Week 12 College Football Conference Power Rankings
Want another angle to gauge the effects of a wild and wacky Week 11 in college football?
Well, how about assessing the impact the results have on the balance of power among the 11 conferences that combine to form the FBS?
Since we already know how the outcomes of Week 11 have played out in terms of conference standings, BCS rankings, polls and postseason projections, why not take a look at how they shook up the 2012 season in terms of league dominance?
The following slideshow does just that by delicately power ranking the 11 FBS conferences through 11 weeks of play that ended in the wee hours of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Though it’s true that this presentation isn’t anywhere remotely near being a fitting tribute to Veterans, the mere mention of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month should remind us all to wholeheartedly honor those who have defended our freedoms with their very lives.
Lest we ever forget.
11. Conference USA
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I think it’s safe to say, Conference USA is having a rough go of it in 2012.
Though you’d expect to see the Sun Belt or WAC at the bottom of any FBS conference power rankings, C-USA earns the dubious honors through 11 weeks of play by virtue of some dismal stats.
This is a league with only 25 percent of its members currently surviving with records above .500 (UCF, East Carolina and Tulsa) and it is the home of the only winless FBS team (Southern Miss at 0-10).
This makes the fact that the current AP and BCS rankings are both devoid of any C-USA members seem logical, but in terms of even getting close to the rankings, our lowest ranked league only has two teams that even garnered a vote in this week’s AP.
The winners are UCF, a team that at 8-2 received 16 votes in this weeks’ AP voting, and then Tulsa, which earned four votes for its 8-2 mark.
10. Sun Belt
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Really, there should be a fair amount of ballyhoo for the Sun Belt conference and its No. 10 power ranking.
If you’re wondering how the Sun Belt jumped C-USA to avoid being the lowest ranked league, how about the fact that it currently has half its membership playing above the .500 level?
And that’s a mark that is better than not only C-USA but it beats the number of above .500 squads pumped out by the MAC, the Mountain West, the Big East and the ACC.
The member teams responsible for this statistical tour de force are Arkansas State (7-3), Middle Tennessee (6-3), Louisiana-Monroe (6-4), Louisiana-Lafayette (5-4) and Western Kentucky (6-4).
Not bad, especially considering the fact that no members of the Sun Belt are currently ranked or receiving votes.
9. Mountain West
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Unfortunately, the Mountain West’s fortunes have gone the same direction of its most prominent member, Boise State. And that direction is decidedly south.
Yes, the very young Broncos have two losses in 2012 and so the team that is usually ranked is currently out of the rankings.
Through 11 weeks of play the Mountain West has a power ranking resume that consists of only two major components; first it has 40 percent of its membership playing above .500 and then it has three teams receiving AP votes.
Mountain West teams with winning marks are San Diego State (8-3), Fresno State (8-3), Boise State (8-2) and Nevada (6-4).
In terms of vote-getters, Boise State received 15 votes in the latest AP poll, while Fresno State garnered four and San Diego State managed three.
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In as much as Conference USA has had a very unproductive 2012, the MAC has managed to be a stunning success.
Indeed, if you consider the ramifications of the Mid-American Conference being power ranked above C-USA and the Mountain West, it’s a substantial statement that underscores what has been an unusual season in college football.
The MAC not only has almost half of its 13 member teams playing above .500, it also has a team currently ranked in the AP Top 25.
The honor roll through 11 weeks of play is stunning; Kent State (9-1), Northern Illinois (9-1), Toledo (8-2), Ohio (8-2), Bowling Green (7-3) and Ball State (7-3) all have winning records and Kent State is No. 25 in the latest AP.
Beyond that you’ve got the fact that Northern Illinois received 77 votes in this week’s AP poll (technically making them No. 27) and Toledo garnered marginal honors with one vote.
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Another bottom-dweller climbing upward on the ladder, the shrunken down WAC is enjoying a banner 2012 season.
And this is a party bus that is driven by more than just Louisiana Tech’s No. 19 AP ranking.
Yes, the Bulldogs are definitely the centerpiece on the WAC’s winning table but don’t forget that 57 percent of the league’s teams currently have winning records (tied for No. 2 among all conferences) and that two other members are receiving AP love.
Beyond La Tech’s 9-1 mark, Utah State is 8-2, San Jose State is 8-2 and then UTSA is 6-4, meaning, ultimately, that the WAC only has three members with losing records out of seven total.
If that wasn’t all enough, let’s light a candle in remembrance of Sonny Dykes' Bulldogs who are currently the only non-AQ team ranked in the exclusive BCS sweepstakes (they are No. 20 in the latest release).
6. Big East
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Representing the bottom of the barrel in terms of AQ leagues, again, is the Big East.
But this is a brazen statement that needs to be quantified by pointing out that the surging and smaller East is only a half-step behind the disappointing ACC.
This year’s edition of the Big East currently has two members in both the AP and BCS standings (Louisville and Rutgers) and currently has over a third percent of its members playing over .500.
Winners include Rutgers (8-1, BCS No. 22, AP No. 22), Louisville (9-1, BCS No. 19, AP No. 20) and Cincinnati (7-2), with the Bearcats receiving six votes in the latest AP sweepstakes.
