Power Ranking the NCAAF Conferences in 2016 by Strength in Teams

Power Ranking the NCAAF Conferences in 2016 By Strength in Teams:

Photo credit: Campus Insiders

(Published on 7/6/16)

The college football (NCAAF) season is approaching quicker than you think and I am pretty excited about what is to come.  One of my favorite things to do when following the NCAAF is keeping up with all of the conferences and who is in the best chance to win.  I don’t necessarily follow each player and know where they go to eat tacos, but I do know enough to give you the rankings for each conference by the strength in the teams that are in each conference.  That being said, let’s get started.

10. Sun Belt (Predicted 3 best teams: Arkansas St., App St., Georgia Southern) (Combined 2015 record: 60-77)

  • This has been the weakest conference in the FBS for quite some time and it won’t change at all in the very near future.  The level of competition in this conference has been just plain rubbish.  New Mexico St. and Idaho are both set to leave the conference in the very near future and Coastal Carolina is getting the call up from the FCS starting next year.  The editions of Georgia Southern and Appalachian St. were welcome choice as they have somehow brought back a bit of legitimacy to the Sun Belt, along with Arkansas St. who has been a major threat for the past couple of years.  To be honest, the biggest role for the Sun Belt is to be jobbed out to an SEC team at least once a year.  In some cases, that isn’t a bad thing as it gets a lot of money to the programs, but it also means that the Sun Belt is just the weakest conference.

9. Mountain West (Predicted 3 best teams: San Diego St., Boise St., Air Force) (Combined 2015 record: 72-83)

  • I think that many can agree that the Mountain West took a giant step back last year with San Diego St. being the only team that truly shined, while the big-time threat and moneymaker, Boise St., took a step back as their talent level just wasn’t all there.  That should change this year as they start to build back and reclaim that throne that they once had.  San Diego St. is also going to remain in the same position this coming year as they were last year.  They have two quarterbacks that can get the job done and that is always a nice blessing to have.  Air Force will most likely have another decent year running the triple option and there is always a team out of this conference that just comes out and surprises us all and teams like Nevada and Colorado St. are just primed to do that.  Let’s just hope that teams like Hawaii and Wyoming don’t weigh the whole conference back and let’s also hope that this conference doesn’t have two teams play each other in a bowl game like last year.  That was just awful.

8. MAC (Predicted 3 best teams: Toledo, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green) (Combined 2015 record: 77-87)

  • A lot of people inside the MAC were really banking on Toledo to have a good season last year as their undefeated streak kept growing and growing, but then MAC play got the best of them and they ended up dropping a couple, but have no fear because Toledo is going to have another great year in the MAC and will most likely end up winning the MAC West over someone like Northern Illinois who has been a hard team to beat in the conference ever since the “Jordan Lynch Era” when they went to the Orange Bowl a few years back.  Sticking to the West side of things, Western Michigan is on the up and up with head coach, PJ Fleck, leading the charge.  They should be pretty good in a couple of years, but not this one.  Now, onto the East side, Bowling Green is predicted to maintain their dominance and I like what Dino Babers did over there before getting the job at Syracuse and I think that Mike Jinks is going to be a great replacement.  Finally, UMass will no longer be in the MAC starting this season.  Some would say that this elevates the MAC, but I just don’t feel as if the MAC is quite ready, talent wise, to make the jump up the list.  Prove me wrong!  I love watching MAC Football and I do want the best for this conference.

7. Conference-USA (Predicted 3 best teams: Western Kentucky, Marshall, Louisiana Tech) (Combined 2015 record: 76-87)

  • This one might be a bit of a stretch, but I am willing to gamble on it.  The top have of Conference-USA has always had teams with menacing records, but the bottom half is just plain rubbish and it ultimately brings the whole conference down with it.  I can see that happening again here, but I feel as if the talent and the high-octane offenses that are frequent in this conference will elevate it all.  Western Kentucky was a great team last year that broke stat records everywhere with Brandon Doughty leading the way.  Marshall has been a force in Conference-USA with head coach, Doc Holliday, leading the way.  Finally, you have the likes of Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss who have been steady and are ready for another breakout year.  This conference could easily be anywhere from 7-9 on this list, but I like to take gambles, so they are going to be at 7 this time around.

6. American (Predicted 3 best teams: Temple, Houston, USF) (Combined 2015 record: 80-74)

  • It was pretty clear to every single fan of college football that the American Athletic Conference was the best Group of 5 Conference last year with Houston, Memphis, Temple, and Navy leading the way.  That is going to continue this year and there is no doubt about that.  It all starts with Houston taking on Oklahoma in Week 1 of the NCAAF Season.  Houston is going to continue to be the front-runner in the AAC with Temple being steady as well and USF coming up from the ashes and surprising everyone with their great head coach, Willie Taggart, who is doing wonders in turning this team around.  The bigger question is, will someone from the AAC be strong enough to get to the College Football Playoff?

