Stats & Info: WAC

Power rankings: Fresno State has BCS edge

November, 18, 2013
The BCS Selection Process is clear:

The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference or the Sun Belt Conference (the "non-AQ group") will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

However, no more than one such team from the non-AQ group will earn an automatic berth in any year, unless non-AQ teams finish both No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings. If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth.

This season, No. 15 Fresno State of the Mountain West Conference and No. 16 Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference are in prime positions to earn an automatic berth to a BCS Bowl game. Both teams rank in the top 16 of the BCS Standings and are ranked higher than No. 18 UCF, the highest-ranked team in the American Athletic Conference.

Only one non-AQ team will earn an automatic berth, so when evaluating the résumés of these two schools, conference strength is an important factor.

ESPN Stats & Information’s Conference Power Rankings can provide an objective measure of conference depth. According to these rankings, the Mountain West Conference is the strongest non-AQ conference from top to bottom.

The Mountain West has seven teams (out of 12) that are .500 or better, and is 18-8 against non-AQ opponents (including independent and FCS). Unlike other non-AQ conferences, the Mountain West does not have many weak teams.

The lowest ranked team in ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) from the Mountain Conference is No. 106 Air Force. In comparison the MAC and Conference USA each has at least six teams ranked below 106 in the FPI.

However, when looking at the top teams of each conference, the MAC has the most teams (5) and highest percentage of team (38 percent) with at least seven wins. Northern Illinois, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Toledo are all bowl eligible and have at least seven wins.

When comparing Fresno State and Northern Illinois, voters will have to account for the strength of each team’s conference, their out-of-conference schedules and their dominance in their wins. Using ESPN’s new ratings systems, one can see that Northern Illinois has played a tougher schedule, but Fresno State has been more dominant in its games. It is up to the voters to decide which conference they believe is stronger and how much that affects their thinking.

This week, the MAC will be on display on Tuesday and Wednesday with three games on the ESPN family of networks -- Buffalo heads to Miami (OH) on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPNU), Kent State travels to Ohio on Tuesday (8 ET, ESPN2) and Northern Illinois will look to remain unbeaten at Toledo on Wednesday (8 ET, ESPN2). On Thursday and Friday, the Mountain West and Conference USA will have their time in the spotlight as Rice, UAB, UNLV, Air Force and San Jose State are all in action.

Big 12 Rises in Conference Power Rankings

October, 28, 2013
A quick refresher: ESPN Stats & Information’s 2013 conference power rankings are based off of a formula that equally weighs the rankings from the AP poll and ESPN’s new Football Power Index (FPI) in order to determine the best and worst conferences in the country. For more information on the rankings and FPI, which will be released later this season, click here or here.

The SEC took its largest lead of the season in the ESPN Stats & Information conference power rankings after five of its top six teams won on Saturday, including three wins over non-conference opponents by a combined 112 points.

The SEC is now 38-7 in out-of-conference games (.844 win pct), which is the best non-conference win percentage of any conference.

Despite two of its top four teams losing on Saturday, the Pac-12 remains the No. 1 conference in the Football Power Index. The Pac-12 has four of the top 10 teams in the FPI, a ratings system that measures overall team efficiency.

However, the SEC has a major edge in the portion of the conference power rankings that measures the AP Poll. Six of the top-15 teams in the AP Poll reside in the SEC, three more than in any other conference.

Elsewhere in the rankings, the Big 12 jumped ahead of the ACC for third place this week. Four of the Big 12’s 10 teams have one or fewer losses, most of any conference. Baylor and Texas are both unbeaten in conference play, which could result in a de facto Big 12 championship game in the final week of the season.

The top teams in the ACC Coastal division had a rough Saturday. No. 7 Miami needed a last-second touchdown in its win against Wake Forest, then-No. 14 Virginia Tech committed four turnovers and was held scoreless for the first 44:49 in its loss to Duke and Pittsburgh was outscored 17-8 in the fourth quarter in its loss to Navy. These struggles were reflected in the ACC’s rating in the conference power rankings.

