Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week 5 College Football Conference Comparison

Pat Forde wrote a column on the strength of the SEC West vs SEC East which begged for some analysis from the computer and by and large it backs Pat up.

First, let's look at just the average ratings for the conferences.

RankConferenceAverageHighLow
1SEC76.59995.63459.832
2Big-1275.66386.78662.696
3Pac-1272.18787.24458.034
4Big-Ten72.12294.92755.073
5Big-East71.12877.95159.647
6Independent69.64381.08761.194
7ACC69.09282.04557.166
8Mountain-West66.82889.05449.049
9WAC63.50872.07657.740
10MAC62.56773.42748.076
11C-USA60.83473.44049.538
12Sun-Belt58.46465.38048.724

The SEC has a slim lead over the Big-12 with the Pac-12, Big-East, and Big-Ten in a group behind.  If we look at this same average for the SEC East and West we get:

RankConferenceAverageHighLow
1SEC West79.64195.63464.702
2SEC East73.55680.66259.832

A pretty big gap, but even the SEC East would be slightly above the Pac-12/Big-Ten/Big-East.

Another way of looking at conference strengths is to look at performance in non-conference games.  But one can't just look at records as some schools/conferences play a lot of FCS/I-AA teams or even weak FBS/I-A teams.  A better way is to group the games played by a conference and run them through the computer's algorithm.  Doing this yields:

RankTeamRatingRecordScheduleChange
1Big-1275.18027-362.745
2SEC74.86728-462.270
3Big-East70.68423-1163.453
4Big-Ten70.03434-1362.124
5ACC69.22927-1161.296
6Independent69.15010-967.152
7Pac-1268.98719-1163.899
8MAC64.32820-2866.527
9Mountain-West64.30318-1363.141
10WAC63.9919-2166.711
11C-USA63.38918-2266.326
12Sun-Belt60.32510-2067.472
13FCS/I-AA55.1356-8370.896

Interestingly, the Big-12 comes out on top here narrowly over the SEC.  They have similar records and schedule strengths so it is very close.  They haven't gotten to these records playing the toughest schedules though as only the Big-Ten and ACC have weaker out of conference schedules.