5. PAC-12 (Predicted 3 best teams: Stanford, Oregon, UCLA) (Combined 2015 record: 90-67)

  • I debated putting the PAC-12 a bit higher, but I had to bring them down because I fell like there are too many uncertainties in this conference this year.  We all know that Stanford is going to be great, but do we really know how the rest of them will fall?  Oregon has quarterback concerns as well as everything else that has been questioned ever since Chip Kelly left.  UCLA is destined to be good, but is Josh Rosen ready for the big time at the quarterback position?  USC and Arizona have good coaching staffs, but not an insane amount of talent.  What about Washington this year?  Plenty of people are expecting them to be right up there with Stanford in the PAC-12 North, but I say that this happens almost every year and it all falls flat for them.  Finally, what about Washington St.?  They had one of their best years last year, but will they be able to continue that or was it just luck and one of the best and most underrated offences in the country?  These are all questions that put the PAC-12 at #5 on this list.

4. ACC (Predicted 3 best teams: Clemson, Florida St., UNC) (Combined 2015 record: 98-82)

  • Clemson was this close to winning it all last year, but fell short to Alabama in a classic National Championship Game.  This year, they are expected to be as good, if not better than they were last year with head coach, Dabo Swinney leading the way.  Clemson has a lot going for them this year.  They kept Deshaun Watson at quarterback and RB Wayne Gallman is expected to be even better than his monster season he had rushing last year.  Florida St. is expected to be back to the level that they were at when Jameis Winston was quarterback.  They were exceptional on defense last year and will continue that this year.  Many say that they are the team to beat in the ACC and it makes the game between them and Clemson on the 29th of October all the more interesting.  In the Coastal Division, you have plenty of teams that could make a run to the ACC Championship with the Tar Heels of North Carolina being the favorites.

3. Big 12 (Predicted 3 best teams: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., TCU) (Combined 2015 record: 71-56)

  • The Big 12 has been mighty interesting over the past few years, hasn’t it?  Back in the day, it was Oklahoma and Texas that would lead the way and challenge for Big 12 Titles, but last year it seemed like it was TCU and Baylor’s race… until it wasn’t.  Oklahoma made it to the College Football Playoff after winning the Big 12 Title.  Then, in the off-season, Baylor completely fell apart with a bunch of sexual assault allegations that I don’t want to get into here.  Art Briles is gone and so is Baylor’s chances of really doing anything big this year.  As you can see above, Oklahoma St. has taken the void from Baylor in the predicted 3 best teams.  Don’t get me wrong, the Big 12 is not going to miss a step with Baylor out of the question.  They are still going to be the best offensive conference in the nation and #3 on this list.

2. Big Ten (Predicted 3 best teams: Michigan St., Ohio St., Michigan) (Combined 2015 record: 105-73)

  • When you think of the Big Ten, do you think football?  I do.  Not only that, but I think of good football.  Michigan St. has the most unlikely of seasons last year that led them to go all the way to the College Football Playoff.  Ohio St. went to the Fiesta Bowl and Iowa went to the Rose Bowl.  That is 3 Big Ten teams that were in high-profile games last year.  Now, you have to start thinking about Michigan.  Jim Harbaugh has been building a program that is ready to perhaps take a jab at the College Football Playoff.  The Big Ten is known for their defensive play, so pile all of what I have said before along with other steady teams like Northwestern, Wisconsin, Penn St., and Nebraska, then you have a recipe for one strong conference.

1. SEC (Predicted 3 best teams: Georgia, Alabama, LSU) (Combined 2015 record: 111-69)

  • What about the SEC is there to talk about that hasn’t been talked about before?  The SEC is the best conference in the NCAAF without a shadow of a doubt.  The produce National Champions.  I don’t need to say much about the SEC because Al Rabon already took care of all of that in the SEC East Preview and SEC West Preview that you can check out with those links.

That’ll do it for this list.  What did you think of it?  Do you agree or disagree?  Be sure to tell me all about it in the comment section below.  Also be sure to like Power Rankings and More on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @PowerRank_More for all of the latest news and information from Power Rankings and More.

To check out more NCAAF content here at Power Rankings and More, like Al Rabon‘s take on the NCAAF Bowl System and some Games to Watch for the upcoming season, be sure to click the link here.

Finally, be sure to give your thoughts on our promotional NCAAF Poster in the comment section as well and check out the Top 25 PRAM Blogs of All Time list with the link here.

2016-06-21 (1)Matthew "Joneszee" Jones | Power Rankings and More
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Matthew "Joneszee" Jones https://powerrankingsandmore.com

Core Group leader at Ball State Chi Alpha. I currently do PRAM on the side for fun.

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