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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

Weekly Rankings

How the Conferences Rank, 1-12: Week 4

As an accompanying post to today’s re-ranking, here’s the entire F.B.S. conference breakdown in terms of average P.S.R. 1-124 ranking. It’s not entirely fair to include the Independent programs among the true conferences, seeing that there’s only four Independent teams, but it does give a slight slice-of-life taste of where that quartet stands in the big picture. The listings include the average ranking, highest team ranking and number of teams in the top 25 in parentheses. Without further ado:

1. Big 12 (32.6, 6, 5)
2. Pac-12 (40.2, 3, 6)
3. SEC (41.1, 1, 6)
4. Big Ten (47.3, 15, 2)
5. A.C.C. (54.6, 4, 2)
6. Independent (55.3, 10, 1)
7. Big East (56.3, 24, 1)
8. Mountain West (79.6, 23, 1)
9. WAC (80.3, 29, 0)
10. MAC (86.3, 20, 1)
11. Conference USA (89.5, 48, 0)
12. Sun Belt (91.9, 58, 0)

Thoughts? And before continuing, a reminder: I’m using this morning’s re-rankings, not The Associated Press or USA Today polls. It’s a simplistic way to break down the conferences for a number of reason, with no one reason bigger than the fact that it ignores the idea – with the SEC, for instance – that a conference is defined by its elite, not the sum of all its parts.

Hence the SEC’s slide from second to third, behind not just the Big 12 but also the Pac-12. But look at the Pac-12: six teams in the top 25 and 11 teams inside the top 86. If you remove No. 123 Colorado from the equation, the Pac-12’s top 11 teams average a 32.8 rating.

And that still wouldn’t be enough to unseat the Big 12, which remains the best league in the country – from top to bottom. Is the SEC better among its top six or seven teams? Of course. But the SEC has been dinged by Arkansas’ slide into the abyss, giving it three teams among the bottom 48 spots.

The issue for the Big 12 is that come the start of league play, it will begin eating itself apart – teams like Texas Tech and Iowa State will drop out of the top 50 if, or when, they lose to teams like Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma. Likewise with the Pac-12. At some point in October, the SEC will return to the top spot.

I’m interested in two neck-and-neck battles: Mountain West vs. WAC and Conference USA vs. Sun Belt. The WAC is being propped up by two teams, Utah State and San Jose State, that will soon join the Mountain West. The Sun Belt and Conference USA are the two worst leagues in the F.B.S., slightly behind the MAC.

The MAC’s going to make a run at the WAC and M.W.C. during conference play. Non-conference play is always cruel to the MAC, due to the willingness of its members to schedule up against B.C.S. conference competition; come December, the MAC should have five to seven teams at bowl eligibility.

Previous rankings

Week 3 ranking Big 12, No. 1
Week 2 ranking Big 12, No. 1

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  1. jtt says:

    What about ltu holding up the wac as well?

    Paul: You know how highly I think of Dykes and the Bulldogs. Didn’t list them because it was a foregone conclusion that Tech would be where they are after two games. The Bulldogs aren’t propping up the WAC; S.J.S.U. and Utah State are doing more for the league’s bottom line, seeing that I suspected both would end the year in the 60s and 70s.

  2. DMK says:

    Arky is reeling, but there’s no way they’re 76th. Or at least they’d better hope not.

    I like the exercise, but outside of the top-40 or so, it’s all just a soup of exchangeable mediocrity. Well, maybe there’s a truly dire bottom 10 also.

  3. Misthaufen says:

    There is no reason why the P12 and the B12 must fall behind the SEC and its 8 game conference slates.

    If depth matters before conference play, out should matter even more after. If any team Congress out of the slaughter house of the B12 undefeated, that team deserves to be in the top two….

    Sure, the B12 and P12 should have 8 game conference slates like the SEC so that all their schools can schedule late season cupcakes to pad their records…..

  4. TOP 2 says:


    TOP 2
    1) Big 12
    2) PAC-12

    BOTTOM 2 (These need to be flipped)
    11) Sun Belt
    12) CUSA

    As it SHOULD be.

  5. Rouser says:



    Considering that the Big 12 is FAR DEEPER than the sec, its lead should INCREASE after the 9-game Conference slate.

    The PAC-12, while not as deep as the Big 12, can make an the argument that a 9-game PAC-12 schedule is tougher than the 8-game + low-level FCS opponent schedule of the sec.

    Wake up people, the sec took a page out of the GOP Handbook and is using the mouth-breather mafia to push its agenda/propaganda. DON’T YOU BELIEVE IT.

  6. Greg says:


    The Dems play just as dirty and stupidly as the GOP. But thats neither here nor there, just the state of American politics today.

  7. Frank says:

    . “The Sun Belt and Conference USA are the two worst leagues in the F.B.S., slightly ahead of the MAC.”

    How can that be when the MAC is 10 and SB and C-USA are 11 and 12?

    Paul: That mistake makes me feel like a real behind.

  8. OwlFamily says:

    SBC should certainly be ahead of CUSA this year.

    Bigger wins and more of them against former AQ schools.

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