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Conference Ratings: Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC Battle for 3rd; CUSA Leads non-Power

Conference Ratings: Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC Battle for 3rd; CUSA Leads non-Power

The Big Ten and Pac-12 have now caught the ACC in a virtual tie for third best conference, while the Mountain West almost caught Conference USA and the American Athletic for the best non-Power 5 Conference. The following table updates the Top 10 Conferences, showing their record and margin of victory this week (e.g., the SEC went 7-4 and won by a total of 71 points), the rating last week (e.g., +15 for SEC), if their wins and margins exceeded or fell short of expectations, where they ranked after last week, and their new rating after the Week 5 games (SEC remains unchanged at +15).

Rank Conf, Week 5 record, margin Last Week Week 5 Wins+ Week 5 Pts+ This Week
1 SEC, 7-4 record, +71 pts 15 0.2 -4 15
2 B12, 5-3 record, +50 pts 11 0.3 13 11
3 P12, 5-5 record, +0 pts 8 0 0 8
4 ACC, 6-7 record,-69 pts 9 -1.9 -69 7
4 B10, 9-5 record, +89 pts 6 0.6 19 7
6 CUSA, 5-6 record, -41 pts -5 0.4 8 -5
7 AAC, 1-7 record, -111 pts -4 -1.5 -35 -6
8 MWC, 5-5 record, -22 pts -8 0.8 25 -7
9 MAC, 5-5 record, -17 pts -17 1.4 59 -15
10 SBC, 4-4 record, -24 pts -20 0.8 14 -19
  Ind, 1-2 record, +6 pts 5 -1.2 -26 4
  FCS, 1-1 record, -14 pts NA 0.2 -4 NA

AAC (ranked 7th after 1-7 week): The American Athletic led the non-Power 5 until Texas State of the Sun Belt stunned Tulsa and neither Tulane nor Cincinnati looked competitive against Big Ten teams. The conference lost all six non-conference match-ups, with only Temple beating UConn in conference play to make the conference 1-7, losing by 35 points more than expected overall. The good news is their two teams competing to earn the one New Year’s Day Bowl for a non-Power Conference, East Carolina and Central Florida, were off.

ACC (tied for 4th after 6-7 week):  After a great first three weeks, the ACC had a second consecutive terrible week to fall two points to a +7 rating and behind the Pac-12 and into a tie for fourth with the Big Ten. The two biggest inter-conference losses in the country were Boston College falling to Colorado State of the Mountain West and Akron of the MAC stunning Pitt.

Big Ten (tied for 4th after 9-5 week): The Big Ten has reversed rolls with the ACC – having a solid Week 5 to follow-up on an amazing Week 4 and catch the ACC as the fourth best conference at a +7. The conference stands only one point behind the Pac-12. While most teams played in conference, Ohio State and Rutgers easily defeated American Athletic opponents that seemed in position to put up a big of a fight.

Big 12 (ranked 2nd after 5-3 week): The Big 12 stayed alone in 2nd with a +11, four points behind the SEC and at least three points ahead of every other conference. While most teams played in conference, the two that did not (K-State and TCU) led by a combined score of 101-0 until K-State let up late and allowed four meaningless touchdowns. But for a dropped TD and three missed field goals in Week 4, those two teams would be a combined 7-0. TCU put up 614 yards to get ready for games against Oklahoma and Baylor, while K-State didn’t allow a first down on the first five UTEP drives while holding the nation’s second-leading rusher (Aaron Jones) to nine first half yards.

Conference USA (ranked 6th after 5-6 week): Western Kentucky has relied on the No. 1 passing attack in the country so far, but Saturday it was a pick-6 by Wonderful Terry that preserved a big upset at Navy that pushed Conference USA back past the American Athletic as the top non-Power 5 conference. The biggest winner of the day may have been Marshall, who did not play after scoring over 40 points in every game of a 4-0 start, including a 48-17 drubbing of an Akron team that looks much better with the Zips going into stun Pitt on Saturday. If Rakeem Cato can stay anywhere near his current 10-yards per pass attempted, and the running game keeps exploding with Devon Johnson, Stewart Butler and Cato (all averaging over seven yards a carry and all with a run of over 60 yards this season), then Marshall could be hoping for an East Carolina loss in order to grab the non-Power New Year’s Day Bowl slot.  

