Ohio State Football, Sports

Conference Strength

10.16.07 | 6 Comments

I wrote about this subject earlier in the year and got some interesting responses, some rational, some not so much. But I guess it’s time for another try. The college football season is now 8 weeks old and we’re into the meat of conference play. That means the out of conference meetings are largely completed until bowl season, I’ll update this again after the bowls are completed.

Table showing the six major college football conferences records in out of conference play as of October 13, 2007

Now for a little commentary, the data has changed in the past few weeks and that has caused what was the weakest conference by far, the ACC, to close some ground and what was the strongest conference, the Pac 10, to lose some ground. Everyone else pretty much stayed even from the last update. Here we go, conference by conference in alphabetical order:

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) – Last time we checked, the ACC had an overall out-of-conference (OOC) win rate of 59.6%, backing out the IAA patsies (no-patsy) a win rate of 65.5%, and against DIA BCS teams (big boy), a 33.3% win rate. The conference has closed the gap over the past few weeks increasing the OOC win rate to 69.2%, the no-patsy win rate to 62.5%, and the big boy win rate to 46.7%. In short, the ACC has closed the gap with the other conferences and is no longer an outlier.

Big East – The Big East started off a couple of weeks ago sporting a gaudy 80.5% win rate in overall OOC play, the no-patsy win rate dropped only to 75%, and the big boy win rate was a respectable 62.5%. The bad news for the Big East is that the last few weeks have not been kind and the present OOC win rate has dropped to 70.3%, the no-patsy win rate has dropped to 64.5%, and the OOC record against the big boys fell to 42.9%. The gild is off the lilly for the Big East as far as conference strength goes.

Big Ten (Big 10) – At our last check, the Big 10’s overall OOC win rate was 79.4%, no-patsy win rate was 77.7%, and big boy win rate was 55.6%. The changes over the past few weeks show improvement with the OOC win rate improving to 81.1%, no-patsy win rate improving to 80.0%, and the big boy rate held steady at 55.6%. Not much change here as Big 10 teams are now into the meat of the schedule against one another.

Big Twelve (Big 12) – The Big 12 has only played conference games since that time, so these numbers are unchanged from our last check: overall OOC win rate was 75.5%, no-patsy win rate was 74.4%, and big boy win rate was 45.5%. If you thought the B12 was strong then, you’ll think they’re strong now.

Pacific Ten (Pac 10) – The Pac 10 has managed to squeeze in a couple more OOC games, last check the numbers were: Overall OOC win rate: 76.9%, no-patsy win rate: 75%, big boy win rate: 62.5%. Aside from an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame (I thought the Big 10 was supposed to do that, being lousy and all) the OOC win rate has degraded to 71.4%, the no-patsy rate to 69.8%, and the big boy rate is now 55.6%. No longer is the Pac 10 the clear leader in conference strength, but that doesn’t mean they’re not still the strongest conference at this point.

South-Eastern Conference (SEC) – Ah, the SEC, over-rated, over-publicized, and over-exposed. I can’t wait to update this data post-bowling. At our last check the OOC win rate was 87.5%, the no-patsy win rate was 83.3%, and the big boy win rate was 57.1%. Over the past few weeks, the numbers are mixed, the overall OOC win rate improved to 88.2%, the no-patsy win rate improved to 85.2%, and the big boy win rate declined to 55.6%. All kidding about the SEC being over-rated aside, these numbers demonstrate that the conference beats the opponents it should, note the strong overall OOC and no-patsy win rates. However, when the competition is real, the SEC is no stronger than the Pac 10 or Big 10 – but is clearly stronger than the ACC, Big East, and Big 12.

On the basis of the numbers put up to date, the conference pecking order right now should be: SEC, Pac 10, Big 10, ACC, Big 12, and Big East. On the basis of big boy win rate and scheduling the fewest patsies, the Pac 10 can make an argument. But that loss to Notre Dame was just a killer – the conference better hope USC doesn’t trip up in its upcoming road trip with the domers. However, all things being equal, the Big 10 shouldn’t be getting the crap it’s getting based on performance to date. The other 3 conferences, should be getting some of that “love” from the media and talking heads.

Hey, ignore the data, we’ll update it post-bowl season and see what that tells us about the season’s performance. Now, let’s sit back and watch the conference races play out as these teams beat the snot out of one another. It should be fun.