And the ACC dips back into the cellar in these standings. Of course, there's much more to non-conference competition than just the above standings. For instance, below is the total combined record of all the teams each league has played in out of conference competition (1-AA/FCS opponents not included):
Conf. Record Pct. SEC 40-8 .833 Big 10 35-9 .795 Big 12 36-12 .750 Big East 29-11 .725 Pac 10 21-9 .700 ACC 33-15 .688
The Big 10....yeesh. I know which BCS conference I'm betting on to get drilled come bowl season. As for the remaining five leagues, since we're dealing with numbers in the hundreds now, it's a statistical wash in my estimation, with .039 percentage points separating first from fifth. And, in case you're looking at these numbers and thinking something is a bit off (such as the ACC and SEC both having played 48 non-conference games yet there's 37-game disparity in the record of their competition), keep in mind that some conferences played more 1-AA competition than others - which as I stated I'm not including here - and there are still several games to be played next week around the country.
Conf. Record Pct. Pac 10 170-160 .515 ACC 243-238 .505 SEC 223-221 .502 Big East 196-206 .488 Big 12 224-247 .476 Big 10 157-270 .368
ON THE ROAD
Below illustrates the percentage of games each league played away from home in non-conference action...
FYI- out-of-conference neutral site games (i.e. Missouri-Illinois, Florida State-Alabama) were calculated as road games for both leagues.
Conf. Road Games/OOC Games Pct. ACC 20/48 41.7% Big East 16/40 40.0% Big 12 16/48 33.3% Pac 10 9/30 30.0% Big 10 11/44 25.0% SEC 8/48 16.7%
Compare and contrast the number of road games to total losses for each league. There's a fairly strong correlation - for instance, the SEC went 40-8 overall and played 8 road games; the Pac 10 went 21-9 overall, and played 9 road games. Impressively, the ACC bucked that trend, having played a whopping 20 games on the road, but only had 15 total non-conference losses. The Big East and Big 12 also similarly bucked the trend. No conference had more losses than road games.
The following indicates the percentage of non-conference competition played against fellow BCS-league opponents...
And each conference's record against other power-league competition:
Conf. BCS Foes/OOC Games Pct. ACC 22/48 45.8% Big East 15/40 37.5% Pac 10 11/30 36.7% Big 10 13/44 29.5% SEC 14/48 29.2% Big 12 11/48 22.9%
From these numbers alone, the Big 12 clearly fares the worst. They played the least amount of BCS non-conference opposition (exactly half in number and percentage of what the ACC played), and they have the worst record against that competition by a slim margin. But, there's more to the story. Below lists the actual BCS teams played by each league in non-conference play, against whom, and the result (win/loss only; scores not included for simplicity's sake).
Conf. Record Pct. Big 10 9-4 .692 Pac 10 6-5 .545 ACC 11-11 .500 SEC 7-7 .500 Big East 7-8 .467 Big 12 5-6 .455
Wins- Washington State (@Wisconsin), Pittsburgh (@Michigan State), @Washington (Ohio State), Notre Dame (@Penn State), Notre Dame (@Michigan State), Notre Dame (@Purdue), @Notre Dame (Michigan), Syracuse (@Iowa), @Syracuse (Illinois)
Losses- vs.Missouri (Illinois), Oregon (@Michigan), @Iowa State (Iowa), Duke (@Northwestern)
Wins- Tennessee (California), @Michigan (Oregon), Colorado (@Arizona State), @Nebraska (USC), @Notre Dame (USC), @Syracuse (Washington)
Losses- Ohio State (@Washington), @Cincinnati (Oregon State), @Wisconsin (Washington State), Notre Dame (@Stanford), Notre Dame (@UCLA)
Wins- Connecticut (@Virginia), @Rutgers (Maryland), Texas A&M (@Miami), @Colorado (Florida State), vs.Alabama (Florida State), @South Carolina (Clemson), @Vanderbilt (Wake Forest), @Northwestern (Duke), Pittsburgh (@Virginia), @Notre Dame (Boston College), @Notre Dame (Georgia Tech)
Losses- West Virginia (@Maryland), Georgia (@Georgia Tech), @LSU (Virginia Tech), @Oklahoma (Miami), @Florida (Florida State), @USF (North Carolina), Connecticut (@Duke), South Carolina (@North Carolina), Nebraska (@Wake Forest), Louisville (@NC State), @Notre Dame (Duke)
