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Monday, October 7, 2013
Big Ten fifth in first ESPN league rankings

By Brian Bennett

With six weeks of action in the books, ESPN Stats & Information has released its first conference power rankings.

The rankings use ESPN’s new Football Power Index (FPI) instead of the BCS computers, though the premise of the rankings remains the same. The rankings take into account the  Associated Press Top 25 as a measure of the strength of the conference, while the FPI will measures the depth of the conference.

The AP poll and FPI are weighed equally, and the results are calculated on a 0-100 scale  to determine the top conference in the country.

The first conference power rankings are out, and they look like this:


The ranking is not great but not too surprising for the Big Ten, which ranks fifth among the five power conferences and is ahead of only the AAC in terms of AQ leagues. But the Big Ten is No. 4 in FPI, which measures depth of a conference. ESPN Stats & Information explains FPI like this:
"FPI is a one of ESPN’s new storytelling metrics designed to determine which team is the best in the country. FPI does not necessarily answer the question of who DESERVES to be in a playoff; instead, it is designed to answer the question of which team would WIN if two teams were to meet on a neutral field. FPI ranges roughly between -30 to 30 and the difference between two teams amounts to a projected point spread."

The Big Ten might not have a lot of power at the top, with only one team in the top 15 and just three teams in the AP Top 25. But the depth looks pretty solid, as there appear to be no truly bad teams save for Purdue.

It's no shock to see the SEC at No. 1, but the Pac-12 and, surprisingly, the ACC have also been very strong. You could mount an argument for the Big Ten over the Big 12, and indeed the FPI says the Big Ten is the deeper league. But the Big Ten doesn't have much of a case against the top three conferences so far this season.