The league bosses have issued a mandate, your team must play a Power team out of conference…Who do you call?
Perhaps even more critically, who do you not call?
Though answers like “Kansas” on one hand, and “Alabama” on the other are totally obvious, what do the numbers say?
Take a look at the individual Power teams who have fared the best and suffered the most against each Power conference since 2006. To qualify for the list, a team must have played five or more games vs. a given conference in the last decade.
Some of the results are surprising. This is partially true because each conference is treated as a single entity, from its best team to its worst. In addition to that, some teams mentioned have had the benefit of playing the easiest part of a given conference, while others have faced the most difficult.
Things get even more interesting with the recent wave of conference realignment.
Despite the layers of complexity, the numbers don’t lie. They are still the best way to get an objective conversation rolling.
Records listed are vs. the current membership of each conference for the last ten years (2006-15) and include postseason play. Again, a team must have played a minimum of five games during the established time period vs. a league to qualify.
Who to Schedule: Maryland (25-40 or 38.5%), Mississippi State (2-3 or 40%), Kentucky (6-9 or 40%) and Kansas State (2-3 or 40%)
Who Not to Schedule: Utah (5-0 or 100%), Iowa (6-1 or 85.7%), Alabama (5-1 or 83.3%), Penn State (4-1 or 80%), Stanford (4-1 or 80%) and LSU (4-1 or 80%)
Maryland was a member of the ACC until 2013 and has only played one current ACC member since defecting to the Big Ten—Syracuse, a 34-20 win in 2014. That said, at 38.5% no Power team (currently outside of the league) with five or more chances has performed worse against the ACC than Maryland has in the last decade.
The ACC has done the poorest job out of any of the five Power leagues at holding non-conference Power opponents under .400 (with the five game minimum) since 2006. Where the ACC has only one such opponent (again, Maryland), the Big 12 has five, the Big Ten eight, the Pac-12 five and the SEC a whopping 18.
On the flip side, 10 Power teams (with at least five games) are over the .700 mark vs. the ACC in the last decade. That compared to the Big 12’s one, the Big Ten’s eight, the Pac-12’s six and the SEC’s one.
Utah’s perfect record vs. the ACC is made-up of a 2-0 mark vs. both Pitt and Louisville and a 1-0 record vs. Georgia Tech. All games were played in the regular season with the exception of the win over the Yellow Jackets which came in the 2011 Sun Bowl.
Who to Schedule: Minnesota (0-6 or 0%), Maryland (1-7 or 12.5%), Pitt (2-4 or 33.3%), Rutgers (3-6 or 33.3%) and Colorado (11-19 or 36.7%)
Who Not to Schedule: Oregon (4-1 or 80%), Arkansas (4-2 or 66.7%), Utah (4-2 or 66.7%), Ole Miss (4-2 or 66.7%) and Missouri (22-16 or 57.9%)
Four of Minnesota’s six losses to Big 12 members occurred in the postseason: Texas Tech (2006), Kansas (2008) and Iowa State (2009) in the Insight Bowl and again to the Red Raiders in the 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. That leaves a pair of home-and-home losses to TCU in 2014-15.
Oregon’s only loss to a Big 12 school came only months ago, a 47-41 defeat to TCU in the Jan. 2, 2016 Alamo Bowl. The wins were over Oklahoma (2006), Oklahoma State (2008 Holiday Bowl), Kansas State (2012-13 Fiesta Bowl) and Texas (2013 Alamo Bowl).
Missouri was a member of the Big 12 up until 2011 when it moved to the SEC. Of the 38 games the Tigers have played against Big 12 members in the last decade only one was played after the transition, a win over Oklahoma State in the 2013-14 Cotton Bowl.
Who to Schedule: Kansas State (1-6 or 14.3%), Colorado (1-5 or 16.7%), Syracuse (6-17 or 26.1%), Kansas (2-5 or 28.6%) and Pitt (4-9 or 30.8%)
Who Not to Schedule: Texas Tech (6-0 or 100%), West Virginia (13-1 or 92.9%), USC (10-1 or 91%), Florida State (7-1 or 87.5%), Alabama (6-1 or 85.7%) and Texas (6-1 or 85.7%)
The real surprises for the Big Ten are Big 12 teams, landing at both ends of the spectrum. What muddies the water in the tale of the Big Ten vs. the Big 12 is Nebraska, which joined the Big Ten in 2011. The Cornhuskers have 30 appearances vs. current Big 12 members since 2006, that vs. the 41 games it’s played against fellow Big Ten teams.
Kansas State’s one shining moment vs. the Big Ten was a 31-14 victory over Michigan in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. The losses were to Rutgers (still a Big East team then) in the 2006 Texas Bowl and then a 0-5 record vs. Nebraska from 2006-10 (all Big 12 games).
