StatTiger: Ranking the Football Conferences

StatTiger uses a variety of statistics to compare the SEC, ACC, Pac 10 and other major conferences.

Ranking the Conferences

Who has the best football conference in college football today? In no specific order, most college football fans recognize the Big XII, Big 10, ACC, SEC and the Pac 10 as the major conferences.

The Big East was once recognized as a major player until Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College bolted to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Looking back over the past ten years (1996-2005), the Southeastern Conference and the Big XII are tied with three National Championships. The Big 10 and the Pac 10 are tied with two if you count number one rankings in the AP poll as well as the BCS.

Winning Percentage From 1996-2005

Over the last ten years, the Southeastern Conference has three teams ranked in the Top 10 in terms of winning percentage. Tennessee (5), Florida (9) and Georgia (10), which is the most of any conference.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has three current members in the Top 10, but Miami (2) and Virginia Tech (5) accumulated most of their victories playing in the Big East.

The Big XII has two in the Top 10, Texas (4) and Nebraska (8) and the Big 10 have two representatives in Ohio State (3) and Michigan (7).

The landscape has altered over the last five years, but the Southeastern conference has kept three teams in the Top 10 from 2001-2005. Georgia (6) moved up in the Top 10, but is now joined by LSU (8) and Auburn (10). Florida State and Virginia Tech are no longer in the Top 10, leaving the ACC with the newly acquired Miami Hurricanes (2). Nebraska (28) has fallen upon hard times with the departure of Tom Osborne, but Oklahoma (4) is now in the Top 10 along with Texas (1). Michigan (17) dropped out, leaving Ohio State (7) as the only Big 10 program in the current top ten.

Top 10 Statistical Leaders

There are four major statistical categories most college football fans consider when determining the success of their team. Total offense, total defense, scoring offense and scoring defense are the big four. With this in mind, how did each conference rank from 1996-2005?

For years, the Southeastern Conference has been known for run-oriented offenses and stingy defenses. The Pac 10 has been known for wide-open offensive play with defense being an after thought. Of the four major statistical categories, the Southeastern conference had teams ranked in the Top 10 nationally 52 times.

Of the 52 times SEC teams have been ranked in the Top 10, 42 were on the defensive side of the ball and only 10 were on the offensive side of the ball. The Pac 10 finished in the Top 10 35 times of the four major statistical categories with 30 on offense and only five on defense.

Here is a breakdown of each conference:

Conference ……………T-Off…..T-Def…..S-Off…..S-Def…..Total

Big XII….. …………….10………24………21………20………75

SEC……………………..5………..21………5……….21………52

Big 10...………….……..12……….10………7……….16………45

ACC……………………..4……….11………6………..16………37

Pac 10…………………..14……….3……….16……….2……….35

Big East …………………5……….10………9………..9……….33

WAC …………………...11……….4……….14……….3……….32

MAC ……………………11………3……….8…………4………26

C-USA ………………….7………..7……….5…………5………24

Independent …………….7………..3……….5………….2………17

Big West ………………..9………..0……….2………….0………11

MWC …………………...3………..2……….2………….0……….7

Sun Belt …………………2……….1……….1………….2……….6

Some will argue the SEC defensive numbers are inflated because of average offensive play within the conference. Of course, if this is the case, the same could be said about the Pac 10 defense.

Teams within the Pac 10 prosper on offense because there is a lack of quality defense. If this is true, what does this say about the Big XII?

The Big XII had the highest number of teams ranked in the Top 10 of total defense and had the highest number of offensive units ranked in the Top 10 of scoring offense. The Big XII has clearly dominated the four major statistical categories so are they the strongest conference over the past decade?

Strength of Schedule

Obviously, strength of schedule will come into factor when debating which conference is the strongest. Taking the top four teams from the top five conferences in the country, here is the combined win percentage of each conference over the last ten years. The four teams selected from each conference was selected based on their winning percentage over the past ten seasons.

