Comparison of Competitiveness by Conferences

This all started from an argument with a co-worker (went to UF) about how the SEC is the best football. My argument was that just because you have the best players doesn't mean it's the best product. Bama and UGA plowing through people doesn't make for entertaining games.

This lead me to the thought of how competitive each conference is within itself. My hypothesis was that the ACC would be as good as any because well we've all dealt with coastal chaos.

This table show just how close and how far apart the games were within each conference from the 2021 season.

Season SEC ACC B1G Big12 Pac12
FG or less 21.4% 22.8% 11.3% 22.2% 9.3%
TD or less 39.3% 42.1% 33.9% 42.2% 27.8%
2TD or more 50.0% 42.1% 56.5% 37.8% 57.4%
3 TD or more 35.7% 28.1% 37.1% 33.3% 31.5%

As you can see the ACC stacks up very well.

The ACC has the most 3 point or less games. The ACC is also right with the Big12 for most one score games. The SEC is good but not as good as the ACC or Big 12. The Pac 12 and Big Ten are basically trash.

For the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac 12, half their games or more are not within two touchdowns. The Big 12 keeps it tight and the ACC is respectable. Once you get to blowout games (21 points or more) the ACC leads everyone with the least 3 score or more games. Two score is doable in the 4th, I'm not turning off that TV. One really amazing not is that The Big 12 has very little drop off from 2+ score and 3+ score games. The majority of the Big 12 games that are 2 TDs or more are 3 TDs or more.

Next i looked at week 6 and beyond
I did this because i wanted to see what happens as teams settle in and have a month+ of games under their belts

Week 6+ SEC ACC B1G Big12 Pac12
FG or less 23.8% 23.3% 10.4% 20.0% 9.8%
TD or less 35.7% 39.5% 31.3% 40.0% 29.3%
2TD or more 52.4% 41.9% 56.3% 40.0% 56.1%
3 TD or more 33.3% 27.9% 35.4% 34.3% 31.7%

The take away i had here was the SEC, ACC and PAC 12 increased their FG games, but only the PAC 12 increased the percentage of 1 score games. I think that a lot of conferences like to have their big match ups in November so the close games might be because of how the scheduling is setup.

The SEC and Big 12 had more 2+ score games, but only the Big 12 really increased their 3+ score games.

So who has the most OT games?
Well I'm glad you asked but regretfully it's kind of boring

SEC ACC B1G Big12 Pac12
Number of OT Games 3 3 2 1 2
Total Games 56 57 62 45 54

Finally ... Some basic math on the score differences

SEC ACC B1G Big12 Pac12
Max 62 48 49 52 45
Mean 15.8 14.0 18.2 15.3 15.7
Median 12.5 10.0 17.0 10.0 14.0
STDev 13.4 12.0 13.9 13.8 9.5

The SEC has the biggest blowouts, the ACC has lowest mean in score at 2 TDs. ACC has lowest median and STDev too. The ACC games are just closer contests. The ACC is just the best league to watch for great games.

DISCLAIMER: Forum topics may not have been written or edited by The Key Play staff.


I feel like you might be dealing with some confirmation bias here. But, I'll take optimism wherever I can get it.

How so? The ACC had more 1 score games than any other conference. If close games are better, which personally as long as I'm not watching VT close games are the best, then the ACC has a higher number of good games.

I'd rather watch SCar pound UF for my personal enjoyment than last year's ACCCG but that's just me

I think the confirmation bias is the conclusion that closer games = more entertaining, which theoretically makes sense. But I think a majority of people would argue they were more entertained by UGA v. Bama in the SEC championship and the NCAA championship game both of which resulted in outcomes with 14+ point margins than GT beating Duke 31-27 on a late TD. Whereas GT had an exciting win, the stakes were higher, the athletes were better, the product was better, and the surprising results meant way more in the UGA/Bama games.

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Sure the stakes are higher for Bama-UGA, but they aren't for Mizzou vs Vandy or KY vs MSU.

GT vs Duke might actually matter in the coastal, it might decide a division title. That's not happening in the SEC, USCe isn't winning a title, unless they are playing UF, UT, UGA, LSU, Bama, or Auburn it's meaningless to the SEC title game.

