2009-2010 College Football: Conference Rankings

Mark Jones@@CanesReportSenior Analyst IAugust 8, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Jonathan Dwyer #21 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets carries the ball during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 2009-2010 College Football season has begun to creep its way into the minds of many of us football fanatics, and it's about time for us all to put in our predictions...so here's my conference rankings, preseason edition.

The rankings are based on several statistics, which are accumulated from my full 120-team rankings (found here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/232349-2009-2010-college-football-rankings-full-120-team-rankings). The stat categories include: (one) average team rank, (two) number of teams in the top two tiers/top 28 spots, and (three) the highest team ranking from that conference.

1. Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Average Team Rank: 36.8

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 5

Highest Ranked Team: No. 1

The SEC is clearly the best conference in all of college football today. Boasting the best team in the nation (Florida), as well as two others cracking the top ten (Georgia and Ole Miss), no other conference even comes close to competing for the top spot.

2. Big 12

Average Team Rank: 41.0

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Teams in Top Two Tiers: 5

Highest Ranked Team: No. 2

If there's any conference that might be able to knock the SEC off the top spot, it's the Big 12.

Texas and Oklahoma, ranked number two and three in my rankings, are both major title contenders, and there's also Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech to deal with.

No matter where you look at it, the Big 12 is one of the most powerful conferences there are.

3. Pacific Ten (PAC-10)

Average Team Rank: 46.5

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 4

Highest Ranked Team: No. 5

This may surprise you, but in an up-year like this one, the Pac-10 is actually the third best conference out there. USC is always among the best, but Oregon, Cal, and Oregon State are also out there and winning games when they need to.

With a likely bounce-back year from UCLA and bowl berths from Arizona and Arizona State as well, the Pac-10 is definitely a legitimate BCS conference.

4. Big Ten

Average Team Rank: 47.6

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 4

Highest Ranked Team: No. 4

The Big Ten is a conference of two dynasties and nine mediocre colleges. Ohio State and Penn State dominate the leader board every year, and they appear poised to do so again.

However, two usually-mediocre teams may just make a name for themselves this year. Michigan State and Iowa both field balanced, talented teams that could score up eight or more wins as well.

5. Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

Average Team Rank: 49.8

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 2

Highest Ranked Team: No. 8

There is a significant drop from number four Big Ten to number five ACC. The ACC has several powerful franchises to its credit (Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State), but it could also have a bad year down in the lower areas of the standings. Boston College is in disarray, and Duke and Virginia are also likely candidates to not reach past four wins.

6. Big East

Average Team Rank: 50.0

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 2

Highest Ranked Team: No. 14

The Big East is the most likely conference to lose its BCS status anytime soon, but that isn't because of lack of talent. That's because of extreme balance.

Including far-out reaches, the Big East literally could have any seven of the eight total teams win the title, with the most likely being Pitt or West Virginia. It's only Syracuse that holds this conference down.

7. Mountain West

Average Team Rank: 64.2

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 3

Highest Ranked Team: No. 12

The Mountain West is trying hard to earn a BCS bid, but it's not making the choice very clear by falling a dreadful 14 average team ranking spots behind the Big East, which is one spot ahead of them.

However, the MWC is very top heavy, and posts more teams (three) in the top two tiers than either the ACC or Big East (two each). TCU, Utah, and BYU all have very good chances at both the Mountain West title and a BCS at-large bid. It's just the lower half of the standings that's holding this conference down.

8. Conference USA (C-USA)

Average Team Rank: 72.1

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 2

Highest Ranked Team: No. 22

The Conference USA usually isn't regarded as a big shot conference, but its upper half has begun to make a name for itself. East Carolina and Houston both crack the top two tiers in the preseason rankings, and Tulsa is also very close. Southern Miss and Central Florida also have their bright points, and from the top, it appears the C-USA could become a BCS conference by 2020.

However, the farther down you go, the more dreadful the lineup looks. The C-USA may boast some great offensive talent, but they are too top-heavy to go far.

9. Western Athletic Conference (WAC)

Average Team Rank: 84.0

Teams in Top Two Tiers: 1

Highest Ranked Team: No. 5

The WAC is really a bad conference, except for one point: Boise State. The Broncos are always among the Top 20 teams, and could reach a BCS bowl once more this season. But after that, it is over 60 spots in the rankings until you find the next WAC team.

10. Middle American Conference (MAC)

Average Team Rank: 91.8

Teams in Top Two Tiers: none

Highest Ranked Team: No. 35

The MAC is still a young conference struggling for recognition. However, it may have achieved that with up-and-coming Buffalo, Central Michigan, and Western Michigan. Those three teams are all seeded among middle-level BCS schools, and are beginning to pull the Middle American conference into national eyes.

However, the lower part of the standings requires improvement. Eight of the conferences twelve teams are in triple-digit rankings (100 or worse), and the lowest (Eastern Michigan) drops all the way to 115.

11. Sun Belt

Average Team Rank: 94.7

Teams in Top Two Tiers: none

Highest Ranked Team: No. 52

If there is any conference that could use a boost, it's the Sun Belt. Troy and Arkansas State are clearly the leaders, but you have to go all the way past fiftieth to even find them.

The Sun Belt also includes in their conference the two worst FBS teams there are, North Texas and newly-announced Western Kentucky. So, despite showing that they can hold their ground occasionally against lower-class BCS opponents, the Sun Belt still has a very long ways to go before it can compete with some of the bigger conferences.

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