QUALK TALK BLOG: Comparing Conferences

QUALK TALK BLOG: Comparing Conferences

Qualk Talk

QUALK TALK BLOG: Comparing Conferences


Much is made each and every season about who has the toughest conference. Everyone has certain criteria by which strength is determined. The number of ways the conferences can be measured is enormous.

Quality of players. NFL talent. Coaching acumen. Strength of the top of the league. Strength of the middle of the league. Strength of the bottom of the league. National title contenders. Head-to-head matchups.

The list goes on and on and on. Honestly, anybody can make any conference sound weak or strong using a certain formula. It’s a key part of what makes America (and realignment) great.

With that being said, I have come up with my own theory that can help compare the major conferences within the category of “unexpected wins and losses”. It is just another way to show, at least relatively speaking, how the leagues around the country stack up with each other.

One of the allures to Clemson’s win over Georgia to start the season was that the Tigers were a slight underdog in the contest. Ditto for Miami’s victory over Florida. Handicappers set the tone for certain matchups by telling everyone from avid gamblers to casual fans who “should” win a game and by how many points.

I find this to be an intriguing measuring stick by which to gauge relative strength of leagues across the country. If teams within a league win games they shouldn’t, one could argue that conference may be deeper and stronger than we previously thought. Similarly, if teams within a league start to drop games to inferior competition, one could argue against the perceived strength of that conference.

Since we are three weeks into action, the sample size is decent to conduct this kind of study, so I took the results from each team in the BCS conferences and compared them with the listed betting lines at kickoff at VegasInsider.com. Keep in mind that this does not consider record against the spread, only if a team won or lost when the betting line said it should have won or lost.

The games are broken down into underdog wins and favorite losses for each conference. The number of favorite losses is subtracted from the number of underdog wins to get the final total for each conference. The tiebreaker is the aggregate spread of each league, taking into account both categories. Also, only non-conference games are considered within this table.

(If you’re totally confused, don’t worry. The chart is fairly simple to navigate and understand.)

Here is a breakdown of the BCS conferences through Week 3 of the season:






UCF +4.5 @ Penn St

Cincinnati -8.5 vs Illinois

Uconn -16.5 vs Towson

USF -20.5 vs McNeese St

USF -12.5 vs FAU

Temple -20.5 vs Fordham




Clemson +2.5 vs Georgia

Miami (FL) +3 vs Florida

Virginia +3 vs BYU

Wake Forest -1.5 vs UL Monroe



Big 12


Iowa St -9.5 vs Northern Iowa

Kansas St -12.5 vs NDSU

Texas -7.5 vs BYU

Texas -2 vs Ole Miss



Big Ten

Illinois +8.5 vs Cincinnati

Indiana -12.5 vs Navy

Iowa -2.5 vs Northern Illinois

Penn St -4.5 vs UCF



Pac 12

Colorado +3 @ Colorado St

Oregon St -26 vs Eastern Wash




Ole Miss +2 @ Texas

Florida -3 @ Miami (FL)

Georgia -2.5 @ Clemson

Kentucky -4.5 @ Western KY



I’m sure many of you are asking this question: What exactly does this mean?

Simply put, this is not a table that directly proves which conference is better, more talented, more difficult, etc. It simply shows how each conference’s teams are performing relative to expectations.

For example, the ACC has had three underdog wins this season and only one favorite loss. This tells me that teams are winning games they are supposed to win and picking up a couple of extras along the way.

A league like the AAC, however, has suffered from a string of horrid defeats. This is reflected in the number of losses earned by teams with large spreads. I would question the quality of the teams in this league and the quality of competition they face, given these statistics.

The Pac-12 only had two games on this list at all. This could speak to the conference only scheduling three non-league opponents, which is less than the rest of the nation. However, it could also mean that our expectations for performance in the Pac 12—at least against the rest of the country—have been mostly met thus far.

This does not mean the ACC is the best conference. It does not mean that the AAC is the worst conference. (HINT: It is.) But what it does tell us is that many leagues across the country have been more disappointing than surprising this season, with the exception of the ACC.

I will continue to keep up with these stats and update them periodically here on the blog. Thanks for your patience—I know this was a long one.

God Bless!




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