The new inter-conference week doesn’t start until Utah/Utah St. tonight. A formerly WAC and Mountain West and currently Pac-12 team against a formerly WAC and Sun Belt and currently Mountain West team.
Louisiana Tech, a former WAC team, is now in the same conference as Western Kentucky, a former Sun Belt team, so that was not an interconference game last night.
A couple of disclaimers and reminders. In these conference reports, I basically evaluate each conference as if it were a team. For instance, “team SEC” beat Wisconsin when Alabama beat Wisconsin, and “team Big Ten” lost to Alabama. So the SEC gets credit for beating Wisconsin just like a team would. I don’t treat them as “generic Big Ten team”. So even though only one week has passed, it’s almost like evaulating one season for a team against another since I believe only one conference game has been played.
Another thing to point out is this is NOT picking the conference who has the best team on average. Alabama can go 0-8 in the SEC, and the important thing is it got that big non-conference win. Baylor is apparently a very good team, but how good they are won’t matter too much in these because they don’t appear to have any quality non-conference opponents.
Also, records are against FBS opponents unless otherwise indicated.
The SEC was the unquestionable top conference of week 1, going 10-1 with wins over Wisconsin, Arizona St., Louisville, and North Carolina. The only loss was to that Western Kentucky team I just mentioned. The Hilltoppers beat Vanderbilt by two points after the SEC ’Doremats failed on a late two-point conversion attempt. According to most gambling sources, Vandy either beat the spread or came out even, so while it would have been nice for the SEC to get that win, it’s not a huge problem that it didn’t.
The only record by a P5 conference (those are SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, ACC, and Pac-12) that came close was that of the 5-1 Big XII. But the ten teams of the XII only combined to beat one major-conference opponent. This was TCU’s win over Minnesota. The other major opponent was when Texas lost to Notre Dame. The other four wins were nothing special: SMU, Central Michigan, Akron, and Georgia Southern (which just became a full member of the Sun Belt after being in FCS and a transitional year). Also, that record is not counting the fact that Kansas lost to FCS South Dakota St. So even if Kansas is the Vanderbilt equivalent, losing to Western Kentucky is probably better than losing to South Dakota St.
The Mountain West went 2-1 with wins over Washington, and Colorado, but they also lost to an FCS team (Wyoming to North Dakota). I can’t fault UNLV (another possible worst-in-conference team) much for losing to Northern Illinois.
The only other conference with a winning record was the CUSA at 5-4. The CUSA did not beat any impressive teams, although it was a surprise that FIU beat Central Florida (which is now and American Conference [AAC] team). The two wins over P5 teams were over Purdue and Vanderbilt, who are possibly the worst teams in their respective conferences.
The ACC is last among the power conferences, although it didn’t really do anything wrong, but there should have been a toss-up or something close where they won. The only one where the ACC should have had a chance was North Carolina vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte); and the Tar Heels were respectable competition, but they didn’t win. I can’t hold the losses by Virginia to UCLA, by Virginia Tech to Ohio St., and by Louisville to Auburn against the conference to any large extent.
The Pac-12 was relatively disappointing. Arizona St. was supposed to be one of the best teams in the conference (based on returning starters anyway), and Stanford was supposed to be a sleeper team in the North Division. So those losses (to Texas A&M and Northwestern, respectively) are worse than the ACC losses. As for the wins, they are: Michigan (Utah probably isn’t great, so this is a positive), Virginia (which UCLA should have won easily anyway), UTSA (which Arizona should have won easily and didn’t), and Arkansas St. (by USC in a blowout that was expected). Colorado might be the worst team in the Pac-12, but Hawaii was certainly a winnable game. Also, another contender for worst in the Pac-12 is WSU, which certainly should have beaten Portland St.
So I mentioned two big wins by the Big Ten above, but there were somehow six losses. They were all fairly excusable though. Michigan and Minnesota put up a good fight in games few expected them to win (I picked Michigan, but hard to win on the road against a P5 opponent with four turnovers), and Nebraska of course lost the heart-breaker to BYU. The other two wins were against MAC teams that probably won’t even be competitive in that conference, but still I think there were more positives than negatives despite the losing record.
Since we’re down to three independents, I’m not going to go into those as a category this year. They don’t even play one another, so it’s hard to take pride in each other’s accomplishments, which is kind of the point of this. You might not be happy if your team goes 8-5, but you can take some pride in playing a lot of good teams that did well against other conferences and still making a bowl game. It was different when Navy was there and played Army and Notre Dame annually, and Notre Dame has also played Army and BYU in recent years (I consider 2010 a recent year anyway).
The rest is mostly just a matter of who had the ugliest losses. The good news is I mentioned the three relevant FCS losses already. I’m just going to call it a tie between the MAC and AAC. On the one hand, the AAC beat Penn St., but on the other hand (as mentioned) it lost to FIU. The MAC just had vanilla results up and down the line. Idaho and UNLV are possibly two of the worst teams in the FBS, and I can’t blame them for losing to teams that will likely make bowls. Illinois and Old Dominion may not, but if the MAC is to beat such teams, EMU (I always wondered why their mascot wasn’t the emus) and Kent St. are probably not going to be the ones to do it.
The Sun Belt went winless (apart from against the FCS), so you can’t really do worse.
- Big XII
- Big Ten
- (tie) AAC
- (tie) MAC
- Sun Belt