Conference scorecard: Here's head-to-head results
Couple years back, we did this every week, and I thought it'd be good to revisit the balance of power in college football by looking at each of the BCS automatic-qualifier conferences and how their teams fared against the other BCS leagues.
There's a considerable disparity not only in the records from league to league, but also how many nonconference games are played against top-level competition. The ACC, for instance, had 23 such games in 2012, while the Big 12 had just seven. Here are the results, starting with the most successful:
Notre Dame (10-0): Irish went 10-0 against BCS-conference opponents, with 3-0 marks against Big Ten and ACC, 2-0 vs. Pac-12 and one win each against the Big 12 and Big East. Notre Dame's only games that weren't against BCS opponents were wins against BYU and Navy, who each won seven games as independents.
Big 12 (5-2): The record is a bit misleading, and a better reflection of a hesitance to play top teams from other leagues. Of the five wins, four came against teams with losing records (Iowa, Mississippi, Virginia and Maryland) with the only exception being Kansas State's rout of Miami. The losses were Oklahoma to Notre Dame and Oklahoma State to Arizona.
SEC (8-6): Crazy thing is the SEC had a losing record here until going 4-0 vs. ACC opponents the final weekend. Hard to imagine the Big East going 3-0 against SEC teams, but they did -- Syracuse took out Missouri, Rutgers beat Arkansas and Louisville beat Kentucky. If you look at nonconference wins against teams in the current top 25, the SEC has three (Alabama over Michigan, Florida over Florida State, South Carolina over Clemson) -- the other five leagues combined have two, in UCLA's win against Nebraska and Arizona's over Oklahoma State. Notre Dame has three as well.
Pac-12 (6-5): As we mentioned, biggest wins are UCLA over Nebraska and Arizona over Oklahoma State; it's certainly impressive that of the five losses, three came to currently undefeated teams (Stanford and USC lost to Notre Dame, Cal to Ohio State) and one of the others was Washington falling to LSU. Not as many total games as other leagues, but some big games in there.
Big East (7-9): Big East went an even 4-4 against the ACC, and fared better against other leagues than the ACC did. Having said that, four of the seven wins were by teams on the way out -- Pitt beat Virginia Tech, Syracuse beat Missouri and Rutgers beat Arkansas. Syracuse took three losses to BCS nonconference opponents, but props to them for scheduling four of five nonconference games against BCS opponents. USF, traditionally strong in nonconference games, not only lost to Miami and Florida State, but to the MAC's Ball State as well.
Big Ten (6-9): The Big Ten rarely does well in this, but is better known for its bowl struggles against BCS opponents. Funny thing is that Northwestern has three of the conference's six wins, with Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota managing one each. Three of the losses are to Notre Dame and another three are to currently ranked teams.
ACC (6-17): Pretty rough record here -- four of the wins came against the Big East, with a 2-13 mark against the other conferences. Those lone two wins were Virginia over Penn State and Clemson over Auburn. The ACC had a chance for a big weekend two days ago, but went 0-4 against the SEC, the closest being FSU's loss to Florida. The other three were decided by an average of 26 points. ...
We'll come back later with a look at the other five I-A conferences and how they fared against BCS opponents.