Week 8 College Football Conference Power Rankings
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Conference play is starting to heat up across the nation as Week 7 of the college football season has been completed and while some leagues are helping their cause at the moment, others are struggling to keep their head above water.
Will anyone be able to top the Southeastern Conference this week? Is the Big Ten Conference looking any better? Where does the Big East Conference stack up with three unbeaten teams?
All of these questions and much more are answered in this week's college football conference power rankings slide show.
No. 11: Conference USA
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Even though the Tulsa Golden Hurricane are off to a 6-1 start, the rest of Conference USA does not feature many competitive teams and is by far the worst league in college football right now.
The Tulane Green Wave picked up its first win of the 2012 season in a West Division tilt with the Southern Methodist Mustangs that came down to the wire, but the Southern Miss Golden Eagles are still winless and the Memphis Tigers, UAB Blazers and UTEP Miners have only managed to earn one victory through Week 7.
Additionally, the Marshall Thundering Herd, Rice Owls and SMU have only won two games thus far.
The UCF Golden Knights and East Carolina Pirates have four victories apiece and will attempt to outlast one another in the East Division title race.
No. 10: Western Athletic Conference
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The Western Athletic Conference lost its only hope for a BCS buster over the weekend as the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs fell 59-57 to the No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies despite a valiant comeback effort in the fourth quarter.
The league's other undefeated team, the UTSA Roadrunners, were blown out by the 2-4 Rice Owls and the 1-6 Idaho Vandals did not put up much of a fight in a loss to the Texas State Bobcats, who are now 3-3 in their first year as a Football Bowl Subdivision member.
The Utah State Aggies dismantled the San Jose State Spartans to improve to 5-2, and the New Mexico State Aggies continue to bring up the rear in the WAC with a 1-5 overall record and are 0-2 in conference games.
No. 9: Mid-American Conference
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The Mid-American Conference gets a bit of a bump up this week as four of its members have only lost one game through seven weeks of college football.
The Ohio Bobcats are one of 12 remaining unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but have not helped themselves make a case for a BCS bowl berth over the past three weeks.
The Bobcats only managed to beat the UMass Minutemen, Buffalo Bulls and Akron Zips by a combined 16 points. None of those teams have more than one victory to their names this season.
Meanwhile, the Toldeo Rockets and Northern Illinois Huskies are both off to 6-1 starts and have yet to suffer a bad loss. The Rockets lost an overtime tilt with the Arizona Wildcats in Week 1 and the Huskies were topped 18-17 by the Iowa Hawkeyes in their 2012 season opener.
The Kent State Golden Flashes have ridden a Top 30 rushing offense to a 5-1 start, while the Bowling Green Falcons and Ball State Cardinals are the only other teams with a winning record in the MAC at the moment.
Neither UMass or the Eastern Michigan Eagles have won a single game this season and join the Southern Miss Golden Eagles as the only other winless team in the FBS.
No. 8: Sun Belt Conference
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The Sun Belt Conference is still reaping the benefits of playing several major conference opponents in non-conference play even though a couple of the league's marquee victories have been soured a bit on paper.
The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are off to a 5-1 start and sit tied atop the Sun Belt standings with the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, who are also 2-0 in conference play.
Bringing up the rear through Week 7 are the South Alabama Jaguars, Florida Atlantic Owls, Florida International Golden Panthers and North Texas Mean Green. Those four teams have a combined 5-20 overall record and a 1-9 mark in league play.
Two of the Troy Trojans' losses were to conference foes and their only other defeat came against the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs in mid-September.
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and Arkansas State Red Wolves both have four victories thus far and sport 2-1 records in Sun Belt contests.
No. 7: Mountain West Conference
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The Mountain West Conference may have four teams with only a single victory through Week 7, but the Boise State Broncos and Nevada Wolf Pack are carrying the torch for the league right now having only lost once this season.
The Wolf Pack's only blemish came back on Sept. 8 in a 32-31 loss to the South Florida Bulls and improved to 6-1 over the weekend with a 42-37 victory over the UNLV Rebels.
Boise State is off to a 5-1 start and picked up their fifth straight win on Saturday by topping the Fresno State Bulldogs 20-10 on the fabled blue turf at Bronco Stadium.
The New Mexico Lobos have won three of their last four games and the Bulldogs were coming off of two victories prior to their loss to Boise State.
The San Diego State Aztecs and Air Force Falcons are tied with the Bulldogs for third place right now in the Mountain West and are right in the thick of the race for the 2012 Mountain West title, which is unlikely to mean much in the big scheme of things this season.
No. 6: Big East Conference
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Yes, the Big East Conference boasts three undefeated teams in the No. 15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, No. 16 Louisville Cardinals and No. 21 Cincinnati Bearcats, but the rest of the conference has been underwhelming to say the least.
The Cardinals needed 28 points in the second half to top the 2-4 Pittsburgh Panthers and Rutgers did not exactly impress on offense against the Syracuse Orange, who are also 2-4 on the year and are 1-1 in Big East play.
The Connecticut Huskies and South Florida Bulls have lost four games as well and have yet to record a victory against another Big East team.
None of the league's undefeated teams are legitimate national title contenders at this stage of the season, and two of them will be tested in Week 8.
