Publish date:

Which Football Conference Has Had the Best 2014 So Far?

Author:
auburn13.JPG

Conference bragging rights didn’t start with the College Football Playoff or even the BCS.

That said, fighting for championship postseason games has only magnified the “my conference is better than your conference” debate.

In some ways the selection committee may make those determinations, certainly in leaving out on conference (four spots for the Power 5) and potentially rewarding one league with two spots in the Playoff.

In 2014, the SEC looks to be on top again while the ACC and especially the Big Ten are licking their wounds.

Now that non-conference play is for the most part finished — the exception being Notre Dame games vs. the ACC and the SEC-ACC rivalry games — this is a good time to see how all the leagues rank.

To clarify: The Power 5 includes the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Notre Dame and BYU. The Non-Power 5 includes the American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Army and Navy.

1. SEC

Vs. Power 5: 5-2

Vs. Non-Power 5: 13-1

Best wins:

Georgia 35, Clemson 21

Alabama 33, West Virginia 23

LSU 28, Wisconsin 24

South Carolina 33, East Carolina 23

Arkansas 49, Texas Tech 28

Auburn 20, Kansas State 14

Key losses:

Indiana 31, Missouri 27

Oklahoma 34, Tennessee 10

Notes:

The SEC set the tone for its season with Week 1 wins over Clemson, West Virginia and Wisconsin. As non-conference play started to wind down, Auburn delivered an important, if sloppy, win over Kansas State on the road. The only head-scratcher is Missouri’s home loss to Indiana. If anything, the non-conference season re-established that the power in the SEC lies in the West, which is 24-2 overall with the only two losses coming in the division. The SEC West alone is 3-0 against the Big 12.

Key remaining games:

South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29

Florida at Florida State, Nov. 29

Georgia Tech at Georgia, Nov. 29

2. Pac-12

Vs. Power 5: 6-2

Vs. Non-Power 5: 15-2

Best wins:

Oregon 46, Michigan State 27

UCLA 28, Virginia 20

UCLA 20, Texas 17

Utah 26, Michigan 10

Key losses:

Rutgers 41, Washington State 38

Colorado State 31, Colorado 17

Nevada 24, Washington State 13

Boston College 37, USC 31

Notes:

Pac-12 teams, most notably Washington and UCLA, have played in unexpectedly tight games against teams like Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Memphis and Virginia. For the most part, they’ve all be able to escape with a win — except for USC’s loss to Boston College. The wins may not look overwhelming, other than Oregon’s over Michigan State, but credit UCLA, Cal and Utah for winning games on the road or at least out of state. Against the non-Power 5, the Pac-12 has gone 10-2 against the Mountain West alone.

Key remaining games:

Stanford at Notre Dame, Oct. 4

Notre Dame at Arizona State, Nov. 8

Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 29

BYU at Cal, Nov. 29

3. Big 12

Vs. Power 5: 4-7

Vs. Non-Power 5: 8-0

Best wins:

Oklahoma 34, Tennessee 10

Iowa State 20, Iowa 17

West Virginia 40, Maryland 37

TCU 30, Minnesota 7

Key losses:

Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31

Alabama 33, West Virginia 33

Arkansas 49, Texas Tech 28

UCLA 20, Texas 17

Auburn 20, Kansas State 14

Notes:

The Big 12 can thank the Big Ten for helping the league pad its record. The Big 12 went 3-0 against the Big Ten while going 1-7 against the ACC, Pac-12, SEC and BYU. At least Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State were competitive with national title title contenders Florida State, Alabama and Auburn. The league has had few slip ups, a perfect record spoiled by Iowa State’s loss to North Dakota State of the FCS.

Key remaining games:

None

4. ACC

Vs. Power 5: 4-6

Vs. Non-Power 5: 14-4

Best wins:

Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31

Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21

Boston College 37, USC 31

Key losses:

Georgia 45, Clemson 21

East Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 21

East Carolina 70, North Carolina 41

Recommended Articles

Iowa 24, Pittsburgh 20

Nebraska 41, Miami 31

Notes:

The ACC hasn’t changed much about the perception that the league is one powerhouse and little else. No. 1 Florida State is the league’s only ranked team. Any strides made from Virginia Tech’s win in Columbus have been undone: Since then, ACC Coastal contenders Virginia Tech and North Carolina lost to East Carolina, and three ACC teams lost to Big Ten teams, two at home.

Key remaining games:

Notre Dame at Florida State, Oct. 18

South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29

Florida at Florida State, Nov. 29

Georgia Tech at Georgia, Nov. 29

5. Big Ten

Vs. Power 5: 5-11

Vs. Non-Power 5: 18-3

Best wins:

Rutgers 41, Washington State 38

Iowa 24, Pittsburgh 20

Nebraska 41, Miami 31

Indiana 21, Missouri 21

Key losses:

LSU 28, Wisconsin 24

Oregon 46, Michigan State 27

Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21

Iowa State 20, Iowa 17

Utah 26, Michigan 10

Notes:

The outlook improved dramatically in Week 4, as three Big Ten teams (Iowa, Maryland and Nebraska) defeated three teams from the ACC. Indiana also picked up an unlikely win at defending SEC East champion Missouri. Nebraska and Penn State may still be the Big Ten’s only viable Playoff teams, but the sky isn’t falling at the same rate it was a week ago when the Big Ten was 1-10 against Power 5 teams. Of the Big Ten’s three losses to non-Power 5 teams, all were against programs from the MAC.

Key remaining games:

None

6. American

Vs. Power 5: 3-13

Vs. Non-Power 5: 2-5

Best wins:

East Carolina 28, Virginia Tech 21

East Carolina 70, North Carolina 31

Notes:

East Carolina has the inside track for a New Year’s Six bowl, and it may stay that way unless Cincinnati makes a statement against Ohio State or Miami.

Key remaining games:

Cincinnati at Ohio State, Sept. 27

BYU at Houston, Oct. 9

Miami at Cincinnati, Oct. 11

7. Mountain West

Vs. Power 5: 3-16

Vs. Non-Power 5: 6-4

Best wins:

Colorado State 31, Colorado 17

Nevada 24, Washington State 13

Boise State 34, UL Lafayette 9

Notes:

This is not the Mountain West you remember. The three Power 5 wins are over Colorado, Washington State and Wake Forest

8. Conference USA

Vs. Power 5: 0-15

Vs. Non-Power 5: 12-2

Best wins:

UTSA 24, Houston 7

Western Kentucky 59, Bowling Green 31

Louisiana Tech 48, UL Lafayette 20

Marshall 44, Ohio 14

Notes:

Conference USA had better hope its perfect mark against the MAC and Sun Belt and 3-1 record against the American is enough to put its league champion (read: Marshall) into a New Year’s Six game. It sure isn’t C-USA’s goose egg against the Power 5 and pair of FCS losses (FIU to Bethune-Cookman and Louisiana Tech to Northwestern State).

9. MAC

Vs. Power 5: 3-16 

Vs. Non-Power 5: 3-8

Best wins:

Bowling Green 45, Indiana 42

Northern Illinois 23, Northwestern 15

Central Michigan 38, Purdue 17

Notes:

The MAC has more wins against the Big Ten (three) than it does against the American, Conference USA, Mountain West and Sun Belt combined (two, that third non-Power 5 win was over Army).

10. Sun Belt

Vs. Power 5: 1-7

Vs. Non-Power 5: 2-9

Key wins:

Arkansas State 21, Utah State 14

ULM 17, Wake Forest 10

Notes:

League favorite UL Lafayette’s losses to Louisiana Tech and Boise State put a damper on the conference, but Arkansas State has proven to by pesky once again.