Last year, the SEC placed two teams — Alabama and Georgia — in the College Football Playoff, and those two teams met in the championship game, as well.
The Big Ten, meanwhile, had zero teams make the final four, as Oklahoma and Clemson were the other two finalists.
However, college football guru Phil Steele, who puts out a highly anticipated preseason magazine every year, says he thinks the gap between the two conferences is small heading into 2018, especially at the top (via 247Sports):
“I think talent-wise there’s not much of a difference,” Steele said during Monday’s appearance on 93.7 FM. “You look at Alabama and Georgia last year. Georgia, this year for example, they only have three returning starters on defense. They go from No. 13 in my experience chart to No. 80, so there are some flaws there. The big boys of the Big Ten can hang there. And here’s something — I think in the last 11 years, the SEC has been No. 1 nine times,. But my No. 1 toughest conference in college football last year was the Big Ten.
“I know they didn’t make the playoffs, but when you look at the overall depth of the conference and the outstanding bowl record, the amount of potential Top 10 potential teams … the Big Ten was the toughest conference. And this year, I have them tied with the SEC for No. 1 coming into the season.”
The SEC champion is almost guaranteed a spot in the CFP every year. This year, the B1G champion will have to put together a solid season (while avoiding embarrassing losses to Iowa) to earn a berth.