Sunday, November 9, 2008

Out of Conference Report '08 - Homestretch Edition

For those who are new to this blog, I began a feature last season that would attempt to quantify the strength of each BCS league based on the quality of it's non-conference competition. Yes, I realize that football has far too many intangibles and such that can't be broken down into mere numbers. But I'm a stats guy, and if someone is going to tell me that the Big Ten or Big East or whoever is better than the ACC, I'd like to see some justification for that aside from the typical message board smack.

Updated non-conference records among the six BCS leagues through the first two+ months of the season:
Conf.RecordPct.
SEC33-8.805
Big XII38-10
.792
ACC34-10.772
Big Ten
31-12.721
Big East
26-12.684
Pac 10
13-16.448
The SEC's dominance in these standings earlier in the season has eroded and the Big XII and ACC are in position to pass them. The ACC especially, what with four head-to-head matchups with the SEC still on tap.

To delve a little deeper, below is the combined record of all 1-A/FBS opposition faced by each BCS league in non-conference play:
Conf.RecordPct.
Pac 10162-106.604
ACC
152-127.545
Big East
157-135.538
Big Ten170-155.523
Big XII176-183.490
SEC137-172.443
Call me crazy, but the ACC looks damn fine with the third best record, against the second best competition. The Pac 10's horrid showing is somewhat understandable, while the SEC's record doesn't appear so sterling now.

ON THE ROAD
Below illustrates the percentage of games each league has played away from home in non-conference action:
Conf.Road Games/OOC GamesPct.
Big East15/3839.5%
Pac 1010/2934.5%
ACC12/4427.2%
Big XII13/4827.1%
SEC11/4126.8%
Big Ten11/4325.6%

*non-conference neutral site games (i.e. Missouri-Illinois, Alabama-Clemson) are calculated as road games for both leagues.

Historically, the ACC and Big East always seem to play more non-league road games while Big Ten schools are seemingly oblivious to the likes of Travelocity and Orbitz.

BCS COMPETITION
The following indicates the percentage of non-conference competition played against fellow BCS-league opponents:
Conf.BCS Foes/OOC GamesPct.
Pac 10
13/2944.8%
ACC19/4443.2%
Big East15/3839.5%
Big XII15/4831.3%
Big Ten13/4230.6%
SEC11/4126.8%
*For this analysis, Notre Dame is included as a BCS/power-league team

And each conference's record against other power-league competition:
Conf.RecordPct.
ACC12-7.632
Big East
8-7.533
Big XII
7-8.467
Big Ten
6-7.462
SEC
5-6.455
Pac 10
5-8.385
Furthermore, the following is the combined record of each league's BCS opposition:
Conf.RecordPct.
Pac 10
81-47.633
ACC
109-69.612
Big East
87-59
.596
Big Ten
67-53.558
SEC
56-45.554
Big XII
82-68.547
Perhaps this will dispel all the parity-due-to-mediocrity talk in terms of the logjam in the ACC standings these days. These numbers prove that the ACC is a damn good league thus far this season. And a golf-clap to the Big East as well, for being the only other BCS league team with a winning record against other power-conference competition...and against the third best BCS opposition to boot.

OTHER 1-A/FBS COMPETITION
Each league's record against other 1-A/FBS foes...that is, the non-conference results against the poor schmoes from Conference USA, the MAC, the WAC, etc.:
Conf.RecordPct.
Big XII21-2.913
SEC20-2.909
Big Ten17-5.773
ACC8-3.727
Big East
11-5
.688
Pac 106-8.429
And the combined record of the "other 1-A" opponents for each BCS league:
Conf.RecordPct.
Pac 1081-59.579
Big Ten
103-102.502
Big East
70-76.479
Big XII
94-115.450
ACC
43-58.426
SEC81-127
.389
OK, so the ACC's armor gets a little chinked here. But the SEC and Big XII's lofty records are partially the result of fattening up on a horde o' UAB and North Texas-style cupcakes, while the Pac 10 was getting dusted by the likes of Utah, Boise State, TCU and BYU. Let the numbers drive it home for you....the Pac 10 and SEC's non-BCS 1A competition both have 81 wins; but the SEC's opposition has 68 more losses. Thank you, and good night.

THE 1-AA/FCS FACTOR
The percentage of non-conference games against 1-AA competition...
Conf.1-AA Foes/OOC GamesPct.
ACC14/4431.8%
SEC7/3319.5%
Big XII9/4818.8%
Big Ten8/4318.6%
Big East7/3818.4%
Pac 102/296.9%
And this is what keeps the ACC out of the Big XII/SEC "best conference" talk this season. Just under a third of all ACC out-of-conference games have been against the minor leaguers. Unacceptable. And the close calls (UNC-McNeese, Maryland-Delaware, Georgia Tech-Gardner Webb) further erode credibility. On the flipside, the Pac 10 would do well to not be so damn righteous.

POTENTIALLY FLAWED SUBJECTIVE CONCLUSION
All that said, this is how I'd rank the conferences so far in 2008:

1) Big XII
2) SEC
3) ACC
4) Big Ten
5) Big East
6) Pac 10

I think the numbers above support this ranking. Maybe next year I'll have devised a formula I like that just swallows up the percentages from above and spits out a rating. But for now, I think this is as accurate a ranking of the BCS leagues as you'll find.

8 comments:

Lee said...

Marcus I think you really have to look at putting the ACC up above the SEC this time around. I ran the numbers using the same sheet as last time and the SEC has dropped below the ACC and even the Big East. Even if you make a win vs a non BCS 1a opponent worth 3 times the amount of vs a 1aa opponent (which I think is a bit over dramatic) the SEC still remains behind the Big East and ACC. I'll shoot off the spreadsheet again if you like.

Marcus said...

I was tempted to do just that (ACC over SEC), but the 1-AA/FCS Factor is just too hard to ignore. Shoot me your spreadsheet anyway, though.

Lee said...

I guess I just don't buy 1AA teams being much worse than teams that are only winning 38% of the time anyways. When you think about it that 38% includes games against each other because all the Sun Belt and Horizon teams are going to have conference wins. So really the teams the SEC is playing have beat each other and thats about it (aside from MTSU over MD, ugh barf vomit puke). Sounds exactly the same as 1AA to me aside from the fact that the SEC is playing more games against this subpar competition as is evidenced by only playing 26% of their OOC games against other BCS schools, a solid 20% lower than Pac 10 and ACC...

Carl said...

Marcus: I believe the ACC OCC record should be 34-10 not 33-10 as you posted on 11/9

Marcus said...

You're correct Carl! Updated now.

Anonymous said...

The ACC went 6-4 against the SEC in regular season play. Florida posted 2 wins for the SEC and GT posted 2 wins for the ACC in conference competition

Anonymous said...

The SEC is a little down this year with a few of the teams having a bad year. Still they have 2 teams in the top 5 in the country and one of them will go to the BCS Championship game. The Big 12 has had several highly ranked teams and they will also be represented in the Championship game. The ACC has been competitive and entertaining and it is a very good conference as well as the Big 10. Any conference or team can have up or down years and I am not sure it was worth any of your time to do all of these calculations. Just sit back and enjoy the games... They are all great!

Anonymous said...

Nope, As the bowl record again shows:

THE ACC SUCKS!