The SEC may be king of the college football world, but the much maligned Big East boasts the most competitive lineup from top to bottom.
USF was supposed to be among the top contenders to win a league title, but the Bulls already lost 23-13 to Rutgers last week. And the Scarlet Knights were a bit of a wild card following the departure of coach Greg Schiano, but the team had no trouble against favorite USF.
Louisville is the team most likely to win a Big East title, but the Cardinals will surely face many challenges along the way. Such parity is a big reason outsiders tend to bash the Big East. It also happens to be a big reason the league is worth watching. Anything can happen.
I've got to name the Big 12 as Comeback Conference of the Century. For a league that looked like it might go extinct last year when it ran off its commissioner as the Pac-12 and SEC made raids, the Big 12 has recovered quite nicely.
The Big 12 is ranked No. 1 in this week's Sagarin ratings, ahead of the SEC and Pac-12. The Big 12 has played a lot of cream puffs to get that glossy 22-2 nonconference record, but it also may have replaced the Pac-12 as the best conference for quarterbacks.
The league that almost went bust has eight unbeaten schools and has outscored nonconference opponents by an average of 48.3 to 13.9. The Big 12 survived — and advanced.
Whether any league can break the SEC's hold on the national championship remains to be seen. But the Big 12 certainly has a wildly entertaining and competitive look.
Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Kansas State and TCU bring not only depth but also intrigue. Are the Sooners and/or Longhorns ready to resume dominance? How will the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs fare in their maiden Big 12 seasons? Might Oklahoma's Landry Jones or West Virginia's Geno Smith follow RGIII as a Big 12 Heisman-winning QB?
Let's do this by process of elimination. Colorado's 69-14 loss to Fresno State made me wonder how the Buffaloes would fare in the Lingerie Football League. So the Pac-12 is out. Alabama is a world apart from Kentucky. So you can't pick the SEC.
It's tempting to choose the Big Ten because of its low ceiling (Ohio State?) and the fact that expected bottom-feeder Indiana is 2-1. But neither has a quality victory.
I'll pick the Big East. Without West Virginia, the highest-ranked team is No. 19 Louisville, which on Saturday got outgained by Florida International. And the worst team record-wise is Syracuse, which played USC, Northwestern and Minnesota tough.