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Forde-Yard Dash: How All 10 FBS Conferences Stack Up

With nonconference games mostly over, it’s time to break down the Power 5 and Group of 5, starting with the No. 1 Big Ten.
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Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Auburn fruit baskets intended for the SEC officiating crews sold separately):

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SECOND QUARTER: CONFERENCE CALL

The month of September has been filled with varying fan bases trashing opposing conferences and championing their own. Sometimes it’s justified; sometimes it’s not. Now that most of the nonconference games have been played for the season, here is a Dash ranking and statistical breakdown of the 10 FBS leagues, from one to 10.

No. 1: The Big Ten (11). The league has played more games against Power 5 opponents, with slightly better results, than the SEC. It also has played a slightly lower percentage of FCS opponents, played more true road games and won more of them. In terms of head-to-head play between the conferences, the Big Ten is 1–0. The belief here is that the SEC has better teams at the top, but results on the field give the Big Ten a slim edge in terms of depth.

Overall nonconference record: 30–9, .769 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 8–6, .571.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .359.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 15-3, .833.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .462.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 7–0.
Percentage of games against FCS opponents: .180.
Home record: 24–4, .857.
Percentage of games at home: .718.
Best home win: Penn State over Auburn.
Worst home loss: Minnesota to Bowling Green.
Road record: 6–4, .600.
Neutral site record: 0–1, .000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .180.
Best road/neutral win: Iowa over Iowa State.
Worst road/neutral loss: Northwestern at Duke.
Best team at the moment: Penn State.

Big Ten conference logo

No. 2: The SEC (12). The conference is excellent, no doubt about it. But those splashy opening wins on neutral sites by Alabama and Georgia have lost some juice as Clemson and Miami have struggled. And with a 3–4 road record, the SEC hasn’t taken care of business in hostile stadiums.

Overall nonconference record: 32–7, .821 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 6–5, .546.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .282.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 18–1, .947.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .487.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 8–1, .889.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .231.
Home record: 25–3, .893.
Percentage of games at home: .718.
Best home win: Arkansas over Texas.
Worst home loss: Vanderbilt to East Tennessee State, by 20.
Road record: 3–4, .429.
Neutral site record: 4–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .180.
Best road/neutral win: Georgia over Clemson.
Worst road/neutral loss: Mississippi State at Memphis.
Best team at the moment: Georgia.

No. 3: The Big 12 (13). The league hasn’t done anything overly exciting in nonconference play, but it has largely avoided bad losses. There isn’t an obvious College Football Playoff contender in the mix yet. But other than Kansas, nobody appears to be really bad.

Overall nonconference record: 23–6, .793 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 4–4, .500.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .276.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 10–2, .833.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .414.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 9–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .310.
Home record: 18–2, .900.
Percentage of games at home: .690.
Best home win: West Virginia over Virginia Tech.
Worst home loss: TCU to SMU.
Road record: 3–4, .429.
Neutral site record: 2–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .310.
Best road/neutral win: Kansas State over Stanford.
Worst road/neutral loss: Texas getting steamrolled at Arkansas.
Best team at the moment: Texas.

No. 4: The ACC (14). The point has been made that in recent years this conference has resembled the Pac-12 with a Clemson outlier. Now that Clemson is struggling, guess what? An ordinary Tigers team combined with the eternal muddle of the Coastal Division, plus Florida State finding new depths, is not a good look. There is some optimism in a few Atlantic Division locales, though.

Overall nonconference record: 27–11, .711 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 5–8, .385.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .342.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 12–2, .857.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .368.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 10–1, .909.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .290.
Home record: 22–6, .786.
Percentage of games at home: .737.
Best home win: Louisville over UCF.
Worst home loss: Florida State to Jacksonville State.
Road record: 3–4, .429.
Neutral site record: 2–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .310.
Best road/neutral win: Pittsburgh at Tennessee.
Worst road/neutral loss: Duke at Charlotte.
Best team at the moment: Wake Forest.

No. 5: The Mountain West (15). It’s been a spicy start for the MWC, flavored with some dramatic upset victories of Pac-12 opponents. Even with Boise State losing a couple of heartbreakers and San Jose State registering as a mild disappointment, the league had a good month of September. Nine of its 12 members are .500 or better.

Overall nonconference record: 25–16, .610 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 5–11, .313.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .390
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 11–3, .786.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .341.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 9–2, .818.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .268.
Home record: 16–5, .762.
Percentage of games at home: .512.
Best home win: San Diego State over Utah.
Worst home loss: Colorado State to South Dakota State.
Road record: 9–11, .450.
Neutral site record: 0–0.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .488.
Best road/neutral win: Fresno State at UCLA.
Worst road/neutral loss: New Mexico at UTEP.
Best team at the moment: Fresno State.

