We're not talking about which conference is the best. We're talking about which conference had the best Saturday. Let's go.
1. Big Ten
Not sure how you beat Northwestern blowing out Syracuse, Michigan beating Notre Dame, Ohio State beating San Diego State without Braxton Miller, Wisconsin winning 45-0 and recording its second straight shutout win, MIchigan State winning over South Florida, Nebraska blowing out Southern Miss, and lowly Illinois blowing out Cincinnati. The only real blemish for the Big Ten was improving Indiana losing to Navy.
It probably says a lot about our expectations for a conference when I can rank it No. 2 with a straight face based mostly on the fact that nothing terrible happened. Miami posted the league's second-biggest win of the season by beating Florida 14-9. The Hurricanes are the favorites to win the Coastal Division now and might finally deliver on the conference's original plan to get them to the conference title game and play Florida State twice (or Clemson, of course).
Boston College won over Wake Forest despite not really using a wide receiver at any point. Clemson cruised. Florida State was off, but North Carolina beat Middle Tennessee State, NC State avoided an embarrassing loss to Richmond, Duke won at Memphis, and Maryland blew out Old Dominion. Yes, Virginia and Syracuse lost badly, but both were heavy underdogs.
USC managed to lose to Washington State without allowing the Cougars to score an offensive touchdown. Beyond that, it was a good week for the left coast. Oregon blew out Virginia on the road, Stanford beat a respectable San Jose State team, Utah dropped 70 points on Weber State, Arizona beat UNLV 58-13, and Arizona State beat Sacramento State 55-0 in its opener.
It's still the best conference, so don't get worked up. However, after two weeks, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama split four games against Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. Miami hardly moved the ball at all against Florida, but forced Jeff Driskel into turnover after turnover and escaped with a 14-9 win. Georgia recovered to beat South Carolina, but now everyone at the top of the SEC East already has a loss, with more games against each other still coming.
Add to it that after Alabama and Texas A&M, four of those six teams will already have a loss? The SEC won't give us a repeat of 2011 this year. The good news is, Kentucky blew out Miami (OH), Arkansas won, Tennessee forced seven turnovers and beat Western Kentucky, and Auburn cruised over a decent Arkansas State team. The top is getting beat up right now, but the bottom is certainly improved.
5. Mountain West
It was a relatively quiet weekend for the Mountain West. Boise State rebounded from getting clobbered by Washington in the opener to beat UT-Martin, New Mexico beat UTEP, Nevada beat UC-Davis, and although they lost, San Jose State played respectably against Stanford. The important thing for the MWC this year is Fresno State being the BCS buster, since Boise State has already lost. The Bulldogs followed up their win over Rutgers with an easy win over Cal-Poly and are in good position to work their way into a BCS bowl should they run the table.
6. Big 12
When you're a 10-team league with nobody in the top 10 nationally, it doesn't take much to do some damage to the league.
First, the relatively good news. Oklahoma and West Virginia played the bizarro version of their game from last season. The Sooners won 16-7, but lost starting quarterback Trevor Knight in the process. Kansas didn't lose to an FCS school, so that's an improvement. Baylor continued to put up video game numbers in a win over Buffalo.
The biggest ding to the Big 12 this week was Texas getting run over, emphasis on the run, by BYU. BYU, coming off a loss at Virginia the week before, rushed for over 500 yards in the win. The performance was so bad, Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and brought back his friend Greg Robinson. Oh, and Sports Illustrated began a five-part expose of the Oklahoma State football program from 1999-2011. Ouch.
The American is funny, because you really only care about the top and the bottom. Louisville cruised over Eastern Kentucky, and Central Florida did the same to a dreadful FIU team. Houston won the league's first-ever in-conference game, at Temple.
Still, the only other team in the conference really respected by anyone was Cincinnati, and all they did was go get blown out by Illinois and lose quarterback Munchie Legaux for the rest of the season to a major knee injury. Elsewhere, South Florida still can't pass the football (the Bulls have completed just 25 of 66 pass attempts in two games) and lost at Michigan State (who also can't pass the ball). SMU needed a furious rally to beat Montana State. At least Rutgers rebounded with a win over Norfolk State. Right? Right?!
8. Sun Belt
Troy looks like an offensive juggernaut again, winning 66-3 over America's punching bag, Savannah State. The second best win of the weekend for the conference was South Alabama upsetting Tulane. Western Kentucky turned it over seven times in a loss to Tennessee, Georgia State was beaten yet again by an FCS team, this time Chattanooga, and Louisiana-Lafayette lost on the road to Kansas State.
Bowling Green beat Kent State and is probably one of the best teams in the league now. Ball State also looked solid in a win over Army.
Beyond that, it was a pretty awful week for our beloved MAC. Miami (OH) gave up 675 yards in a loss to lowly Kentucky. Maine beat UMass (Maine was actually favored over UMass!). Ohio sloppily held on to beat North Texas. Baylor probably could have scored 100 points if it had so desired against Buffalo. Toledo folded late to Missouri. Two teams needed late stands to hold on to leads against FCS teams as well.
10. Conference USA
At this point, it's hard to debate that this is the worst conference in college football. On the one hand, Marshall blew out Gardner-Webb and Tulsa rebounded from its opening week loss to beat Colorado State. On the other hand, South Alabama beat Tulane, UTEP lost to New Mexico, Southern Miss was blown out by Nebraska, and Middle Tennessee State wasn't competitive with North Carolina. Oh, and both Florida schools (FIU and FAU) are two of the worst teams in FBS football this year.