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SEC is king; just ask Bears rookie Alshon Jeffery

Bears receiver AlshJeffery hauls 42-yard touchdown pass Bears’ season-opening victory Sept. 9. He starred South ­Carolina. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery hauls in a 42-yard touchdown pass in the Bears’ season-opening victory Sept. 9. He starred at South ­Carolina. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 18, 2012 6:19AM

There is very little that gets soft-spoken Bears rookie receiver Alshon Jeffery into a lengthy conversation.

Not playing in Lambeau Field for the first time, not his first NFL touchdown in Week 1 against the Colts, not life in the NFL.

But bring up playing football in the SEC, and Jeffery changes into a hype-man before your very eyes.

“SEC is the best conference in America, hands down,’’ said Jeffery, who played for South Carolina. “There’s no better football played anywhere. I mean, the national championship has to come through there, and it will for years to come. The NCAA might as well call themselves the SECAA. We’re a force to be reckoned with.’’

They have been, and this season isn’t shaping up any different with Alabama and LSU now Nos. 1 and 2 in the polls, thanks to USC’s loss to Stanford.

“Man, that’s the South,’’ Jeffery said. “Down in the South, we just take pride in our football. Midwest, East Coast, they all have to understand that football is it down there. All the players, when we’re kids, all we talk about is playing in the SEC. We all want to play there. I mean, you want to play in the best conference, and the SEC prepares you for the NFL. The speed of the game is a lot faster than all the other conferences. That’s not just talk, it’s proven. If someone from another conference has to play an SEC team for the national championship, look at the results. It’s different, and they find that out.’’

◆ Don’t look now, but Florida State might be a powerhouse again. If the Seminoles beat Clemson on Saturday, they only have two tough games left on the schedule, at Virginia Tech and home against Florida.

◆ Thanks for playing, Big Ten. There are some consolation prizes at the door on your way out.

◆ Your new Heisman leader? Quarterback Geno Smith, West Virginia.

Players of the week

 RB Chris Thompson, Florida State: Rushing for 197 yards in a game is one thing, but the Seminoles speedy tailback had that at halftime against Wake Forest, and he did it on nine carries.

LB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame: He lost his grandmother Tuesday and his girlfriend died Wednesday, but the Irish linebacker still had 12 tackles and a fumble recovery and broke up two passes in the victory over Michigan State.

Big number

0-4 USC quarterback Matt Barkley’s record against Stanford. Against the rest of the Pac-12, he’s 17-6.

Key games Saturday

Clemson at Florida State, 7 p.m., Ch. 7: On paper, the Seminoles have had the talent the last two seasons, but they seemed to lack the focus. The Tigers will test that as FSU tries to make a big statement.

Michigan at Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5: Welcome back to relevancy in the BCS race, Irish. A victory over the Wolverines could mean Notre Dame makes it to Oklahoma on Oct. 27 still unbeaten. But that schedule has plenty of land mines.

Kansas State at Oklahoma, 6:50 p.m., Fox-32: The Wildcats faced the Sooners last season at home unbeaten and with high hopes. Those hopes were crushed in a 58-17 thumping. Revenge game?

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