The SEC finally has its villain.

Cue Darth Vader’s imperial march anthem.

The man in the black helmet comes in the form of former SEC hero-turned-Playoff champion, Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s savior. His henchmen, Jim Harbaugh, Mark Dantonio and James Franklin, are equally notable role players in a calculated attack on college football.

The Big Ten, long labeled the SEC’s punching bag during bowl season, turned other Power 5s on their collective heads last fall when its three elites — Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin — combined to finish 4-0 during the postseason.

The impetus made its way through national media types culminating in several Meyer > Nick Saban admissions — perhaps a piping hot take but nonetheless good for the sport.

RELATED: SEC could set a record in 2015 preseason Top 25

The SEC was just 2-4 against ranked opponents during bowl season with two noteworthy head-to-head losses to the Big Ten coming in New Orleans and Tampa. An underdog in all 10 of its bowl games, the Big Ten managed to win five of them including the Spartans’ memorable 21-point fourth-quarter comeback against Big XII co-champion Baylor.

The league’s calling card was the play of its elites, highlighted by Ohio State’s romp of Oregon in the first-ever Playoff finale with a third-string, now well-known, quarterback. What a difference a year made for the league, a single decade-reversing season that seemed to alter popular opinion the conference’s favor.

The overwhelming favorite to win back-to-back national title as a unanimous preseason No. 1, it appears the Buckeyes have staying power at the top which means the Big Ten is back.


Based on preseason Top 25 projections from various experts, the SEC remains college football’s most impressive league from top-to-bottom:

Sports Illustrated

  • 6 SEC ranked teams (Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Mizzou, Texas A&M)
  • 4 Big Ten ranked teams (Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota)


  • 9 SEC ranked teams (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tennessee)
  • 3 Big Ten ranked teams (Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin)

Phil Steele

  • 9 SEC ranked teams (Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Mizzou, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee)
  • 3 Big Ten ranked teams (Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin)

Regardless of preseason perception, the Big Ten holds exclusive national bragging rights on the grand stage — the only thing that mattered to the SEC during the league’s seven-year reign at the top of the BCS.

A league is only as good as its best teams and the Big Ten’s elites have momentum.

The SEC has a chance at early-season Power 5 redemption during opening weekend thanks to Alabama’s prime-time date with Wisconsin in Texas, Auburn’s matinee against Louisville inside the Georgia Dome and Texas A&M’s tussle with Arizona State.

Those are three marquee matchups we’ll be fixated on as SEC fans.

College football’s superpower hasn’t lost its title of the nation’s best conference, but the Big Ten and Pac-12 are catching up.