Sunday, July 6, 2014

College Football Conference Power Rankings

It may seem out of place to start talking about college football in early July, I'll grant. But with the NBA and NHL playoffs in the books and what looks to be a profoundly depressing second half for the Red Sox, I find myself inexplicably drawn to that tab at the top of the ESPN home page. Yes, NCAAF is less than two months away! I'll be posting with more regularity as thing heat up, about specific teams and specific story lines, but for starters it seems fitting to give an overview of the conferences this year. I've ranked them below.

The PAC 12: Call me a homer, but I have gone and unseated the SEC as my top conference. This is probably because defense is harder to measure, and the SEC is a defensive conference, so at a cursory glance (mine) the PAC 12 just looks way sexier. Seriously though, the offensive hijinks coming to us from the west coast this year should be nothing short of spectacular, as we have come to expect. Marcus Mariota (I know!) is coming off a remarkable run at a Heisman for a freshman, and the Ducks offense looks to dazzle. They are also looking to unseat a Stanford team that has now repeated as PAC 12 champs. Oregon playing Stanford at home on November 1 is already a game to keep in mind. Other fascinating material from this conference to keep an eye on is a finally legit Oregon State team, a Lane Kiffin-less USC, and Washington and UCLA (with Brett Hundley returning), both teams that are finally coming into their own. Don't forget about Arizona State either. There's simply a lot of great football to be played here, after a conference record 9 teams qualified for bowls. That's a great conference, from top to bottom.
Marcus Mariota didn't go anywhere

The SEC: I'm a little turned off on the SEC this year. I can name five great quarterbacks who graduated last year. AJ McCarron from Alabama, Aaron Murray from Georgia, Zach Mettenberger from LSU, Conner Shaw from South Carolina, and of course Johnny Manziel from Texas A&M. An SEC without quarterbacks (Nick Marshall will probably be the best quarterback in the conference next year, which is frankly kinda lame) is like ordering Moose Tracks ice cream and finding out there's no reese's cups in there. (This actually happened to me once- no further comment) It can still be enjoyable of course, but there's something missing, and that something proves to be an essential element. A great athletic quarterback provides the sole source of unpredictability, and frankly makes a game fun to watch. Defense has always ruled in the SEC, but now that will be exaggerated to such an extent that I can already predict a solid 12-3 win for the Crimson Tide over LSU this year. (Just for the record, definitely not a prediction. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.) So honestly I can't think of a single game that I am already looking forward to. Of course the Iron Bowl will be timeless, Alabama-LSU, but in all honestly none of those excite me like several teams and games in the PAC 12 do. There you have it. A strong conference but not a fun one. Now I know you'll say I'm not ranking "fun to watch," I'm ranking strength of the teams, but I see the PAC 12 as simply better this year. I'm not saying there won't be the usual contingent of scary top ten SEC teams, but I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if we had a national champion from outside the SEC this year. In fact the opposite is true, (I would be surprised, for those of you following at home) so I do predict now that the coaches' trophy will remain out of the conference.
Nick Marshall may be good, but he shouldn't be the best in your conference. 

The Big 12: Now besides a beautiful victory by the Sooners over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl that rang resoundingly with a certain poetic justice, the Big 12 didn't fare all that well in bowls last season. An ugly loss by what was previously a very exciting Baylor team was disappointing to everyone but Blake Bortles and his girlfriend, as well as losses from Texas and Oklahoma State. But all those teams, as well as a Texas Tech team that was lots of fun last year, are teams to watch this season. This conference might be my favorite in terms of rivalries, (Red River, for starters) but it does lack that elite level team, the Oregon or Alabama, and that is a knock against it for sure. Keep an eye out for Bryce Petty as well, on sports center top 10s and Heisman watch lists. You heard it here first. Ok definitely not first, but he'll flirt with video game numbers this year, like that entire Bear offense always does.

The ACC: First, let me pause. Thank you, Jameis. You might behave questionably off the field. Then again, you might not, which I guess is sort of the point. But you gave us one of the most poignantly simultaneously quotable and not quotable moments in the history of sports. I myself have brought this up on many an occasion, from a pick up soccer game to an argument about the academic standards for collegiate athletes. "And I said, we strong? And he said, we strong if you strong. *pause* We strong."  Even that's iffy, but I am fairly sure we got the point. (The pause there is my favorite part.) Anyways of course the important point is that this conference took the coaches' trophy out of the SEC for the first time in seven years. I don't say this because I hate the SEC, but simply because it is worth noting and testifies to the strength of the conference. Depth is what's missing here, but Duke looked strong (sorry, I had to) out of nowhere, BC gave some teams some good tough games, and of course the perennially relevant Clemson Tigers and Miami are a big plus. Louisville sans Teddy Bridgewater will take a step back, but they are headed in the right direction, as is this entire conference. Also keep in mind that Notre Dame's non football teams have moved into the ACC officially now, and for many (not all) intents and purposes their football team has as well, so that'll be fun.

The Big 10: Here, I am a homer. A huge Notre Dame fan, I relish on some level dumping Michigan last on a list, even though I know it's not just Michigan and I know they're fifth on the list, and many other conferences would be happy to be here. Still. That was fun. I do have some legitimacy here though. The Big 10 had a losing bowl record for the fourth straight season, at 2-5, which is the worst for any automatic BCS qualifying conference by a good margin. This is a conference that is not doing well, and besides a Michigan State upset over Stanford in the Rose bowl, a good ground out 24-20 win what was fun to watch, there weren't many highlights for these guys last year. Ohio State will be a good team of course with Braxton Miller, and I'm not burying the conference as whole, (Michigan Ohio State will always be great, though they won't top last year's obscenities) but the level of play and the caliber of team has declined considerably. Here's hoping they ramp it back up, so that they can be mentioned in the same breath as the PAC 12 and the SEC, just like the good old days.

1 comment:

  1. This post is great.your article is important and helpful for football.This post give more new informative information for football.Thanks a lot for share your great post.