A complete look at how the Power 5 conferences compared in 2018.

The SEC as the dominant conference in college football is a common theme. There has been a lot of analysis attempting to prove and disprove this widespread notion. This analysis utilizes the 2018 season only, as to avoid any claims of historical biases and to make the argument about which conference is the best right now. I don’t need historical data for that.

This analysis examined each conference across several statistical dimensions, scored the conferences and then ranked them. One caveat- only teams in the top 50 talent rankings, roster-wise, were included. This was done for one primary reason: Time constraints. I have to analyze each, and every roster of every team and I already have the 2018 data for the top 50 most talented teams according to the Composite Rating website. However, there is another benefit. By excluding teams without top 50 roster talent, negative outliers are removed. The analysis is based on averages and outliers can have a heavy impact on averages. So, there’s that.

The dimensions analyzed were:

  1. Average ordinal roster ranking.
  2. Average number of 5-star recruits
  3. Average number of 4-star recruits
  4. Average number of 3-star recruits
  5. Average roster blue chip (4 & 5-star recruits) percentage.
  6. Average roster talent rating (Composite).
  7. Average winning percentage (regular season).
  8. The average number of blue-chip recruits in a conference.
  9. Percentage of teams in the conference among those with top 50 talent roster (included for analysis).
  10. S&P+ Strength of schedule average.
  11. Dispersion scores.

The dispersion scores measured the amount in variance each conference had among its sample scores. The smaller the number, the more consistent the scores. This is a way of examining the influence of potential outliers or extreme scores.

table1 conference scores

The table above shows the scores for each conference along each dimension. So, the SEC scored as follows along the 11 dimensions:

  • Averaged ranking of roster talent: 20.1
  • Average number of 5-stars per team in the sample: 2.9
  • Average number of 4-stars per team in the sample: 27.9
  • Average number of 3-stars per team in the sample: 47.2
  • Average roster blue-chip percentage: 37%
  • Average talent rating per roster: 87.9
  • Average win percentage per team: 63%
  • Average number of blue-chip players per roster: 30.8
  • Percentage of teams from conference among the top 50 talented rosters: 100%
  • The average strength of schedule (SOS) according to S&P +
  • Overall average variance of all dimensions: 5.5

The charts below depict how each of the conferences ranked among the dimensions. This clearly shows the SEC as the dominant conference in 2018. The rankings flow top to bottom, 1 to 5.



The SEC ranks at the top of almost every category and has all 14 teams in the sample. Each of the other conferences scores would be lowered with the inclusion of every team, thus widening the gap between those conferences and the SEC. The Big 12 has the highest winning percentage but also had the fewest teams included in the top 50. While I can’t say for sure, I suspect that if I included all of the Big 12 teams, the overall win % for that conference would go down. I might do that in the future, but until then, this gives you an idea of how 2018 went for each conference.

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