That's true. I'm sure we'd agree that competitiveness is a major factor in entertainment but other factors also contribute, including stakes, level of play, surprise outcomes (everyone loves it when the highly ranked gets toppled), among others.

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If GT vs Duke matters for the division title, I'd argue you're just watching a boring division. Nobody cares if it's competitive. I'm not watching that game, why would a fan anywhere else be paying attention?

The NFL has amazing ratings and it's the least competitive league of them all (that's a hot take)

I get your point and appreciate your positive efforts, but the ACC is just bad right now. And the team we all root for isn't even good enough to come close to winning it lately.

Your premise is a bit flawed, that being that closer games = more entertaining games. I'd rather watch Georgia murder Florida and UT than Wake and Duke brawl it out 17-13.

The ACC is a lot more interesting for me if VT is in the hunt.

That's my standard, and that of many VT fans.

I imagine that's similar for many "football schools".

Just weighing in to say I love he alliteration and the tables. Ok. I'll go actually read the post now.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

The ACC games are just closer contests. The ACC is just the best league to watch for great games.

I couldn't resist lol

Damnit, I should have ended my post with this

I was gonna make a post about how a 52-49 game is more exciting than a 6-3 game, even though the point differential is the same, but then this got posted and pretty much proved all the points. (And none of them on the scoreboard.)

I do want to point out, if VT wasn't involved I would have loved watching that train wreck of a game.

IDK- I was there in person and it was horrific nd boring at the same time...except if it was to wonder exactly HOW each team would fail to score/blow their scoring chances.

From the 2018 VT-uva game-"This is when LEGENDS are made!"


....the ACC is the paragon of mediocrity?

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

And what if it is? The games are still closer and outcomes less known. I never said the ACC played the best football, only that our games were more entertaining, thus greater.

Lots of people love the first weekend of March madness. They want upsets, they want close games. No one cares about a 1v16 blowout, the #1 team is probably playing their best basketball in that case. UVA being upset they played bad basketball, and it was great, historic even.

I see the point you're trying to make, but no matter how competitive the ACC is against itself, no one outside of fans of ACC schools is going to watch ACC football until it gets competitive out of conference with the SEC and B1G.

Also, your March Madness comparison doesn't do your argument any justice. People watch the tourney because it is madness and they know anything can happen. And they watch it because it is the tournament that decides the national championship.

If you play it, they will win.

"How the ass pocket will be used, I do not know. Alls I know is, the ass pocket will be used." -The BoD

I agree CFB fans aren't going to watch the ACC just because it's entertaining. It doesnt make them right/s

it just means less

21st century QBs Undefeated vs UVA:
MV7, MV5, LT3, Braxton Burmeister, Ryan Willis, Josh Jackson, Jerod Evans, Michael Brewer, Tyrod Taylor, Sean Glennon, and Grant Noel. That's right, UVA. You couldn't beat Grant Noel.

Maybe he can look at the conferences against other P5 out of conference games. That would be a good measuring stick against another conference. Ignore the G5 and lower level games.

They also watch it because a team they're interested in is in it.

So I don't believe that close scores = desirable football, there is an element of well played football that matters, for instance the national championship game last year ended up a 33-18 score but that was because there was a pick six as alabama was driving to try to tie the game, that wasn't a bad game because it ended up a 15 point margin.

Secondly, I don't think looking at how competitive a conference is overall really matters frankly, if Duke vs Pitt is a 41-38 game and Missouri vs Vanderbilt is 28-0, it doesn't matter at all, it comes down to marquee brands being good and drawing eye balls.

Ultimately that's why the ACC is considered down, FSU, VT, and Miami have not been relevant for more than 1 season in what, 5-10 years? Only Clemson has been consistently relevant. Meanwhile the SEC has not only won the past three national championships, they've done it with three of their marquee programs, UGA, Alabama and LSU

VT '17

I agree that for most people how competitive the gsnes are doesn't matter. And with most things in life, I dont understand most people. Why would I watch Mizzou-Vandy unless I've sent there? It's going to be a boring game. But Duke-Pitt being a toss up, I'd rather watch that, expected outcomes suck unless it's your team.

