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Ranking The Top 5 Conferences In College Football

Is the Big 12 really No. 1?

Forget all the talk of Heisman hopefuls, national title contenders and biggest busts; lets get in to the main topic of college football.

Which conference is the best?

5. Big Ten

With the recent sanctions placed on the more-historically successful programs in this conference, it is struggling to find consistency across the board.

The Big Ten has been disappointing outside of the conference this season, bringing back doubters from previous years who questioned the conference's athleticism and speed.

The conference is currently led by bowl-ineligible Ohio State, which thrives on its dual-threat matchup nightmare, Braxton Miller. Nebraska is another strong, nationally ranked program, but it showcased its biggest flaws against a stronger UCLA ball club.

Outside of these teams, the entire conference is mediocre at best. But which other teams could reach the Rose Bowl?

No. 24 Northwestern has thrived at the top of the conference and has a favorable schedule to start the season - the Wildcats could possibly be looking at 7-0. In contrast, Michigan has looked lost, getting hammered by Alabama and barely winning against Air Force.

Wisconsin and Michigan State, two perennial favorites to win the conference, have vastly underperformed and have looked outmatched physically so far this season.

This season has been a black eye for the Big Ten. It needs to turn things around, fast.

4. ACC

The ACC is top heavy, but that's good enough to put the conference at fourth overall. It is more of a basketball powerhouse, though it's coming along in football.

It all begins with Florida State and its powerful offensive unit, led by E.J. Manuel. The Seminoles are ranked No. 3 in the nation, and have the tools to reach the National Championship, if Oregon should slip up.

Outside of Florida State, Clemson and Miami are strong programs. Clemson has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation with Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington leading the charge. Virginia Tech was ranked in the Top-25 during the preseason, but has struggled to reach those lofty expectations.

Even with the improvement, the conference has vastly underperformed, with teams like NC State and Georgia Tech struggling every week. Until the ACC can boast numerous nationally ranked teams year-in and year-out, don't expect the conference to move up the totem pole.

3. PAC-12

It obviously starts with USC and Oregon, which are led by prolific offenses under the direction of Lane Kiffin and Chip Kelly. Both teams will be in the hunt for a title, making their much anticipated matchup on Nov. 3 a must-watch game.

The third best team in this conference is the surprising No. 14 Oregon State Beavers. Sean Mannion is gashing defenses this season with the fourth-ranked passing attack in all of college football. Plus, the Beavers post one of the most formidable D-lines in the nation.

UCLA, ASU and Washington have played above expectations this season and are starting to build the foundation for years of success. Todd Graham and Jim Mora have done excellent jobs in their first seasons, each with teams capable of challenging USC for the PAC-12 South title.

Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies, who are currently ranked No. 23, may not remain ranked in the polls for long due to their rigorous upcoming schedule. However, superstar Keith Price, along with an improving defense, makes this team a tough out every week.

David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal look strong once again, even after its setback to the Huskies. It should be a contender for a trip to the Holiday Bowl against an elite Big 12 program.

Watch out for this conference moving forward, as it has the most room for growth and improvement as coaches become more familiar with their programs and start recruiting at a higher level.

2. Big 12

The Big 12 made two huge additions in TCU and West Virginia this offseason. These schools have done an excellent job of bringing more talent and tradition to a very prestigious conference. The Big 12 currently has five ranked teams out of its ten total programs.

Geno Smith, the man with more touchdowns than incompletions last week, is currently the Heisman favorite and is leading one of the best teams in the nation. West Virginia was always considered a competitive program during its tenure in the Big East, but it is thriving this season with the enhanced competition the Big 12 offers.

Don’t sleep on Texas either, a team built on defense and solid special teams play. David Ash is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation, and propelled his club to a 4-0 start, including an epic comeback against rival Oklahoma State.

Plus, who can forget the incredible start that Kansas State has pulled off in Manhattan? This team may be the least talked about national title contender, which is just the way they want it; silent but deadly.

The main reason that this conference is elite is because of its high-powered offenses. The Big 12 sports teams like Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which all have coaches that love the spread attack. It may not be the most physical conference, but it has no shortage of speed and elusiveness.

1. SEC

Let’s face it, when you possess five of the top ten teams in the nation, you deserve the award of best college football conference. Plus, the SEC has won six straight national championships and is in prime position to snatch up its seventh in 2012.

It all begins with Alabama, which is looking to repeat as BCS National Champions. Alabama owns the nation's best scoring defense, which so far has done an excellent job of shutting down strong offenses in Michigan and Arkansas.

LSU has struggled to blow out opponents this season, but the Tigers still possess one of the nation's best running games and a solid defense. LSU may continue to struggle against the pass this season without Tyrann Mathieu, but this team will continue to use its size and strength to dominate the SEC.

Georgia is another major contender, especially with A.J. Murray playing at an elite level under center. South Carolina and Florida have played quite well this season as well, and will make life miserable for Georgia on its quest to repeat as SEC East Champions.

The conference may be top heavy, but the SEC posts eight legitimate football programs that could compete with any team in the nation.