On Tuesday night, the College Football Playoff selection committee will release its first rankings of the season. From now until the end of the regular season, these are the only rankings that truly matter.
One aspect that the committee members should consider is the strength of the conferences for each of the team in consideration. If one or two members of a conference are still undefeated yet they belong to a conference whose other members struggle to win against anyone else, how really valuable is being undefeated?
Therefore, I have applied the results of non-conference games through October to a formula that I created. The criteria include:
*Wins by each member of every conference when facing non-conference foes.
*Games on the road are worth more than those at neutral sites or at home.
*Victories versus other conferences’ previous season champions or second-place teams/divisional winners count for more points.
*Wins against FBS opponents have much more value than those against FCS members.
Below, is how the 10 FBS conferences are ranked at the end of October. Each conference’s score is in parenthesis. For those curious about the scale of my formula, a perfect score for a conference is 3.188.
1. Big Ten (.704)
The Big Ten moved into the top ranking primarily on the strength of its three remaining undefeated teams - Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa. There was just one non-conference game played by a Big Ten member last month (Penn State beat Army).
2. SEC (.651)
The SEC's rating dropped in part due to losses in both games versus the American Athletic Conference (Ole Miss to Memphis, Vanderbilt to Houston). Also, two of nine non-conference wins in October occurred versus FCS members. Three wins over Conference USA and two against the Sun Belt could not offset those.
3. Big 12 (.567)
Since every member completed its non-conference games in September, the Big 12's score remains the same.
4. Pac-12 (.535)
The Pac-12 confines its non-conference games to September other than those versus Notre Dame. The conference has very few opportunities to alter its score before the bowl games.
5. ACC (.448)
On the downside, the ACC is behind the other Power 5 conferences. On the bright side, there are still four in-state, rivalry games against SEC teams and three games remaining against Notre Dame. There is still a chance that the ACC's score could catapult over those currently rated higher.
6. American Athletic Conference (.398)
The AAC noticeably boosted its score over the course of October. Two victories over the SEC and ACC respectively garnered some headlines. However, losing all three games against BYU and both contests versus Notre Dame kept the AAC in the same relative position as it was at the end of September.
7. MAC (.304)
The MAC increased its score by a measly .002 from what it was in September. Even if Toledo wins the conference title with an undefeated record, the overall weakness of the MAC seemingly would hurt the Rockets in the College Football Playoff committee's ranking. That would most likely mean no New Year's Six bowl for Toledo.
8. Conference USA (.245)
This group plummeted in October. The only chances to increase its position will occur in three road games versus opponents from the SEC.
9. Sun Belt (.107)
This collection of multiple recent arrivals from the FCS saw its meager total drop from what it was in September. Two more road games at SEC sites should drop the score even more.
10. Mountain West (.089)
The MW did manage to increase slightly its dreadful total from September. However, that was not enough to lift this conference out of the FBS cellar. With two games left against BYU and another against Army, the Mountain West is not necessarily condemned to the basement at the end of the regular season.
— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.