Fresno State survived a 35-28 overtime thriller against San Diego State to remain unbeaten. The Bulldogs are carrying the Mountain West Conference in the rankings and have a chance to earn an automatic BCS bowl bid if they remain unbeaten. Similarly, the MAC’s eighth place spot in the rankings is a result of strong starts by Northern Illinois (8-0) and Ball State (8-1).

Next week there are only three matchups between ranked opponents, so look for upsets to have a major impact on rankings.

QBs the story in college football this fall

May, 20, 2013
The 2013 college football season could showcase one of the best college quarterback classes ever. Here are five reasons why:

Each of the top six teams in last season’s final AP poll returns its leading passer. The last time that happened was entering the 1982 season. That 1982 group led to the famed 1983 NFL draft class that boasted six quarterbacks chosen in the first round -- including Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

Each of the top five and 10 of the top 11 quarterbacks in terms of passing efficiency return to school. In all, seven players with a passing efficiency of at least 160 last season are coming back, more than in the previous three seasons combined.

This class is expected to produce a number of NFL starting quarterbacks. Four of Todd McShay’s top 15 prospects in the 2014 draft are quarterbacks (Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Alabama’s AJ McCarron).

Yet, showing how deep this class is, Brock Huard ranks Georgia's Aaron Murray, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Ohio State's Braxton Miller ahead of either McCarron or Manziel on his quarterback draft board.

The SEC is in prime shape to win its eighth straight national title with 11 of 14 starting quarterbacks from last season returning to school. Among the 11 are the starters of the top three teams in each division including Manziel, Murray and McCarron.

Last season, Manziel set the SEC record for total offense with 5,116 yards. Murray is on pace to set conference records for most career passing yards and total offense, and McCarron is the two-time BCS national champion.

The SEC isn’t the only conference returning elite quarterbacks. The Big Ten, Mountain West and MAC each return their first- and second-team quarterbacks from last season. So would Conference USA and the WAC if realignment hadn’t altered those conferences. The Big 12 is the only conference that doesn’t return either its first- or second-team quarterback.

Among the returnees, Boyd could challenge the ACC record for total offense in a career, Troy’s Corey Robinson is on pace to shatter the Sun Belt’s career record for total offense, and Jordan Lynch returns after leading Northern Illinois to its first ever BCS bowl game last season.
It is no surprise that the SEC finished the season atop ESPN Stats & Info’s Conference Power Rankings after winning its seventh straight BCS National Championship on Monday.

It’s impossible to deny the SEC’s dominance. The conference has won seven more BCS titles than any other conference and ended the 2012 season with five of the top 10 teams in the AP poll.

In its bowl games, the SEC went 6-3 -- the best record of any AQ conference -- and outscored its opponents by a combined 85 points. It was the 10th straight season the SEC finished .500 or better in its bowl games, by far the longest such streak in the nation.

Next season, the SEC does not look to be getting any weaker. Quarterbacks AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Connor Shaw and Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel return to the conference with their eyes on an eighth straight BCS title for the conference.

In the race for second-best, The Big 12 narrowly edged the Pac-12 despite an average bowl season. The biggest difference between the two conferences was depth. The Big 12 had nine of its 10 teams play in bowl games compared to eight of 12 teams for the Pac-12.

In head-to-head bowl games, the Big 12 won two of three games against Pac-12 opponents, including Baylor’s 49-26 victory over Pac-12 South champion UCLA. Yet, Oregon ran past Kansas State in the conferences’ only BCS Bowl matchup.

The Big Ten continued to struggle in bowl games (2-5 record), while the ACC surged during bowl season (4-2).

The Big Ten is a combined 4-13 in January bowl games in the past three seasons and has been outscored by a combined 193 points (11.4 per game) in those 17 games. The ACC turned around its dismal bowl record, putting together its first winning bowl season since 2005.

In its final season as an FBS conference, the WAC finished the season as the top non-AQ conference in the nation. The WAC went 2-0 in bowl games and finished the season with Utah State and San Jose State ranked in the AP Poll. Additionally, Louisiana Tech and UTSA finished the season at least four games above .500 but did not play in bowl games.

Conference USA finished at the bottom of the conference rankings despite going 4-1 in its bowl games for the second straight season. The conference could not overcome the weakness of its non-bowl members who were ranked low by the computers.

