ACC Is Closest Conference to Taking Down SEC In College Football

By M. Shannon Smallwood
ACC Closing the Gap with the SEC
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

It’s pretty safe to say that every single one of us is ready for college football to kick off in 14 days. The Johnny Manziel shenanigans have run their course and there are only so many articles you can read on the fourth-string right tackle for your favorite team. It just simply time to blow the whistle and let the 2013 season play out in all of its glory.

But there is one area that never gets old when it comes to the debate that is college football. A discussion that can boil the blood of even the most calm, level-headed person in the world. That’s right, the age-old question of who is the second best when it comes to conference dominance.

The fact is everyone knows the SEC is the top dog — pretty sure those seven-straight BCS Titles gives the SEC the right to claim the top spot. But the debate is definitely up for grabs for second on the list. And for the most part, it is a regional debate with everyone on the west coast claiming the strength of the Pac 12, while the east belongs to the Big 10 and the south central belongs to Big 12.

What is interesting in this debate is that ACC Football states, despite Florida, doesn’t believe in their ability to compete nationally with its current 14-teams. Now history does have something to do with this, plus the fact that the ACC rivals in the SEC overlap in voting, and everyone knows SEC fans have zero respect for the ACC.

But if you look at how each team stacks up on paper, it is an interesting note that the ACC is the only conference in the nation that consistently plays the SEC, and has the teams to match up with the top conference in the land from top to bottom.

Pre Rank SEC ACC B1G Pac 12 Big 12 AAC At Large
1 Alabama Clemson Ohio St Stanford Ok St Louisville Notre Dame
2 Georgia Miami Michigan Oregon Texas Rutgers Boise St
3 S Carolina FSU Nebraska UCLA Oklahoma Cincy WKU
4 Texas A&M UNC Northwestern Arizona St Baylor UConn N Illinois
5 LSU Va Tech Wisconsin Oregon St Kansas St UCF Tulsa
6 Florida Ga Tech Michigan St Arizona TCU SMU
7 Ole Miss Pitt Penn St USC Texas Tech S Florida
8 Vanderbilt NC State Minnesota Utah W Virginia Temple
9 Arkansas Maryland Iowa Washington Kansas Memphis
10 Auburn Virginia Purdue Cal Iowa St Houston
11 Tennessee Duke Indiana Wash St
12 Miss St Syracuse Illinois Colorado
13 Missouri Wake Forest
14 Kentucky BC

Your first take away from this chart is that there is a very wide divide between the SEC from top to bottom and every single team in every other conference. The SEC has six teams that have the talent and experience to win a national title, while the ACC has three and the Pac 12 has two. The Big 10, Big 12, AAC and at-larges have only one team each that can compete this year nationally.

But what is also interesting is looking across the board at where teams rank with other teams. At No. 4, the Texas A&M Aggies are light-years ahead of any other team in any conference at that level. The same holds true for the Auburn Tigers, who are much better than any other team at No. 10 in their conference.

The best team with the best shot based on this table to take out the SEC will be the Clemson Tigers. Yes, Clemson. The Tigers will get a chance to see how they stack up at the beginning of the season vs. the Georgia Bulldogs and at the end against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Mixed in the middle is a much-improved ACC (talent-wise from top to bottom) that the Tigers will have to overcome, including games against the Florida State Seminoles and either the Miami Hurricanes or the North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Title Game.

The depth in the ACC from a talent standpoint cannot be matched in any other conference in college football except the Pac 12. And the computers know this, which mean it is going to cause a meltdown when both the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Louisville Cardinals go undefeated and are left on the outside looking in come January.

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Follow him @woodysmalls.

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