Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Which is better: Big East or Mountain West?

It is a little known secret in college football... even though the Big East is considered a major conference and its winner receives a BCS bid, the Mountain West, a supposed mid-major conference, is better. This has been debatable in recent years, but in 2009 it seems pretty clear that the Mountain West is a stronger football conference.

At the top of the Mountain West is Brigham Young. BYU is now a top 10 team after knocking off national championship contender Oklahoma. They should have a very decent chance to run the table, in which case they would almost certainly receive an at-large BCS berth and possibly have a chance to play for the national championship. Their QB Max Hall is one of the most explosive in all of college football.
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Next is Utah, which went undefeated last season and is currently ranked inside the top 20. Year after year they are one of the most consistent programs in the country. After pounding Alabama in a BCS bowl last season, they are a team and program that everyone needs to take notice of, because it does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Then there is TCU, who is also a top 20 program and thinks they have a chance to go to a BCS game. They knocked off ACC opponent Virginia on the road in their first game, and look to have one of the best defenses in the country. They won 11 games last year and have established themselves as a great program.

In the Big East, there are no national championship contenders and there would not even be any BCS contenders most likely if it were not for the automatic bid. Cincinnati looks like the best team in the conference, and is the only one ranked as of this writing. Brian Kelly is one of the best coaches in the business and has an explosive offense with QB Tony Pike and WR Marcus Gilyard. They blew out Rutgers in their first game to establish themselves as contenders to win the Big East again.

Elsewhere, West Virginia is talented but doesn't appear to be as good as they were in the prime with Rich Rodriguez. Pittsburgh is talented but they still haven't won much of note under the coaching of Dave Wanstedt. Louisville has dropped off as a program after the departure of Bobby Petrino. South Florida has had a nice run but they don't appear to be much better than an average team. Their is a lot of mediocrity within the conference.

Add it all up, and the Mountain West is the stronger conference, even though most people won't want to admit. With the vaunted trio of BYU, Utah, and TCU at the top of the conference, we could be hearing from them come January, when it is very possible at least one of those teams with get an at-large berth in a BCS game. If they do, hopefully the opponent will be a little more prepared than Alabama was last season.