Wins- Virginia Tech (@LSU), Florida State (@Florida), @Georgia Tech (Georgia), Oklahoma State (@Georgia), Kansas State (@Auburn), Louisville (@Kentucky), @North Carolina (South Carolina)
Losses- Missouri (@Mississippi), @West Virginia (Mississippi State), Clemson (@South Carolina), USF (@Auburn), Wake Forest (@Vanderbilt), vs.Florida State (Alabama), @California (Tennessee)
Wins- @Auburn (USF), Mississippi State (@West Virginia), @Maryland (West Virginia), Oregon State (@Cincinnati), @NC State (Louisville), North Carolina (@USF), @Duke (Connecticut)
Losses- Illinois (@Syracuse), @Virginia (Connecticut), @Virginia (Pittsburgh), @Kentucky (Louisville), Maryland (@Rutgers), @Michigan State (Pittsburgh), @Iowa (Syracuse), Washington (@Syracuse)
Wins- vs.Illinois (Missouri), @Wake Forest (Nebraska), Iowa (@Iowa State), Miami (@Oklahoma), @Mississippi (Missouri)
Losses- @Georgia (Oklahoma State), USC (@Nebraska), @Arizona State (Colorado), @Auburn (Kansas State), Florida State (@Colorado), @Miami (Texas A&M)
And to delve a little further, the following is the combined record of each league's BCS opposition:
So, taking into account the percentage of total non-conference games played against fellow BCS competition, the quality of that competition, and each league's results against that competition, the SEC and ACC appear to be clear winners in this category. The Big 10, despite the gaudy 9-4 record against BCS opposition, is the clear loser here upon close inspection (seriously - count how many times you see "Notre Dame" and "Syracuse" among their BCS opponents).
Conf. Record Pct. SEC 104-61 .630 Big 12 79-51 .608 ACC 148-112 .569 Big East 95-84 .531 Pac 10 68-62 .523 Big 10 52-102 .338
THE 1-AA (OR "FCS" IF YOU WANT TO BE ALL TECHNICAL) FACTOR
The percentage of non-conference games against 1-AA competition...
The Big 10 - and this appears to be a theme - clearly fares the worst in this category...not only has just over one-fifth of all their non-conference competition involved 1-AA opponents, 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.
Conf. 1-AA Foes/OOC Games Pct. SEC 9/48 18.8% Big 10 8/44 18.2% Big 12 8/48 16.7% Big East 6/40 15.0% ACC 7/48 14.9% Pac 10 2/30 6.7%
AND ALL THE REST
Each league's record against other 1-A/FBS foes...that is, the non-conference results against the poor schleps from the Sun Belt, Conference USA, MAC, etc.:
And, just for kicks, the combined record of the "other 1-A" opponents for each BCS league:
Conf. Record Pct. SEC 24-1 .960 Big 10 20-3 .870 Big East 16-3 .842 Big 12 24-5 .828 ACC 15-4 .789 Pac 10 13-4 .765
Again, the Big 10 is lagging behind the pack. The Big 12 doesn't look so hot here either, having played the most games against "other 1-A" opponents, having just the fourth highest win percentage, and the quality of their opposition isn't too good. The SEC is the only one that really comes out of this category looking decent.
Conf. Record Pct. Pac 10 102-98 .510 Big East 101-122 .453 ACC 95-126 .430 SEC 119-160 .427 Big 12 145-196 .425 Big 10 105-168 .385
FACTUALLY SUPPORTED SUBJECTIVE CONCLUSION
So, what does all of this mean? A few things stand out to me: 1) The ACC deserves major props for the hitting the road and playing a brutal non-conference schedule (45.8% of all games against fellow BCS leagues!), and doing fairly well against it; 2) The Big East deserves some kudos as well; 3) The SEC did quite well, but their refusal to hit the road in any meaningful way is a giant black mark; 4) The Pac 10 looks impressive, but is a bit of an anomaly since they played much fewer non-conference games due to their round-robin league slate; 5) The Big 10 + non conference play = crime against nature; 6) The Big 12 couldn't appear more middle-of-the-pack if it tried.
All that said, this is how I'd rank the conferences as we head into the final weekend:
1) SECFinally, let me say that I believe non-conference competition is by far the best way to compare the BCS 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.
2) Pac 10
4) Big East
5) Big 12
6) Big 10...a very distant 6th
But for me, this will do.