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    For years, the SEC has been THE powerhouse conference, claiming five of the eight national championships contested so far. Go back before the FBS playoff system and the title count goes to a staggering 43 national championships all-time. That is straight domination.

    This season though, it’s the Pac-12 that’s making noise, with a record eight teams in the Top 25 entering Week 3. Is this a blip on the radar or the mark of things to come? Without getting too far into the weeds, let’s take a look at each conference to see what’s happening, what’s changing, and how that may shape outcomes both this season and beyond.

    Pac-12

    After two weeks of play, the Pac-12 is 21-4 (84% win rate). Notable conference victories so far include Colorado over TCU, Utah over Florida, and Washington State over Wisconsin.

    As of this writing, the AP Top 25 poll includes eight Pac-12 teams: USC #5, Washington #8, Utah #12, Oregon #13, Oregon State #17, Colorado #21, Washington State #23, and UCLA #24. Here’s what those team’s combined Week 3 schedule looks like, including the advance point spreads as of Tuesday, September 12.

    • USC (#5) is on a bye week
    • Washington (#8) is favored -16 at Michigan State
    • Utah (#12) is favored -30.5 vs. Weber State
    • Oregon (#13) is favored -37.5 vs. Hawaii
    • Oregon State (#17) is favored -24.5 vs. San Diego State
    • Colorado (#21) is favored -23.5 vs. Colorado State
    • Washington State (#23) is on a bye week
    • UCLA (#24) is favored heavily (no line as of this writing) vs. North Carolina Central

    I’m going to go ahead and say that not one of Week 3’s slate of games looks competitive and at least seven of these Pac-12 teams will remain in the Top 25 entering Week 4 — a couple of them can probably move up a little with convincing wins.

    Why is any of that special?

    Because, before today, the Pac-12 has never in its history had more than six ranked teams in a given week. As a matter of fact, the SEC is the only other conference to ever have eight teams in the Top 25 – something that has happened quite often, though it doesn’t look like it will again this year (see more below).

    That the Pac-12 is having its renaissance moment in 2023 is significant because this is also the conference’s swan song. In 2024, USC, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon will all join the (really) Big Ten, and a tradition of west-coast rivalries that goes back to 1915 will be gone.

    Is the performance we are seeing in the Pac-12 this season a harbinger of what we can expect out of intraconference play in the Big 10 next season when those teams jump? Will the level of play in the Pac-12 disintegrate as a result? Or will the change in alignment simply mean there’s more room for teams like Washington State, or the trending Colorado Buffaloes, to lay claim to the top of the conference and a higher spot in the national rankings?

    Beats me. At this point in 2023 all I can tell you is that the Pac-12 is statistically a much better conference than the SEC. Let’s get into the Southeastern Conference data and I’ll explain why.

    SEC

    After two weeks of play, the SEC is 23-6 (79% win rate). Notable conference losses so far include Texas over Alabama, the aforementioned Utah over Florida, and FSU over LSU.

    As of this writing, the AP Top 25 poll includes five SEC teams: Georgia #1, Alabama #10, Tennessee #11, LSU #14, and Ole Miss #17. Here’s what those team’s combined Week 3 schedule looks like, including the advance point spreads as of Tuesday September 12.

    • Georgia #1 is favored -27.5 vs. South Carolina
    • Alabama #10 is favored -32 vs. South Florida
    • Tennessee #11 is favored -6.5 at Florida
    • LSU #14 is favored -10 at Mississippi State
    • Ole Miss #17 is favored -19.5 vs. Georgia Tech

    I predict Tennessee will lose out-right at Florida in Week 3, and drop well back in the rankings entering Week 4. I also don’t see another SEC team that can climb into the Top 25 based on Week 3 schedule. So where does that leave the SEC as the college football schedule moves beyond its opening stanzas and into the meat of the 2023 schedule? No place good.

    I’m not a schmuck. Georgia is the best team in the country until someone proves they aren’t. Alabama, on the other hand, has clearly taken a step back as a program. I already told you I think Tennessee will lose to an unranked opponent this week, and once might LSU looks very, very shaky. 

    Those are four marquee teams that are used to Top 10 rankings year in and year out and the SEC’s record of 21 separate weeks with eight teams in the Top 25 may not be challenged for a long time. But it will be challenged because (excuse the pun) the tide is turning in the FBS.

    The transfer portal, greater competition for elite southern athletes, and a decade of fierce intraconference competition should have made every team in this conference stronger. But, in 2023, vulnerability is a good way to describe anyone other than Georgia.

    That’s compared to recent history where things typically came down to watching the SEC championship game each year to determine who was going to go on to clobber some other unfortunate conference in the national championship. But I think that’s over now.

