The SEC has finally sifted out the questionable teams and made a definitive statement with four very good teams now poised to represent the conference. Alabama and LSU were always without a doubt the class of the conference, but Arkansas is proving to still be a contender and Georgia finally looks like a threat to the West's representative in the SEC Championship.
I'm still not sold on South Carolina, but the Gamecocks are not folding yet — they need Georgia to lose to Kentucky to win the tie-breaker in the East. It probably won't happen, but this is college football. There's a little Appalachian State in every team.
2. Big 12
The Big 12 still looks mean and nasty. Texas was upset by Missouri, one of the bottom-tiered teams in the Big 12. And there is so much depth besides Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — only one team in the conference has a losing overall record. But the reason why the Big 12 dropped to No. 2 in the ranking is fairly simple: the third and fourth best teams in the Big 12 — Kansas State and Baylor — are a notch below the SEC's Arkansas and Georgia. Still, it's a deep conference and just a hair below the SEC.
Oregon took Stanford to the woodshed 53-30 after the Cardinal fell apart in the fourth quarter with plenty of miscues by quarterback Andrew Luck. So was Stanford overrated? Maybe. The biggest argument against them has been that they haven't played anyone up to this point. Oregon looks back to form, but they have USC this week. Will they be hung over?
UCLA put itself in a bad situation by losing to Utah, but they're not out of contention in the South yet. The Bruins just need to win out against Colorado and USC or split the two and hope Arizona State drops one more game. If the Bruins lose to either of those teams and Arizona State wins out, the Bruins won't be representing the South in the Pac-12 Championship.
4. Big Ten
The situation at Penn State is difficult to assess in terms of how the Nittany Lions got beat by Nebraska. Were they too distracted by all of the emotions they were feeling after the child sex abuse allegations came to light or were they really not as good as their then-8-1 record? Probably more of the latter then former, but the Nittany Lions did rally in the second half and their entire team and fan base — as well as Nebraska's — should be commended for the compassion and class they displayed both on and off the field.
Michigan State looks like the best bet to win the Legends — they've got a one game lead over Michigan and Nebraska. Although they lost to the Cornhuskers, Michigan State has (Indiana scheduled, then at Northwestern) sets up nicely for a win out. Penn State still leads the Leaders division, but they've got back-to-back road games at Ohio State and Wisconsin, which looks like the best bet to win the Leaders. Wisconsin and Michigan State are both solid teams, but like Nebraska and Ohio State, they don't look like they could hang with the best teams in the other three conferences ranked above them.
It's Clemson and Virginia Tech. That's it. Miami, Florida State and Georgia Tech all faltered this season and there are not a lot of teams left that can really bolster the conference, barring any last minute two-week miracle. Six teams in the ACC do not have winning overall records. It's not a bad conference; it's more of a disappointing conference.
So much was expected from Florida State. Sure, injuries played a huge part in the Seminoles early-season losses, but they have to do better with all the young talent on the team. The 'Noles have reeled off five consecutive wins, but those five opponents have a combined 9-23 conference record and an 18-32 overall record.
6. Big East
Cincinnati remains in the driver's seat with a 3-1 conference record. The Bearcats and Rutgers can control their own destiny and in a coincidence, they both play each other this Saturday — winner should win the Big East unless Rutgers loses to UConn the following week or Cincinnati drops one of their two final two games to Syracuse or UConn.
Basically, UConn can ruin everyone's life in the Big East. Then again, any team can take the Big East if Cincinnati loses. One of these teams gets an automatic berth to a BCS bowl yet as of now, not one of these teams is ranked in the AP top 25.