Ranking the 8 College Football Teams That Have Benefited Most from Realignment
Conference realignment is the current phase sweeping college football.
Ahead is a list of which teams have benefited most from the movement that has taken college football by storm. This not only includes teams that have moved to new conferences, but also the beneficiaries of seeing some of their stiffest competition depart for greener pastures.
This list could change very soon if conferences continue assimilating teams into the fold, but for the time being, these are the eight teams that are enjoying it the most.
8. Utah State Aggies
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
The WAC is currently led by none other than your Utah State Aggies.
Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada have all made the jump to the Mountain West in the past two seasons, leaving the Aggies to duke it out with Louisiana Tech for control of the conference.
But not only is the toughest competition gone, the new guys are not that great.
Texas State and UTSA, both new to the FBS and the conference, are a combined 2-5 in conference play.
7. Kansas State Wildcats
There were some rumblings about Kansas State after it knocked off Oklahoma and then followed that up with beatings of Kansas and Iowa State. But things really kicked into high gear after the Wildcats knocked off Geno Smith and new Big 12 opponent West Virginia.
Not only did they beat the No. 13 Mountaineers, they absolutely crushed them, 55-14.
The way the defense shut down the explosive WVU offense and the way Collin Klein scored a ridiculous amount of touchdowns pushed this team into the heat of the conversation about who will appear in the BCS title game.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska and head coach Bo Pelini have now been part of the Big Ten for two seasons.
The 'Huskers are rolling right along this season, sitting atop the conference's Legends Division heading into the home stretch of the season.
Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and their teammates have the inside track, having already beaten the other top teams in the division, Michigan and Michigan State.
Yes, transition has been good to the Huskers, and it will continue to be so right up to the Rose Bowl.
5. UCLA Bruins
Guess who leads the Pac-12 South?
Yep, the Bruins.
And this season, unlike last year, it's legit.
The Bruins have already beaten both Utah and Colorado this season, the two most recent additions to the Pac-12.
Johnathan Franklin, though not in Heisman conversations anymore, has been solid, averaging over 6.5 yards per carry and amassing over 1,200 yards.
The Bruins still have to face USC at the end of the year in a battle that could decide the conference crown, but for the time being, the Bruins have the upper hand, thanks in part to the new members of the conference.
4. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
This is again an example of a team benefiting from conference realignment in two ways.
The Bulldogs, who are undefeated in the WAC, still sit without a loss atop the conference, and they don't have to deal with Fresno State, Nevada or Boise State.
Those three teams have accounted for 10 of the last 13 WAC titles.
On top of that, the Bulldogs hammered newcomer UTSA, 51-27, and they still get to face Texas State in conference play.
That's two cupcakes entering the conference for the current "big dogs" to blow out.
Actually, are there "big dogs" in the WAC?
3. Louisville Cardinals
Louisville finished near the top of the Big East in 2011, tied in the conference with West Virginia and Cincinnati.
The Cardinals' path to the conference title got a little easier this season, as the Mountaineers made the transition to the Big 12.
Without Dana Holgorsen's squad challenging them, the Cardinals are the Big East conference leader, a perfect 4-0 (tied with Rutgers), with an overall record of 9-0.
There is a very real possibility that the Cardinals, led by Teddy Bridgewater, could finish the season undefeated.
Thank you for leaving, WVU.
2. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Yep, another Big East team. Having the best team in the conference leave for the Big 12 will do that.
West Virginia left for the Big 12, and Rutgers and Louisville have since seized the opportunity to take over control of the conference.
The Scarlet Knights have only one loss on the season and are still undefeated in the Big East.
Their success this season has been due to a strong defense that's allowing only 306 total yards of offense per game.
Oh yeah, and coach Kyle Flood, who has done a phenomenal job of getting the most out of his players and planning for every opponent.
1. Fresno State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs made the jump to the Mountain West from the WAC this season.
So far, so good.
The stellar play of quarterback Derek Carr and running back Robbie Rouse has helped lead this team to the top of a conference that also features Boise State and Nevada.
The Bulldogs are currently in a tie with Air Force, Boise State and San Diego State atop the conference standings, and they have a legitimate shot at finishing the season as conference champs.
The conference may not be as strong as in recent seasons, with Boise State already faltering twice and TCU gone, but to see the Bulldogs atop the standings, albeit in a tie, is somewhat surprising. Conference relocation has surely worked to their benefit.