NCAA football: Bragging rights

Bragging rights. That’s what professional sports is all about, right? Well, money first, and then bragging rights. When it comes to college football, being the best in your conference isn’t necessarily enough. What really matters to the throngs of rabid NCAA pigskin fans across the nation is which conference is the best. It means more in bragging rights and in the BSC overall rating (under the strength of schedule area) when your conference is heralded as one of the top 3 out there. Let’s take a look at some of the top conferences and see which one might surface to the cream of the crop for the 2009 season.

Big 10: Always rich with football spirit and history, this year’s class likely will be led by a familiar face in Ohio State. Sitting on 10/1 odds in the futures to win it all, the Buckeyes always boost the quality of this conference. Penn State likely won’t have a repeat of last year’s success, but still remains formidable. They’re chances fall to 42/1 right now, behind 25/1 Notre Dame but well ahead of Michigan (80/1) and Michigan State (85/1). Wisconsin, Illinois and the rest won’t help the Big 10 win any best conference arguments this year, as well.

Big 12: Now here’s a “big” conference worthy of the title. Missouri loses a couple key veterans but should still be a ranked team, even though they’re at 80/1. Surprising and strong Oklahoma State (60/1) looks to maintain its newfound position hobnobbing with the elite of the conference. Nebraska (40/1) is back on the rise after years in conference mediocrity…and that’s before we even get to the big boys. Oklahoma (9/2), Texas (7/1) and Texas Tech (55/1) will run circles around any NCAA team they face. And the aforementioned two should be in everyone’s title picture. Last year, the Big 12 WAS the best conference around, at one with point 5 teams in the top 10. Who else can say that?

SEC: OK, can’t leave out the conference with the Florida Gators. Yes, they’re the favorites again right now (2/1 odds to win the title). But there’s more to the SEC than just blue and orange. Alabama boasted a great run last year, as well, and at 20/1 right now they’re getting the respect they deserve on and off the field. Georgia fell off as the year went on, and they’re at 50/1 this year. I’m not too high on their underclassman, so they’ll have to prove themselves all over again. After that, Mississippi is worth a mention, but nobody else makes the cut. Sorry, Florida and Alabama can’t carry this conference to the top.