Look at the over under thread, everyone is arguing which ganes VT will win and I bet you that not a single person in is right. I have no clue who is going to win the coastal. I have a better idea about the Atlantic, but Clemson is a big question mark.

In the SEC, are Bama/UGA fans arguing over an 11.5 over/under?

I dont see the desirability in predetermined outcomes. I realize I'm fairly alone in this but Bana is going to win so why watch their ganes, if they get upset I can go back and watch later.

I would make the assumption that over a long enough period of time for every pick 6 that ends the game at 15 points there is a fluke play with no time left that brings the losing team within 1 score. Or at the very least, this happens in every league and cancels each other out. So while the 33-18 was a good game, each league has ganes like that driving the numbers of good games up across the board. Look at Bama UF last year, UF went up big fast cause Bana was still waking up, but UF didn't stand a chance after the 1st quarter. Bama just imposed their will. There are always games closer than the score and games where the score is closer than the actual game.

Thank you for the hard work, but if tech is not playing, I will watch the SEC. My eyes know good football when they see it.

eh, if i'm not watching tech I'm just as likely to watch the ACC, the B1G, the PAC or some MACtion as I am the SEC. It really just depends on what's on. I might start on a game with higher ranked teams, but I'll switch to whatever game is close in the third quarter.

The only appointment TV football-wise for me is VT (or Penn State for Mrs MattBoard).

To each their own.

Same here - I look for a game that is close if VT is not on.

First: VT
Second: Close game where we have a vested interest
Third: Potential upset
Fourth: The closest game on that is late in the game
Fifth: Game with a VT opponent
Sixth: switch between games at every commercial until I find one that fits the above.

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own

Dang! Is my remote control in your hand?
That is exactly where I stand.

I seldom speak to loluva grads, but when I do, I tell them I want large fries.

First: VT
Second: Close game where we have a vested interest
Second-n-1/2: A Game involving my son or daughter's college alma-mater
Third: Potential upset
Fourth: The closest game on that is late in the game
Fifth: Game with a VT opponent
Sixth: switch between games at every commercial until I find one that fits the above.

This is perfect. I had to add a key one for me (and I would think others here).

Pain is Temporary, Chicks Dig Scars
Glory is Forever, Let's Go Hokies!!

I would like to add for me: watching a UVA game with a UVA fan family member, pretending to be rooting for them/upset they aren't doing well, and on the inside laughing diabolically at their misfortune

doesn't doing that make you feel good?
gets me all giddy inside!

I seldom speak to loluva grads, but when I do, I tell them I want large fries.

If it's college football, I'm watching it

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

So the post week 6 stat is interesting, because the SEC does have its own scheduling quirk: ACC rivalries to close the year means the east division champ has to be settled early.

Add to it SEC teams have used the week prior to rivalry week to schedule their creampuff opponent. That skews the Nov stats, while other leagues are playing conference opponents.

Meanwhile, the SEC gets huge non-conference opponents to open the year, and dive right into league play, while other conferences are still playing Bowling Green.

Because we added Liberty to our Nov schedule, and the dawn (finally) of the ACCN, we will see more conference games early in the season.

TKPhi Damn Proud
BSME 2009

It was very apparent while gathering the data that the ACC and SEC schedules league games way earlier than other leagues. In scheduling flow the SEC and ACC are very similar.

Close games doesn't always equate to better football. There's something uniquely special about watching Bama and Georgia play against each other, or some of those big Bama/LSU, Bama/Clemson matchups over the years, among others. When the talent level, discipline on defense, and individual talent on display is so spectacular it's a lot more fun to watch for me than a close game between mediocre teams with mediocre talent. Or the "exciting" big12 football days of the early and mid 2010's that featured some of the worst defensive discipline, poor tackling, and "reacting" I've ever watched. High scoring, sometimes close, but low quality football on one side, uber-simplified (but effective) offenses on the other side.