With 2012 in the books, it is not too soon to start looking ahead to next season. Conference realignment will continue to change these rankings significantly. Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the ACC, while the fate of the Big East remains uncertain. Utah State and San Jose State will join the Mountain West Conference while four of the remaining WAC teams will head to Conference USA. How will this impact the conference rankings? Check back next season to see how it turns out.

SEC finishes regular season atop rankings

December, 5, 2012
At the end of the regular season, it should be no surprise that the SEC leads the ESPN Stats and Info Conference Power Rankings by a wide margin.

Six of the top 11 teams in the AP Poll reside in the SEC, including No. 2 Alabama, which will be playing for the conference's seventh straight national championship.

Nine of the SEC's 14 teams are bowl eligible, including six teams with at least 10 wins this season.

Like the SEC, the Big 12 has nine bowl-eligible teams. That is impressive considering that the conference has only 10 teams. Yet the Big 12 remains behind the SEC and the Pac-12 in the conference rankings because it lacks multiple “elite” teams.

The Big 12 has two teams currently ranked in the AP Poll, its fewest of any week this season. To put that in perspective, both the WAC and MAC have two teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25.

Speaking of the WAC, the conference finished the regular season as the sixth-best conference in the country according the power rankings.

Considering that the conference is in its final season of existence in football, the WAC had an impressive year. Four of its eight teams finished with at least eight wins, which is more eight-win teams than the Big 12, ACC or Big East.

The WAC finished the year ranked ahead of both the Big East and the MAC. Although the top of the MAC is strong -- as indicated by Northern Illinois’ berth in a BCS bowl game and the thrilling MAC championship game -- the bottom of the conference struggled. Six of its 13 teams did not win more than four games, which brought down its overall ranking as a conference.

All of the conferences will have the chance to prove their relative strength during bowl season. The ACC will try to improve upon its abysmal 2-6 bowl record last season, and the Big Ten will look to play better in its January bowl games than its 3-9 record over the last two seasons.

ACC, Big East fall in latest power rankings

November, 26, 2012
The SEC remains far ahead of the other conferences in ESPN Stats & Info’s college football conference power rankings after going 4-0 in non-conference games this weekend.

All four of the SEC’s wins came against ACC opponents, including wins over No. 10 Florida State and No. 11 Clemson. Overall, the SEC won its four non-conference games by a combined 87 points and won every game by double digits. On the season, the SEC is 48-8 in non-conference games, second to the Big 12.

The only conference that had a worse weekend than the ACC was the Big East, who lost 11.1 points in the conference power rankings this week. The Big East’s top two teams, Rutgers and Louisville, lost to unranked conference opponents.

As a result, Rutgers and Louisville both fell out of the AP top 25, leaving the Big East without a team ranked in the AP Poll for the first time this season. The WAC and MAC were the beneficiaries of the Big East’s rough weekend as both conferences passed the Big East in the conference power rankings.

The WAC is the first non-AQ conference to rank in the top 6 of the conference rankings this season. Four of the WAC’s seven teams have at least eight wins this season, including 10-2 Utah State, who is currently ranked 20th in the AP Poll.

Each of the WAC’s top three teams came within a few points of beating an AQ school that would have boosted the conference rating even further; Utah State lost by two to Wisconsin, San Jose State lost by three to Stanford and Louisiana Tech lost by two to Texas A&M.

The MAC conference trails the WAC by 3.2 points, but it is not the fault of the teams at the top of the conference. Kent State Golden Flashes and Northern Illinois are both 11-1 and ranked in the top 20 of the AP Poll.

The winner of the MAC championship game has a chance to represent the conference in a BCS Bowl game if it moves into the top 16 of the BCS standings and remains ahead of an AQ conference champion (the Big East champion).

The only reason that the MAC is not ranked ahead of the WAC is because it has three teams with 10 or more losses, including two of the three lowest ranked teams by the computers, Akron and Massachusetts.

Yet, the MAC remains ahead of the Big East because of the strength of the top of its conference. Overall, the MAC is 4-3 in head-to-head games against the Big East, including Kent State’s win over 7-0 Rutgers and Toledo’s win over 5-0 Cincinnati.

Next weekend is conference championship weekend. Look for many of these championship games to shape the bowl picture and impact the college football postseason.



