Ranking the Conferences: Week 3
With the football playoff looming, it is tempting to analyze which four teams belong in it. But it is simply too early to begin prognosticating. Most teams have not even played a conference game yet. But we are starting to see about conference strength. Let’s rank the conferences after three weeks.
- The SEC. This is a no-brainer. Everyone except Arkansas–who just beat Texas Tech and has only lost in-conference–is undefeated in the SEC West, while Florida and Missouri remain unbeaten in the East. Meanwhile, SC lost to Texas A&M, Georgia lost to SC, Tennessee lost to Oklahoma, and Kentucky lost to Florida. Only Vanderbilt has stumbled against inferior competition. Top to bottom, the SEC is way out ahead of the conference rankings.
- The Pac-12. Nevermind, USC’s loss to Boston College, the Pac-12 has been good overall. Oregon is fairly entrenched in the #2 slot behind Florida State. And there are 7 other unbeaten teams. Although the ACC has a similar number, we are not yet persuaded that NC State, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech will last very long in that category. Slight edge to the Pac-12 for now.
- The ACC. Florida State is Florida State. We do not see Clemson beating them in Tallahassee, meaning that Clemson will drop out of the playoff picture. Louisville’s loss to UVA does the same. The Coastal is a mess, with Duke perhaps looking like a favorite to repeat. Despite the concern that anyone can challenge Florida State, there is still enough overall depth here to keep the ACC above the next conference.
- The Big XII. Texas is looking awful. But this is a race between Oklahoma and Baylor. Both teams have looked very good, with the Sooners thumping of Tennessee being quite impressive. Kansas State and TCU remain among the unbeaten. The depth is a bit lacking, as 60% of the conference has at least one loss. But Iowa State and WVU picked up nice wins against unbeaten Big 10 teams.
- The Big 10. Maybe Michigan State can get back in it, but Virginia Tech’s loss really hurts Ohio State. The Conference needs Penn State vs MSU in the last week to feature two teams with a total of one loss, with the winner facing off against an unbeaten Nebraska. If Nebraska and Penn State lose, it is not clear that Michigan State running the table will be sufficient. In the meantime, the Big 10 continues to lose to the MAC too often. The Big 10 slots above the remaining conferences obviously, but it is also rather clearly in the #5 spot.
So there it is. What do you think? Would you rank them differently?