Ironically, the Wildcats are 1-0 in the last decade vs. teams that were actually in the Big Ten when they played them. That as opposed to the 1-6 mark vs. current Big Ten members.
On the flip side is Texas Tech, with a surprising perfect record. The Red Raiders also tangled with Nebraska while both teams were both Big 12 members (from 2006-10), but they managed two wins (in 2008 and 2009) vs. K-State’s five losses. The balance all came in postseason play against programs who were Big Ten members at game time: Michigan State (2009-10 Alamo Bowl), Minnesota (2006 Insight Bowl and 2012 Meineke Car Care Bowl) and Northwestern (2010-11 TicketCity Bowl).
The entirety of West Virginia’s 13-1 mark came against Maryland (7-1) and Rutgers (6-0). All but two of the games vs. the Terrapins were played while they were ACC members and all six of the contests vs. the Scarlet Knights were played while they were still in the Big East.
Who to Schedule: Virginia (0-5 or 0%), Michigan (1-5 or 16.7%), Tennessee (1-5 or 16.7%), Illinois (2-4 or 33.3%) and Iowa State (2-4 or 33.3%)
Who Not to Schedule: Oklahoma State (8-2 or 80%), Kansas (4-1 or 80%), Missouri (6-2 or 75%), Ohio State (6-2 or 75%), Oklahoma (5-2 or 71.4%) and Baylor (5-2 or 71.4%)
Virginia’s five losses to current Pac-12 members all came in regular season play—twice to USC and UCLA and once to Oregon.
Michigan’s sole win came against Oregon State in Ann Arbor last season, the losses were to Oregon (2007), USC (2006-07 Rose Bowl) and Utah (2008, 2014 & 15).
Tennessee beat Cal in 2006 but then turned around and lost to the Golden Bears in 2007. The balance of the Volunteers defeats were to Oregon (2010 and 2013) and UCLA (2008 and 2009).
What may be more of a surprise than Oklahoma State’s 8-2 mark vs. the Pac-12 is the fact it has played 10 Pac-12 opponents in only 10 years. Two of those games were wins over Colorado in 2008 and 2009, before the Buffaloes left the Big 12 for the Pac-12.
Beyond that, the Cowboys are 2-1 vs. Arizona since (2009-10 Alamo Bowl, 2011-12 regular season), 0-1 vs. Oregon (2008 Holiday Bowl), 1-0 vs. Stanford (2011-12 Fiesta Bowl), 1-0 vs. Washington (2014-15 Cactus Bowl) and 2-0 vs. Washington State (2008 and 2010).
Kansas’ surprising 4-1 mark is entirely made up of Big 12 games vs. Colorado (2006-10). The same applies to Missouri, who went 5-1 vs. the Buffaloes during their final stretch in the Big 12 (2006-11).
Who to Schedule: NC State (0-5 or 0%), Iowa State (1-8 or 11.1%), North Carolina (1-5 or 16.7%), Colorado (2-8 or 20%), Kansas (2-8 or 20%), Arizona State (1-4 or 20%), Duke (1-4 or 20%) and Virginia Tech (1-4 or 20%)
Who Not to Schedule: Oklahoma (13-4 or 76.5%), Oklahoma State (10-6 or 62.5%), Miami Fla. (3-2 or 60%), Louisville (8-6 or 57.1%) and Florida State (7-6 or 53.8%)
North Carolina State, Iowa State and North Carolina are a combined 2-18 vs. the SEC since 2006. The first of the two rare victories came in 2006, when Iowa State beat Missouri 21-16, still a Big 12 member at the time. The second came in 2010, when North Carolina State beat Tennessee 30-27 in the Music City Bowl.
Of the Power teams who have squared off with current SEC members five or more times since 2006 only eight have a winning record. Among this special group are Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, who played Texas A&M and Missouri regularly as conference foes before each defected to the SEC in 2012.
The Sooners are 5-2 vs. the Aggies from 2006-15, only one of those games occurring after the move to the SEC. That was the 2012-13 Cotton Bowl, a 41-13 win for A&M. Similarly, Oklahoma is 5-1 vs. Missouri, all of the action coming before the 2012 move.
That leaves the Sooners with a 1-0 record vs. Alabama (2013-14 Sugar Bowl), a 0-1 mark vs. Florida (2008-09 BCS title game) and a 2-0 record vs. Tennessee (2014 and 2015).
As for Oklahoma State, it is 4-2 vs. the Aggies and 5-1 vs. Missouri, all played before the duo’s move to the SEC with one exception. That was the 2013-14 Cotton Bowl, a loss to Mizzou.