Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Out of Conference Report - Week 8

Sorry for the lack of posts this week - as usual I've been preoccupied with work and
life. Anyway, this weekly (or sometimes bi-weekly) compilation is starting to get
some attention on message boards and other blogs, so I feel that a regular update is
in order from here on out. So here goes...

Updated non-conference records among the BCS/power leagues, eight weeks into this
helter-skelter season:

Conf.RecordPct.
SEC30-5.857
Big 1030-8.789
Big 1236-11.766
Pac 1021-8.724
ACC31-12.721
Big East28-11.718
And the ACC finally climbs out of the cellar in these standings, although the margin among the Pac 10, ACC and Big East is razor thin, to the point where you have to consider them all tied for 4th.

ON THE ROAD
The ACC continues to have the second highest percentage of non-conference games played in unfriendly environments...

Conf.Road Games*/OOC GamesPct.
Big East15/39.385
ACC16/43.372
Big 1215/47.319
Pac 109/29.310
Big 1010/38.263
SEC7/35.200
*neutral site contests were counted as road games for both teams involved

Notice how these standings just about flip the overall record standings on it's head. Correlation: the fewer amount of non-conference road trips, the better your overall record is going to be.

BCS COMPETITION
The ACC played four non-conference opponents last week, none of them from a BCS conference, and yet the league has still played the largest percentage of it's non-conference competition against power league teams, by a fair margin. See below:

Conf.BCS Foes/OOC Games Pct.
ACC17/43.395
Big East14/39.359
Pac 1010/29.345
Big 1013/38.342
SEC10/35.286
Big 1211/47.234
And each conference's record against other power-league competition:

Conf.RecordPct.
Big 109-4.692
Pac 106-4.600
ACC9-8.529
SEC5-5.500
Big East7-8.467
Big 125-6.455
Not a whole lot of change here from last week's report...in fact the only BCS conference matchups this past weekend were USC-Notre Dame and West Virginia-Mississippi State. Anyway, below is a compilation of each league's non-conference wins and losses against other BCS conferences.

Big 10: Wins- Washington State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, @Washington, @Syracuse, @Notre Dame, Notre Dame; Losses- Missouri, Oregon, @Iowa State, Duke

Pac 10: Wins- @Syracuse, Tennessee, @Michigan, Colorado, @Nebraska, Notre Dame; Losses- @Wisconsin, @Cincinnati, Ohio State, Notre Dame

ACC: Wins- @Notre Dame, @Northwestern, @Colorado, Texas A&M, vs. Alabama, @Rutgers, Pittsburgh, @Notre Dame, UConn; Losses- UConn, Nebraska, @Oklahoma, @LSU, West Virginia, @USF, Louisville, South Carolina

SEC: Wins- Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Louisville, @North Carolina; Losses- @California, Missouri, USF, vs. Florida State, @West Virginia

Big East: Wins- @Duke, Oregon State, @Auburn, @Maryland, North Carolina, @N.C. State, Mississippi State ; Losses- Washington, @Iowa, @Michigan State, Illinois, @Kentucky, Maryland, @Virginia, @Virginia

Big 12: Wins- @Illinois, Miami, @Wake Forest, @Mississippi, Iowa; Losses- @Georgia, @Auburn, @Arizona State, USC, Florida State, @Miami

Looking at the overall win/loss record and the quality of the competition, I still say the ACC comes out the best in this category. But I'm also not the most objective voice regarding this.

THE 1-AA (OR "FCS" IF YOU WANT TO BE ALL TECHNICAL) FACTOR
The percentage of non-conference games against 1-AA competition...
Conf.1-AA Foes/OOC GamesPct.
Big 108/38.210
SEC7/35.200
Big 128/47.170
ACC7/43.163
Big East6/39.154
Pac 102/29.007
The Big 10 clearly fares the worst in this category...not only has just over one-fifth of all their non-conference competition involved 1-AA opposition, they've lost two of those games (Appalachian State-Michigan and North Dakota State-Minnesota). Honestly, only the Pac 10 really comes off well in this category.

AND ALL THE REST
Each league's record against non-BCS/non-1AA foes...that is, the non-conference results against the poor schleps from the Sun Belt, Conference USA, MAC, etc.:
Conf.RecordPct.
SEC18-01.000
Big 1015-2.882
Big 1224-4.857
Big East15-3.833
ACC15-4.789
Pac 1013-4.765
Once again, the SEC's record in this category appears to be a major (and subliminal) reason why that conference has been fawned over left and right this season. Like or not, they've taken care of business every time against the Tulanes, UL-Lafayettes, FAUs and such. None of the other conferences can say that. Florida handled Troy, but Virginia got clocked by Wyoming. Tennessee cruised past Southern Miss, but UCLA got smashed by Utah. Nonetheless, this seems like an underwhelming empirical reason for the frothing media adulation heaped upon the SEC.

FACTUALLY SUPPORTED SUBJECTIVE CONCLUSION
I'll just repeat what I said last week: the secret to having a dominating out-of-conference performance? Never, ever, ever play non-conference road games; do make sure to play a higher percentage of 1-AA foes; and do not stumble even once in the supposed "patsy" non-league games. Seriously. In this crazy year, that earns you the top spot in my ranking of the BCS conferences to date:
1. SEC
2. Pac 10
3. ACC
4. Big 12
5. Big East
6. Big 10
The only change from last week is dropping the Big 10 from 5th to 6th. Minnesota's loss to North Dakota State gave the league two 1-AA losses this season, and too much of their BCS-conference competition to date has consisted of Notre Dame and the dregs of the other power-leagues (Syracuse, Pitt, Iowa State, Duke, Washington State).

As an aside, let me say that I believe non-conference competition is by far the best way to compare the leagues side-by-side-by-side, but this compilation is certainly not a complete analysis. Margin of victory, the placement of games on the schedule, the equality of matchups, and countless other factors aren't really taken into account here. These reports try to make the comparisons as objective and concise as possible, but in reality there will likely never be a thorough enough and definitive enough analysis to determine how the leagues truly stack up to one another.

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