Status quo favors Notre Dame, SEC

November, 25, 2012
The top nine teams in the BCS standings were unchanged for the first time since 2010, but there’s still plenty to play for. Here are five BCS nuggets to tide you over until championship weekend.

1-- No. 1 Notre Dame will be the seventh team in the BCS Top-2 to not play on the final weekend of the regular season. Not surprisingly, the six previous schools all went on to play for the BCS championship.

Before Alabama last season, the previous five instances involved conferences without championship games. Ohio State in 2002 and 2006, Florida State in 1999 and 2000, and Virginia Tech in 1999 didn’t have to navigate conference championship games to win their league’s automatic bid.

2-- No. 2 Alabama is looking to continue a recent run of success for the top two BCS teams on championship weekend. In 2010 and 2011, the top two teams in the BCS entering the final weekend went on to play for the BCS championship.

That snapped a rough stretch from 2006 to 2009. Ohio State did not play on the final weekend in 2006, but five of the seven BCS Top-2 teams lost on championship weekend. And one of those wins, Alabama over Florida in 2009, involved the No. 2 team beating the No. 1 team.

3-- No. 3 Georgia is on the outside looking in, but the Bulldogs have good historical company.

Of the 28 previous teams to play for the BCS championship, eight entered the final weekend of the regular season outside the BCS Top-2. Half of the teams to move up did so after winning the SEC Championship Game.

4-- With the top nine in the BCS standings unchanged from last week, the action was lower in the rankings. Kent State jumped six spots to No. 17, the highest ranking for a team from the MAC since Ball State was No. 12 in November 2008.

The Golden Flashes are one spot away from earning a bid to a BCS bowl. If Kent State finishes in the Top 16 in the final BCS standings and ahead of at least one champion from a conference with an automatic BCS berth, it will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game.

There are currently no Big East teams in the BCS rankings. The Golden Flashes play No. 21 Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game on Friday (ESPN, 7 ET).

5-- This might be the final season for WAC football, but the conference is going out with a bang. Utah State and San Jose State moved into the BCS Top 25 this week. It was the first appearance in the rankings in the history of both programs.

Ten different WAC schools have appeared in the BCS Standings since 1998, but only three of those schools are still in the conference.

With Louisiana Tech appearing in the rankings earlier in the year, this is just the second time that three WAC teams have reached the BCS Top 25 in the same season. Boise State, Hawaii and Nevada were all ranked in 2010 before leaving for the Mountain West Conference.

Big East tumbles in conference rankings

November, 12, 2012
The SEC remains atop the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings despite its top team, Alabama, losing to Texas A&M on Saturday.

Alabama’s loss barely fazed the SEC in the rankings because of the depth of the conference. The SEC now has five teams ranked in the AP Top 10 and six teams with two or fewer losses. No other conference has more than one team ranked in the AP Top 10 or four teams with two or fewer losses.

Unlike the SEC, the Big East was greatly impacted in the conference rankings after its top team, Louisville, lost to Syracuse on Saturday. There are two reasons for the Big East’s drastic fall.

First, the Big East only has eight teams, so a loss by any of its top teams has a greater marginal impact than a loss by a top team in a conference with 14 members. Additionally, the Big East has just three teams that are currently above .500, so the conference relies on those three teams to carry it in the rankings.

Louisville was ranked 11th in the AP Poll last week after a 9-0 start. The Cardinals dropped to 20th in that poll after its loss, resulting in the Big East losing 454 AP points from last week. There is a very real possibility that the Big East will not be able to fill all six of its bowl tie-ins with three teams currently bowl eligible and 11 games remaining.

One conference that will fill its bowl tie-ins is the WAC. The WAC is its final football season as a conference and is finishing strong with three teams battling for its conference title. Louisiana Tech is ranked 20th in the BCS Standings and has a chance to play in a BCS Bowl game if it finishes 16th or higher and ahead of a conference champion from an AQ conference.

If San Jose State can beat BYU Cougars next weekend to move to 9-2, there is a chance that the WAC also could pass the Big East in the conference power rankings.