For the record, I do believe the quality of football on display in the average SEC game is the best football in the country. Most years the 10-12th ranked recruiting classes in the SEC would be in the top 3-5 range in the ACC. Even the teams without great records are putting better athletes on the field. Better athletes and better coaches, of which in terms of assistants there is no question the SEC has the best assistants in the country, and when they don't have them, they poach them quickly, means better football.

Here's a few examples of the talent comparison in terms of recruiting class rankings:

2022: 9th place SEC Auburn at 229.35 score vs 4th place ACC FSU at 229.46

2021: The top 11 SEC recruiting classes were better than ACC 5th ranked Pitt's recruiting class.

2020: 7 SEC teams finished with a better class than 3rd ranked Miami.

2019: This one is particularly brutal. There are 5 SEC teams that would have finished 1st in the ACC, 7 SEC teams that would have finished at least 2nd in the ACC, and 11 SEC teams that would have finished at least 3rd in the ACC recruiting ranks.

Yeah, there's a huge difference between very talented teams playing conservatively, and two teams being even because they can't execute basic plays or complete a pass even when the coverage leaves plays open.

Talented teams can turn a game around on a dime and devour their opponent.

Talented teams can turn a game around on a dime and devour their opponent.

Yep. For example, the Bama-Tennessee game was actually quite entertaining this past season.

Final score 52-24 Bama, but Bama scored 28 in the 4th quarter. It was 31-24 early in the 4th, then Bama stepped on their throat and pulled away. This game would register in what this analysis considers the "worst" quality category because the final margin was significant. However, it was fun to watch, and the game was close for over 75% of the game.

Just curious, what about it was fun? Bama was going to win, that's what they do. They turn on a dime and win. Is it fun waiting for it to happen? When is Bama going to care?

And UF-Bama that turn happened at the end of the first, so the score says it was a good game but Bama started slow and then dominated for 3 quarters. You could see the change and it was inevitable.

Because the football was good. Hooker throwing three TD's against Alabama (while getting multiple teeth knocked out) was fun to watch from a former Hokie. It was a rivalry game, so it had that intensity, and Tennessee managed to hang around and keep it close, nervy for awhile. Bryce Young, who was one of the most fun players to watch despite an OL that was not just bad by Bama's standard, but was bottom half of FBS in terms of pressure rate allowed, was a very fun player to watch as he managed to stay poised and creative in the face of pressure all year. A true dropback passing game in college football is rare these days, and Bama had one with Young, who often worked through his reads and made smart decisions.

If I want to catch the last 2 mins of a GT-Duke finish because it's close, I can change over, but it's a more enjoyable experience to watch the first 3/4th's, really 4/5th's by the time Bama really put them away, of a game with better athletes making better plays against better athletes.

edit: Here's a video of Bryce against Tennessee. NFL level QB play, scanning the field, regularly finding his 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or checkdown option, but with all volatility of a mediocre college OL and some careless plays that cost his team scoring opps. NFL level QB play, without the more boring overall play style of the NFL is fun to watch, imo.

Hooker got teeth knocked out?!

Story about Hooker getting his teeth knocked out

Now that I'm thinking about it again, pretty embarrassing how some questioned his toughness after the weird 2020 Clemson game thing. It was often coupled with weird, coping mental gymnastics by people trying to say Burmeister was our best option.

Yeah, it was clear as day that Hooker was the best QB on the roster by far. Sounds like the previous staff just really loved favoritism and loved BB for some reason. Nothing against him and appreciate his time as a Hokie, but he had no business starting over HH ever.

some of the personnel decisions by the previous staff, particularly by Cornelsen, were real head-scratchers. HH was absolutely the best option we had and there is no question about that. The way he was treated and pushed out in favor of a guy who frankly wasn't as talented doesn't sit well with me. I'm just glad Cornelsen is several states away now and never returning.

Onward and upward

Is it for sure he wouldn't have started, or was it that he didn't like the idea that he'd have to compete for the job?

For sure, it turned out Burmeister was overrated, and Hooker was underrated by the previous staff.

I have no clue, but what I do know is that messaging was a huge issue for the previous staff as they needed a PR person way to much ... so I wonder if they made it seem like a competition because "competition is good" instead of a what it should have been was Hooker was entrenched starter that Burmiester had to untrench, and there has to be a realistic chance to untrench a starter so that you get competition, but Hooker has a pretty big head start as the #1 guy.