It’s interesting to note if now-one-loss Louisville hadn’t lost to Syracuse this past Saturday, a solid argument could be made that the Big East would be at least even with the ACC in these power rankings.
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What hurt’s the ACC’s bid to move up further in the 2012 conference power rankings is the fact that only 41 percent of its members have winning records
Add in the fact that other than its two ranked teams (Florida State and Clemson) no other ACC squad is even receiving votes in the AP polling and the picture becomes even clearer (and uglier).
This means that other than Florida State (9-1, BCS No. 10, AP No. 10) and Clemson (9-1, BCS No. 11, AP No. 11) no other ACC teams are even marginally relevant on the current national landscape.
The ACC’s only winning teams (beyond the two already mentioned) are NC State, Duke and North Carolina, all at 6-4.
4. Big Ten
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Really, the Big Ten’s showing in 2012 is every bit as disappointing as the ACC’s, and this is true despite the fact that Ohio State and Penn State are completely out of the BCS picture due to NCAA sanctions.
What’s disturbing for the Big Ten is its seemingly continual decline from a national standpoint. Yes, perennial leader Ohio State is not much help this season (even at 10-0 and ranked No. 6 in the latest AP), but when will another member rise up and represent the Big Ten nationally?
The Big Ten currently has three teams in the AP (Ohio State, Nebraska at No. 16 and Michigan at No. 23) and only two in the BCS standings—the Cornhuskers (14) and the Wolverines (21).
This means that while the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC all have over 40 percent of its membership ranked in the AP and BCS, the Big Ten has 25 percent of its field in the AP and a paltry 16 percent represented in the BCS.
The good news (from a purely relative perspective) is that 58 percent of Big Ten members have a winning record (only Iowa, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue and Illinois are playing below the .500 plateau) and that two other associated squads are at least in the AP picture.
As of this week’s rankings, Wisconsin received 26 AP votes (technically a No. 29 ranking) and Northwestern managed two votes.
3. Big 12
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The ten-member Big 12 currently touts four teams in the AP and five in the BCS standings.
The honor roll includes Kansas State (10-0, BCS No. 1, AP No. 2), Oklahoma (7-2, BCS No. 12, AP No. 13), Texas (8-2, BCS No. 15, AP No. 18), Texas Tech (7-3, BCS No. 23, AP No. 23) and Oklahoma State (6-3, BCS No. 24, not ranked in the AP).
This means that the Big 12 has a whopping 50 percent of its membership in the BCS standings (tied for No. 1 nationally with the Pac-12) and 40 percent in the AP rankings.
What might be the most impressive stat regarding the Big 12 in 2012 is the fact that 70 percent of the league currently holds a winning record—far and away the highest percentage among FBS conferences.
The only sub .500 teams thus far are Iowa State (5-5), Baylor (4-5) and Kansas (1-9).
Holding the Big 12 back in terms of reaching the top two of our power rankings is the fact that on average its ranked teams are collectively ranked lower than the teams from the Pac-12 and SEC.
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The league providing the biggest dose of straight-up competition to the SEC for dominance in 2012 is the Pac-12, which currently owns rights to five AP and six BCS ranked teams.
Receiving honors for the West Coast alliance are Oregon (10-1, BCS No. 2, AP No. 1), Stanford (8-2, BCS No. 13, AP No. 14), Oregon State (7-2, BCS No. 16, AP No. 15), UCLA (8-2, BCS No. 17, AP No. 17), USC (7-3, BCS No. 18, AP No. 21) and Washington (6-4, BCS No. 25, not ranked in the AP).
Furthering the Pac-12’s case in terms of power ranking brute force is the fact that 58.33 of its members are playing over .500; only Arizona State (5-5), Utah (4-6), Cal (3-8), Washington State (2-8) and Colorado (1-9) don’t have winning records.
What hurts the Pac-12 in its bid to topple the SEC from its long-standing place atop the nation is the fact that where the West Coasters hold an average ranking in the polls in the neighborhood of No. 14, the Southern coalition averages a lofty No. 6.
Simply put, the Pac-12 has a bottle neck of teams ranked in the No. 16 range while the SEC is overrepresented in the No. 4 through No. 9 zone.
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Despite Alabama’s shocking fall from No. 1 in Week 11, the SEC is still the most dominant league in the FBS. And, as is the case for every conference, the proof is in the numbers.
The SEC currently has six teams ranked in the AP, six in the BCS, 57.14 of its member teams have winning records, and 42.85 percent of the league is ranked.
Perhaps most impressive is the fact that six of the current BCS Top 10 are SEC members, meaning that this is not only the league with the most ranked teams but they are also ranked the highest. The lowest ranked SEC member is South Carolina, a team which is a lowly No. 9 in the BCS and an equally damning No. 12 in the AP.
The only teams that don’t hold a winning record are Missouri (5-5), Ole Miss (5-5), Tennessee (4-6), Arkansas (4-6), Auburn (2-8) and Kentucky (1-9).
Even if Alabama’s devastating loss to Texas A&M ultimately compromises the league's bid for yet another BCS national championship, the SEC still pumps out more top-ranked teams than does any other conference in major college football.