FCS schools went 1-1 against FBS schools: Yale and Army have combined for 30 National Championships, but none since World War II ended and Army couldn’t draft the best players. But Saturday Yale scored a big win for the FCS and Ivy League, giving the league their first win over an FBS team since 1986.

Independents went 1-2 this week: Everett Golson looks much more talented after his year off training in San Diego, as he completed 25 straight passes – one short of the FBS record – against Syracuse. He showed the potential to give the Irish a chance against Stanford and Florida State, but also hopes he got the rustiness out of his system (two fumbles and two interceptions to keep the game close).

Navy tripped up, and Army lost to Yale.

Mid-American (ranked 9th after 5-5 week): The Mid-American is still 9th of 10 conferences, but had a great Week 5 to move up two points to -15. Akron’s Conor Hundley outrushed Pitt star James Conner 148 to 92, and the Zips used the old Refrigerator Perry play with 5-11, 284 pound defensive lineman Cody Grice moving to running back for two touchdowns in a 21-10 upset. Ohio faced a very tough FCS opponent in Eastern Illinois, but AJ Oullette took the first carry of the 2nd quarter 65 yards for his second touchdown to make it 21-3, and they never looked back. Four of five conference teams had a better margin than expected in non-conference games.

Mountain West (ranked 8th after 5-5 record week): The Mountain West made it a three-way race for the top non-Power conference when Colorado State went to Boston and stunned a BC team that had beaten USC. Garrett Grayson hit Charles Lovett on fourth down with a minute to go for the game-winning touchdown in a 24-21 win.

Pac-12 (ranked 3rd after unchanged rating due to playing on conference games): The Pac-12’s +8 rating is pretty set since they started playing just conference games this week, but they still moved into third place because of the ACC falling behind them. The only two non-conference games the rest of the season will be two games against Notre Dame – Stanford plays them next week with national implications, while Arizona State plays them November 8. While the rating stays the same, the conference may have two national contenders after UCLA destroyed Arizona State 62-27 just two weeks before hosting Oregon after winning their first three games all by eight points or less. Brett Hundley returned from the injury that kept him out against Texas, and he rekindled title hopes for the 4-0 Bruins.

Sun Belt (ranked 10th after 4-4 week): Terrence Franks crashed into the end zone to give Texas State a three-overtime upset over Tulsa of the American Athletic. The big upset almost slipped away when Tulsa scored their second fourth-quarter touchdown in the closing seconds, and it took Texas State eight plays to score a game-tying touchdown in the first overtime. Overtime wins count as one-point wins in this system.

SEC (ranked 4th after 7-4 week): The +15 margin ranks four points ahead of the Big 12 for first place. Anti-SEC fans will take heart in Missouri’s upset at South Carolina the week after ndiana of the Big Ten stunned them at home. However, that still left the SEC 5-2 against the Power 5 with the only other loss being one of its bottom teams (Tennessee) against national contender Oklahoma. Of the five teams beaten (Clemson, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and K-State) four were not in an SEC stadium, two were blowouts, two were against ranked teams, and another was against a West Virginia team that has proven strong.

Sure, those big clashes do not happen often, but the reasons all the computers and voters have the SEC at the top is because the SEC simply wins most of the big clashes and wins games like this by more than other conferences beat the same teams. The three inter-conference games this week include:

Memphis came into Saturday one touchdown away from having beaten UCLA to be 3-0 and having scored at least 35 points in every game. They scored one field goal against Mississippi in a 24-3 loss.

New Mexico State was 27 seconds from stunning New Mexico last week and had scored at least 24 points in every game. They lost to LSU 63-7.

Louisiana Tech has outscored their three opponents not ranked in the Top 5 by a combined score of 117-71, giving up a last second field goal to prevent them from winning all three of those games. Auburn would have taken a 30-0 lead except for two missed field goals – basically dominating them by virtually the same score as when Louisiana Tech played Oklahoma.

Yes, the Big 12 is close, and the Pac-12 has often been close. It could be that in the Bowl season one or the other passes the SEC, but having the best team in the Big 12 (Oklahoma) beat the 11th best team in the SEC (Tennessee) is not going to do it. If the Big 12 can repeat last year’s Sugar Bowl and have a better bowl season, then they have a shot.

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