SEC or Big Ten?

Amber Hatten Sports editor

LAURINBURG — Something that has long been debated in college football is which conference is the best?

The answer is usually whichever conference your team plays in, but deep down college football fans know the truth. There are three main conferences that have dominated the college football playoffs — Big Ten, SEC and ACC.

Since it’s inception three years ago each of the big three have a National Champion, the Big Ten has Ohio State, the SEC has Alabama and the ACC has Clemson.

The Tigers are the reigning champions and the one stand out team in the ACC’s Atlantic division since Jameis Winston entered the draft Florida State fell to pieces. Louisville does return Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, but he isn’t getting the help he needs from his teammates to make the Cardinals a threat.

The Coastal division of the ACC will be lucky to have a team qualify for a nationally televised bowl game — sorry, North Carolina and Duke fans.

Which narrows the race to the Big Ten and SEC.

As a life-long Buckeyes fan I’ve always loathed the SEC because teams like Alabama, Florida, LSU and Georgia always gave Ohio State so many issues. Florida bested us so many times the only solution we could find was to take their coach.

Which brings me to what sparked this debate, Urban Meyer said during Big Ten media days that the Big Ten is in a “dead heat” with the SEC.

“I don’t think there’s a gap at all,” Meyer said. “I’ve coached in the SEC East when that was one of the strongest in the country. And I think the Big Ten East right now is every bit as strong as I can remember the SEC East,” where he won two national championships at Florida.

The Associated Press abruptly burst Urban’s bubble with some cold-hard facts.

The SEC has dominated the Big Ten the last two seasons, winning six of the eight meetings between them. Its average margin of victory was 23.8 points — five of the wins were by 14 points or more.

The Big Ten won the other two games by a total of 36 points, largely the result of Michigan’s 41-7 rout of Florida in the 2016 Citrus Bowl.

The SEC was 2-1 in head-to-head match ups last season. The lone Big Ten success? Wisconsin 16, LSU 14.

I agree with Urban that the level of play in the Big Ten has significantly improved but with the way the modern game football is being played I have to give an edge to the SEC.

Simply based on the win-loss column — nothing else.

I promise you there is no game in the college football that even holds a candle to Ohio State vs. Michigan. There is a reason it’s called the greatest rivalry in sports. I don’t see the SEC producing a game of that caliber.

While on paper I give the nod to the SEC, my heart and my loyalty will always be with the Big Ten.

Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.

Amber Hatten Sports editor Hatten Sports editor