This sprang out of a conversation my friend Mike and I were having regarding the relative strengths of Pac-10 and SEC defenses, and he made the challenge that I need numbers to back up my arguments, and I thought, “You know, Mike’s right. Let’s get some numbers.”
However, for the sort of analysis Mike and I discussed, the numbers are not immediately evident. To be specific, the question regarded how conferences as a whole performed against out-of-conference AQ teams in their matchups, the assumption being that this would be a worthwhile indicator of the relative strengths of each conference.
In turn, my feeling is that if we really are talking about “conferences” and not just elite teams, which was my intention, this is an interesting exercise, because it allows us to really see overall conference strength, and not just the obvious powerhouses in each conference, i.e. Auburn, Oregon, Ohio State, etc.
I understand that this analysis doesn’t address a million different variations and individual matchups and questions of which conferences play which other conferences in their AQ matchups. I’m aware of this, but having looked at all the games and scores in putting this together, I’ll say that most conferences play a pretty wide spread of other conferences if you take into account all the teams in their conference.
So for example, the SEC didn’t only beat up on the Big East in out-of-conference play. Individual team match-ups were pretty diverse across conferences.
But in the future, I hope to do this in an even more rigorous fashion, so the spreadsheet (or Access database ideally) can be manipulated to reveal a wider range of statistics.
As it easy, I put together 6 fairly basic numbers. For each conference, I examined every team’s current record as of writing this, and calculated their:
a) Average offensive score in conference
b) Average offensive score out-of-conference against AQ opponents
c) Average offensive score out-of-conference against non-aq opponents
d) Average points allowed in conference
e) Average points allowed out-of-conference against AQ opponents
f) Average points allowed out-of-conference against non-aq opponents
For each conference, I also calculated each of these statistics on average for the entire conference (side by side with the average of average, which while less useful is interesting to see in comparison).
SO, from these numbers, I found for each conference, the score of their average game against an out-of-conference AQ opponent. I included this, with the point differential, and all the full conference averages in a summary table, but there are some interesting results that you can peruse.
Finally, without any intention or knowledge of the outcome beforehand, the findings, very interestingly, reveal the Pac-10 to be the strongest conference against other conferences, with both the highest average score and lowest number of points allowed out-of-conference.
If you take issue with this, also consider this article (ignore the title and first few paragraphs, they’re intended to get your goat, but Ted Millder makes great points): http://espn.go.com/blog/pac10/post/_/id/16517/why-stanford-is-better-than-your-team.
Mostly, I’m not trying to say the Pac-10 is the shit, but I wish people would stop giving the SEC and other conferences so much credit by default without looking at the numbers. (see revised numbers in the spreadsheet that include the Independent schools)
|Conference||Avg. Out-of-Conference BCS Game Score||Avg. Out-of-Conference Game Point Differential|
|Big East||L 18.6-26.6||-8.0|
Take a look at the attached spreadsheet for yourselves, enjoy, and let the discussion begin:
P.S. Go Cardinal.