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September 26, 2007

SCS.comWith the college football season now approaching its fifth weekend, two conferences have separated themselves from the pack as the best in the country. The SEC and Pac-10, which have been home to some of the top teams year in and year out for the better part of this decade, are once again dominating this season. Ten of the top twenty-five teams in the current AP Poll call one of those two conferences home, and three more teams received votes this week. With all of the success so far by the SEC and the Pac-10, it is only expected that the obvious question is asked: which conference is better?

Top Dogs

USC and LSU have established themselves as the two best teams in the country. The Trojans' offense has been a powerhouse for years, and this season is no different. Behind the stellar arm of John David Booty and the monster running game led by Stafon Johnson, USC is averaging 462 yards and 45 points per game. The question though lies with the defense. Do the Trojans have enough stopping power to win games if their offense is slowed down?

LSU represents the total package. With an offense putting up numbers just as impressive as USC, the Tigers have a great rushing attack, and quarterback Matt Flynn has done well calling the signals. Where the Tigers differ though is their scary good defense. LSU is allowing less than a touchdown per game. In fact last week's win over South Carolina was the first time all season LSU allowed more than 7 points and was held under 40 points.

Edge: SEC

Other Contenders

Cal, Oregon and Arizona State represent the next line of Pac-10 teams. After an impressive season opening win over Tennessee, the Golden Bears have kept on rolling thanks to the big play of running back Justin Forsett, who has already found the end zone seven times, and is averaging nearly six yards per carry. Oregon has simply been outscoring everyone, thanks to 537 yards of offense per game; quarterback Dennis Dixon has been nothing short of stellar running the Ducks' offense. The senior has thrown 11 touchdowns so far, and four have gone to his favorite target, receiver Jaison Williams. Arizona State has yet to really be tested, but has looked impressive in its four wins.

The SEC has quite the duo chasing LSU: Florida and Kentucky have both looked great this season. The Gators havenít lost a step from the national title run last season. Quarterback Tim Tebow has been an offensive juggernaut unto himself, having accumulated 17 total touchdowns in just four games. A scare last week against Mississippi is not enough to make me thing they arenít the real deal. Kentucky, meanwhile, has been a nice surprise this season. Quarterback Andre Woodson has helped lead an offense that was able to score an upset over Louisville just a couple of weeks ago. The ground attack of Rafael Little and Tony Dixon has been outstanding, with each averaging over seven yards per carry. Numbers like that will certainly keep the field open for Woodson to continue his aerial assault of SEC secondaries.

Edge: SEC

The Rest of the Gang

The Pac-10 really starts to tail off fairly quickly after its top teams. UCLA has looked solid so far, aside from a 44-6 blowout at the hands of Utah. The two headed running attack of Kahil Bell and Chris Markey has combined for 788 yards on the ground, good for nearly 200 yards per game. After the Bruins though, the rest of the conference is suspect. Washington started off strong with an impressive win over Syracuse and an upset of ranked Boise State, but the Huskies have dropped their last two games to Ohio State and UCLA. Washington State is still a conundrum. The Cougars' two losses have come at the hands of top ten teams, while their two wins by significant margin have come against the likes of Idaho and San Diego State.

The SEC is as deep a conference as you will find in the country. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and even Mississippi State are all legitimate programs this year. The Gamecocks' only loss was a hardly fought contest with LSU, and aside from that, Steve Spurrier has his team looking primed for a long stay in the top 25. One of South Carolinaís three wins came against 15th ranked Georgia. The Bulldogs are coming off a close win over Alabama, and sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford has not looked like an underclassmen calling the shots under center. Even a team like Arkansas that finds themselves at the bottom of the conference looking up is still primed to make a push as the season progresses, simply because Heisman Trophy hopeful Darren McFadden is in the backfield.

Edge: SEC

The season is still young, and plenty of fortunes can still be won and lost, but the SEC is certainly looking like the strongest conference in the country top to bottom right now. That is strictly from a depth perspective though. The Pac-10ís elite teams have the fire power to go head-to-head with anyone in the country. The SEC of course will have its struggles with teams beating up on one another. To think that any team will come out of that conference undefeated might be far-fetched at this point.

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