The Pac-12 had the best regular season of any conference, and their quest to also top the SEC in the Bowl season started well with a blowout win by Utah, which has now won 11 of their last 12 holiday season games, including a blowout of Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
The table below of each Bowl Game scores each conference to determine the rankings based on results on the field of play.
Conference USA appears to have the title as the best of the “Group of 5” conferences unless the American Athletic pulls upsets in their remaining three games.
Utah’s unexpectedly easy 45-10 win over a Colorado State team riding a 9-game winning streak, including a win at Boston College, solidified their Massey Rating as one of seven Pac-12 teams in the top 23–to eight for the SEC.
The SEC and Pac-12 rarely play each other, and when they do the games often pit a very good team from one conference (LSU or USC) against a weaker team from the other conference. If Oregon faces Alabama for the title, many will say that whoever wins that game has the better conference. However, consider last year when Florida State destroyed conference foes and barely beat Auburn for the title. Did that make the ACC better than the SEC? And should Kentucky emerge from March Madness triumphant, would anyone dub the SEC the best basketball conference?
To compare all 10 conferences we start with how many points better or worse their teams played than the average FBS team based on their Massey Rating, and then adjust that figure (see precise math below table) based on each result. So far, the following are the Bowl rankings for all 10 conferences:
- SEC starts at +16 but will have to prove it
- Pac-12 moves up from +13 to +14.4 with Utah blowout of Colorado St.
- Big 12 starts at +12 with seven games to move up
- Big Ten moves up to +7 with Rutgers blowout upset of UNC outweighing Illinois losing by more than expected to Louisiana Tech
- ACC drops behind Big Ten at +6 with UNC getting upset in a blowout vs. Rutgers
- Conference USA improved from -8 to -4 by winning four out of five, all but one by at least 17 points, to likely rate as the best of the Group of 5 conferences
- American Athletic stays at -8 with UCF losing to NC State, but they could still catch C-USA with upsets by Cincinnati, East Carolina, and Houston
- Mountain West plummets to -12 with Nevada and San Diego St. being upset and Colorado and Fresno St. being beaten worse than expected
- Sun Belt improves to -13 on ULL upset of Nevada
- Mid-American drops to -16 with Bowling Green upset but C Michigan and W Michigan falling short
|American Athletic starts at -8||1.9||-23.5||(8)|
|Boston College||65%||5.5||Penn St||27-Dec|
|Georgia Tech||39%||-3.5||Mississippi St||31-Dec|
|Miami FL||46%||-2.5||South Carolina||27-Dec|
|Atlantic Coast starts at 7||2.9||13.5||6|
|Penn St||35%||-5.5||Boston College||27-Dec|
|Big 10 starts at 6||1.8||-26.5||7|
|West Virginia||47%||-1.5||Texas A&M||29-Dec|
|Big 12 starts at 10||2.1||-12.5||10|
|W Kentucky||67%||5.5||C Michigan||1||1.0||0.48|
|Conference USA starts at -8||2.8||9.5||(4)|
|Navy||44%||-2.5||@ San Diego St||1||1.0||1.26|
|FBS Indep starts at -1||4.0||0.0||(1)|
|Bowling Green||48%||-1.5||South Alabama||1||5.0||1.30|
|C Michigan||33%||-5.5||W Kentucky||0||-1.0||(0.48)|
|W Michigan||45%||-2.5||Air Force||0||-14.0||(1.36)|
|Mid-American starts at -14||2.1||-15.5||(16)|
|Air Force||55%||2.5||W Michigan||1||14.0||1.36|
|San Diego St||56%||2.5||Navy||0||-1.0||(1.26)|
|Mountain West starts at -7||2.8||9.5||(12)|
|Pac 12 starts at 13||3.3||31.5||14|
|Mississippi St||61%||3.5||Georgia Tech||31-Dec|
|South Carolina||54%||2.5||Miami FL||27-Dec|
|Texas A&M||53%||1.5||West Virginia||29-Dec|
|Southeastern starts at 16||3.0||19.5||16|
|South Alabama||52%||1.5||Bowling Green||0||-5.0||(1.30)|
|Sun Belt starts at -14||4.4||14.0||(13)|
Each team starts with their current points above or below average based on Massey Ratings (SEC +16 to Mid-American and Sun Belt -14) and then moves up or down every time a team exceeds or falls short of their expected result. The winning team improves their conference rating by two minus twice their chance to win (Utah had a 67% chance to beat Colorado State if Massey’s Ratings were accurate, so the Pac-12 gets a +0.66 for the win) and one-25th per point better or worse than Massey’s prediction with a cap of 25 points (Utah was expected to win by 6.5 and actually won by more than the 25-point max to improve the Pac-12 a total of 1.40 for the game).