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1. SEC With Auburn whipping South Carolina 56--17 in the SEC title game last Dec. 4, thousands of Tigers fans joined in a chorus, shouting, "S-E-C!" as if to proclaim that theirs was the No. 1 conference in the land.
And most certainly it is. Not only has the SEC won the last five BCS titles, but it also boasts three of the last four Heisman Trophy winners. What's more, in the last five seasons the SEC has an unsurpassed 8--2 record overall in BCS bowls. With Alabama, LSU and South Carolina among those teams with realistic chances to be in New Orleans in January, that dominance should continue.
2. Big Ten Newcomer Nebraska adds tradition and—more significant—a dark horse contender for the national title to a conference that, for the first time, will have a conference championship game.
3. Big 12 The conference is top-heavy, but it has three teams—Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M—that could play for the crystal football in New Orleans.
4. Pac-12 Four of the top quarterbacks in the nation play in the newly christened Pac-12: Stanford's Andrew Luck, Oregon's Darron Thomas, USC's Matt Barkley and Arizona's Nick Foles.
5. ACC No ACC team has played for the national championship since Florida State did so in 2000.
6. Big East Six of its eight teams will have a coach in either his first or second season.
7. Mountain West Boise State's arrival means as many as five teams could go bowling.
8. WAC The loss of Boise leaves a three-team race: Fresno State, Hawaii and Nevada.
9. Conference USA The conference has never sent a team to a BCS bowl but this season has a long shot Heisman candidate in Houston quarterback Case Keenum.