Conference Pride: Week 2

Submitted by SpikeFan2016 on September 14th, 2017 at 9:14 AM

This is the second installment of a weekly diary to extend through the non-conference season (and be rebooted for bowl season), detailing how each of the conferences are fairing against external foes. It shall be called "Conference Pride" which is "partial satire" on those who would chant something such as, oh, I don't know, "SEC! SEC! SEC!" when their 7-5 team wins the Music City Bowl. I’ll start with the season-to-date records of each conference along with their marquee wins/bad losses of the week, move on to a summary recap and finish with my opinion of the current “Power Rankings”. View last week’s version here.



Non-Conference Record: 15-7 (0.682); 4-6 (0.400) vs. Power 5

  • vs. Big Ten: 2-2
  • vs. Big 12: 1-0
  • vs. PAC 12: 0-1
  • vs. SEC: 1-3
  • vs. Non-Power 5: 13-1


Marquee Wins (Week 2):

  • Duke 41, Northwestern 17 (Durham, NC)

    • Northwestern took a 3-0 lead. After that, this game was a merciless blowout. Pretty encouraging win for Cutcliffe's squad considering they entered as an underdog. Duke also turned the tide; Northwestern came to Durham having won three in a row and 8 out of 9 against the Blue Devils in a series that has been played surprisingly frequently since the late 1990s. With Duke's next two games against 0-2 Baylor and 0-2 rival UNC, they have a significant chance to enter a September 29th home showdown with Miami (YTM) with a 4-0 record bolstered by three P5 wins.     
  • #3 Clemson 14, #13 Auburn 6 (Clemson, SC)  

    • A high profile non-conference win over a top half SEC team is a good way to keep the defending national champions rolling. Their offense didn't look great, but the defense appears to be stronger than expected.     

Bad Losses (Week 2):

  • Middle Tennessee State 30, Syracuse 23 (Syracuse, NY)

    • Not much else to say besides: yikes. The Orange are no football school, but it's not a great way to start Year 2 for Dino Babers. 

Big Ten

Non-Conference Record: 20-6 (0.769); 6-5 (0.545) vs. Power 5

  • vs. ACC: 2-2 
  • vs. Big 12: 2-1
  • vs. PAC 12: 1-2
  • vs. SEC: 1-0
  • vs. Non-Power 5: 14-1


Marquee Wins (Week 2):

  • Minnesota 48, Oregon State 14 (Corvallis, OR)

    • Yes, Oregon State is likely the worst team in the PAC 12 (although the Arizona schools may have something to say about that before it's all said and done). However, for a program of Minnesota's caliber, winning by 34 points in a true road night game against a P5 foe is plenty impressive. Watch out for a potential ranked Little Brown Jug matchup in Ann Arbor; the Gophers' September and October schedules are the easiest in the Big Ten (before a brutal November). Therefore, if the Gophers come to Ann Arbor at 7-1 or 8-0 we could have ourselves a hyped up Harbaugh-Fleck debut.

Bad Losses (Week 2):

  • #5 Oklahoma 31, #2 Ohio State 16 (Columbus, OH)

    • OSU entered as touchdown favorites and left with their tail between their legs and a controversial flag spiked into their turf. A loss in and of itself wouldn't be considered "bad" (well, maybe by Buckeye standards), but this was OSU's largest margin in a home loss since 1999 and the game wasn't even as close as the score indicates. 
  • Eastern Michigan 16, Rutgers 13 (Piscataway, NJ)

    • Rutgers continues to be an embarassement, snapping the Big Ten's undefeated streak vs. EMU and giving the conference its only loss to a non-P5 school thus far this season. #RelegateRutgers
  • Duke 41, Northwestern 17 (Durham, NC)

    • So much for being sleeper picks to win the Big Ten West, huh? Northwestern looks headed for a potentially rough year (they also struggled until deep in the 4th with Nevada in Week 1). Compounding the grim outlook are seemingly improved Purdue and Illinois squads, who may not automatically resign themselves to the bottom two spots in the West again. 


Big 12

Non-Conference Record: 14-6 (0.700); 2-3 vs. Power 5 (0.400)

  • vs. ACC: 0-1
  • vs. Big Ten: 1-2
  • vs. PAC 12: N/A
  • vs. SEC: 1-0
  • vs. Non-Power 5: 12-3


Marquee Wins (Week 2):

  • #5 Oklahoma 31, #2 Ohio State 16 (Columbus, OH)

    • Oklahoma holds the best win of any school thus far this season in the non-conference: a true-road thrashing of the Big Ten's premier program. Mayfield looks like the only serious threat to unseat Lamar Jackson in NYC and the Sooners are early favorites to represent the Big 12 in the CFP, after the conference missed playing in two of the first three rounds. 
  • #23 TCU 28, Arkansas 7 (Fayetteville, AR)

    • The Horned Frogs of Fort Worth paid back their historic SW Conference rivals in a big way. After last year's contest ended in double overtime confetti for the Hogs, this year's contest was an uncompetitive snoozer. 

