Monday, September 10, 2012
Big 12 has early conference bragging rights
By Sharon Katz
After two full weeks of the 2012 college football season, it is again time to see how the conferences stack up.
Each week for the remainder of the season, ESPN Stats & Info will publish its College Football Conference Power Rankings -- a formula that equally weighs the rankings from the AP Poll and a compilation of available BCS computer rankings in order to determine which conference is the best and worst in the country.
Two weeks into the season the Big 12 is atop the Conference Power Rankings. It is important to note that it is still early in the season so only four of the six computer rankings have been released.
Nonetheless, the Big 12 got stronger this off season with the additions of West Virginia and TCU, two teams that won their respective conferences last year.
The Big 12 has gone 15-2 in games outside of its division in the first two weeks, the highest non-conference win percentage of any conference in FBS. Big 12 schools only played three AQ opponents in those games, though.
The SEC is a close second to the Big 12 with four teams ranked in the AP Top 10, two more than any other conference. While the SEC may have more total ranked teams than the Big 12, the conference has four more teams so the average AP ranking is slightly lower.
Despite big wins for LSU and Alabama over non-conference opponents, the SEC was hurt by out of conference losses by Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Auburn in the first two weeks.
It should be no surprise that the Pac-12 is in third place after going 6-1 against AQ opponents on Saturday, including four wins by double digits. Pac-12 teams upset three ranked opponents at home (No. 12 Wisconsin, No. 16 Nebraska and No. 18 Oklahoma State) on Saturday and are 17-6 overall in games outside the conference.
After finishing last season as the fourth-best conference in college football, the Big Ten has fallen into fifth place following its rough start. Half of the Big Ten lost on Saturday to unranked opponents and only Nebraska scored more than 17 points in those games.
The Big Ten is now 16-8 in nonconference games this season. Only the Big East (8-5) has a worse win percentage amongst AQ conferences.
The Big Ten has a chance to redeem itself next week as Cal travels to Ohio State (12 ET on ABC), Navy takes on Penn State (3:30 ET on ABC) and Notre Dame faces Michigan State (8 ET on ABC). If they can win these games they may again jump into fourth place.