Elsewhere in the rankings, the Big Ten continues to rebound from a slow start largely because of Ohio State ’s 10-0 record. The Buckeyes are not bowl eligible this season, but they are accounted for in the conference power rankings because they are receiving votes in the AP Poll and the computers. If Ohio State and Penn State were excluded from the formula, the Big Ten would rank below the ACC in the conference power rankings.

Next week there are plenty of games with conference title implications. Rutgers travels to Cincinnati in the Big East, Louisiana Tech hosts Utah State in the WAC, Duke takes on Georgia Tech in the ACC, Toledo travels to Northern Illinois in the MAC and USC takes on rival UCLA in the Pac-12. All of these games will shape conference title races and impact the bowl season.

SEC pulling away in conference rankings

October, 29, 2012
The SEC takes its largest lead of the season in the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings after multiple top teams in other conferences fell on Saturday.

In the Big 12, Oklahoma and Texas Tech lost to higher-ranked opponents, resulting in every team but Kansas State having at least two losses this season. In comparison, five of the SEC’s 14 teams have fewer than two losses.

In recent weeks the top of the Big 12 has shown weaknesses as Texas nearly lost to two teams that are a combined 0-9 in conference games, and West Virginia showed significant defensive weaknesses in its two losses.

Similarly, the top of the Pac-12 struggled this weekend with its second and third best teams entering the weekend losing on the road. As a result, USC and Oregon State dropped eight and six points in the AP Poll, respectively, with USC’s fall being the largest of any team.

As a results of these losses, SEC teams continued to rise in the AP Poll. The three largest rises in the poll this week were by SEC teams as Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M all rose at least five poll positions, more than compensating for a five-spot drop by Florida.

The Big East lost the most points in the conference power rankings this week after Kent State beat Rutgers on Saturday. It’s the second straight week that a team from the MAC has defeated a previously undefeated Big East opponent. Last week Toledo beat Cincinnati 29-23 at home.

Two weeks ago the Big East was ranked as the fourth best conference in college football. Losses by two of its top three teams the last two weeks hurt the conference as both teams fell out of the AP Top 25 and the conference fell to sixth in these rankings.

As mentioned above, the MAC has two victories over previously unbeaten Big East opponents. Four teams in the MAC received votes in the AP Poll this week. That is as many teams as the other four non-BCS conferences combined.

The MAC has four teams with fewer than two losses, which ranks second to the SEC. Yet, the MAC remains ninth in the conference power rankings because four of its 13 teams have seven or more losses, the most of any conference. The MAC is a prime example of how the conference rankings account for relative strength of a conference from top to bottom.

Next week is full of conference matchups, highlighted by Alabama at LSU and Oregon at USC. Last week five unbeaten teams lost, and many other favored teams faltered against conference opponents. Look for similar unpredictability next weekend that could impact the AP Poll and conference power rankings.

Does new playoff system change anything?

June, 26, 2012
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertThe BCS Presidential Oversight Committee approved a 12-year plan for a four-team seeded playoff to determine college football’s national champion beginning in the 2014 season.
The new plan for a four-team seeded playoff to determine college football’s national champion changes the landscape of college football.

How would the new playoff format have affected the last five national championships if the plan had already been in place?


Using the top four teams in the final regular-season BCS rankings for 2007-2011 to simulate the choices that will be made by a human selection committee, AccuScore ran 10,000 four-team playoff simulations. The No. 2 seed actually won the title the highest percentage of the time, which is not surprising given that in three of the five seasons, the No. 2 seed ended up becoming the actual national champion. The No. 3 and 4 seeds won nearly 32 percent of the time.

However, based on AccuScore projections with the new playoff format, the last five college football national champions would have remained the same.


A four-team playoff means 3.2 percent of the 124 college football FBS schools would now be playing for a championship (assuming the number is still 124 by 2014). By comparison, 20.1 percent of men’s college basketball teams play in the Men’s Basketball Championship (68 of 338).


Although this new proposal is a huge step, it no doubt will create the same kinds of arguments that the BCS system did, even though the BCS system did get a few things right.

Six national championship games that occurred during the BCS tenure would not have occurred under the previous system, based on conference commitments to specific bowl games.