Bad Losses (Week 2):

  • Central Michigan 45, Kansas 27 (Lawrence, KS)

    • Yay for Shane Morris. I wonder when Kansas will finally disband their football program after all these years of shame? Another 1-11 season appears highly likely, unless they beat Texas again (which...maybe?). 
  • UT-San Antonio 17, Baylor 10 (Waco, TX)

    • I imagine a lonely, new headcoach Rhule got home Saturday night and sheepishly said, "Alexa, play 'Free Fallin'' by Tom Petty" to his Echo Dot. 


PAC 12

Non-Conference Record: 19-4 (0.826); 5-1 vs. Power 5 (0.833)

  • vs. ACC: 1-0
  • vs. Big Ten: 2-1
  • vs. Big 12: N/A
  • vs. SEC: 1-0
  • vs. Independents: 1-0
  • vs. Non-Power 5: 14-3


Marquee Wins (Week 2):

  • None

    • The 2017 version of the Cornhuskers is far removed from its vintage 90s form; moreover, the Ducks failed to cover the spread at home and nearly allowed a comeback after a 21-0 Nebraska run. That game had "Notre Dame-Texas 2016" written all over it. Washington State did have a miraculous (and lucky) comeback; however, as heavy home favorites, it was an avoidance of disaster rather than a triumph. 

Bad Losses (Week 2):

  • Houston 19, Arizona 16 (Tucson, AZ)

    • Great win for Houston and their fans, especially in the wake of their head coach leaving. For Rich Rod, the pressure will rise as an increasingly restless Wildcat fanbase loses patience. Arizona figures to only be a favorite in one PAC 12 game this season (at home against Oregon State on November, 11th); a 2-7 or worse conference record seems fairly likely. 
  • San Diego State 30, Arizona State 20 (Tempe, AZ)

    • Things haven't been going much better for the rivals up the road in Tempe. Both head coaches could be facing mutiny by the time we reach the Duel in the Desert game on November 25th. 



Non-Conference Record: 21-4 (0.840); 5-4 vs. Power 5 (0.556)

  • vs. ACC: 3-1 
  • vs. Big Ten: 0-1
  • vs. Big 12: 0-1
  • vs. PAC 12: 0-1
  • vs. Independents: 2-0
  • vs. Non-Power 5: 16-0 


Marquee Wins (Week 1):

  • None

    • Only 3/14 SEC schools played Power 5 opponents in Week 2. Two of them lost and the other won by 1 point in a neutral site*** South Bend game against a team likely to finish 7-5 at best. Sorry Dawgs, you don't get marquee credit for barely edging a very down Irish team. (***Props to the traveling prowess of the road fans though)

Bad Losses (Week 1):


  • #23 TCU 28, Arkansas 7 (Fayetteville, AR)

    • Bielema continues to be an overpaid embarassement. The Hogs can't afford to fire him and likely couldn't find a better coach anyways. I predict, as always, the Hogs will lose a bunch of SEC games that Bert will blame on "the toughest schedule in college football", but they'll notch a single semi-decent victory and only lose by two touchdowns to Bama to appease the fanbase for another offseason.


A TL;DR Recap That’s Too Long 

•    The ACC, which stumbled in the brightest spotlight of Week 1, retreated into the background for a quiet, net-neutral Week 2. With conference play starting for some, plus FSU and Miami (YTM) sidelined by Irma, only 8 of the 14 teams played non-conference games, half of which were against Power 5 teams. The conference went 5-3 overall and 2-2 against their P5 counterparts. Not good, but not terrible? On the one hand, Clemson outlasted Auburn at home in the ACC’s only primetime showdown of the week and Duke took Northwestern to the dog-shed despite being home underdogs; on the other, Virginia and Pitt were easily defeated by B1G East foes and Syracuse pulled a Sparty and lost to middling Middle Tennessee State.

