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Sep
14
2014

Ranking the Power 5 Football Conferences after week 3

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More shakeup in college football’s week 3. Where are the conferences standing, and who is in position to make the playoffs?

We’ll give each conference a relative strength value 1-10.

1) SEC – 9.5

The SEC stepped out of conference this week and the results were mixed. Tennessee never looked like they really could compete with Oklahoma in a 34-10 loss. Vanderbilt was lucky to beat FCS school UMASS 34-31, but Arkansas got a nice win at Texas Tech. Everything else went form. The SEC may have one big problem going forward. This week South Carolina knocked off Georgia giving the SEC East no true playoff contenders at the moment.

That leaves 4 SEC West teams (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn) to pick each other off. The SEC may have as many as 5 top 15 teams, but it is unlikely without losses in other conference and Notre Dame that the SEC gets two teams into the 4-Team playoff. Could a nightmare scenario happen where the SEC has several 2-loss teams, and gets left out? That’s a stretch, but something to think about.

Auburn heads to Kansas St. this week in a huge Thursday night game.

Playoff Contenders 

Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn

Darkhorses

Ole Miss, South Carolina, Georgia, Missouri

2) Pac 12 – 7.5

The Pac 12 took a hit this week, when top 10 ranked USC went on the road, and lost to a likely middle of the pack ACC team in Boston College. UCLA continues to look like the worst top 15 team in the country. Stanford lost the week before to that same USC team that got run over by BC. I thought Pac 12 was ready to challenge the SEC, they aren’t. Oregon still looks like a national title contender.

Next week Utah and Michigan provide an interesting under the radar game.

Playoff Contenders

Oregon

Darkhorses

Arizona St., UCLA, Stanford

2) Big 12 – 7.5

It wasn’t an especially strong week for the Big 12. Oklahoma did their part taking out Tennessee fairly easily. The Big 12 did go 3-0 against the Big 10, but these days that counts as much as going 3-0 against the Sun Belt. Texas Tech lost at home to Arkansas, and Kansas was destroyed at Duke. It would have helped if Texas could have beat UCLA, but they lost 20-17.

The Big 12 gets a chance at a huge statement game when Auburn visits Kansas St. If the Wildcats win that game, I’ll move the Big 12 ahead of the Pac 12. That would be a very impressive win to get.

Playoff Contenders 

Oklahoma, Baylor

Darkhorses

Kansas St.

4) ACC – 7

Why is the ACC slowly gaining on the Pac 12 and Big 12? Here’s why the ACC has more top 10 OOC wins than all the other Power 5 conferences combined. Boston College over USC, and Virginia Tech’s win last week over Ohio State gave the ACC 2 two such wins. Had Virginia Tech beat East Carolina, I’d have had the ACC ahead of the Big 12 this week. They didn’t and it was the conference’s one black eye this week. Again, the ACC largely avoid any major OOC upsets, outside of the Hokies.

The ACC is hurt by a lack of ranked teams, but their resume of signature wins holds up quite well against the rest of the country. If the ACC really wants to crash through the top 3 conferences, they need a good week 4. Pittsburgh/Iowa, Syracuse/Maryland, Nebraska/Miami, BYU/Virginia, and East Carolina/UNC are on the the schedule. The ACC would take 3-2 in those games.

Playoff Contenders

Florida State

Darkhorses

Clemson

5) Big 10 – 3

The Big 10’s only non-conference win over a power 5 conference team is Rutgers over Washington St. That’s 1-2 Washington St. The Big 10 is 1-10 against the Power 5 and added 4 more this week, plus another loss to Notre Dame. Minnesota went down 30-7 to TCU, Illinois lost 44-19 to Washington, Purdue got beat 30-14 by Notre Dame, Iowa was beat at home 20-17 by a bad Iowa St. team and Indiana was beat 45-42 by Bowling Green.

The Big 10 is just dreadful. Their decent teams can’t beat the better teams in the other Power 5 conferences, and the middle and bottom of the league is just a disaster. All I can say about the Big 10, is that the ACC went through a similar downturn from the mid 2000s through 2011. It goes in cycles. There’s no getting out this hole this year, but with games this week against Miami, Syracuse, Missouri, Navy, Pittsburgh, and Utah, maybe the Big 10 has a chance to have a week they are not embarrassed by.

Playoff Contenders

NONE

Darkhorses

Wisconsin, Michigan St.

The Rest 

BYU and Notre Dame continue to roll along. Notre Dame in particular could be a playoff factor. BYU gets another chance to impress the nation with a game at home against a much improved Virginia team.

Playoff Contenders 

NONE

Darkhorses

BYU, Notre Dame


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