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College Football Conference Rankings: Week 1

| by Sports Nickel

The first weekend of the college football season is now officially behind us, with just one more in-conference ACC matchup to play. Thus it’s time to plug the numbers into the system once again to see which conference comes out on top.

A quick disclaimer for those who are new to the College Football Conference Rankings:

  • For purposes of non-conference BCS games, Notre Dame is counted among the BCS schools due to personal entry qualification requirements more favorable than other non-AQ schools.
  • AP Top 25 positioning is that at the time of each matchup; matchups against ranked conference opponents are included in Top 25 records.
  • Quotient is determined by taking quality wins (non-conf BCS plus Top 25) and subtracting FCS losses and then multiplying by the percentage of quality (non-conf BCS plus Top 25) games and total games played per school.

So there is no intentional bias reflected in these numbers. Perhaps the calculations could be better-conceived… perhaps the system by which I measure conference performance is flawed. But the numbers are what they are… and this week they are very interesting indeed. Let’s post the figures first and then break down just what it all means:

 

 

         

NON-CONF BCS

v. AP TOP 25

FCS GAMES

   

RK

LW

CONF

TEAMS

TTL GP

W

L

PCT.

W

L

PCT.

W

L

PCT.

% v. BCS/25

QUOTIENT

#1

 

Big East

8

8

2

0

1.000

1

0

1.000

4

0

1.000

37.5%

1.125

#2

 

Mountain West

8

8

1

2

0.333

1

1

0.500

3

0

1.000

62.5%

0.500

#3

 

Southeast

12

12

1

0

1.000

1

1

0.500

3

0

1.000

25.0%

0.333

#4

 

Western Athletic

8

7

1

3

0.250

0

2

0.000

0

0

0.000

85.7%

0.125

#5

 

Conference USA

12

11

1

6

0.143

0

5

0.000

3

0

1.000

109.1%

0.083

#6

 

Big Ten

12

12

1

1

0.500

0

1

0.000

4

0

1.000

25.0%

0.083

#7

 

Mid-American

13

13

1

5

0.167

0

3

0.000

4

0

1.000

69.2%

0.077

#8

 

Big XII

10

10

0

0

0.000

1

0

1.000

4

0

1.000

10.0%

0.100

#9

 

Sun Belt

9

9

0

7

0.000

0

3

0.000

0

0

0.000

111.1%

0.000

#10

 

Pacific 12

12

12

1

1

0.500

0

1

0.000

5

1

0.833

25.0%

0.000

#11

 

Atlantic Coast

12

12

0

2

0.000

0

0

0.000

5

1

0.833

16.7%

0.000

 

So what does this all mean? First of all, that it is just one week in the season. But with a couple statement wins — Syracuse prevailing over Wake Forest and South Florida’s win over Notre Dame — the Big East made it known that it is tired of hearing all the talk about its inferiority vis-a-vis the other BCS conferences. Will they stay at the top of the mountain? The conference gets three more out-of-conference BCS matchups — Rutgers at North Carolina, Connecticut at Vanderbilt and Cincinnati at Tennessee — to keep their good standing.

The Mountain West impressed despite TCU’s loss at Baylor. Boise State’s victory over Georgia made a huge statement for the non-AQ conference. The UNLV loss at Wisconsin didn’t hurt the team for the schedule strength for the conference, and they too get more statement chances next week — New Mexico goes to Arkansas and UNLV plays at Washington State.

The SEC is in third place, lower than you would expect but still right there to steal in and take over the top-dog position to which they’ve become accustomed. Georgia’s loss to Boise State was a blemish, but LSU more than made up for it with their defeat of Oregon. Other than that, the conference went down a level to find its opposition and it showed in their ranking. Next week they should be able to jump up, with Vanderbilt hosting UConn, Tennessee hosting Cincinnati and Alabama going to Penn State. There is also the conference showdown between top-25 teams Mississippi State and Auburn, and Georgia-South Carolina could also bolster the mark if the Bulldogs win.

The WAC made a courageous stand, with Hawaii leading the conference by taking a win off of Colorado. Three other WAC schools played BCS opposition and lost, but they acquitted themselves well in doing so. Utah State nearly pulled off the monumental upset of Auburn. Fresno State played Cal tough in defeat, and only San Jose State truly looked abysmal… against Stanford, so it was to be expected. Next week Nevada goes to Autzen to face the Ducks, Fresno goes to Lincoln to face the Cornhuskers, Hawaii travels to the mainland to face Washington, San Jose State visits UCLA and New Mexico State takes on Minnesota in the Twin Cities. With even just one or two wins among those challenges, the WAC could position itself as one of the top non-AQ conferences again this season.

The biggest surprises were not the high position of non-AQ conferences, though… early in the season, the BCS conferences load up on the minnow schools, and merely taking on a bigger opponent bolsters a conference’s profile. The real test will be whether they can stay there near the top once the big conferences start having its showdowns between top-ranked teams, picking off one another in a race of attrition.

So to see the Big XII, Pac-12 and ACC so low is really not that shocking. Other than a select few teams, most were content to schedule warm-up challenges that were hardly challenging. As we generate a larger sample size, these things tend to balance out. The SEC will surely rise, as will the Big Ten and Pac-12 and the other BCS leagues. But we’ve also seen that there is a new era in college football, that the vacuous nature of leagues and the advent of non-traditional programs has made it all the more possible for a league like the Mountain West to legitimately stand among the second-tier conferences of the BCS.

Keep tuned every week during the season as we break things down. The numbers might look a little funny now, but everything is based on how things play out every Saturday… so if your favorite league is lower than you expect, wait a week and it’s bound to change.