Final NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Conference Strength Ranking

Final NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision Conference Strength Ranking

            One of the more popular annual arguments among college football fans is which conference is the strongest, toughest or best in the country. Our research shows that in 2011-12, the Big 12 (with only ten teams) is the best conference in the country by far. It is not even close.

            Even though the SEC has the two teams in the BCS National Championship game, the Big 12 has the top five toughest schedules of all FBS teams. Just as amazing is that all ten Big 12 teams have schedules in the top 21! THAT is a tough conference.

This is the only opening that we’ll give Oklahoma St for being LSU’s opponent in the national title game. OSU’s strength of schedule (SoS) is #4 vs. Alabama’s #39 SoS. It is OSU’s SoS that boosts its ability measure as high as it is, which places it #3 in the nation, about 1.50 units behind ‘Bama and nearly five units behind LSU. OSU’s loss to Iowa State is impossible to compare to Alabama’s loss to LSU. We’re advocates of pairing the two best teams no matter their conference affiliation. However, we’re also strong advocates of an eight- or 16-team playoff. Any team below that level would be soundly defeated in the first round, a la the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in March (a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed).

The BCS Conferences (marked with an * in the table below) are the top six conferences according to schedule strength (FBS Independents are not a conference).

So, the argument is settled for the 2011-12 season: Big 12 is the best football conference.

Conference Strength in Measure Order

Rank

Conference

No. of teams

Conference Strength

Standard Deviation

1

Big 12*

10

66.14

2.61

2

SEC*

12

61.70

2.04

3

Pac-12*

12

61.40

3.23

4

Big Ten*

12

59.04

2.70

5

ACC*

12

57.14

2.61

6

FBS Independents

4

56.68

5.55

7

Big East*

8

56.47

1.54

8

Conference USA

12

54.36

4.73

9

WAC

8

53.52

3.27

10

Mountain West

8

53.46

3.75

11

MAC

13

51.76

3.47

12

Sun Belt

9

51.23

3.59

Average Conference Strength

120

57.11

5.40

Our methodologies are scientifically objective, meaning that there is no bias or subjectivity in our data analysis. We use only game results data and a data analysis method without inherent assumptions. See SportsMeasures.com or Rasch.org to learn more about objective measurement methods.

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