Well, nothing, really.
Ole Miss was manhandled by Stever Spurrier's very mortal South Carolina team last night, scoring just one touchdown on a long pass play in a 16-10 loss. The score would've been more lopsided, in the Gamecocks' favor, had it not been Carolina's insistence on shooting itself in the foot repeatedly.
The Ole Miss defeat, without a doubt, brought back the oldest canard (or is it a Peking Duck?) in college sports back on the table: The SEC Is the Toughest Conference in Football. I've gone around this several times and really don't want to waste another second on this dubious subject. And delightfully, the Wall Street Journal (of all papers) came to the rescue.
Do you know what's really the toughest conference in college football in the last 10 years? Yep, it's the Pac-1+9. Check it out:
West Is the Best
Including bowl games, here are the win-loss records this decade for the six major college football conferences when playing against one another, through Saturday:
*Includes the win-loss records of whichever teams were in the conference in any given year
The Pac-10's edge is so complete, that even if you discard USC's absurd 19-3 record, it is still above .500 against other BCS conferences. The Pac-10 owns a winning record against every other conference during this period, which roughly coincided with the existence of the BCS.
But perception has become so much reality partly because the Pac-10 has consistently failed to toot its own horn. Let's put it this way: The Pac-10 is a mom-and-pop shop run out of a little bank building in Walnut Creek (in Bay Area parlance, there's no there there there). The Big Ten, bottom dwellers on the list, is run like the Roman Empire out of Chicago, replete with its own TV network, media office, the works.
Not to mention the SEC, which has transformed itself during the BCS era from a backwater regional league to a national brand, much the same way NASCAR has marketed itself. With ESPN and CBS leading the way, the SEC has successfully staked the competitive high ground, roasting the "SEC IS THE TOUGHEST CONFERENCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE" duck to death while beating up on the Charleston Southerns and Citadels of the world.
Without a doubt, even with this unsightly loss, Ole Miss will remain in the top 20 because they lost in a hostile environment in the always so-tough SEC. And even if they turn out to be a .500 SEC team this season, the Rebs will get a much better bowl than they deserve purely because they achieved an 8-4 record in such a tough conference. Never mind that they basically got a free pass with a nonconference schedule that includes Memphis, SE Louisiana (I-AA), UAB and Northern Arizona (I-AA).
If it quacks ... never mind.
★★★★★ GAME OF THE WEEK: California at Oregon, 3:30 p.m. ET. This has all the trappings of a trap game for the Golden Bears, who figure this is finally the year that they take down Pete Carroll's Trojans, who will be visiting Berkeley next week. But Cal had better not take these Ducks (quack!) for granted. After its season-opening debacle at Boise State, Oregon has slowly but surely recovered. Besides, Autzen Stadium has never been all that hospitable to the visiting Bears, who lost in seven of their last eight trips.
★★★★ FOUR-STAR GAME: Miami at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET. For the second week in a row, a top 20 team is coming to Blacksburg, only this time, it will be a conference game. The resurgent Hurricanes have vaulted into the top 10, thanks to ... Florida State's rout at BYU. Two ACC victories have created a buzz about the 'U' returning to national prominence, especially with a visit from Oklahoma coming next week. But Randy Shannon's boys had better remember first thing first.
★★★ THREE-STAR GAME: Iowa at Penn State, 8 p.m. ET. There's another top-5 team that despite its lofty rankings, hasn't done much of anything. Joe Pa's Lions have raced to a 3-0 record by feasting on Akron, Syracuse and Temple whereas Iowa is also 3-0, riding on a seven-game winning streak that began with a 24-23 upset that knocked Penn State out of the BCS championship chase. Happy Valley will smell of revenge.
★★ TWO-STAR GAME: TCU at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Mountain West's best hope of getting into a BCS bowl now rests with the Horned Frogs after BYU and Utah were unceremoniously dumped last week. TCU has already played an ACC road game this year, wining the opener at Virginia. But Death Valley isn't quite like the serene, picturesque Jeffersonian campus.
★ ONE-STAR GAME: Texas Tech at Houston, 9:15 p.m. ET. With BYU and Utah out of the way, Houston suddenly has a chance to get into the BCS mix. The Red Raiders, as they've shown in last week's narrow loss to Texas, still have plenty of firepower. This might be the Cougars' sternest test yet in their quest to claim Conference USA's first BCS bowl berth.