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Thursday, January 20, 2011
Pac-10 is the No. 2 conference

By Ted Miller

The Pac-10 chant for the 2010 season: "We're No. 2! We're No. 2!"

Hey, it could be worse.

It should come as no surprise that the SEC reigns supreme in ESPN Stats & Information final college football conference rankings for 2010. Sure, the SEC was only 5-5 this bowl season, but it won a fifth consecutive national championship -- with a fifth different team in the BCS Era -- and finished with six teams in the final AP poll.

The Pac-10 blog has taken issue with the almost reflexive assumption of SEC supremacy a number of times in the past, mostly because the Pac-10 blog -- humbly -- only wished to educate the ignorant. The Pac-10 blog, however, will only tip its cap to the SEC this year.

The SEC was way ahead of the Pac-10 in the final tally, while the Pac-10, No. 3 Big 12 and No. 4 Big Ten were fairly tight. More than a few folks from the Big 12 might give the final rankings a "harrumph." The Big 12, after all, had five teams ranked in the final top-25, the Pac-10 just two.

In an interesting twist, it is the Pac-10 that appears top-heavy compared to the Texas-Oklahoma conference. With No. 3 Oregon and No. 4 Stanford, the Pac-10 is the only conference with two teams ranked in the final top-five, but after that no other teams ended up in the top-25, and only one, Washington, received any votes in either final major poll.

And that was just a single vote in the Coaches poll. FYI: Steve Sarkisian was a voter this season.

The Pac-10 is helped in the conference standings by bowl victories against teams ranked in the final AP poll: Stanford against No. 16 Virginia Tech, the ACC champion, and Washington against No. 20 Nebraska, the Big 12 North champ. Further, the Pac-10 posted nonconference wins against Iowa, Notre Dame and Hawaii -- all three received votes in both final polls -- as well as Syracuse and Louisville, which both won bowl games. Victories against Texas, Colorado, Wake Forest, Tennessee and Houston don't carry as much weight as they would in most seasons, but they contributed to a strong 17-12 overall record versus FBS foes and a 12-7 mark against AQ conference foes.

While some are hung up on the Pac-10 only producing four bowl-eligible teams -- it actually was five; USC was just ineligible because of NCAA sanctions -- the tough nonconference schedules and the nine-game conference slate are mostly responsible for that. Arizona State, which lost by a single point at Wisconsin, would have been bowl eligible if San Jose State didn't break a game contract to chase a payday with Alabama, and the same could be said of Oregon State if it didn't schedule a pair of top-10 nonconference foes (No. 2 TCU and No. 9 Boise State).

The Pac-10's arduous schedule is accounted for, by the way, in the highly respected Sagarin Ratings, which rank the Pac-10 No. 1.

Still, the Pac-10 wasn't No. 1 in its final year before it becomes the Pac-12. The SEC earned the top spot after beating the undefeated Pac-10 champion for the national title.

Again, a tip of the cap. No trash talk.

One last thing, though: Oregon-LSU, Sept. 2.

Buckle up.