Conference Ratings: ACC, Big 12 Pass Pac-12; Big Ten, Sun Belt in Freefall

Conference Ratings: ACC, Big 12 Pass Pac-12; Big Ten, Sun Belt in Freefall

The ACC and Big 12 both had better records and better victory margins than expected to pass the Pac-12 as the second and third best conferences through Week 3 (see Week 2 standings here). The Big Ten had another terrible week, barely staying in fifth place ahead of CUSA and the American as Indiana and Iowa were upset and Maryland lost at home. Only the Sun Belt had a worse week, going 0-10.

The complete list of scores appears in a separate post, but the table summarizes the results below. The first figure represents how many points per game each conference was better or worse than the FBS average going into Week 3. The next figure shows how many MORE wins each conference had than projected (e.g., the SEC had 0.9 wins more than expected to stay in first place, and won by a total of 16 points more than expected). The conference rating improved from +14 to +16, five points better than the ACC for first place.

Rnk Conf Last Week Week 3 Wins+ Week 3 Pts+ This Week
1 SEC 14 0.9 16 16
2 ACC 9 1 13 11
3 B12 6 1.1 33 10
4 P12 9 -0.2 -30 7
5 B10 1 -2 -16 -1
6 CUSA -4 0.6 14 -3
7 AAC -6 0.2 8 -5
8 MWC -10 0.7 21 -8
9 MAC -14 -0.6 -32 -17
10 SBC -16 -2.9 -49 -20
  Ind 11 0.1 -37 8

1. SEC, 8-1. The conference moved up even further–going 8-1 rather than the projected 7-2 based on Arkansas crushing Texas Tech 49-28 on the road in what looked like a toss-up. The conference won by at least as much as projected in every game except for Tennessee’s 34-10 loss to national contender Oklahoma.

2. ACC, 7-2. Earlier in the season, I scoffed at a comment from Lamdog that the ACC was better than the Pac-12. Well, Lamdog was right. Boston College beat a USC team that had just beaten Stanford to move the conference past a Week 2 tie with the Pac-12. The conference did suffer an upset when Virginia Tech fell to East Carolina, but Miami, NC State, and Syracuse rolled up lopsided games in contests that were expected to be close to improve the conference two more points to a +11.

3. Big 12, 6-3. The biggest movement was by the Big 12, which improved from a +6 to +10. The one setback was Texas Tech home loss to an Arkansas team visiting from the SEC. However, Iowa State scored a big upset over Iowa of the Big Ten, while Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU all won by at least 23 points–all bigger than expected margins.

4. Pac-12, 6-1. The tough upset of USC at Boston College was the only loss, but Pac-12 teams continued to barely escape games they were expected to win easily to slip slightly behind the ACC and Big 12. UCLA needed a big performance from a back-up quarterback to rally for a 20-17 win against a Texas team that was destroyed by BYU last week. Still, UCLA is undefeated and the narrow win at Virginia is looking better now that Louisville fell at Virginia Saturday. Arizona was favored by 22 over Nevada, and barely won 35-28.

5. Big Ten, 3-6. The nightmare continued as Indiana was upset by Bowling Green and Iowa was upset by an Iowa State team that had lost to an FCS team on a week the conference expected a 5-4 mark. Maryland also lost at home to West Virginia. The problem with some computer rankings is they just look at victory margin, and the conference will get a big boost from Ohio State running up a 66-0 win over Kent State–while this system does not give teams credit past 25 point margins. While there is a huge gap between the other four AQ conferences and the five smaller conference, the Big Ten now ranks as only two points better than Conference USA and within a touchdown of the American and Mountain West.

6. Conference USA, 5-4. Florida Atlantic had the big win of the week, drubbing Tulsa from the American, 50-21, in what was expected to be a toss-up. The win enabled CUSA to stay two points ahead of the American and two points behind the Big Ten with a -3. UT San Antonio was finally cooled off by Oklahoma State.

7. American 3-5. While the overall record may not look good, the American improved slightly overall due to East Carolina’s huge upset at Virginia Tech and Cincinnati (58-34 over Toledo of the MAC) and Tulane (35-20 over SE Louisiana) both having a much easier time than expected. The one disappointment was Tulsa getting blown out by Florida Atlantic, which kept the American two points behind CUSA, the conference they have raided for teams in the realignment.

8. Mountain West 5-4. The last meaningful action of the night occurred after 3 a.m. Eastern on Sunday when Jeremy Higgins hit Justin Vele for a first down pass to preserve Hawaii’s 27-24 win over a very good FCS team in Northern Iowa. That win gave the Mountain West a winning record and pulled them within a touchdown (-8) of the Big Ten, CUSA, and American for fifth place. Utah State, Boise State and Air Force all had an easier time than expected (against Wake Forest, UC Davis and UConn) and Nevada came close to a huge upset with a 28-35 loss at Arizona.

9. Mid-American 3-9. The biggest disappointment of the day was Central Michigan, who was expected to have a decent chance hosting a Syracuse team that had only beaten FCS Villanova by one point. Instead, they lost 40-3. The best win was Western Michigan upsetting Idaho on the road to help keep the conference ahead of the Sun Belt for ninth–though still nine points behind the Mountain West at a -17.

10. Sun Belt 0-10. A conference cannot have a much worse week than 0-10, particularly when Troy was stunned by FCS Abeline Christian in a game they were given a 97% chance to win. Idaho was upset by Western Michigan. The two highest ranked teams in the conference hoped to have chances for big upsets, but were handled easily as Miami of Florida beat Arkansas State 41-20 and Mississippi State went into South Alabama for an easy 35-3 win.

All game scores are included in a separate post.

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