SEC…………………….…… (Florida, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee) .555 ACC……………………..….. (FSU, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech) .544 Pac 10….…………………….. (USC, UCLA, ASU and Oregon) .541 Big 10...……………………… (Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin) .540 Big XII……………………..… (Oklahoma, Nebraska, K-State and Texas) .538

Based on the winning percentage of the top teams from each conference, the Southeastern conference has faced the toughest schedule. Florida (.580) has competed against the toughest schedule in comparison with the other top teams from each major conference. Wisconsin and Virginia Tech were tied for the weakest schedule (.520).

Head to Head competition

Over the past ten seasons, here is the Southeastern Conference combined record against opposing conferences:

ACC…………………. 36-27-0 (.571)

Big XII…...………….. 15-13-0 (.536)

Big 10..……………… 22-13-0 (.629)

Pac 10……………….. 5-7-0 (.417)

Big East……………… 8-14-0 (.364)

Over the past ten years, the Southeastern Conference has a winning record against the ACC, Big X11 and Big 10. SEC teams posted a losing record to the PAC 10 and Big East conferences. The Pac 10 held winning records against the Big 10, SEC and Big East.

ACC…………………. 2-7-0 (.222)

Big XII………………. 23-26-0 (.469)

Big 10……………….. 32-28-0 (.533)

SEC………………….. 7-5-0 (.583)

Big East……………… 10-6-0 (.625)

The Big XII posted a winning record against the Pac 10, SEC and Big East.

ACC………………….. 9-12-0 (.429)

Big 10…………………18-28-0 (.391)

Pac 10……………….. 26-23-0 (.531)

SEC………………….. 13-15-0 (.464)

Big East……………… 12-7-0 (.632)

The Big 10 had a winning record against the ACC, Big XII and Big East.

ACC………………….. 10-9-0 (.526)

Big XII……………….. 25-17-0 (.595)

Pac 10………………… 28-29-0 (.491)

SEC…………………… 13-22-0 (.371)

Big East………………. 20-9-0 (.690)

The ACC had winning records against the Pac 10, Big XII and Big East but losing records against SEC and Big 10.

SEC…………………… 27-36-0 (.428)

Pac 10………………….. 7-2-0 (.778)

Big XII……………….. 12-9-0 (.571)

Big 10………………… 9-10-0 (.474)

Big East………………. 48-38-0 (.558)

The Big East posted a winning record against the SEC over the past ten years but had losing records to the other four major conferences.

Big 10……………….…. 9-20-0 (.310)

Big XII………………… 7-12-0 (.368)

Pac 10…….…………… 6-10-0 (.375)

SEC……………………. 14-8-0 (.636)

ACC…………………… 38-48-0 (.442)

The Southeastern Conference possessed the best overall out of conference record against the major conferences.

SEC…………………… 86-74-0 (.537)

Big 10…………………. 96-86-0 (.527)

ACC…………………... 103-95-0 (.520)

Pac 10…………………. 74-72-0 (.507)

Big XII………………… 78-85-0 (.478)

Big East……………….. 74-98-0 (.430)

Top Ten Finishes

From 1996-2005, here is the total number of appearances in the Top 10 of the final AP Poll by each major conference.

Big XII……………… 22

SEC…………………. 21

Big 10……………….. 17

Pac 10……………….. 17

ACC…………………. 9

Big East……………… 7

Most teams from each major conference to finish in the top ten of the AP Poll from 1996-2005:

Pac 10…………. 9 (UA,ASU, Cal, Org, OSU, USC, UCLA, UW and WSU)

SEC…………… 6 (Ala, Aub, UF, UGA, LSU and UT)

Big XII………... 6 (Col, KSU, Neb, OU, TX, and A&M)

Big 10…………. 6 (Iowa, Mich, MSU, OSU, PSU and Wisc)

ACC…………… 3 (FSU,NC, and VT)

Big East……….. 3 (Miami, VT and WVU)

The Southeastern Conference (Florida, Georgia and Tennessee) and the Big XII (Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma) were the only two major conferences to have three different teams to finish in the Top 10 of the AP Poll five times over the last ten years.


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