DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — With the majority of conference regular-season games in the books, the SEC again holds national bragging rights.
It appears that for the second year in a row the powerful SEC will be the only league in the country to send a team to the national title game.
The winner of next week’s SEC title game will almost certainly face independent Notre Dame in the championship game, in search of the SEC’s seventh consecutive national title.
But the SEC isn’t the only team poised to make noise in the postseason.
BALANCED BIG 12: Though the Big 12 still has one week of games left, it already has qualified nine of its 10 members for bowl games.
Only woeful Kansas won’t go to a bowl game this season – a sign that the league is as deep as it’s ever been.
Kansas State can win the league on Saturday with a win over Texas, and Oklahoma can swoop in and steal the title with a win at TCU and a loss by K-State. Whoever wins the Big 12 will be joined by a ton of familiar faces in December and beyond.
The league has three six-win teams; Iowa State, Baylor and West Virginia. Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech already have reached seven wins.
The Big 12’s 90 percent success rate with bowl eligibility is by far the best in the country – and perhaps proof that 10 really is the perfect number of teams for the league.
PAC-12 IS BACK: The Pac-12 also had a strong season, perhaps stronger than many thought it could.
The league will send eight teams to the postseason, just one shy of what the SEC and Big 12 will provide during the bowl season. The Pac-12 also will likely get two teams into the BCS, with either Stanford or UCLA headed to the Rose Bowl and 11-win Oregon looking like a solid BCS at-large pick.
And the Pac-12 won’t send any .500 teams to the postseason, as every bowl-eligible team has won at least seven games.
BIG TEN BUST: The Big Ten is lucky it added Nebraska before the 2011 season.
Without the Huskers, the league wouldn’t be sending a single 10-win team to the postseason.
The bowl ban on undefeated Ohio State left Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) as the only squad with at least 10 victories and the opportunity to get a few more. Northwestern is next with nine wins, but the Huskers will have to play a 7-5 Wisconsin team that finished just .500 in the league in this weekend’s title game.
How bad has the Big Ten been this season?
The league has just six bowl eligible teams – one less than the Mid-American Conference.
The SEC has six teams that have won at least 10 games.
AC-SEE YA: The ACC came into 2012 with a significant amount of buzz largely centered around the national title hopes of Florida State and the prowess of Clemson.
The Seminoles and Tigers each reached 10 wins, but each received a harsh dose of reality over the weekend from SEC rivals. Florida and South Carolina went on the road and beat the rival Seminoles and Tigers, respectively, by double digits on Saturday.
Florida State and Clemson both finished a league-best 10-2 overall. But thanks to sanctions at North Carolina and Miami, North Carolina State is currently the only other bowl-eligible team from the ACC with a winning record.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah and Colorado have each played two full seasons in the Pac-12, and neither has racked up a winning record in league play yet. … A BCS buster from a smaller conference never quite materialized. The Mountain West, Conference USA and the Sun Belt don’t currently have any 10-win teams. The MAC has two 11-win teams, Northern Illinois and Kent State, and they’ll meet Friday night in the league title game. But the Huskies lost to a bad Iowa team and Kent State lost to a very bad Kentucky team. … Southern Miss (0-12) finished as the only FBS team without a win in 2012. UMass, Akron, Colorado, Idaho and New Mexico State all won just once.