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Domi-ference (Part the First)

The argument raging around the country is which conference has the legitimate claim to conference superiority - the Southeastern or Big 12?

In an effort to answer this question in a completely unbiased manner (as well as, with more speed than the Big Televen and a stronger defense than the Pac-10), I am going to attempt to answer the question definitively (yeah, right) in a four part series entitled (as noted above) DOMI-FERENCE - a very crude wombination of "dominance" and "conference."

Part the First will be foundational - classifying the conferences into three tiers. Parts the Second, Third, and Fourth will compare these tiers.

First, the foundational because seemingly legitimate factors like head-to-head would, obviously, be irrational this season with the only head-to-head matchup being between the high-flying Texas Longhorns and the putrid Arkansas Razorbacks. I doubt I would be giving away any suspence when I reveal, prematurely, that Arkansas will be classified in the Southeastern's "Third Tier," preliminarily labeled "Sylvester's Inferno."

Big Boys of the Big 12
I may need request parlay, as I (completely objectively) rank only Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas among the Cowboy Conference's elite (excluding Captain Mike Leach's Texas Tech Raiders, to whom I make my plea that this is really more of a set of loose guidelines). Forgive me, fierce Lubbuccaneers , if I question your placement with the top-ranked Sooners, the Longhorns, who are showing at least something akin to defense with 11.4 points per game allowed, and a Missouri team that returns basically intact from its BCS Title Game near-miss. These three teams, all can confidently proclaim, are in the hunt for BCS glory, and these are the only three teams in the Big 12 who can stake such a claim.

Sovereigns of the Southeast
As with the Big 12, there are four teams in the SEC who might lay claim to being top dogs - only one of them isn't the Dawgs. After Georgia's humbling experience two weeks ago, the SEC seems to be left with only Alabama, Louisiana State, and barely Florida still thinking championship. The Tigers, who boast the conference's only consistently impressive offense, and The Tide, who boast the best resume in all of college football, are obvious. Why is Florida included in this discussion? While the Gators loss to Ole Miss seems less respectable, it revealed less troubling defects for their team as a whole. Georgia proved to be very suspect along both lines. Florida lost because of turnovers. Butterfingers can be fixed with coaching; Offensive lines cannot.

The Middle of the Middle of the Country
So, Texas Tech, obviously, Kanas, Colorado, KentuckyOklahoma State, Kansas State, and Nebraska make up the Big 12's Raycom Team. It's obviously bigger than the First Team, but it's the closest thing to a strong break, even though Texas Tech will likely beat Nebraska every day and twice on Sundays. These are teams with, either, very identifiable flaws, a mediocre record, or both.

The ordinary class of the Old Confederacy
Don't go picking bones with me Georgia. You either, Vanderbilt. The 'Dores and Dogs know that they have real flaws, namely, a couple of Stay-Pufts up front in Athens and the worst offense in a league of classicly poor offenses up there in Nashville. Kentucky, Auburn, and South Carolina are clear from record and performance. The only real question is whether Ole Miss should be the least of the mediocre or the masters of the low. But, call it homerism, I think Ole Miss is, at worst, the small fish in this pond.

Hard Times
Well, there are only three left in each conference. Baylor, Texas A & M, and Iowa State. State has only wins over only South Dakota State and Kent State; Baylor whomped Northwestern State and Washington State before falling to Connecticut and (unimpressively) Oklahoma; and Texas A & M lost to a Sun Belt Conference school. That'll earned you instant doormat cred.

Meanwhile, for those of us in Dixie, it's fairly easy to note the poor performances of Mississippi State and Arkansas, but this season seems destined to out-smudge and scuff Tennessee's 2006 losing season for least lustrous of the Fulmer era.

So, there you are, a pretty fair grouping of the teams. Tune in for Part the Second: Clash of the Tenders!