Everyone likes to talk about the SEC being the best conference in college football. They probably are. But we always argue over who has more elite teams, whose champion is better than who, etc. We ignore the guys at the bottom. No more.
Let’s look at the BOTTOM FOUR teams in each conference and hypothetically pit them against each other. I’ll order them from worst to least worst. Only looking at Big 5 here.
North Carolina State
All right, so in the battle of worsts, you have Wake Forest, Kansas, Purdue, Colorado and Vanderbilt. Purdue has won the most games so give them the edge. Next matchups we have Syracuse, Iowa State, Indiana, Washington State and Tennessee. I’ll give the edge to Washington State for being the only one among the bunch with a win over a ranked team. Next matchup is North Carolina State, Texas Tech, Michigan, Oregon State and Florida. Wow, what a sorry bunch. I guess give it to Oregon State for being the only team with a winning record. Finally we have Arkansas, Cal, Illinois, Texas and Virginia Tech. The Hokies have the most impressive win but also the worst losses. In all likelihood Arkansas would roll past the other four without any trouble.
So what does this show us? Not much. But when considering conference strength, it’s important to keep in mind that there are more teams in the conference than just the good ones. The elite teams practically get a week off with some of these guys. So while playing Mississippi State one week is really, really tough, following it up with Tennessee isn’t that bad. But if you play Stanford and USC in consecutive weeks, even though neither team is ranked, that’s going to be a harder two game stretch because you don’t get the cupcake.
Is the SEC really the best conference then? You have Arkansas, Texas A&M and the whole east division (minus Georgia) that says they might not be. But see, each conference has their bad teams. Remember how the knock against Boise State was that they only had to get up for 2 or 3 big games each season and then could sleepwalk the rest? You could make the argument that a schedule like Alabama’s has you get up for 5 big games and then take 7 weeks off. Not so tough after all.