The 2018 college football season is less than two months away, which means analysts around the country are starting to throw out some predictions. CBS Sports personality Danny Kanell has decided he's going to go ahead and rank the five major conferences ahead of the year.
Kanell, it won't surprise you to hear, did not rank the SEC in the top spot. That said, he also didn't rank his former conference, the ACC, at the top either.
Here's what Kanell had to say about the five major conferences. He's pretty bearish on the Pac-12 at the moment, to say the least.
"Alright, it's time to hash out the Power 5 conference power rankings. Everybody loves to have this debate - my conference is better than yours, right? But it actually matters in college football when you think about a human committee selecting four teams for the playoff. The strength of your conference does matter.
Here's my top five. Coming in at number five, I've got the Pac-12, who has really struggled recently. You've got to look at legit national title contenders, which there have been slim pickings out West in the Pac-12. Really, it's only Washington and Stanford as the two teams that you look at that have legit chances to make deep runs. You have monster question at quarterback with both Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold gone from UCLA and USC. They need to also improve their depth at the bottom of the conference. Oregon has to get back to the prominence that it had just four or five years ago. But the Pac-12 is looking up at the other four right now as it currently sits.
Coming in at my number four slot, it's the Big 12. So Oklahoma has to replace Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma State has to replace Mason Rudolph. Those are huge question marks for me to look at and say that those are legit national title contenders where they stand now. But you know what you're going to get. You're going to get a solid performance out of TCU. In order for the Big 12 to rise in these rankings, you've got to get a better performance out of Texas. This is a blue blood of the Big 12 forever. Tom Herman has this program heading in the right direction. But they've got to get to the nine, 10, 11 win mark to really add some cache to this conference.
Alright, third spot for me, the ACC. The ACC has got to have more than just Clemson leading the way. Florida State has got to get back to where it was, challenging for national titles. University of Miami - Mark Richt heading in the right direction. But they've got to validate what they did last season after really limping into the last three games on the schedule. If they can do that, the ACC can definitely move up these rankings. Especially with Virginia Tech under Justin Fuente showing great signs of improvement. And the bottom half of the conference also getting much better as of late.
Number two for me - the SEC. The SEC used to be the power conference. There wasn't even much of a debate. Now, there very much is. In large part because it's Bama and everybody else. And I know people say what about Georgia? Yup, they had a great year last year. They've got to prove it wasn't a fluke either. I think they will. But you've also got to develop the SEC East which has been a complete joke of a division the last three or four years. But the good news for SEC fans - you've got some new blood in there with Dan Mullen taking over Florida, should be better and should be improvement. And with Jeremy Pruitt taking over Tennessee - should be improvement there as well. And the SEC West used to be the toughest division in all of college football - not so much anymore, as LSU and Texas A&M have dropped off just a little bit. But you know Alabama and Auburn are going to give you what they do year in and year out.
Alright, so my number one toughest conference in all of college football is the Big Ten. Talk about tough divisions - look no further than the Big Ten East. Ohio State, I know they have quarterback questions replacing J.T. Barrett but Urban Meyer has recruited. This team's just reloading, as they are every single year there. You've got Penn State, no Saquon Barkley but Trace McSorley back - he should be in the thick of the Heisman Trophy race. Michigan State, always disrespected and always overlooked, they're going to be a tough threat. And Michigan, as much as we bash Jim Harbaugh and say when is Michigan going to be back where they were, still was an eight-win team last year. They do need to improve though to continue this spot as the top spot.
And then out West, you do need some more depth. You should get that with Scott Frost taking over Nebraska. Wisconsin, another team that's consistently disrespected through the years. They're going to give you 10 wins or possibly 11 or 12 and challenge for the playoff again.
So as it sits right now, the Big Ten, the toughest conference in college football. But this could change as the season gets underway."
Last year, it was the SEC getting two teams in the College Football Playoff - and the Big Ten getting none. We'll see if that changes this year to match Kanell's ranking.