Conference Report Cards: Week One
Week One is almost doneexcept for an Ole Miss game today against an overmatched opponent and a couple of intra-conference tussles in the ACC (Miami-FSU) and Big East (Rutgers-Cincinatti) Labor Day.
Conference strength is always a hot topic, especially among the traditional "Big Six" conferences (i.e. automatic BCS qualifiers).
Now is a great time to see how the conferences acquitted themselves.
The following is a report card of each conference's performance in Week One (only inter-conference games are considered in reaching each conference's grade).
Winning all OOC games would earn a conference an "A." I will award a bonus of half a letter grade for each "big win" (i.e. win over a quality OOC opponent), and deduct half a letter grade for each OOC loss—except conferences will be penalized an entire letter grade for an inexplicable OOC loss.
I will also make some adjustments for close games that should have been won more easily. There is a subjective element in doing so, but I have to go by what I saw more than just wins and losses.
I note that my scoring system will result in easy A's for any conference that schedules easily, but be mindful that my system does punish inexplicable losses and rewards respectable wins. As Misthaufen may note, it is a subjective system with logical parameters and objectively verifiable results.
ACC - Grade F (Overall OCC record 4-6)
Ten of the ACC's 12 teams played OOC games, with six of them losing.
Some of those losses were expected (or at least explainable, given the quality of the opponent), and some were not.
Big wins: none.
Inexplicable losses: two.
Maryland losing to Cal was not bad, but the margin of victory was. Virginia Tech losing to Alabama was expected by many, but the fact that 'Bama outgained VT by a 3 to 1 margin in total yards, was not.
Duke and Virginia suffered inexplicable losses at the hands of Richmond and William and Mary, respectively. Add in the other four losses, and the ACC failed as a whole.
Big 10 - Grade B (Overall OCC record 10-1)
Every Big 10 team played an OOC game, with the conference finishing 10-1.
Minnesota needed overtime to beat a bad Syracuse team with a basketball player at QB, and Ohio State needed a "pick two" on a two-point conversion to beat a decent Navy team.
Even if I were inclined to consider Navy a quality OOC opponent, I am not giving OSU the extra half a letter grade for its win because the Buckeyes underperformed.
I am, however, deducting a full letter grade for Illinois's inexplicable loss to a rebuilding Missouri. The margin of victory for Mizzou, and the fact that the Illini are considered a Big 10 title contender, merits the full grade deduction.
The rest of the conference took care of business against weak opponents.
Big 12 - Grade A+ (Overall OOC record 10-1, assumed 11-1)
Colorado has not yet played but, assuming they win, this grade remains the same.
If they lose, deduct an entire letter grade.
Baylor, Mizzou, and Oklahoma State all had quality OOC wins, which adds a letter grade and a half to the score.
This increase has to be offset somewhat by OU's inexplicable loss to BYU.
Granted, BYU is no cupcake and Sam Bradford went down with an injury, but OU had a talent advantage at every position, and was not doing that well even with Bradford behind center.
Three half grade bumps minus a full grade deduction results in an A+ grade for the Big 12.
Big East - Grade A (Overall OOC record 5-1)
The Big East's only OOC stumble was Syracuse's overtime loss to Minnesota.
I cannot deduct points for this loss because the Orange were an underdog, and played the Gophers close.
The rest of the conference took care of business against a cupcake schedule, and earns an A on my grading scale.
Pac-10 - Grade B+ (Overall OOC record 6-2)
The Pac-10 had eight of its teams play OOC opponents, with six winning easily and one losing respectably to a good SEC team.
The other loss was to a quality non-AQ opponent (Boise State), but it was still inexplicable for so many reasons.
Oregon's loss to BSU was embarassing to the Ducks, the Pac-10 and college football.
For the "third best team in the Pac-10," the Ducks were appallingly unprepared (their offense alone lost the first half 2-0).
BSU had some first-game jitters too (missing several scoring opportunities early), but Oregon looked like they could have been beat by the other team from Idaho, the Vandals.
As bad as the loss was, LeGarrett Blount's post-game tirade was worse.
Chip Kelly's first good coaching move of 2009 was to suspend Blount for the season.
The Pac 10 gets a half a grade-point for Cal's win over Maryland, but loses an entire point for the Duck's headfirst dive into the smurf turf.
SEC - Grade A+ (Overall OOC record 10-1, assumed 11-1)
Seven SEC teams routed much lesser opponents, which is nothing more than par for the course.
Ole Miss hasn't played yet, and the four other teams played decent or good opponents.
Alabama exerted its dominance over VT and South Carolina shut down NC State. Each of these wins adds half a point to the SEC's score, but I am also deducting half a point for Georgia's loss to OKlahoma State.
I am tempted to deduct a half point for LSU's mere eight-point win over Washington, but Pac-10 fans tell me that the Huskies are a good team with Jake Locker healthy, and I saw the TV camera was shaking from the noise in that stadium.
LSU won in a tough environment against what looked like a bowl team (if Locker is healthy), so no points are deducted.
Unless Ole Miss loses today (Sunday), the SEC finishes Week One with an A+.
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