The Big Ten and the SEC are battling for conference supremacy on all fronts. From media rights deals to conference realignment, the college football world is preparing for a showdown between the “Power Two.” But on the field, who will lay claim to the title of the best conference in 2023? Recently, the popular Phil Steele preview magazine power ranked the best conferences in college football ahead of the 2023 season. While the SEC still found itself atop the rankings, it could be possible for Penn State football to help boost the Big Ten’s perception this year.
Phil Steele magazine ranks college football’s best conferences
With the college football offseason almost behind us, it’s time for preview magazines to begin circulating in grocery and convenience stores everywhere. Phil Steele has built a reputation for decades as having one of the best preview magazines in the industry. In this year’s edition, Steele updated his rankings of the best conferences in college football. The list goes as follows:
- Big Ten
- Big 12
- Sun Belt
- Mountain West
- Conference USA
Can Penn State football help push the Big Ten above the SEC?
Overall, it’s not surprising that the SEC sits at the top of the conference rankings in the 2023 edition of the Phil Steele preview magazine. The Big Ten has only won one national championship in the last decade, while the SEC has brought home six, including the last four.
But can Penn State play a role in changing the Big Ten’s perception moving forward? Even with the SEC ranked as the stronger overall conference, it’s hard to argue that college football has a more challenging division than the Big Ten East. The division currently has three teams – Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State – in most of the preseason top 10 rankings. In some cases, all three teams are in the top 5. Even Maryland is a team that some think can make waves in 2023.
Over the last decade, the Big Ten has essentially relied on one flagship program to carry the conference on the national stage. In most years, it’s been Ohio State. Recently, it’s been Michigan. But last season, the Big Ten finally got two teams into the four-team CFP. Odds are the conference can do it again this season. But if Penn State can finally get over the hump and be one of the teams that make the Playoff this year, then it can help to change the perception of the Big Ten as a one or two-team conference.
With the conference adding USC and UCLA and the CFP expanding to 12, the Big Ten may be able to push for a third or more of the field in any given year. Whatever the future of college football holds, if Penn State can continue its upward trajectory, then the Nittany Lions can play a critical role in making the Big Ten the best conference in the sport.
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