Fuente was kind of a "my way or the highway" kind of guy, but his results ultimately didn't support that.

Hooker probably threw it to the 2nd receiver in his reads one time for a 17yd gain and Corn probably blew a gasket he didn't throw a swing pass to Blumrick whatever second string tight end played with Hooker for a 6" gain

Hooker probably threw it to the 2nd receiver in his reads one time for a 17yd gain and Corn probably blew a gasket "popped a kernel" he didn't throw a swing pass to Blumrick whatever second string tight end played with Hooker for a 6" gain

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

Your dad joke skills are a-maize-ing.

To be the man you gotta beat the man!

VT Marketing Class of 2009
Current Roanoke-Hokie
Go Hokies!

Damn. Sounds like his jaw got hit so hard it mashed his teeth into his mouth guard and forced them loose/out. Holy!

The SEC is more talented, better teams, more passionate fans, larger TV audiences, much more tradition, and the eyes says better football. the end.

To me, there's two three things that make college football exciting:

  1. Styles make fights (and there's a wide range of styles in cfb)
  2. Off the field drama (Saban/Jimbo beef, Lane being a dick, Harvy updyke, etc)
  3. College players doing non-professional things (fumbling punts, missing field goals, kicks getting blocked, etc)

I think the B12 and Sunbelt will be the two most fun conferences to watch this season. I'm hopeful that the ACC Atlantic will be fun to watch - Wake's offense vs the NC State and Clemson defense could be interesting (maybe not now that Sam Hartman is out for the season).

Honestly, I'm almost never tuning in to watch a random non-VT ACC game.

edit: counting is hard

Twitter me

Sounds like Hartman will/could be back at some point after later updates.

I agree on all three of these points.

In my other post I talked about how I enjoy watching great high-level games. I also enjoy the messiness of lower quality, volatile games as well, but if forced to choose between the two I would pick watching the better talent with more discipline and better coaching. However, I don't have to choose with college football, which is part of what makes it special.

I agree the B12 has more room for parity this season (and had it the last two seasons as well), which will make it an interesting league to follow. Even if one of OU or Texas has a massive breakthrough it would still be fun to follow in how it might shake up things at the top. Sunbelt should be fun as well. For the Atlantic, I think the best hope for it being interesting requires an NC State win in Death Valley in week 5. If Clemson gets to mid October undefeated in ACC play it's probably going chalk.

I think the coaching matchups are particularly interesting in the B12. Gundy has (quietly?) reinvented himself and become a defense first team. Arranda is building something at Baylor. I have no idea if Venables will be a great HC, but a Jeff Lebby offense against an Arranda or Derrick Mason Defense should be a fun watch. Dykes at TCU feels like a great fit. Beyond that, there's going to be a lot of intrigue as UT and OU play their last few years in the conference, especially once CIncy and UCF join in.

I totally agree re: ACC. I'm also closely watching Miami. Diaz (also quietly) doubled the number of bluechips on their roster in his 2-3 years there. Cristobal is a 'proven' entity IMO so he should be able to put it together. Miami also misses Clemson, NC St, and Wake this year, so it's possible the ACCCG could be interesting for the first time in a decade.

To me, the SEC and B10 are pretty boring this year. The only questions are if OSU and Bama will recover from their disappointing (for lack of a better term) outcomes from last season.

I also enjoy the messiness of lower quality, volatile games as well, but if forced to choose between the two I would pick watching the better talent with more discipline and better coaching. However, I don't have to choose with college football, which is part of what makes it special.

I really think that Coastal Carolina/BYU in 2020 was the best game of the last 5 years. I want more games like that.

Twitter me

Miami doesn't miss Clemson this year. They play in November, so they could have a short turnaround rematch (barring an NC State Atlantic win).

A Miami-NC State ACCCG would be a cool way to end the divisions. It would also be a nice test case for TV viewership reasons. How much weight does the NC State solid following finally reaching an ACCCG have in viewership pull? What about a resurgent Miami that maybe nabbed a win against Clemson two weeks earlier?

