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Senior College Football Columnist

SEC's best not as strong as Pac-12's this year?

One of the arguments SEC fans often turn to when downplaying the merits of another team or conference is to size up where that team would be if it was in the SEC. Notre Dame fans, and now Ohio State fans are probably sick of this, um, logic.

Might be time for SEC fans to hold off on that stuff for awhile and instead rely on the 'Your league hasn't won SEVEN BCS titles in a row' argument. (Actually, the latter should be the go-to for every SEC fan. It beats supposition every time.)

Is this actually a "down year" by SEC standards for the resident heavyweight king of college football? I do think it's way too soon to tell.

Still, after a chaotic weekend in the SEC, there are now only two SEC teams in the Top 10 of the AP and the Coaches Polls, Alabama and Missouri. The upstart Tigers are No. 5 in the AP and No. 7 in the Coaches Poll. But respect for them, even after consecutive wins over No. 7 Georgia and No. 22 Florida, is still lacking in some areas. Maybe it has something to do with the Dawgs and the Gators also being so banged up. Then again, the closest opponents have been to the Tigers this season are Toledo and Georgia and each of them lost by 15 points.

On Monday I asked Vegas analyst RJ Bell of Pregame.com how many Pac-12 teams would be favored over Mizzou if they played on a neutral field.

The answer: Four.

Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and even Arizona State would all be favored over the Tigers. The first three Pac-12 teams don't surprise me. ASU, though, isn't even ranked in either Top 25. The Sun Devils are 5-2 with a loss to Notre Dame.

Bell says he gets his intel on such things from consulting oddsmakers and Vegas wiseguys.

I suspect if the 7-0 Tigers win again this week, against No. 21 South Carolina, they'll earn a lot more respect from the folks in Vegas. The Gamecocks are a five-point favorite.

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