There are a million ways to answer the question, but the best evidence would be head-to-head match-ups with non-conference teams. Here are the SEC's victories over other BCS conference teams (in order from most to least impressive):
Florida (7-5) beat S. Florida (7-4) at home, 38-14
#8 Arkansas (10-2) won at #19 Texas A&M (9-3), 24-17
#17 Alabama (9-3) beat Penn St. (7-5) at home, 24-0
#11 LSU (10-2) beat W. Virginia (7-4) at home, 20-14
Kentucky (6-6) won at Louisville (6-6), 23-16
#18 S. Carolina (9-3) won at Clemson (6-6), 29-7
Georgia (6-6) beat Georgia Tech (6-6) at home, 42-34
#2 Auburn (12-0) beat Clemson (6-6) at home, 27-24
#11 LSU (10-2) beat N. Carolina (7-5) on a neutral field, 30-24
#17 Alabama (9-3) won at Duke(3-9), 62-13
That the two most impressive victories were against South Florida and Texas A&M really says it all about this list. SEC teams have, collectively, beaten only one ranked non-conference team and two other teams (both from the weak Big East) with fewer than five losses. In short, the SEC's victories against non-conference teams tell us almost nothing about the strength of the SEC.
What about the non-conference losses? Here are the SEC's losses to other BCS conference teams (in order from least to most embarrassing):
Vanderbilt (2-10) lost at home to Northwestern (7-5), 23-21
Tennessee (6-6) lost at home to #1 Oregon (11-0), 48-13
Vanderbilt (2-10) lost at UConn (7-4), 40-21
Florida (7-5) lost at #22 Florida St. (9-3), 31-7
Vanderbilt (2-10) lost at home to Wake Forest (3-9), 34-13
Georgia (6-6) lost at Colorado (5-7), 29-27
The list doesn't include Ole Miss's loss to Jacksonville St. and also doesn't shed a whole lot of light on the SEC's strength, as most of the match-ups were lopsided or involved Vanderbilt.
Overall, the SEC was 10-6 against BCS conference teams and 1-2 against ranked BCS conference teams. The conference was 1-5 when playing teams with fewer losses; 2-0 when playing teams with identical records; and 7-1 when playing teams with worse records. The conference was 5-3 at home; 4-3 on the road; and 1-0 on a neutral field.
So, what does this tell us about the strength of the SEC? Not much. 16 games played by a conference of 12 teams is almost never going to tell us all that much. It seems obvious both that the SEC isn't far worse than every other conference but also that it isn't far better than every other conference this year. I'm not sure anybody would disagree that the SEC has been the strongest conference over the past five years, but we simply don't have enough evidence to conclusively claim the same this year.
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