By TODD FUHRMAN
The time to shine is finally here. All the posturing, resume building, and quality win discussion becomes moot after just one more Saturday. Your trusted playoff committee has spoken; placing the ultimate college football blue blood Alabama on the outside looking in after losing to Auburn seemingly far from controlling their own destiny with a potential two-loss Big Ten Champion in Ohio State lurking in the shadows. Naturally, that sparked a major debate among over zealous fan bases throughout the SEC; which conference is better? Here’s a high level look at point spreads pitting each member of the Big Ten against their SEC counterpart based on playoff standings for those up top and then season standings after that.
Modest assumptions were required based on injuries, changes in coaching personnel, and all the other shenanigans altering the complexion of a December kickoff compared to Mid-October. (Sorry Vol fans, regardless of who coaches you guys won’t see a bump in power profile.)
Auburn -5 vs. Wisconsin
Alabama -5.5 vs. Ohio State
Georgia -3 vs. Penn State (assumes Joe Moorhead remained as Penn State OC)
LSU -11.5 vs. Michigan State
We could stop right there since you’re clearly seeing a firm divide among the top of the league. Don’t worry, we’ll continue to keep the discussion fair.
Northwestern -2.5 vs. South Carolina
Mississippi State -1 vs. Michigan (assumes a healthy Nick Fitzgerald)
Missouri -6 vs. Purdue (yes, we know they played already spare us the rant)
Iowa -3.5 vs. Kentucky
Texas A&M -10 vs. Nebraska
Ole Miss -9.5 vs. Rutgers
Florida -7 vs. Maryland
Indiana -5 vs. Vanderbilt
Arkansas PK vs. Minnesota (assumes Brett Bielema as head coach)
Tennessee -8 vs. Illinois
Quickly tabulating results shows the SEC as decided favorites (more than 3 points) in 8 hypothetical match-ups. The Big Ten is favored by more than 3.5 points just once, in the Indiana vs. Vanderbilt match up. We know a committee didn’t seed this mythical tournament field, we know all the games wouldn’t go according to suit, and we know individual team-by-team match-ups play a tremendous role in a conference’s ability to save face. However, when push comes to shove the SEC is still better than the Big Ten on paper and the gambling community at large continues to back that notion with their hard earned money.
Every handicapper or bookmaker like BetOnline.AG offers a differing opinion, meaning we can’t speak for the industry as a whole. Obviously, there’s no perfect answer for such a dilemma in figuring out conference supremacy unless college football ultimately decided to be proactive and create one Saturday, every September, where power 5 conferences rotate opponents top to bottom like we see annually on the hardwoods (spare me with the logistics arguments, we have a good idea here so run with it). Who complains if the SEC plays the BigXII in 2018 while the PAC 12 faces off against the ACC? Then the following year you rotate and we all have one big party as fans of college football instead of the Big Ten feasting on the MAC annually while SEC schools run up the score New Mexico State.
We also wouldn’t be doing our jobs this week if we failed to include the final edition of our Vegas top 10. No need for overrated or underrated at this juncture of the season; bowl games are a different beast examining numbers.
Looking for our best bet on Championship Saturday? Listen to Bet the Board podcast where we broke down all Power 5 league titles with LSU legend and 2-time Super Bowl champion, Booger McFarland.