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Toughest College Football Conference For 2017

August 14, 2017 | Posted By Freddy Wills

Image result for power 5 conference footballLast year I spoke about this and claimed ACC to be the best of the Power 5 and the Big Ten to be trending backward at least for one year based on experience.  I used that all year to back ACC teams and Clemson on the way to a National Championship.  This strategy won me a lot of big games last season, but lets take a look at how the ACC did against each Power 5 conference in detail:

  • vs. Big Ten – 6-2, 5-3 ATS (including 3-1 in bowl games)
  • vs. Big 12 – 1-1 SU & ATS
  • vs. Pac 12 – 0-2, but 2-0 ATS (Stanford by 2 over UNC, and Oregon over Virginia)
  • vs. SEC – 10-4 , 9-5 ATS

Overall the ACC went 17-9 straight up and ATS against the POWER 5 Conferences.

Last year I leaned on quality of coaches and the fact that the ACC had the most experienced conference from a lettermen perspective.  Obviously there is not an exact science for picking the toughest conference and honestly it’s not something I’m really passionate about getting into.  I lean on Phil Steele and if you don’t have his magazine you should.  On page 33 of the bible he goes into depth about returning starters and associates points for all conference players returning or lost.  For instance 10 pts to a 1st time all conference player 7 to a 2nd etc. Either way it’s a quick way of looking at each conference to find out where they stand.

SEC – Only two teams with a positive ranking and a top 35 ranking (Arkansas And Auburn)  The conference as a hole is -215 points.  Now obviously the SEC typically has more talent and they also reload with more talent which is why we can’t only look at this.

Big Ten – Only three teams are not negative – Penn State +32 points, Minnesota +4, and Rutgers at 0.  Overall the conference comes in at -222 points very close to the SEC and no distinct advantage.

PAC 12 – Has 5 teams in the positive (Washington, Washington St, Oregon, Oregon State, and Arizona) Overall they are -146 points.  Looking at this there seems to be an obvious value in PAC 12 teams this year due to what they have coming back.

ACC – Again very strong conference with 8 teams in the positive and in the top 50 for points meaning a lot of all conference caliber players are returning including last years Heisman Trophy winner. The ACC will be a force again in 2017 with a total of -102 points.  Clemson comes in at -63 points, but they are reloaded with talent.

Big 12 – Arguably the top conference to be talking about here with 7 of the 10 teams in the positive and the top 40.  This is a conference I have faded in the past, but have to take strong looks at in 2017, and you know there will be value.  Overall they are +36 points

Overall from a net talent leaving talent adding the Big 12 is ahead of the curve from experience.  This does not factor in recruiting obviously and the players they are adding.

Let’s take a look at the top 25 recruit rankings by conference according to Sbnation

  • SEC – 10 teams in the top 25 recruiting rankings
  • Big 10 – 5 teams in the top 25
  • PAC 12 – 5 teams in the top 25
  • ACC – 3 teams in the top 25
  • BIG 12 – 1 team (Oklahoma)
  • 1 independent – Notre Dame

My feeling is the Big 12 has moved up and so has the PAC 12, but the SEC is king again this year based on their recruiting.  Followed by the ACC, Big 12, Big 10, and PAC 12.

Interesting match ups in September: 

California (PAC 12) vs. North Carolina (ACC) – Tar Heels are favored by 10.5-11 points, but were -39 in points factor while California is only -6.  Cal comes in ranking #73 in this year’s recruiting class while North Carolina is #30.

Michigan (Big Ten) vs. Florida (SEC) – Florida is a dog.  I’ve already spoken about this one and it’s just a matter a time before I pull the trigger on Florida.  Waiting on my algorithms to give me a go ahead.  They are a 2.5-3pt dog and I think they win this game outright.  Florida has been steadily moving up the recruiting rankings and Michigan has just 5 returning starters.  Week 1 is the best time to face a team inexperienced like Michigan who was -114 points in talent lost compared to Florida -23.

Louisville (ACC) vs. Purdue (Big Ten)  This spread is a bit outrageous in my opinion at 26.5 points and I would lean towards Purdue, but PUrdue is breaking in a new coaching staff and was -7 pts compared to Louisville +12 points.

Florida State (ACC) vs. Alabama (SEC) Florida State a 7 point dog is getting a lot of pre-season hype.  It’s hard to go against Nick Saban off a loss and with an off season to prepare.  Florida State -37 points compared.  I would love to take Florida State in this one if it were week 3, but I just can’t do it and will probably be sitting this one out.

Texas A&M (SEC) vs. UCLA (PAC 12) UCLA is a 3 point favorite, and I really wish they were a dog.  Two head coaches that are on the hot seat here, and I think this game is a toss up so I’d lean with the dog.  A&M was -34 points on the list and UCLA also -34 points, but UCLA has the better QB in Josh Rosen and A&M is #10 in recruiting class vs. UCLA at #21.  The game is being played at the Rose Bowl and is a repeat of last year’s game in Texas where UCLA lost 31-24.  UCLA out gained A&M 468-442, but Rosen had 3 interceptions.

West Virginia (BIG 12) vs. Virginia Tech (ACC)  The Mountaineers are a 4.5 point dog and this might be our first opportunity to take a Big 12 team over an ACC opponent.  I really like the coaching staff at Virginia Tech that got them to the ACC Championship game last year so I will have to take a closer look, but Tech is +1 in our points compared to West Virginia -45 points. Tech also has the better recruiting class 26 compared to 54.

Tennessee (SEC) vs. Georgia Tech (ACC) – Tech is a 3.5 point under dog and both teams lose experienced QB’s who had a lot of starts.  Georgia Tech is -4 in points while Tennessee is -19, but has an advantage in recruiting 15 to 42. Georgia Tech typically a hard opponent to prepare for with the triple option, but Tennessee has had all off season to prepare for it.  I would lean Tech otherwise, but it’s worth a closer look before this game is played.


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