Conference vs. Conference Match-ups: Let Trash-Talking Begin
Regional trash-talking can officially begin as college football kicks off in earnest Saturday. "If (fill in the worst team in conference) played in (pick conference you are trashing) they would contend for the title." "Our teams only lose some bowl games because they beat up on each other all year." "With the home jobs they get in (conference you are trashing) there is no wonder they win. Stats do say there is a bigger home advantage in the Pac-12 and Mountain West, but that could be the result of long flights as much as blown calls.
Sometimes criticisms are valid, such as the blown call in 2006 that cost Oklahoma a shot at the national title due to a strange Pac-10 rule that did not allow the review booth to see the camera shots available to every other fan watching the game. Sometimes they are ridiculous, such as when some SEC fans claimed Utah would have gone 6-5 in the SEC in 2009 after their beat down of Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. Likewise, when Auburn barely beat Utah State in 2011, some fans rightfully said that Auburn team would not finish in the top echelon of other conferences. Separate posts compare which conferences get the biggest home field advantage, while another looks at the claim that the Big 12 is better top-to-bottom than the SEC.
A separate post reviews data showing that the average Pac-12 team gets a little better than a 4-point advantage at home versus a little less than three points for the average SEC team. Oklahoma fans in 2006 could have pointed to the call pictured, which ruined Adrian Peterson's 145-yard 4th quarter, but in general the one-point difference in average home field advantage could just as easily be due to travel. It is likely that something is taken out of Washington State by flying all the way to Auburn to open tomorrow making it a tougher road game than another game out west, just as Auburn would probably be hurt more if they had had to fly to Washington instead.
But the main conference rankings are determined by how your conference's members do outside of the conference. Certainly North Dakota State gave another indication that the gap between the BCS conferences and even the FCS (former I-AA) schools is not as large as many think. However, for now we compare how each team is expected to do in games against other BCS teams based on the www.masseyratings.com projections. If Virginia Tech only loses by 10 instead of the projected 27 against Alabama, then the ACC will move up a little and the SEC will move down a little, etc. Here is what each conference faces Saturday against other BCS Conferences.
American Athletic Conference (formerly Big East): SMU missed a chance for a big win over the Big 12 by losing 31-32 to Texas Tech. Cincinnati is a 31-24 favorite over the Big Ten's Purdue, and Temple is a 26-point underdog against the other BCS team, Notre Dame.
ACC: Clemson is a 4-point underdog against the SEC's Georgia; Virginia Tech is a 27-point underdog against the SEC's Alabama; the new member Syracuse is a 3-point underdog against the Big Ten's Penn State.
Big Ten: Northwestern favored by 4 over the Pac 12's Cal; Penn State is a 3-point favorite over the ACC's Syracuse.
Big 12: TCU is a 10-point underdog against the SEC's LSU; Oklahoma State is a 7-point favorite over the SEC's Mississippi State.
SEC: LSU is a 10-point favorite over the Big 12's TCU; Georgia is a 4-point favorite over the ACC's Clemson; Alabama is a 27-point favorite over the ACC's Virginia Tech; Mississippi State is a 7-point underdog against Oklahoma State; Auburn is a 10-point favorite over the Pac12's Washington State.
Pac 12: California is a 4-point underdog vs. the Big Ten's Northwestern; Washington State is a 10-point underdog against the SEC's Auburn.