•    The Big Ten entered its most consequential week of the non-conference season riding high following a strong Week 1. Week 2 should force some brake pumping, but overall the Midwest & Friends conference still appears to be the best it has been in a while. Leading the charge is a renaissance among the bottom half of the Big Ten. Purdue and Maryland demolished overmatched foes, Illinois won by 13 points despite being a 6.5 point underdog, and Minnesota and Indiana dominated Power 5 opponents on the road. Excluding Delany’s bastard love child with the NYC media market, the conference looks deeper than it has been in at least 15 years. Fortunately/unfortunately, our other rival also tarnished the B1G image by receiving a home thrashing courtesy of the Sooners. Yet, OU appears to be a legit playoff contender and maybe, just maybe, the Buckeyes shouldn’t have been anointed as our conference’s best playoff hope after losing 31-0 in their last go around. Though it should be noted that, despite winning by comfortable margins, neither Michigan nor Wisconsin covered the spread and Penn State was outgained by Pittsburgh, both on the ground (!!!) and in the air. Parity of the old days may be upon us! Overall, the Big Ten squeaked out a 4-3 winning record against P5 opponents and finished 10-4 in total for the second week of play.

•    The Big 12 has found its shining star and, unless the Pokies or Horned Frogs have something to say about it, this conference will continue to orbit around Norman. That said, despite OU holding the best non-conference win in all of college football, I’m not yet ready to spread that love to the whole group like an SEC fan riding the Crimson coattails. Baylor and Kansas legitimately seem like the two worst teams in the Power 5. For a conference with only 10 teams, that constitutes 20% or 1 in 5. TCU did blast Arkansas in Fayetteville and has the makings of a solid Top 25 outfit, but the Hogs are far from a Top 25 team themselves. Moreover, Iowa State also dropped a winnable game at home against their hated instate rivals, the third loss to the Hawkeyes in a row. Overall, the conference finished 7-3 and 2-1 against the P5. We’ll know more soon; Week 3 is the premier non-conference week for the Big 12 with 50% of teams facing Power 5 opponents.

•    The PAC 12 didn’t provide much further clarity this week. Like the Big 12, Week 3 will give us the most information on the Westernmost Conference. The PAC 12 was perfect under the sun but posted a losing 2-3 record #AfterDark. However, it could’ve been much worse; Washington State survived in 3 OTs at home despite being down 21 points to Boise with only 5 minutes to go in the 4th. In the Holy War, BYU closed in on the Utes late but failed to take advantage of an opportunity for a game-winning drive. The Conference went 7-3 overall and 2-1 against the P5, but both Arizona schools fell at home to Group of 5 opponents; Cal also struggled early and often with measly Weber State. Oregon downed Nebraska at home in Autzen for the best win of the weekend, yet it wasn’t entirely inspiring; after an explosive first half, the Ducks were shut out in the final two quarters and allowed the Huskers to go on a 21-0 run. So far this season, the PAC 12 still boasts the strongest record in terms of raw winning percentage, including an impressive 5-1 P5 mark; however, they’ve had the easiest schedule by far, have no ranked wins and are tied with the Big 12 for most losses to non-P5 schools.

•    The SEC: ‘twas a pretty boring week for the #ItJustMeansMore group. Only three of the fourteen SEC schools faced Power 5 opponents in Week 2; after Georgia prevailed and Auburn/Arkansas stumbled, the SEC posted a losing 1-2 record among that group, all against ranked foes (although their win was against a team that had absolutely no business being ranked #FigThingsIrish). Texas A&M needed to fight until deep in the 4th with putrid Nicholls State and Sumlin continues to look like a dead man walking; Kentucky and Ole Miss also struggled far more than they should’ve with inferior foes, but managed to avoid disastrous losses. The conference remains the only Power 5 outfit to have yet to lose to a non-Power 5 team (16-0).

Week 1 Power Rankings

T-1st: Big Ten, SEC

3rd: PAC 12

T-4th: ACC, Big 12





September 14th, 2017 at 8:41 PM ^

If you're going to call Minnesota over Oregon State a marquee win for the B1G, then I think you have to give Oregon a marquee win for taking out Nebraska.


September 15th, 2017 at 2:02 AM ^

It's meant to be more marquee in terms of the margin of victory plus the caliber of team doing it in terms of overall context (Minnesota, average or slightly below average B1G team for several years). I wouldn't have given that designation to Michigan for the same win. 


I didn't give Indiana a marquee win over Virginia, and I think that's about equally as impressive as Oregon's over Nebraska. 


Also, a very large segment of Ducks fans were NOT pleased with that performance (think us post-Cincinnati). Which is naturally sort of a disqualifer to that designation.


I think my favorite tweet I read from a Ducks' fan was something along the lines of: "The only people who enjoyed watching that game are those who are neither Nebraska nor Oregon fans"


September 15th, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

You're welcome! It's very interesting to me as well. I'll do one after each of week 3 and week 4. Then, while non-conference games wind down, I'm planning to make one at the end of October, one at the end of the regular season and one after the bowl games. 


One question I do have for you, and anyone else who finds these interesting:

  • Is it better to have the summary recap below the records, or to lead off with it? I've tried it both ways and I'm not sure what I prefer.