Power Ranking Top College Football Conferences Heading Into Bowl Season
Top College Football Conferences Heading Into Bowl Season
Bowl season is upon us folks, and that means it’s time for conference bragging rights. During the season, fans bicker and banter over how strong their team’s conferences are. Luckily, for all of us college football fans there is a way to settle this debate. Bowl season gives fans the chance to put their money where their mouth is. All year you may hear on TV that the Big Ten is weak or that the SEC is the hardest conference top to bottom. Your friend may be barking in your ear that the PAC-12 is better than the SEC or that the Big 12 is underrated from another friend. Well, bowl season answers all of those discussions and debates over what conference is the best.
However, in bowl games, fans cheer for more than just their own team. This is the one time of the year that you may find an Ohio State fan cheering for their hated rival, the Michigan Wolverines, just for the sole purpose of conference bragging rights. I see nothing wrong with cheering for your rival either. In bowl games you want the conference that your team is in to do well. A good showing in the bowl games by your conference just gives you another thing to boast about.
So what are the top conferences heading into the bowl games this year? To answer this question I asked myself a number of questions. How many teams from each conference made bowl games? Those that had a higher percentage of teams from their conference had higher rankings. How many ranked teams are there in each conference, and how do their rankings impact their standing? The more ranked teams meant a higher ranking as well, but I also factored in what the rankings were. For example, if you had the No. 1 team in your conference, this meant a lot more when ranking the conferences. My last question was how did I think these teams would fair based off the eye test in their bowl games? Basically, I made predictions for every bowl game based on what I have seen this year from each team and then recorded the records of each conference.
Check out my list of the top conferences in college football to see the results.
10. Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt Conference comes in at number ten without any question. The Sun Belt only fields two teams this bowl season, which is the least of any conference. The best record of any team coming out the Sun Belt is UL-Lafayette at 8-4. This is easily the weakest conference in football.
9. Conference USA
Conference USA fields an impressive six teams and almost found themselves at No. 8. However, the difference was that the MAC has two teams that I feel are better than any team Conference USA has. Conference USA has a chance to make a name for themselves in their bowl games. Rice and Marshall both have chances to defeat teams from top conferences.
The Mid-American Conference fields fewer teams than C-USA, but the teams in the MAC are a lot better. Northern Illinois, Ball State and Bowling Green are three quality teams that can compete with the big boys. In fact, Northern Illinois probably would be in a BCS bowl if not for their late season defeat in the conference championship to Bowling Green.
7. Mountain West
I was tempted to put the Mountain West Conference above the American Athletic Conference, but the top teams in the AAC were the difference-makers. The Mountain West had six teams get bowl bids. For a conference that is considered one of the top 6, putting six teams in bowls is remarkable.Fresno State is by far the best team in this conference and has the best chance to stake a claim for the Mountain West. If Fresno St. can beat USC in their bowl game, that would be huge for the Mountain West.
6. American Athletic Conference
Central Florida and Louisville make this conference better than the Mountain West, but not by much. I wouldn’t be surprised if the AAC lost every single bowl game. UCF gets to face Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, and that game could get ugly. Louisville has a tough match-up against Miami(FL). Despite all the hate I’m giving this conference, the AAC could easily turn the tables and impress a number of college football fans this bowl season.
5. Big Ten
The Big Ten is definitely having a down year, but they are not that bad. Seven teams out of 12 made bowl games, which is impressive for a conference that’s supposedly bad. Michigan State and Ohio State both made BCS bowls and give the Big Ten a chance to prove people wrong. However, there are not a lot of good match-ups this bowl season for this conference, and the perception of the Big Ten as a weak conference may get even worse.
4. Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 is a smaller conference and only has ten teams, but six made bowl games. That’s impressive. What’s even more impressive is that the Big 12 also has three teams ranked in the top 15. Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State give the conference three very strong teams that could make the Big 12 brand even better by winning their bowl games.
I changed the PAC-12 and the ACC a number of times before finally deciding to put the PAC-12 at No. 3. For me, the difference was that the ACC’s best team is Florida State and the PAC-12’s best team is Stanford. Stanford has two losses and Florida State has none – case solved. However, what made my decision tough were two things. First, the PAC-12 is favored in all their bowl games. If the PAC-12 were to go undefeated, fans of this conference could ultimately claim conference bragging rights. Secondly, the PAC-12 sent nine teams out of 12 to bowl games. That’s impressive.
The ACC makes the list at No. 2 for two reasons. The first reason is Florida State’s success this season. Florida State is the only team in the nation to not suffer a defeat this year, and as a result FSU is the No. 1 team in the country. Secondly, the ACC sent a NCAA record 11 teams to bowl games. If Florida State can beat Auburn in the National Championship, the ACC and its fans may even make their claim to be the No. 1 conference.
The SEC is the best conference in the country without question. Currently, the SEC has seven teams that are ranked, which is the most of any conference. The SEC also sends ten teams to bowl games, which is only one below the new NCAA record set by the ACC this year. When you mention the SEC to fans, one thing always comes to mind: championships. Until someone can end the SEC’s streak of seven consecutive national championships, SEC fans will continue to brag and boast about their conference. Can you blame them?