BCS busters: WAC, MAC fared better than ACC
More crazy number-crunching as we look back on college football's regular season: Which of the non-BCS automatic qualifier leagues fared best in games against BCS-league competition?
As was the case in evaluating the BCS leagues against each other, there's a wide disparity in the number of games against BCS-league teams: the MAC loves those paychecks and played 29 such games, while the WAC played just 10. First, we'll address the five non-BCS leagues as a whole -- they went 18-80 against BCS competition, which works out to winning 18.4 percent of the time.
What's most impressive, from a winning percentage standpoint, is that both the WAC (3-7, .300) and MAC (8-21, .276) fared better in nonconference games against BCS-league teams than the ACC did in going 6-17 for a .260 winning percentage. Here are the five leagues and how they fared:
WAC (3-7): Technically ahead of the MAC in winning percentage, but there's no haymakers here -- Utah State knocked off Utah, and Louisiana Tech beat Illinois and Virginia. Utah went 5-7, Virginia 4-8, Illinois 2-10, so the best result here is probably Louisiana Tech nearly knocking off Texas A&M in a 59-57 shootout. San Jose State opened the year with a 20-17 loss to Stanford that's also worth mentioning.
MAC (8-21): Eight wins against BCS-league opponents is commendable, especially because seven different MAC teams pulled it off. Ball State did it twice, albeit against Indiana and USF. The best wins are Ohio opening the year with a win at Penn State, Kent State beating Rutgers and Toledo beating Cincinnati; those helped the MAC have a big presence at the bottom of the national top 25. MAC teams went 4-4 against the Big East this season, which is the same record the ACC had against the Big East.
Mountain West (3-11): This used to be the best outsider league against BCS competition. It's an unimpressive three wins -- Nevada won at California, and Fresno and Colorado State beat Colorado. Cal went 3-9 and Colorado went 1-11. Boise only had one shot this year and fell short at Michigan State, where the Spartans went 2-5 at home.
Sun Belt (3-18): Louisiana-Monroe's win at Arkansas drew big headlines in Week 2, before we knew that Arkansas would go 4-8. Middle Tennessee's dominating 49-28 win at Georgia Tech might be the most impressive now -- Western Kentucky's win against Kentucky barely counts as an upset now. Louisiana-Monroe nearly pulled off another win at Auburn -- expect this league to lose a top coach or two in recognition of those upsets from up-and-coming programs.
Conference USA (1-23): If it weren't bad enough the league was losing four schools to the Big East after this season, Conference USA was never really nationally relevant. The one win out of 24 chances was against one of the worst teams in a BCS league, with Rice winning 25-24 at Kansas in Week 2. Conference USA didn't even get close for a long time -- the first 18 losses were all by double digits, with late scares from UCF (by 5 to Missouri), Southern Miss (by 4 to Louisville) and Tulsa (by 4 to Arkansas).
Another sign that Conference USA has been passed by the Sun Belt in the I-A hierarchy? Sun Belt schools went 6-2 against Conference USA -- if you take away a 5-1 record against I-AA opponents (yes, Memphis lost to Tennessee-Martin), then Conference USA went 6-12 against teams from other non-BCS leagues, for an overall nonconference I-A record of 7-35 as a league. UCF's six nonconference I-A wins: UCF vs. Akron and FIU, Tulsa vs. Fresno (probably the league's best win of the year), Rice vs. fledgling Texas-San Antonio, Houston vs. North Texas and UTEP vs. New Mexico State.