Conversely, if the BCS had been in place before 1998, some controversial national championships of the past could have been decided on the field, including Michigan-Nebraska in 1997, Nebraska-Penn State in 1994 and Miami-Washington in 1991.

One of the arguments against a playoff is that regular-season matchups – especially BCS No. 1 vs 2 – would become less important. Since the BCS started in 1998, there have been three 1 vs 2 regular season games after November 1. Two of those times the loser was knocked out of national championship contention, but this past season, Alabama reversed that.

Since the BCS began in 1998, four teams have finished unbeaten AND in the top four of the BCS Standings, but not ranked in the top two. Those four teams were TCU in 2010, Cincinnati and TCU in 2009, and Auburn in 2004.

With the new system, it’s no guarantee, but there’s a better chance that those teams would be able to compete for a national championship.

SEC still top dog heading into bowl season

December, 5, 2011
Entering the bowl season the SEC maintains a healthy, but not unreachable lead in ESPN’s Stats & Information’s conference power rankings. For more on how we objectively rank conferences check here.

There are many parallels between the final BCS standings and the conference rankings. Most notably the SEC is ahead of the Big 12 primarily because of its human rankings. The Big 12 is actually a stronger conference in most computer ranking systems, but the AP poll more than makes up for the gap with four SEC teams in the top 10 (the Big 12 has one).

In the BCS Alabama is playing in the national championship primarily because of human voters. Four of the 6 computer rankings that make up the BCS have OSU ahead of Alabama, but the Tide had stronger human numbers.

Conference USA was the biggest loser during championship week as undefeated Houston took a huge slide down the AP rankings after its loss to Southern Miss. The loss is almost entirely the reason Conference USA fell behind the Big East in the conference rankings for the first time in weeks.

Interestingly Houston and Southern Miss are both ahead of the Big East BCS participant West Virginia in the AP poll and in each team’s average computer ranking.

With the exception of the national championship game every bowl game will feature inter-conference matchups, making the final conference rankings standings far from set in stone. Stay tuned.

ACC slips in Conference Power Rankings

November, 28, 2011
After an exciting weekend with a handful of inter-conference matchups, ESPN Stats & Info’s Conference Power Rankings remain relatively unchanged at the top.

The SEC holds a solid 5.7 point lead over the Big 12 heading into Championship Weekend. The SEC went 3-1 in inter-conference game this weekend as South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt won by a combined 69 points against their ACC rivals. Overall, the SEC is 42-6 in games outside of its conference, including wins over three of the top six teams in the ACC. The SEC was always going to fall a bit this week because it was likely to lose one team from the AP top 3, but its strong out of conference performance made the drop very slight.

As a result of the SEC’s dominance this weekend, the ACC slid 7.6 points and fell into sixth place in the rankings for the first time this season. Losses by Clemson, Georgia Tech and Virginia dropped the ACC in the AP Ranks, as the ACC now averages 64.5 fewer AP points per team than the Mountain West Conference.

The Mountain West Conference continues to climb in the rankings based upon the strength of its top two teams. Boise State and TCU are the only two teams in the conference ranked in the top third of the country in the computers, but the their consistency and strong out of conference wins have helped the conference climb into fifth place.

The Pac-12 continues to rise based upon the resurgence of USC. At the beginning of the season, the Pac-12 looked to be a two-team race, but USC’s four-game win streak has catapulted the Trojans into the AP Top 10 and helped the Pac-12 build a solid lead for third place in the conference rankings.

Finally, at the bottom of the rankings the Big East remains behind Conference USA, but for the first time in three weeks the Big East has a team ranked in the AP Top 25. The MAC passed the Sun Belt for ninth place and the WAC continues to miss Boise State as it remains in last place.

SEC dominates conference rankings

November, 21, 2011
There is no debating that the SEC is currently the top conference in the nation. After a weekend in which three of the top five teams in the BCS Standings lost, the SEC came out victorious on the field and in the polls.

The SEC now has the top three teams in the polls after Alabama and Arkansas jumped to 2nd and 3rd respectively. No conference has ever had the top three teams in the BCS Standings, and the last time that three teams from the same conference were 1-2-3 in the AP Poll was 1971, when Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado from the Big 8 were atop the final AP Poll.

