Breitbart Sports Breaks with the Pack: SEC No. 1 in 122 of 125 Ratings

Oregon Ducks Rose Bowl Photo by Jae Hong AP
Jae Hong/AP
Auburn, AL

I was with Pat Dye touring his Japanese Gardens the day of his weekly “Legends” conference call with other Hall of Fame Coaches. That group joined Football Insiders and Breitbart Sports as the only three ratings of 125 not to rank the SEC No. 1–the problem is those coaches picked the Big 12 No. 1 and Pac-12 No. 4.

On November 29 after the conclusion of the regular season, Breitbart Sports broke with almost every college sports analyst by ranking the Pac-12, not the SEC, as the best conference. In the Massey Ratings compilation of human and computer rankings a week later, only Football Insiders agreed with Breitbart Sports, while 122 ratings had the Sec No.1 and the coaching “Legends” picked the Big 12.
The ensuing Bowl games left little doubt that Breitbart Sports and Football Insiders were correct. The Pac-12’s only blemishes were two rallies that fell one score short. They went 6-2, punctuated by three wins of 24 points or more including Oregon destroying and FSU team that had not lost since 2012. The vaunted top 5 Sec West teams had all lost, including embarrassing mismatches by the two Mississippi schools deemed playoff-worthy at one point. And the Big 12 went 2-6.

The Breitbart Sports ratings are below, and the list of the other 124 computer and human ratings can be found by clicking the Massey Ratings composite.

1. Pac-12 +14.5. After achieving the No. 1 rating from Breitbart Sports for the regular season (see November 29 post here), the Pac-12 improved their rating from +12 to +14.5 during the Bowl season.

2. SEC +13.7. The SEC concluded the season with two wins Friday, including Tennessee’s easy win over Iowa to ties its record as the only conference to win seven bowl games in one season and finish way ahead of every other conference besides the Pac-12 even in an off year.

3. Big Ten +9.5. They were expected to win 3.4 bowl games and instead went 5-5, including the most important battle of champions between Ohio State and Alabama to have a shot at the national title.

4. Big 12 +8.0. Pat Dye and the Legends coaches did not look good as the sole group of 125 to pick the Big 12 as the best conference only to have them go 2-6 in Bowl Games. However, TCU left no doubt they should have been in the playoff with the most impressive win of the bowl season, and Oklahoma State pulled a big upset over Washington to be one of only two to beat a Pac-12 school.

5. ACC +4.7. The ACC could not back up a great finish to the regular season, as Boston College, Pitt, and UNC were upset to have the conference win one less game than expected with a 4-11 record. The spreads were almost exactly right overall–as they were expected to be outscored by 12.5 points and were outscored by 14.

 Independents +2.1. Notre Dame had a huge win over LSU after their regular season November drubbings vs. the Pac-12 first showed the Pac-12 as the best. Navy had a nice win in the only road bowl game (at San Diego State) before heading to the American Athletic Conference. BYU has many suitors including perhaps the Big 12.

6. Conference USA -3.8. CUSA had a phenomenal 4-1 bowl season to move head and shoulders above the rest of the Group of 5–and all that despite having the University of Alabama pull the plug on the surging UAB football program right down the road. Some scoffed at the idea that UAB could do any damage to the Tide, but Saban will not be there forever and Texas would have never believed Baylor and TCU would ever have passed their program. Overall, CUSA teams were expected to outscore their opponents by 9.5 points–and actually outscored them by 52 even capping Marshall’s win at 25.

7. American Athletic -7.9. The old Big East hopes that the addition of Navy and a conference championship next year will add to the momentum from upset wins for Houston and Memphis and good showings against Florida and NC State. With UAB gone from CUSA, the American could rise to the top of the Group of 5 next year.

8. Mountain West -9.5. The Mountain West was expected to outscore their bowl opponents by 5.5 points, and instead were outscored by 26, the worst disappointment of any conference. Boise State’s huge upset of Arizona was offset by disappointing performances by Colorado State, Fresno State, Nevada, and San Diego State.

9. Sun Belt -13.0. ULL’s upset of Nevada means that Arkansas State just needs to stay within 13 points of Toledo in the Go Daddy Bowl Sunday at 9 p.m. ET for the Sun Belt to finish ahead of the Mid-American. South Alabama fell short against Bowling Green, so the conference is 1-1 heading into that final game. Gus Malzahn’s former team will begin a series with Toledo after this game.

10. Mid-American -15.8. Mid-American teams were slight underdogs in all four bowl games so far, but Northern Illinois’ lopsided loss to Marshall and Western Michigan’s two touchdown loss to Air Force were much worse than expected, and Central Michigan fell just short to make the conference 1-3 (Bowling Green won) heading into the final bowl game tomorrow night. Toledo needs a 14-point margin to move the conference out of he basement.

A separate post coming soon lists all bowl teams alphabetically by conference. The first number represents the chance they were given to win the game, and the likely margin at That is followed by their opponents, and whether or not they actually won the game and by what margin. The final figure is how much their showing helped her hurt their conference based on how good they were in relation to the other teams in their conference and their opponent.