Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Out of Conference Report - At Regular Season's End

This is mostly a re-post of last week's compilation, but with updated numbers and some new commentary when warranted.

Updated non-conference records among the BCS leagues at the end of the regular season...

Conf.RecordPct.
SEC40-8.833
Big 1035-9.795
Big 1236-12.750
Big East29-11.725
ACC33-15.688
Pac 1021-10.677
Washington's loss to Hawaii last Saturday knocked the Pac 10 down a notch into last place in these standings. Of course, there's much more to non-conference competition than just the above table. 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.RecordPct.
Pac 10185-166.527
ACC253-243.510
SEC229-230.499
Big East201-211.488
Big 12233-251.481
Big 10162-274.372
The Big 10....blech. 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 .046 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.

ON THE ROAD
Below illustrates the percentage of games each league played away from home in non-conference action...
Conf.Road Games/OOC GamesPct.
ACC20/4841.7%
Big East16/4040.0%
Big 1216/4833.3%
Pac 1010/3132.3%
Big 1011/4425.0%
SEC8/4816.7%

FYI- out-of-conference neutral site games (i.e. Missouri-Illinois, Florida State-Alabama) were calculated as road games for both leagues.

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 21-10 overall, and played 10 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.

BCS COMPETITION
The following indicates the percentage of non-conference competition played against fellow BCS-league opponents...
Conf.BCS Foes/OOC GamesPct.
ACC22/4845.8%
Big East15/4037.5%
Pac 1011/3135.5%
Big 1013/4429.5%
SEC14/4829.2%
Big 1211/4822.9%
And each conference's record against other power-league competition:
Conf.RecordPct.
Big 109-4.692
Pac 106-5.545
ACC11-11.500
SEC7-7.500
Big East7-8.467
Big 125-6.455

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).

Big 10
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)

Pac 10
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)

ACC
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)

SEC
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)

Big East
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)

Big 12
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:
Conf.RecordPct.
SEC106-64.624
Big 1281-51.614
ACC152-114.571
Big East96-85.530
Pac 1068-65.511
Big 1053-104.338
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).

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.
SEC9/4818.8%
Big 108/4418.2%
Big 128/4816.7%
Big East6/4015.0%
ACC7/4814.9%
Pac 102/316.5%
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.

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.:
Conf.RecordPct.
SEC24-1.960
Big 1020-3.870
Big East16-3.842
Big 1224-5.828
ACC15-4.789
Pac 1013-5.722
And, just for kicks, the combined record of the "other 1-A" opponents for each BCS league:
Conf.RecordPct.
Pac 10117-101.537
Big East105-126.455
ACC101-129.439
Big 12152-200.432
SEC123-166.426
Big 10109-170.391
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.

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 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 fairly 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 bowl season:
1) SEC
2) ACC
3) Pac 10
4) Big 12
5) Big East
6) Big 10...a very distant 6th

The SEC is the best conference so far this season, but it's not as dominant as the media and blog horde would have you believe. The Big 10 is clearly the worst. The other four BCS leagues aren't separated by all that much, but the ACC gets the nod at #2 based on the above stats and from general subjective viewing. Still, bowl season could really shake things up.

Finally, 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.

But for me, this will do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But, your analysis of the Big 10 is correct. How good can a conference be when it loses to Duke and App State the same year regardless of bowl results?