1- Big 12
So far, the Big 12 is hanging on to the No. 1 spot due to tremendous depth in the conference. From top to bottom, no conference has the depth of the Big 12—only two teams in the conference have losing overall records. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won't play each other until December 3, so until that happens, everything is still up in the air. The Sooners appear to have the easier path of the two teams but with the devastating loss of wide receiver Ryan Broyles, things got a little more concerning. In this conference, this year, nothing is a given.
The conference has had a reputation of not playing solid defense, and the numbers back it up—only Texas has a top 25 defense. The Big 12 does have six teams with top 11 offenses and five in the top 10. Is that a result of average-to-poor defense? Possibly. It's also due to a lot of offenses that are very difficult to stop.
The Game of the Century was played and it turned out to be a battle of field goals—defensive games are fun to watch but missed field goals and a 3-3 tie at the half, well, are not. The hype over Alabama was over-the-top—the Crimson Tide have faced one top 25 offense (Arkansas) while the rest of the offenses they have played are ranked anywhere from No. 87 (LSU) to No. 120 (Kent State). That's not to say that Alabama isn't a very good team—they are—but their soft schedule in the next few weeks will possibly drop them in the BCS computer polls.
Arkansas can raise the conference's rankings up to No. 1 by beating LSU or at least staying competitive in the game. Florida, South Carolina and Georgia are still question marks—Florida lost four straight games before righting the ship against Vanderbilt, South Carolina just got spanked by Arkansas and Georgia has yet to beat a currently-ranked team.
The Pac-12 South's picture got a little bit clearer with UCLA defeating Arizona State. Shocking? Not really. This was my Pac-12 Game of the Week for good reason and the Bruins didn't disappoint. UCLA controls its own destiny while Arizona State has to depend on the Bruins to falter since both teams have a 4-2 record in the Pac-12, along with USC, who isn't post-season eligible.
The Pac-12 South looks above average in depth while the North looks very strong in depth. Stanford and Oregon are at the top of the North with no conference losses, but this Saturday will change everything—the Ducks travel to Palo Alto, California to play for what most think are all the marbles.
4- Big Ten
The game of the week is Nebraska v Penn State, but the anticipation of the game has taken a new tone after allegations against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky came to light—this game could very well be a blowout by the Cornhuskers since the Nittany Lions may be distracted. The 8-1 Nittany Lions still don't look like a BCS contender despite holding the best record in the Big Ten. At No. 12 in the BCS poll, they're the highest ranked team.
Michigan still looks like a work-in-progress. Nebraska has been a mixed bag and is currently No. 19 in the BCS rankings. Michigan State has played brilliantly at times, but not consistently. The Spartans just aren't there yet and neither is Wisconsin. Granted, Wisconsin's two losses were to two very good teams, but with a schedule rated 87th in strength (Sagarin Ratings, 11-06-2011) and losing to both Michigan State and Ohio State, you can't make a case for them as a top 10 team right now.
The Big Ten, like the Pac-12, has four teams with losing overall records but the difference between the two conferences is that the Pac-12 has two BCS title contenders while the Big Ten, this late in the season, does not.
The Coastal division will become a lot clearer this Thursday when the Virginia Tech Hokies take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but if the Hokies lose and Virginia beats Duke, things will get a lot more muddled and may not be decided until Virginia plays Virginia Tech on November 26.
The Atlantic can almost be put to bed this Saturday when Clemson hosts Wake Forest—the Tigers control their own destiny. The Tigers look like the class of the ACC with a fantastic offense but a youthful defense. Are we at the point where the ACC could overpower the Big Ten? Almost. We need to see how the big boys play this weekend before moving the ACC up.
6- Big East
What's going on here? West Virginia lost to Louisville and now the darling of the conference has two losses. What's more amazing is that the Mountaineers still could be in the thick of things since the Cincinnati Bearcats have four games left on their schedule while West Virginia has only three including Cincinnati this Saturday. Nothing is a given, nothing is assumed and right now, the entire conference is up for grabs. But since we're talking about conference rankings, consider this: The highest ranked Big East team is Cincinnati at No. 23 in the BCS poll.