The SEC’s dominance in the polls is reflected in ESPN Stats & Info’s Conference Power Rankings. The SEC has opened a season-high 7.8 point lead over the Big 12 after losses by Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Although the computers continue to favor the Big 12, the SEC is dominant in the AP Poll, receiving 2,828 more AP points than any other conference.

The Mountain West Conference gained the most from the mayhem this past weekend. Boise State climbed back into the top seven of the AP Poll as Oklahoma, Clemson and Oregon all fell out of the top seven after their losses.

The Mountain West Conference is 30.9 points ahead of the Big East (which does not have a team ranked in the AP Poll for the second straight week) and is within 4.3 points of the ACC. With discussions of changes to the BCS system and the policy of automatic qualifiers, the success of the Mountain West Conference as a whole has come at a valuable time.

Look for more mayhem and upsets next weekend as six different games feature a matchup of Top 25 teams. Arkansas looks to create a three-way tie atop the SEC West and further complicate things in the BCS Standings by beating LSU on Friday. Additionally, inter-conference rivalry games such as Georgia-Georgia Tech and Clemson-South Carolina have the ability to drastically change the conference power rankings next week.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences, click here.

Upsets don't impact conference rankings

November, 14, 2011

Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
Boise State and Oregon shook up the Top 25 on Saturday, but the upsets didn't disrupt the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Rankings.
After a wild weekend that claimed two more unbeaten teams, the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Rankings remain relatively unchanged.

The Big Ten reclaimed third place in the rankings after wins by Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin. Despite not having a team ranked in the Top 12 of the AP Poll, the Big Ten has five teams ranked in the AP Top 25, which is tied with the SEC for the most of any conference.

The Big Ten does not have one elite national-title contender, but the conference has five teams with an 8-2 record and only two teams with losing records. In contrast, the Pac-12 only has three teams with two or fewer losses and four teams with losing records.

For the first time this year, the Big East does not have a team ranked in the AP Top 25 after Cincinnati lost at home to West Virginia to drop out of the rankings.

The Big East remains below both the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA in ESPN Stats & Info’s Conference Rankings after falling an additional 3.1 points this week. The MWC and C-USA each have two teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

TCU’s victory over Boise State helped the conference in the rankings. For the first time since Week 5, the Mountain West has two ranked teams. The Horned Frogs gained many of the points that Boise State lost in the polls as the Mountain West Conference inched closer to the ACC for fifth in the Conference Rankings.

The gap between the top two conferences--the SEC and Big 12--and every other conference is noticeable. If Oklahoma State and LSU remain undefeated, the top conference debate will be settled on the field.

If either team slips up, the relative strength of the conferences could play a role for voters in which one-loss team has a chance at the national title.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences, click here.

Big East and Big Ten jumped in rankings

November, 7, 2011
The SEC remains atop ESPN Stats & Info's Conference Power Rankings after a classic game between its top two teams on Saturday.

Despite Alabama's loss to LSU, the Tide only dropped to fourth in the AP Poll and third in the computers, which did not affect the conference rankings. Both Top-10 matchups of SEC teams highlighted the strength and competitiveness of the top conference in our rankings.

For the first time this year, the Pac-12 jumped to third in the rankings after decisive wins by Stanford, Oregon and USC. The computers rank the Pac-12 as the fifth-strongest conference, but Stanford and Oregon's Top-7 rankings give the Pac-12 a significant edge over the Big Ten in AP points.

Currently, the Big Ten does not have a team ranked higher than 12th in the AP poll. Losses by Nebraska and Michigan significantly hurt the conference's average AP rank, as the two teams dropped a combined 19 spots and 939 points in the poll this week. There is no dominant team in the Big Ten, but Penn State can improve their rank and recoup lost points for the Big Ten if they beat Nebraska next week.

Conference USA also passed the Big East in the rankings this week. Houston and Southern Miss are a combined 17-1 for Conference USA, and for the first time this season the conference has two teams ranked in the AP Top 25. Conversely, Cincinnati is the only ranked team in the Big East after West Virginia lost to Louisville and fell out of the Top 25. West Virginia will travel to Cincinnati next week in a game that may have conference title and conference ranking implications.

For a brief recap on how we rank the conferences, click here.