Let’s see… the college football playoff has room for four teams… and there are five power conferences. So you already have a game of musical chairs that is going to have somebody frustrated. The Big 12 (which only has 10 teams) has applied for a waiver to allow a championship game – which will be interesting given that the league already promotes itself as providing “One True Champion” because of its round-robin schedule. Of course, that ran into real trouble last year when the league decided to crown co-champions. How did they do that? Because Baylor and TCU had identical conference records. TCU had lost to Baylor, though, which in a round-robin league should have given Baylor the outright championship. But the league wanted to promote TCU and Baylor for spots in the playoff, and so they crowned TCU as league co-champions even though Baylor had yet to start its game against Kansas State. Why? Well, whichever team would have won in Waco would have been the league’s other “co-champion” according to this unwieldy process the league set in motion last year.
Now that the College Football betting calendar has turned to the summer of 2015, all eyes are on the power conferences again, figuring out which is going to provide the strongest schedules of opponents for its members – and which should get the most attention as playoff fever builds.
Here’s Our Ranking the Top NCAA Football Odds Conferences in 2015
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) July 20, 2015
Before the bowls started last fall, the SEC had seven teams in the last College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings. Once the bowls had ended, the SEC had six teams in the AP’s last top 25 rankings. From the SEC West, all seven teams not only went to a bowl but finished the season over .500. The SEC has 14 tough teams, and the Athlon top 25 preseason rankings include nine squads. Alabama is commonly picked to win the conference outright, but that journey through the SEC West and then in the SEC title game will be a grueling one.
Four Pac-12 teams finished with at least 10 wins in 2014 (Oregon, Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA), and USC is undergoing a rebirth after several years with sanctions from the NCAA. The Pac-12 went 3-1 against ACC teams, 6-2 against Big Ten teams and 2-1 against Big 12 teams. The teams from the Pac-12 and SEC did not meet last year, which is a shame, because the gap between the two conferences is closing, and it would be interesting to see what would happen if, say, Alabama visited Oregon or UCLA traveled to Texas A&M.
#3: Big Ten
This conference came back in a major way throughout the season, as Michigan was shut out by Notre Dame, Michigan State fell to Oregon and Virginia Tech beat eventual national champion Ohio State. However, Big Ten teams also defeated three different Power 5 conference champions in bowl games. Ohio State did emerge as the college football playoff champion and is favored to do so again in 2015. Can the arrival of Jim Harbaugh to coach Michigan make the rivalry with Ohio State dynamic again?
#4: Big 12
Baylor and TCU are both expected to finish high in the national rankings again. Baylor did fall in its bowl game to Michigan State, but TCU tattooed Mississippi in their bowl tilt. The Big 12 as a whole went 6-11 against power conference opponents last year, but Oklahoma and Texas should start emerging from their slumps.
The strength of the ACC was in Florida State – which lost Jameis Winston to the NFL – and the offense at Clemson – which has lost offensive coordinator to the head coaching position at Southern Methodist. The ACC did sweep the SEC 4-0 over Thanksgiving weekend, and Georgia Tech did upend Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl, but in general terms the ACC may be the league that doesn’t get a playoff team this year.