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Jan
17
2015

A Final 2014 Ranking of the Power 5 Football Conferences

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If you have been following the blog conference rankings, it’s been more or less an eyeball test with a hefty dose of non conference results thrown in. During the regular season non-conference results are limited, but now that bowl season is over it’s good to review where each conference stands after the season. We now have a better sample size to compare conferences.

One thing is evident, it’s been years – probably since the early 2000s that the conferences were this close in terms of relative strength. There wasn’t a dominant conference in 2014.

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

1) Pac 12 – 8.5

In 2014 the Pac 12 was the nation’s best conference. When matched up against the rest power 5 conference the Pac 12 usually came out on top. Oregon made it to the national title game by defeating Florida State, and they also own a win over Michigan St. UCLA beat a top 20 ranked Kansas St. team during bowl season as well. The Pac 12 went a power 5 best 6-3 in bowl games.

While I do think the Pac 12 was slightly better than the SEC overall, I can’t be exactly sure because they played exactly ZERO times against each other. How do the Pac 12 and SEC not have a single bowl agreement? Come on guys schedule some games to together.

Record vs Power 5 : 13-5

2) SEC – 8

The mighty SEC took it on the chin a bit this season. It’s still a very good football conference. The SEC West I would argue is still the deepest division in America, despite the 2-5 bowl performance. The reason I say that is not because the of the teams at the top, it is because of the bottom. Texas A&M and Arkansas were the worst teams in the SEC West, and I’d consider them top 40 teams, but you can’t have have your 5 of your 6 top teams lose in the bowls and keep your image completely in tact.

Ole Miss didn’t even compete with TCU. Mississippi St. is still trying to find Georgia Tech QB Justin Thomas. It just goes on and on… Alabama – lost, Auburn – lost, LSU – lost. The SEC still went 7-5 in bowls, so it’s not like the SEC suddenly crumbled. No matter how you look at it though, it was a was disappointing year in SEC land. They aren’t used to anything less than college football dominance, and it wasn’t there in 2014.

Record vs Power 5 : 11-11

3) Big 10 – 7.5

The Big 10 had been bringing up the rear all year. The regular season was a disaster. Indiana’s win at Missouri was the Big 10’s lone reputable win. The Big 10’s best team Ohio State had a double digit home loss to Virginia Tech, but it’s not how you start it is how you finish. The Big 10 came alive during the bowl season.

The conference posted a respectable 6-5 bowl record led by National Champion Ohio State. Michigan St. won a Big 6 bowl defeating Baylor, and Wisconsin defeated Auburn. The Big 10 finished with 3 teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Michigan St) in the top 15, and Ohio State and Michigan St. were top 5 teams. You could reasonably argue the Big10 had the strongest 1-3 teams in college football. The Bowl Season doesn’t erase the regular season, but it certainly helps.

Record vs Power 5 : 11-15

4) ACC – 7

The ACC had a rough 4-7 bowl season, but they were helped by some of the best OOC wins of the season. ACC teams beat 4 OOC teams, that finished in the top 25, (Ohio State, Georgia, Mississippi State, and USC). Georgia Tech’s Orange Bowl win over Mississippi State, and Clemson destroying Oklahoma highlighted the ACC’s bowl season. I had to give the edge to the Big 10, because of the ACC’s 1-5 record against them. Florida State and Georgia Tech were top 10 teams, and Clemson gave the ACC a third top 15 team. Louisville finished in the top 25 as well.

The ACC also went 5-3 against the SEC. Their first winning record against the SEC since 2003.

As we said in a previous blog post, the top of the conference matches up well with the Pac 12 and SEC, but the middle of the conference has problems. 

Record vs Power 5 : 12-13

5) Big 12 – 6

I kept the Big 12, in the 2nd or 3rd position of the conference strength rankings all year. I knew the Big 12 lacked quality OOC wins this season, but my head didn’t want to believe the on field results. Let’s just say bowl season didn’t go well for the Big 12. Don’t blame TCU, they looked like a national championship caliber team against Ole Miss. From there it was down hill. Baylor blew 4th quarter lead to Michigan St. Oklahoma was humiliated by Clemson.

Texas looked awful against Arkansas. West Virginia at least showed some fight, but still lost to Texas A&M. Kansas St. went down to UCLA. In all 5 of the losses, the Big 12 team gave up at least 31 points. Oklahoma State did have a nice bowl win over Washington.

There weren’t enough of those type wins. The Big 12 went 0-3 against the ACC, 2-5 during bowl season, and had exactly 1 OOC win against a team that finished in the top 25. The OOC record doesn’t lie. It was forgettable year in the Big 12 outside of TCU.

Record vs Power 5 : 6-11


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