The Big Ten vs SEC

Most people that follow college football this year tend to agree that the two best conferences in 2010 are the Big Ten and the SEC.  Both conferences have several quality football programs this year, and most notably, the top two teams in the polls all year have been Alabama and Ohio State.

Big Ten vs SECIn recent years, the SEC has dominated the big games between the two conferences – most notably, the two national championship games against Ohio State (Florida in 2006, LSU in 2007).  Of course, the best argument for the SEC being the better conference in recent years is 4 straight BCS championships (Florida, LSU, Florida, Alabama).

One of the best images that helped kickoff this run, and helped Florida beat a heavily favored Ohio State team was Earl Everett’s tackle of QB Troy Smith without a helmet – easily, the pinnacle of excitement for Florida fans during the 2006 National Championship game.

As it stands currently, most people would probably pick Alabama to face off against Ohio State this year in the championship.  My thoughts are that Ohio State has a much easier road to that game versus Alabama.  Ohio State could easily face a couple different SEC teams depending on how the SEC season unfolds.  Alabama has a very tough schedule.  Most would agree that this would be a great matchup.

Alabama is also leading the charge in scheduling quality out-of-conference games, especially against Big Ten teams.  Alabama played Penn State earlier this year (beat them soundly), and has recently announced plans to play Michigan in the 2012 season opener in Texas Stadium.  I would sure like to see other quality programs schedule similar games – hats off to the Alabama program for putting these marquee games together.

Here’s a look at some other Big Ten vs SEC games over recent years:


  • Penn State beat Tennessee in the Outback Bowl
  • Wisconsin beat Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl
  • LSU beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship


  • Tennessee beat Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl
  • Michigan beat Florida in the Capital One Bowl
  • LSU beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship


  • Iowa beat South Carolina in the Outback Bowl
  • Georgia beat Michigan state in the Capital One Bowl


  • Penn State beat LSU in the Capital One Bowl
  • Auburn beat Northwestern in the Outback Bowl


  • Alabama beat Penn State in the regular season



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  • It’s worth noting that in almost every bowl game, the SEC sends a lower conference seed than the opposition.

    e.g. #4 SEC vs #2 ACC
    #9 SEC vs #1 MAC

    so on and so forth.

  • A few other things worth noting:
    1. In 2010 Penn State is to the Big 10 what Georgia is to the SEC. For example: Alabama 24 vs. Penn State 3 at Alabama, Illinois 33 vs. Penn State 13 at Penn State. Illinois is much improved, but is perhaps the #6 team in the Big 10 this year. I would put Penn State @ #8 – ahead of Minnesota, Purdue and Indiana only. (1. OSU, 2. MSU, 3. Iowa, 4. Wisconsin, 5. Michigan, 6. Illinois, 7. Northwestern, 8. PSU) What would everyone in the south say if Big 10 fans said OSU beating Tennessee by 21 points at home this year was an indication of the Big 10 being better?
    2. Since 2000, SEC has a 15-14 advantage in bowl games. Since 2005, the Big Ten actually leads 8-7 in bowl games. In other words, don’t let facts get in the way of making a statement like the SEC has “dominated” the Big 10 head to head. What do you think the records would be if we subtracted OSUs record (I, along with fans of 9 other Big 10 teams, HATE Ohio State)
    3. The SEC currently has 295 NFL players vs. 266 from the Big 10. However, remember that the SEC has one more team (12 SEC teams vs. 11 in the Big 10). This levels the totals, as each team in BOTH of the conferences averages about 24 players currently in the NFL. In other words, the talent levels are equal – like it or not. Teams that pay players don’t cater to favorites, they pay based on talent…….and currently, they are just as likely to pay players from the Big 10 schools as they are to pay players from SEC schools.
    4. I don’t buy that Ohio State would have an easier road than Alabama. Bama had Florida at home, while OSU has to go on the road to BOTH Iowa and Wisconson. Do you really think any SEC team would be a “sure thing” to win going into a place like Iowa City, in November, against a top 5 defense like the Hawkeyes? If you do, you don’t know much about football. One of the things that angers me the most about SEC fans is their tendency to downplay teams in the Big 10s schedules. For every Minnesota, Indiana and Purdue in the Big 10, there’s a Vanderbilt, Kentucky or Mississippi State in the SEC. Another example of schedule strength: Bama fans love to chirp their “tough” schedule, but they have a bit of a break playing Mississippi this week and I believe play Georgia State soon. In the mean time, undefeated Michigan State has played Wisconsin, followed by a game at Michigan, followed by Illinois (who, as noted above, had the same margin of victory over PSU as Alabama had), followed by a game at Northwestern (who has 1 loss), followed by a game at Iowa.
    I think the one thing that seperates the strength of schedule is the SEC having a championship game……but the Big 10 will have one starting next year anyway.

    In closing, I will give the edge to the SEC simply based on winning the last 4 national championships. That gives bragging rights to the SEC, but let’s not over do it. Just about any other way you slice it, these two great conferences are pretty close.

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