I was born a "damn yankee" in upstate NY and was raised in Louisiana. Although I believe in general I have a "yankee head", I appreciate many things in the south. One of which is sports and the never ending debate about which conference has the best football. Since my mom went to Ohio State and my grandfather (her dad) went to Michigan, I grew up with Big 10 rivalry football in my house. At the same time, the LSU tigers were followed closely and even more so after my two nieces attended LSU and Alabama with my sister driving around with a "house divided" license plate to show spirit for both teams.
All that said, I believe any truly non-biased football fan would have to agree the SEC has the strongest football conference top-to-bottom (sorry mom). Being a Georgia Tech fan, I wish I could say the ACC is among the tops, but with Miami and Florida State being down this year, they are not. Hell, Georgia Tech hasn't beaten Georgia in 6 damn years. But I digress.
Big 10 fans, in the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, used to be "4 yards in a cloud of dust" and sometimes I think things haven't changed much. In fact, while reading Shelby Foote's great 3 volume series on the Civil War (which I would highly recommend to anyone), I realized an interesting parallel between the coaches of the Big 10 and the SEC to the generals of the North and South, respectively. The coaches in the north seem to be more conservative and play safely, trying not to lose and letting the defense determine the course of the game (similar to Generals McClellan, Hooker, etc.) while the southern coaches like to be on the offensive, take risks, and know that to win sometimes one has to rely on strategic thinking as opposed to talent or materials (Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson). One of my favorite stories that Foote speaks of was how some in the defense department complained to Lincoln that US Grant was a no-good alcoholic that drank whiskey all time. Lincoln thought about this for a second, and said "But General Grant is not afraid to fight. Find out what whiskey he drinks and send a case of it to all my generals!"
This is the year the Big 10 must put up or shut up. Last year, of course, OSU got thrashed by Florida. This year, Florida plays Michigan, Illinois plays USC in the Rose Bowl, and the big one is LSU vs. OSU for the national championship. I'm pulling for OSU with my heart (for dear ole Mom), but my brain says LSU wins. But wait, who won that war anyhow?