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College Football – If You Thought SEC Was the Toughest NCAA Conference, Think Again
There’s so much buzz and hype around the Southeastern Conference — better known as the SEC — that you’d think there weren’t any other NCAA football conferences out there. can compare.
Even Jeff Sagarin in his Sagarin Ratings lists the SEC as the best conference with a central average (i.e. Sagarin’s math talk) of 79.89 with the Pacific 10 better known as the Pac 10 seconds to 79.19. On a scale of 100, the difference is 70/100ths of 1, or close enough not to make a difference in my mind.
Ranked 11th among Division 1A conferences is Conference USA at 58.88. Three 1AA conferences are then rated above the last 1A conference – the Sun Belt – at 58.26.
Sagarin evaluates all 242 individual 1A and 1AA teams, then combines them between conferences to arrive at these numbers.
I read other factors in his mathematical formula to decide which conference is the most difficult (best) conference.
Knowing that the SEC is legion for scheduling Division 1AA teams in its non-conference schedule, I suspect that the strength of the SEC schedule (the quality of its opponents) may not be as strong. Turns out I’m right.
The “tough” SEC has faced exactly 10 Division 1AA opponents this season, more than any other conference in the country. By comparison, the Big 12 played 10 games, the ACC and Big Ten played 7 games, the Big East 6 and the Pac 10 only 2.
When I add up the schedule strength for all 12 SEC teams, I get an average of 30 versus an average schedule strength of 14 for the Pac 10. Who plays the tougher schedule between the top two dogs ? It’s easily the Pac 10.
If you’re wondering, the team that played the toughest schedule in the first 12 weeks of the 2007 college football season is the Washington Huskies, and that’s why they’re ranked #1 out of 242 schools. of division 1A and 1AA.
For the record, Nebraska is No. 2, Stanford No. 3, California No. 4 and Colorado No. 5, so 3 of the 5 teams in the Top 5 in calendar strength are from the Pac 10.
Please don’t give me that garbage on the SEC playing the toughest schedule. Facts and statistics say otherwise.
Another interesting fact to note is this: since the NCAA established the separation of Divisions 1A and 1AA in 1978, only 5 Division 1A schools have not played against a Division 1AA school: Washington, California du South, UCLA, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Again 3 of the 5 teams come from the Pac 10.
The SEC already has 7 of its 12 teams with 7 or more wins and an NCCA-eligible bowl, and now you know one of the reasons why.
It’s the same reason Hawaii is undefeated at 10-0, having beaten two 1AA schools to add to its impressive winning record while racking up the 153rd toughest schedule against the other 119 schools in Division 1A.
Sometimes an 1AA school can beat an 1A school (like Appalachia State beating Michigan at home 34-32), not because they’re necessarily better, but because the 1A school didn’t take them in. serious.
Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley
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