Week 4 KPI Prologue: “The Divisions”

When realignment hit and the size of conferences grew, the number of conference games played did not increase for most leagues.  As a result, there were more conference rivals not playing one another and a greater divide between the divisions in conferences that have been split in two.

So, as I finally realized this week, why are we so concerned about conference rankings and not ranking the divisions?

For 14-team leagues (ACC, Big Ten, and SEC), schools are playing six divisional games against like opponents and only two crossover games.  They are each missing five teams from the opposite division.  The crossover games might as well be non-conference games without schools having the option to choose the quality of the opponent.  There are a total of 14 crossover games for each of the seven team divisions, 16.7% of each team’s schedule.  The Pac-12 on the other hand plays 44.4% of its game as interdivision games due to two fewer teams (12) and one extra conference game (for a total of nine).

The SEC West is the best division by the KPI formula in a landslide.  The division has the best overall record (19-1), the best non-conference KPI (.275), and the best KPI at home (.186), on the road (.290), and at neutral sites (.449).  They are the only division undefeated at home (12-0).  They lead in points scored (45.7 PPG) and fewest points allowed (14.1 PPG).  Their average margin is +31.6, nearly two touchdowns better than the next best (Pac-12 North, +19.2 PPG).  The division’s only loss was by Arkansas … and that came at SEC West rival Auburn.  All seven teams are in the top 24 of the KPI Rankings, with six teams ranking in the top 16.

On the flip side, the SEC West is playing a TOTAL of four non-conference Power 5 schools: Kansas State (Auburn), Texas Tech (Arkansas), West Virginia (vs. Alabama), and Wisconsin (vs. LSU).  Of the 28 non-conference games in the SEC West, four are against Power 5 schools, 17 are against Group of 5 schools, and seven are against FCS opponents.  Additional data can be found in last week’s prologue.

The difference in KPI between the SEC West (.251) and the SEC East (.072) is the second largest differential between divisions in the same conference.  The MAC West is +.184 on the MAC East.  In third, the Big Ten East (.063) is .065 better than the Big Ten West (-.002).  The ACC (Coastal +.039), Mountain West (Mountain +.033), Conference USA (East +.023) and Pac-12 (North +.015) rank fourth through seventh.

Conference Rankings by DIVISION (as of September 18, 2014):  To be fair, three weeks of data divided by two reduces the sample size.

  1. SEC West (19-1, .950 Overall), .251 KPI
  2. ACC Coastal (17-3, .850 Overall), .123 KPI
  3. Big 12 (19-8, .704 Overall), .100 KPI
  4. Pac-12 North (13-3, .813 Overall), .098 KPI
  5. ACC Atlantic (13-5, .722 Overall), .084 KPI
  6. Pac-12 South (14-3, .824 Overall), .083 KPI
  7. SEC East (13-6, .684 Overall), .072 KPI
  8. Big Ten East (13-6, .684 Overall), .063 KPI
  9. Mountain West Mountain (10-7, .588 Overall), .013 KPI
  10. Big Ten West (11-8, .579 Overall), -.002 KPI
  11. Conference USA East (12-9, .571 Overall), -.016 KPI
  12. Mountain West West (7-10, .412 Overall), -.021 KPI
  13. Conference USA West (7-10, .412 Overall), -.039 KPI
  14. MAC West (9-8, .529 Overall), -.052 KPI
  15. American (10-17, .370 Overall), -.087 KPI
  16. Sun Belt (11-18, .379 Overall), -.129 KPI
  17. MAC East (5-15, .250 Overall), -.236 KPI

The quality of crossover games is just as critical as the value obtained through non-conference scheduling.  These games are typically rotated annually (and in some cases protected).  Wisconsin will miss Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State while South Carolina’s crossover games are Auburn and Texas A&M.  That’s a pretty big difference and is why conference strength of schedule (CSOS) is just as important as non-conference strength of schedule (NCSOS).

Division champions will match up in seven conference championship games on December 5 and 6.  But remember, each division in each conference (and their respective schedules) aren’t always created equal.

Top 10 Games in Week 4, ranked by G-Score (Note: G-Score data from the 2013 season is included).  The full TV schedule can be found here.

  1. Clemson at Florida State: Saturday 8 p.m. ET, ABC
  2. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: Saturday 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
  3. Mississippi State at LSU: Saturday 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN
  4. Miami (FL) at Nebraska: Saturday 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT, ESPN2
  5. Auburn at Kansas State: Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
  6. North Carolina at East Carolina: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  7. Iowa at Pittsburgh: Saturday 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  8. Utah at Michigan: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2 Outer-Market
  9. Indiana at Missouri: Saturday 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT, SEC Network
  10. South Carolina at Vanderbilt: 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, SEC Network

Top 10 Games in Week 4, ranked by G-Score (Note: Only G-Score data from the 2014 season is included).

  1. Florida at Alabama: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT, CBS
  2. Mississippi State at LSU: Saturday 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPN
  3. Oklahoma at West Virginia: Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX
  4. Auburn at Kansas State: Thursday 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN
  5. North Carolina at East Carolina: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
  6. Northern Illinois at Arkansas: Saturday 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT, ESPNU
  7. Virginia at BYU: Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. MT, ESPN
  8. California at Arizona: Saturday 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, Pac-12 Networks
  9. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: Saturday 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
  10. Maryland at Syracuse: Saturday 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network

There are 45 non-conference games scheduled in Week 4, more than any two weeks combined for the rest of the season.  One more week and conference play will be in full force!

Have a great weekend.

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