theknightswhosay

Ranking the Conferences, Part I: Frame of Reference

In Bowls, College Football, Conference Reports on January 4, 2015 at 11:57 AM

Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude’s story?
Donny: I was bowling.
Walter Sobchak: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know…

The Big Lebowski (1998)

The characters Donny and Walter

The characters Donny and Walter

Standing alone, this blog probably won’t be very interesting, but I want to provide a frame of reference for later blogs I have planned.

As I had stressed at the end of the regular season, it’s helpful to look at where a team is in a conference when talking about inter-conference games. For instance, it’s not anything to brag about when a top-4 team of one conference barely beats a bottom-two team of another conference at home.

I’m going to start with what I think are fair conference standings going into the bowls. Since there are so many ties and since so many conferences have uneven conference schedules, you can’t just follow the official conference standings. This won’t be exactly what I’ll go by when I rank the conferences overall; but, since I consider the bowls to be just another game (in actuality, if you’re not in the top 4, they’re LESS meaningful than most regular games), it won’t be far off.

Even though the SEC West (for instance) went only 2-5 in bowl games, playing six bowl teams in the division should earn some consideration. Texas A&M and Arkansas (winners of the two bowl games) were not opponents that provided teams in that division a breather like the bottom two teams of just about any other division would have. To not be able to take a break at all in divisional play makes it harder to get to 7-1, 6-2, 5-3, etc.

I decided not to alter that by more than two games though. For instance if one team is 5-3 and another is 7-1 and the two teams did not play one another, I’m going to keep the 7-1 team ahead.

I also factored in non-conference play at times if two teams were close, especially where there was no meaningful difference in conference schedule.

I’ll list the conferences in the order I had them going in. I’m grouping Notre Dame with the ACC since it is part of the ACC bowl group.

There were a couple of teams such as Western Kentucky and South Alabama who were arguably lower, but since a bowl picked them instead of another team, I used that to break the tie rather than making it more complicated. That’s also how Penn St. went ahead of Michigan and Northwestern (neither of which was eligible for bowls).

However, I included two non-bowl teams in the Sun Belt listings because they were clearly better in the conference than bowl teams. (They were considered transitional teams and would only have been eligible had other teams in the conference been ineligible for contractual bowl slots.)

SEC (12/14 teams in bowls)
1. Alabama
2. Mississippi St.
3. Missouri
4. Ole Miss
5. Georgia
6. Auburn
7. LSU
8. Florida
9. Texas A&M
10. Arkansas
11. Tennessee
12. South Carolina

Pac-12 (8/12 teams in bowls)
1. Oregon
2. Arizona
3. UCLA
4. Arizona St.
5. USC
6. Utah
7. Stanford
8. Washington

Big Ten (10/14 teams in bowls)
1. Ohio St.
2. Michigan St.
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota
5. Nebraska
6. Maryland
7. Iowa
8. Rutgers
9. Illinois
10. Penn St.

ACC (11/14 + Notre Dame)
1. Florida St.
2. Georgia Tech
3. Clemson
4. Louisville
5. Duke
5 1/2. Notre Dame
6. North Carolina
7. Pittsburgh
8. Boston College
9. North Carolina St.
10. U. Miami
11. Virginia Tech

Big XII (7/10 teams in bowls)
1. TCU
2. Baylor
3. Kansas St.
4. Oklahoma
5. West Virginia
6. Texas
7. Oklahoma St.

(Other) Independents (2/3 teams in bowls)
1. BYU
2. Navy

Mountain West (7/12 teams in bowls)
1. Boise St.
2. Colorado St.
3. Utah St.
4. Air Force
5. Fresno St.
6. San Diego St.
7. Nevada

Conference USA (5/13 teams in bowls)
1. Marshall
2. Louisiana Tech
3. Rice
4. UTEP
5. Western Kentucky

American (5/11 teams in bowls)
1. Memphis
2. Central Florida
3. Cincinnati
4. East Carolina
5. Houston

Sun Belt (3/11 teams in bowls)
1. Georgia Southern (NOT in a bowl)
2. UL-Lafayette
3. Appalachian St. (NOT in a bowl)
4. Arkansas St.
5. South Alabama

MAC (5/13 teams in bowls)
1. Northern Illinois
2. Toledo
3. Western Michigan
4. Central Michigan
5. Bowling Green

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  1. […] Part I: Frame of Reference Part II: King of the Bowls […]

  2. […] Part I: Frame of Reference Part II: King of the Bowls Part III: Overall Bowl Performance […]

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