No. 6: Pac-12 (16). Power 5 in name only at this point, and only barely ahead of the American thanks to a couple of huge victories (Oregon over Ohio State, UCLA over LSU). When you have a .500 record against the Mountain West, it’s not going well. Still, the Pac-12 does at least have the Ducks to carry the playoff contender banner into October.

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Overall nonconference record: 16–16, .500 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 3–6, .333.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .281.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 6–8, .429.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .438.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 7–2, .778.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .281.
Home record: 14–7, .667.
Percentage of games at home: .656.
Best home win: UCLA over LSU.
Worst home loss: Washington to Montana.
Road record: 2–6, .250.
Neutral site record: 0–3, 1.000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .344.
Best road/neutral win: Oregon at Ohio State.
Worst road/neutral loss: Arizona State at BYU.
Best team at the moment: Oregon.

No. 7: American Athletic Conference (17). The American is essentially a Cincinnati win at Notre Dame Saturday away from leaping over the Pac-12 on this list. Tough losses for Memphis and UCF hurt, but SMU’s ability to pull out close wins helps.

Overall nonconference record: 21–17, .553 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 3–11, .214.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .290.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 9–5, .643.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .368.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 9–1, .900.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .263.
Home record: 14–8, .636.
Percentage of games at home: .579.
Best home win: UCF over Boise State.
Worst home loss: Tulsa to UC Davis.
Road record: 7–7, .500.
Neutral site record: 0–2, .000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .421.
Best road/neutral win: Cincinnati at Indiana.
Worst road/neutral loss: Temple by 47 at Rutgers.
Best team at the moment: Cincinnati.

Coastal Carolina carries a school flag onto the field

No. 8: The Sun Belt (18). While the league hasn’t scored any upsets as noteworthy as Louisiana at Iowa State last season, it has been a solid start for league powers Coastal Carolina, Appalachian State and the Ragin’ Cajuns. A sassy 3–0 start by South Alabama has helped as well.

Overall nonconference record: 19–15, .559 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 1–8, .111.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .265.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 10–6, .625.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .471.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 8–1, .889.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .265.
Home record: 14–5, .737.
Percentage of games at home: .559.
Best home win: Coastal Carolina over Kansas.
Worst home loss: Texas State to Incarnate Word.
Road record: 4–10, .289.
Neutral site record: 1–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .441.
Best road/neutral win: App State over East Carolina in Charlotte.
Worst road/neutral loss: Texas State at Eastern Michigan, by 38.
Best team at the moment: Coastal Carolina.

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No. 9: Conference USA (19). The C-USA still has an undefeated team in UTSA, which has won at Illinois and Memphis. It has another quality team in UAB. Marshall and Charlotte have had their moments, and even UTEP is 3–1. Another plus: Nobody is winless.

Overall nonconference record: 23–25, .479 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 2–10, .167.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .250.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 7–15, .318.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .458.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 14–0, 1.000.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .292.
Home record: 17–7, .708.
Percentage of games at home: .500.
Best home win: Charlotte over Duke.
Worst home loss: Marshall to East Carolina after leading by 17 with eight minutes to play.
Road record: 6–18, .250.
Neutral site record: 0–0, .000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .500.
Best road/neutral win: UTSA at Memphis.
Worst road/neutral loss: Southern Mississippi at South Alabama, by 24.
Best team at the moment: UTSA.

No. 10: The Mid-American (20). Even the weakest FBS league has had its moments, most recently with Bowling Green beating Minnesota and Western Michigan beating Pitt. But on the whole, these are programs that are outspent, outrecruited and outplayed when matching up with their FBS peers.

Overall nonconference record: 19–27, .413 winning percentage.
Record vs. Power 5 opponents: 3–17, .150.
Percentage of games vs. Power 5: .435.
Record vs. Group of 5 opponents: 5–9, .357.
Percentage of games vs. Group of 5: .304.
Record vs. FCS opponents: 11–1, .917.
Percentage of games vs. FCS: .261.
Home record: 14–7, .667.
Percentage of games at home: .457.
Best home win: Western Michigan over San Jose State.
Worst home loss: Ohio to Duquesne.
Road record: 5–20, .200.
Neutral site record: 0–0, .000.
Percentage of games played on road/neutral sites: .544.
Best road/neutral win: Western Michigan at Pitt.
Worst road/neutral loss: Defending champion Ball State by 33 at Wyoming.
Best team at the moment: Western Michigan. 

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