I hate Miami, and don't want them to win the ACC, but this scenario would at least have some intrigue.

I find the more high quality the teams the more boring the play style. If I wanted the highest quality of football I'd watch the NFL. I do love the parity in the NFL but with that much parity there aren't really upsets either.

I live watching triple option teams that aren't ran by Paul Johnson and dont play VT. Air raid, read option, lots of different styles are fun.

CFB has to be innovative because there is such a large talent gap, so you see some really fun things. But blowout are just boring. Watching Bama play is boring for about 10 of their regular season games. When was the last time they lost to an unranked team? I want unknown outcomes, not hoping to see something crazy happens.

Technically, last year was the first time they lost to an unranked team (at the time) in A&M since 2007 I believe. Though I believe that week they played Alabama was the only week in like 2 or 2 and half years that they were unranked, so it's a hilariously flukey way to break that streak. A perfect college football weird stat/streak.

I hate asking somebody else to do statistics work when I myself am a huge fan of doing that, but would you be able to rerun the numbers, looking at margin of victories in games out of conference against power five opponents, further breaking down to identify teams that have winning records.

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

Sure, not tonight, but sure ... though I have a couple questions

So you want margin of victory from SEC vs Acc, B1G, B12, P12 and then ACC vs B1G, B1, P12 and so forth to show how much better each league is than the other?

Then you want margin of victory from wining teams vs losing teams?

I think that fits the bill.

Never Forget #1 Overall Seed UVA 54, #64 UMBC 74

I started down this road and we'll there's not a lot of data, SEC played 1 B1G team and lost, Both teams were 6-6 in their other games.

The Pac12 went 2-1 vs SEC and that one game was a bad Colorado losing by 3 points to a winning SEC team.

The ACC had way more games (nine) against the SEC. They weren't really fair matchups outside UGA-Clemson, Pitt-Tennessee*, FSU-UF and BC-Mizzou. Those ganes were split 2-2. All were 1 score games.

GT played UGA closer than Vandy did, which isn't saying much.

*Pitt was the only regular season loss UTenn had that wasn't ranked at the time. UTenn had a rough schedule and was probably better than their win total.

Other leagues
B12 only had 8 p5 games, WVU had 2 if them, they were 4-4, 1-1 against ACC, the loss was us.
B1G had 12 games, 8-4, 1-2 vs ACC, cuse lost by 10, UVA destroyed Illinois, Duke over NW by 7
P12 had 9 games, 3-6, no acc games, only close game was Colorado loss to A&M.
ACC played 16 more than any other conference (SEC at 15). Outside the 4 SEC games the only games that were good matchups were VT-WVU, Miami-MSU, and Duke-NW. MSU easily handled Miami, other two games were close.

Ehhh... I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but this is like saying that the WNBA would be better if the games were closer. I'm not sure many people (or anyone really) believes the WNBA would ever be a better product, because at the end of the day the talent is far superior... And to the point of many posters above, it's the talent that makes the games interesting.

Is coronavirus over yet?

you could supplement the WNBA with Euro basketball, G-league, etc. and get the same impact. CFL, XFL, Arena, etc. for the NFL. MLS for Bundesliga/Premier League. Etc, etc. etc.

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I struggle with this argument because if talent is the driver then why wouldn't you watch the NFL? I'm sure some people here watch as much NFL as they can, it's just not for me. If you can watch both then that must be nice to have that much free time ... I miss those days as I struggle to watch as much college as I once did.

I will say though, more close games will make the WNBA nore entertaining than less close games.

CFB is a cultural and geographically driven league, sure blue bloods have band wagon fans but majority of CFB fans either went to the university, had family go, or are proximal to the location. NFL being a national brand means anyone can cut the TV on and just pick a game to watch, also with NFL teams mostly being in large metropolitan areas the geographical thing weighs less

I can appreciate this take. Maybe its a "both - and" type of thing, right? I happen to love CFB much more than NFL, although that is quickly changing with the lack of parity that currently exists, but I still want it to be competitive from a talent standpoint.

Is coronavirus over yet?