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Sep
08
2015

Ranking the Power 5 Football Conferences after week 1 with Playoff Analysis.

Alabama

A strong week for the SEC, while the Pac 12 face planted in week 1. Let’s jump right into things.

Let me point out on my philosophy on these rankings – you’re most recent  OOC results count a lot, and you’ll see me reference that throughout the season.

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

1) SEC – 9

When the SEC got thumped during ACC/SEC rivalry week 0-4, and when the vaunted SEC West went 2-5 in bowl games the SEC deserved criticism. In week 1, the SEC deserves credit. Alabama didn’t have much trouble with Wisconsin. Texas A&M beat ranked Pac 12 team Arizona St by 3 touchdowns. In fact the SEC won every one of their Power 5 OOC games by double digits except for Auburn’s 31-24 win over Louisville. In was a strong opening week for the SEC as the conference tries to reestablish itself as the unquestioned top conference in college football.

The one black eye for the SEC, was that Vanderbilt lost a 14-12 to Western Kentucky. The Commodores are simply one of the very worst teams in the Power 5.

The one noteworthy OOC game this week is Oklahoma heading to Tennessee. That’s solid top 25 matchup.

Playoff Contenders 

Alabama

Darkhorses

Georgia, Auburn

2) Pac 12 – 7.5

The Pac 12 entered week 1 right on the heels on the SEC. Some argued it may even be the better the football conference. The conference had a disastrous week from top to bottom, and only only holds on to the 2nd spot, because no other conferences did enough to move past them. Washington lost Boise St. in what was an acceptable loss, but many others weren’t. Colorado went down to Hawaii. A ranked Stanford team lost at Northwestern. #15 Arizona State got routed by Texas A&M by 38-17.

It doesn’t end there. Washington State suffered an embarrassing defeat to FCS Portland State. Oregon, UCLA, USC, and Arizona are still in the top 25, so all was not lost.

Next week though could sink the Pac 12 further. Oregon State plays Michigan, Washington State heads to Rutgers, and Oregon goes to Michigan State. It is a huge weekend for the Pac 12 to recover from a dismal 1st weekend. A bad weekend could drop them from number 2 spot. Someone has to be number 2, and the Pac 12 is barely hanging on to it.

Playoff Contenders

Oregon

Darkhorses

USC, UCLA

3) Big 10 – 7.25

Ohio State got a test early from Virginia, but then showed why they nation’s #1 team. Northwestern picked up a solid against Stanford, and that’s where the good news ends for the Big 10. Minnesota losing by 6 points to TCU was quite respectable, but it got real ugly real fast. Penn State considered one of the better Big 10 teams suffered a brutal 17 point loss at Temple. Nebraska lost late at home to BYU. Wisconsin didn’t really look competitive in a 35-17 loss to Alabama.

Michigan played ok at Utah, but that was another Big 10 loss. Purdue went down at Marshall. Really just an ugly week overall for the Big 10. There’s a real lack of depth in the Big 10 past Ohio State and Michigan St.

There is a chance for some Big 10 redemption this week. Michigan hosts Oregon State, Rutgers welcomes Washington State, and the biggie is Michigan St. playing Oregon in East Lansing. If the Big 10 wins 2 out 3 over the Pac 12, with Michigan State as one of the wins, I may drop the Pac 12 below the Big 10. I may also have 2 Big 10 teams in the top 4 if the Spartans win.

Iowa also plays Iowa St in a little Big 10 vs Big 12 battle.

Playoff Contenders  

Ohio State

Darkhorses

Michigan St.

4) ACC – 7

When no conference outside the SEC distinguished itself OOC this week, you have to look deeper at the results. The conference’s three best teams FSU, Clemson, and Georgia Tech cruised. Louisville and UNC had chances to beat Auburn and South Carolina, but couldn’t get it done. Virginia Tech was competitive with Ohio State until their QB Michael Brewer went down. Louisville and Virginia Tech showed promise. Predictably Virginia was no match for UCLA.

The good news is that no ACC team lost to a lower division opponent. No other conference can make that claim. When the Pac 12, Big 12, Big 10, and ACC are that close, the avoidance of embarrassing lower division losses does and should count. The ACC doesn’t have any Power 5 OOC opponents this week, but they need to continue to beat teams they should beat.

Virginia plays Notre Dame, but a Cavalier win would be one of the biggest shockers of the year.

Playoff Contenders

None

Darkhorses

Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson

5) Big 12 – 6.75

Until the Big 12 can start adding some OOC quality wins, I can’t move them. We are now in a year plus where the Big 12 has 1 top 25 OOC win. This week didn’t help either. Not only did Texas not beat Notre Dame, it was a humiliating 38-3 pounding. Kansas lost  to FCS South Dakota St. The Jayhawks are among the 3 worst power teams in the country, along with Colorado, and Vanderbilt.

The Big 12’s best teams TCU and Baylor didn’t look especially strong in week 1, though TCU did win at Minnesota. Not a big win by any stretch, but Minnesota is not awful either. West Virginia beat a decent Georgia Southern squad 44-0. That’s a team that’s been tricky to deal with in the past.

This week Iowa plays Iowa State and in a pretty big one Oklahoma goes to Tennessee. An Oklahoma win would go a long way to lifting the Big 12.

Playoff Contenders

TCU

Darkhorses

Baylor

The Rest 

Notre Dame looked like a playoff team against an awful Texas team, and Boise St. beat Washington. The Irish should have no problem with Virginia this week, but Boise State will get a test with BYU.

Playoff Contenders 

NONE

Darkhorses

Notre Dame, Boise State

My Current Playoff Teams

As my personal criticism of the playoff committee, I don’t think the top 4 seeds order should be released until the final rankings. The playoff committee’s inconsistent and ever changing criteria is causing unnecessary frustration and confusion. It’s one of the improvement points I’d have for them.

If I had a vote this is who I would put in the playoff right now.

In –  TCU | Ohio State | Oregon | Alabama

Just Missed – 5) Michigan State 6) USC 7) Georgia  8) Clemson


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