The SEC/Big 12 Challenge is this weekend. Georgia basketball host Texas at 4:00.
For a little over a decade now, the inter-conference challenges have been a mainstay in college basketball. The big ones right now are the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.
They put the top teams from each competing conference against a comparable team and which ever conference has the most victories wins the challenge for that year.
In three years the SEC has a 10-20 record against the Big 12 and are 0-3 in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. The ACC has a 11-5-2 lead over the Big 10 and they are the most recent victors with a 9-5 record over the Big 10 in November.
But with the entertaining match-ups, conference vs conference bragging rights on the line and the high-profile games that take place, I can’t help but think of the strength of schedule issue in college football and how awesome it would be for two conferences to go head-to-head in a handful of regular season games.
The argument persists every day of the year about the teams around college football who never seem to play tough, out-of-conference games, and if they do they are normally on neutral fields. Should a 12-0 team that didn’t play any power-5 teams outside of their own conference make the playoffs over an 11-1 team that beat a team from another power-5 conference?
That argument may last forever, and it’ll probably fluctuate depending on who the team in question is. But one way to solve this conundrum is obvious; make them play each other. And what better way than to do it in the same format as the SEC/Big 12 Challenge or the ACC-Big 10 Challenge?
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If we had an SEC/Big 12 Challenge in 2017, we’d have Alabama play Oklahoma, Florida would get Oklahoma State, Auburn and West Virginia would square off. Or we’d get a ACC/Pac 12 Challenge where Clemson would meet Washington, Louisville would play Colorado, while USC and Virginia Tech went head-to-head.
They could meet on neutral fields or could be home-and-home. But either way, no one can say they didn’t play anyone from another power-5 conference. You can’t honestly question their resume when they go 12-0. Strength of schedule will not be a criticism great teams will have to face.
And more importantly, it will be great football for the fans and bring in millions of dollars to the universities and TV stations. The only ones with something to lose in this situation are the teams, but that’s why they play the game.