Big Ten, ACC still trail SEC

NEW ORLEANS -- A speck of LSU purple and another of Alabama crimson stood out in the sea of Michigan blue in the east stands of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The two fans looked out of place in the front row, but they didn't seem to mind. The LSU backer, sitting alongside her companion in crimson, took every chance she could to hold up a made-for-TV sign.

It read: "Oops! We're a week too early Alabama LSU"

The two SEC fans came to the Allstate Sugar Bowl for a starter course before the southern-style entrée is served Monday night. From the looks of it, they didn't come away with a good taste.

The countdown is under way for the BCS title game, and the SEC will take over the Big Easy as it prepares to crown its sixth consecutive national champion Monday night. The next six days mark an unparalleled celebration for a conference that has plenty of them in recent years, a love fest for a league that has become king of college football -- and wants everyone to know about it.

No one doubts the SEC's dominance, but there's a curiosity about which league has the best chance to catch up. If nothing else, the bowls leading up to the national title game provide showcase opportunities for teams from also-ran conferences to prove they're getting closer.

Virginia Tech and Michigan both had chances to help themselves and their much-maligned conferences Tuesday night. While the matchup itself drew groans from most corners of the country, the Wolverines and Hokies had the stage to themselves before the big show comes to town.

At the end of the night, it became clear the Big Ten and the ACC still have a long way to go, although the Big Ten has one of its big dogs back in the chase.

For more of Adam Rittenberg's story, click here.