Big Ten pride at stake with 4 games vs. Pac-12

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During the same span against the same major leagues, the Pac-12 was 59-68, a slightly better winning percentage.

So far this year? The Big Ten is 4-0. The Pac-12 is 1-2.

“I think differences between conferences are more exaggerated than accurate,” said Washington State coach Mike Leach, whose team lost to Auburn in the opener before a win at USC. “There’s definitely nuances between conferences, but if you’re in one of the major conferences _ the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the SEC, the ACC _ they’re probably more similar than they are different. They all have 300-pounders, guys who can run.”

Last week, the Pac-12 was 8-0 in nonconference games, outscoring opponents 384-111.

By Saturday night, the picture of conference strength this season could be a little clearer.

As far as the scrutiny of the results, well, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer brushed off the big-picture importance during his time on the Big Ten coaches conference call. So did Pelini. Illinois coach Tim Beckman said he didn’t even realize there were so many games this weekend pitting Big Ten teams against major opponents.

But Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen, the newbie of the group, let down his guard.

“It’s important for all of us, from a recruiting standpoint and playing another big-time conference, so I do believe it matters for the conference,” he said. “Those are important games.”

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AP College Football Writer John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/

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Dave Campbell on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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