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Monday, November 26, 2012
Big 12's depth will go unnoticed ... again

By David Ubben

The Big 12 is the deepest conference in college football, top to bottom. This is not up for debate.

West Virginia and Baylor left home this weekend and came back with their sixth wins of the season. That gave the Big 12 nine bowl-eligible teams.

The SEC had nine last year? Cool. It didn't do it with 10 teams and a nine-game conference schedule.

The Big 12 did. That means every Big 12 team played nine conference games and couldn't sign up for a gimme putt to enter conference play with four wins already in the bank. Two of the bowl-eligible teams from the SEC last year won just two league games.

The SEC equaled the Big 12's nine bowl-eligible teams again this year, but did so with 14 teams in the fold and just an eight-game SEC schedule.

Argue the "best" all you want. The deepest is not up for debate. The SEC has six teams in the top 12 of the polls? Congratulations. The rest of the SEC's record against those six teams: 0-30. Not a single win by the bottom eight teams in the SEC against the top six.

Please explain to me how that signifies depth. It doesn't.

The bad news for the Big 12? It won't get the credit for its league strength for the same reason it didn't in 2011: There won't be a Big 12 team in the national title game.

In this day of SEC dominance, a mountain of bowl trophies can't compete with that crystal football when it comes to perception. The SEC has landed the last six, and for the third consecutive season, the Big 12 won't get an opportunity to dethrone the Southern dynasty. If it did, a whole lot more eyes would be opened to the top-to-bottom excellence in the Big 12 and the difficulty of navigating a schedule with that many good teams every single week.

Even that top six of the SEC has wins against, uh, mostly just itself and middling ACC teams, save Alabama's win over Michigan and Florida's win over Florida State this past weekend.

The SEC's reputation is built on the back of its national title run, and perhaps deservedly so. But the Big 12's a lot closer to the SEC than it gets credit for, and better when you look at the two leagues from top to bottom.

Kansas State's upset loss to Baylor will deny the Big 12 to defend its reputation on the game's biggest stage, but 90 percent of the league has been doing work all season.

It's just a shame that won't be on display because too many won't see beyond the SEC's likely dominance once again in the national title game. A league is made up of 10-14 teams, not just one. Or in the SEC's case, even six.

Match 'em up from top to bottom, and the Big 12 is stronger, even if the top might be a little heavier in the SEC.