FSU.|
|9||Missouri||Should get back QB James Franklin for Ole Miss game.|
|10||Texas A&M||That was quick. Johnny Football's career likely done in two games.|
|11||Oklahoma State||Best chance of any team to knock Baylor off Big 12 throne.|
|12||South Carolina||Spurrier's bunch should stay in SEC East hunt until final week.|
Finally every voter agrees on No. 1 and No. 2. Ohio State, Baylor and Stanford are more jumbled in the next three slots, though again, I can't figure how anyone would rank the Cardinal above any unbeaten BCS conference school after they lost to a Utah team that's 1-5 in the Pac-12. What if Ohio State lost to Michigan? What if Baylor lost to TCU? Would they still rank ahead of Stanford? At any rate, one voter dropped Oregon down to 10th after Thursday's loss to the Cardinal, but otherwise the Ducks kept a tight range between No. 5 and No. 8.
Auburn, Clemson and Missouri represent another grouping of three that are fairly jumbled in voters' minds, and then it's flavor of the day, as the last three schools in our Power Dozen just happened to get fewer votes kicking them off the island than Michigan State and UCLA.
Voters: Christopher Smith, David Seigerman, Joe Coughlin, Joe Jenkins, Dan Harralson, Chris Wuensch, Ken Pomponio, Matt Natali, Jon Coffey, Veair Green, Chris Stephens, Henry McKenna, Eric Russell.