Northwestern University got an unsual amount of attention on college football after the Wildcats started last season with five straight wins. Many wondered if the 2010 Wildcats could be the one that launched the traditionally mediocre program into national prominence.
Unfortunately for Northwestern, the story turned sour when the Big Ten portion of its schedule began. The Wildcats won just twice in the final seven games of their season, and star quarterback Dan Persa suffered a torn right Achillies' tendon.
Boston College knows that feeling. In 2010, the Eagles began the season 2-1 against non-conference teams, 0-4 against ACC foes. The Eagles and Wildcats meet up Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
Competition often gets tougher for college football teams once they make it through their non-conference schedule, with its opponents from non-BCS programs or FCS schools. Early season matchups like Saturday night's Oregon-LSU game are rare.
When it comes down to rating the college football conferences, many fans agree the SEC, which has produced the last five BCS champs, reigns supreme. But which one is the most competitive?
Virginia Tech has won three of the last four ACC titles, including two wins over BC. Oklahoma has claimed four of the last five Big 12 crowns, but the conference hasn't earned a BCS championship since Texas in 2005. The SEC has had five different champs in the last six years. The Big Ten and Big East each had a three-way tie at the top in 2010.
On the first Saturday in September — even in Chestnut Hill and Evanston, Ill. — it's popular to say this could be anyone's year. That's more true in certain conference than others.
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