The Scarlet Knights will square off with the Temple Owls, who are 3-2 and have won their first two games in the Big East, and the Bearcats have to take on a 6-1 Toledo Rockets team that is currently averaging 36.4 points per game.
No. 5: Atlantic Coast Conference
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Even with the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers rising in the national rankings once again, the Atlantic Coast Conference does not have as strong of a league as people initially believed prior to Week 1 of the 2012 college football season.
The Seminoles fell to a sporadic North Carolina State Wolfpack squad two weeks ago and have a long way to climb before a BCS national title appearance can even be mentioned again. Florida State did manage to rebound from the loss by blowing out the lowly Boston College Eagles, who are now 1-5 and have not done anything of worth since the Matt Ryan era.
The Tigers' defense has looked as penetrable as ever over the past three weeks and have gave up more than 31 points against Florida State, Boston College and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Although the Duke Blue Devils are off to a 5-2 start, they have yet to beat a team with a winning record, the Yellow Jackets and Virginia Cavaliers both only have two wins on the year and the Virginia Tech Hokies are a middle-of-the-road team in the Coastal Division.
The Maryland Terripans and Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes sit atop the league's two divisions after Week 7, which is something no one thought would happen at all this season.
No. 4: Big Ten Conference
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The Big Ten Conference endured several unexpected and embarrassing setbacks during non-conference play, but several of the league members have rebounded over the past couple of weeks and the Legends Division looks deeper than ever.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have re-established their ground attack behind four straight 100-yard rushing efforts by Mark Weisman and outlasted the Michigan State Spartans to improve to 4-2 on the year and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
The Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan Wolverines appear to be back on track offensively, which has put the rest of the Big Ten on notice after their early-season struggles.
Previously, unheralded running back Venric Mark has the Northwestern Wildcats off to a 6-1 start and right in the thick of the Legends Division race through Week 7, while the Minnesota Golden Gophers are the worst team in the division with a 4-2 record.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes continue to put up massive numbers on offense and have yet to lose in Urban Meyer's debut season in Columbus.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are performing much better than expected as well and are currently 4-2 in Bill O'Brien's first season with the team.
Even the Indiana Hoosiers are managing to put up points against the members of the Big Ten, which is an optimistic sign for Kevin Wilson in Bloomington.
The only bad team in the conference right now are the Illinois Fighting Illini, who have now lost their last five games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.
No. 3: Pac-12 Conference
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Things are going much better than expected for the Pac-12 Conference this season and much of the added hype surrounding the league right now is a result of the No. 8 Oregon State Beavers 5-0 record through Week 7.
The No. 3 Oregon Ducks are unbeaten as well, but have yet to be tested, and the No. 10 USC Trojans are back in the national-title hunt despite not having a marquee victory on their resume either.
The Arizona State Sun Devils improved to 5-1 on the year and are 3-0 in Pac-12 games, which has them alone in first place in the South Division.
The Washington Huskies appear to be improving every week under Steve Sarkisian, the No. 20 Stanford Cardinal are still a solid team despite their recent loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and the UCLA Bruins got themselves to 5-2 with a 21-14 victory over the Utah Utes.
Unfortunately, for the Pac-12, their early season successes as a conference have now been overshadowed by the struggling league members. The Colorado Buffaloes are 1-5, while the Utes and Washington State Cougars have just two wins thus far.
No. 2: Big 12 Conference
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The only reason the Big 12 Conference remained ahead of the Pac-12 Conference this week is because of the parity in the league and the fact that there is only one team struggling to pull its weight through the first seven weeks of the season.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders torched the West Virginia Mountaineer's defense to the tune of over 600 yards and Geno Smith's off-game led to a 49-14 romp in Lubbock, Texas over the weekend.
The Kansas State Wildcats are the last of the unbeaten teams in the Big 12 and the TCU Horned Frogs got to 5-1 on the year by topping the Baylor Bears in convincing fashion in their second game without star quarterback Casey Pachall.
The Oklahoma Sooners are on the rise again as well after dismantling the Texas Longhorns 63-21 at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, and the Kansas Jayhawks managed to give the Oklahoma State Cowboys a scare in Lawrence, Kan.
Things are just heating up for the Big 12 though as the Mountaineers will square off with the Kansas State and Texas Tech will face TCU in Week 8.
No. 1: Southeastern Conference
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For, yet another week, the Southeastern Conference reigns supreme among all of the conferences in college football.
The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide were dominant yet again in their 42-10 rout of the Missouri Tigers on Saturday and the No. 12 Mississippi State Bulldogs are still plugging along at 6-0 and keeping the pressure on Nick Saban's squad in the West Division.
The East Division is looking stronger than anyone could have predicted coming into the season. The undefeated No. 2 Florida Gators and No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks are both looking like BCS National Championship contenders through seven weeks.
The No. 6 LSU Tigers bounced back from their Week 6 loss to Florida, with a victory over the previously unbeaten Gamecocks, and the No. 18 Texas A&M Aggies are slowly making their way up the ranks of the SEC after five-straight victories.
Do not sleep on the Georgia Bulldogs either, who are hanging around with a 5-1 record and were idle for Week 7.
Even the Ole Miss Rebels boast a winning record through seven games, and the Tennessee Volunteers are 3-3 at the moment, but have the offense to hang with a lot of teams around the country.