    So is the Pac-12 now better than the SEC?

    In a word, yes.

    Certainly, the reformation of the Big 10 in 2024 will not make the SEC’s fight to remain dominant any easier. Given how stacked the Big 10 will be, it’s very reasonable to assume as many as seven or eight teams from that new conference will find themselves in the Top 25 routinely. Meanwhile, the remaining teams in the Pac-12 will have a somewhat easier potential path to a championship game (the embarrassment that was Georgia vs. TCU last January notwithstanding). 

    It’s also impossible to factor out the magical draw through the transfer portal that Coach Prime has inspired in Colorado. My guess is that other schools in the Pac-12 have taken note of this and we will see tidal-like movement of players in and out of the West Coast schools for the next few years. 

    You could say that the SEC schools can do the same, but athletes have to want to go to a school for that to work, which begs one simple question that I think gets to the heart of the SEC will continue to lose strength in the coming years:

    If you are a blue chip player, looking to commit in 2024, which conference and school are you picking? 

    Georgia is still a very good answer and maybe Alabama’s loss was an aberration. But there is no question that both the Pac-12 schools moving to the Big 10, and those remaining behind, are currently on a better trajectory than those in the SEC, and of a shinier, more modern brand. 

    CFB FAQs

    How are college football bowl games determined?

    Only bowl-eligible teams are selected for College Football Bowls. At the NCAA Division I FBS level, the standard by which teams become available for selection in bowl games varies. For example, in 2018-19 season, the team had to have at least as many wins as overall losses. Wins against non-Division I teams do not count toward the number of wins.

    How do you play college football pick'em pools?

    Simply pick winners from the games each week selected by the Pool Commissioner, either straight up or against the spread. Whichever member has the most points at the end of the season wins

    What is a football pool?

    "Football Pool" is a broad term for a group of people competitively guessing the outcome of one or more football games. There are many types of formats, each assigning winners differently. They can be played informally between friends or through a more formalized system. They are often considered a great alternative to fantasy football given the ease of playing, although there are fantasy football pools as well.

    How to run a football pool?

    How you decide to run a football pool varies greatly depending on the game type. In each case, however, you'll want to determine the rules and settings before you begin inviting members to join you. You'll want to clearly establish how score will be kept, how tiebreakers work, and how winners are decided before anything else.

    How to play squares football pools?

    Football squares are played by creating a grid, in which Team 1 takes the column and Team 2 the rows. In some cases, participants may claim as many squares as they like. In others, commissioners limit them to one. At the quarter times and end of the game, the winner is decided at the point the scores final digit intersect.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    What is a college football squares pool?

    In a college football squares pool, a commissioner starts with a 10x10 grid of 100 squares (though commissioners decide to use smaller 5x5 pools). Members pick one or more squares in that grid. Winners are determined based on the score of each team after each quarter and at the end of the game.

    How many squares in a football pool?

    In a traditional football squares pool, a grid is sectioned off into 100 squares with 10 columns and 10 rows. This accounts for a direct relationship between each possible digit from 0 to 9 on both the X and Y axis. For smaller square grids like 5x5, multiple numbers can be assigned to each column and row.

    How to read a football squares pool sheet?

    In Squares formats, football pool sheets include a grid, where one team is the column and one is the row. Winners are determined at the end of each quarter when the last number in the team’s score (on each side) is matched to the numbers on the grid, and the intersecting square wins.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    How do you win college football confidence bowl pool?

    The winner of a college bowl confidence pool is the member with the most points after all games have ended. Members rank each game based on how confident they are in their pick (44 points = most confident, 1 point = least confident). For each game picked correctly, members receive the number of points they assigned.

    What is a college football bowl confidence pool?

    Players try to pick the winner of every bowl game, assigning a point value to each game. Picks are made "straight up," not using a point spread system. Members rank each game based on how confident they are (44 points = most confident, 1 point = least confident). A winner is determined by totalling the point values assigned to correctly picked games.

    How do you setup a college football bowl pool?

    To set up a college football bowl pool, you'll need to first choose if you will include all the games or specific ones. Then, you'll need to set the ground rules. As commissioner, you'll implement rules to ensure everything runs smoothly during the bowl games. Many use pool sites like RunYourPool to make the process easier.

    How do you win college football bowl pick'em pool?

    As you might expect, the player who selects the most bowl winners will win their pick'em pool. You can win your college football bowl pick'em pool by choosing winners wisely, based on past performance, player starting status and other "intangibles."

    What is a college football bowl pick'em pool?

    In a College Bowl Pick'em pool members attempt to pick the winner of every College Bowl game (or a subset of games determined by the Pool Commissioner). Picks are made using the point spread system or "straight up", as assigned by the Pool Commissioner.

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