The SEC had college football's best weekend. Of that there is no doubt. Texas A&M throttled Pac-12 contender Arizona State, Alabama made quick work of Big Ten West favorite Wisconsin, and Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi State all looked strong, while South Carolina and Auburn pulled out wins despite not bringing their A games.
The SEC has seven of the top 15 recruiting programs in the country, while no other league has more than 2, and that means it has the best players. Having the best players matters so much when coaches only get to work with the players for 20 hours per week, by NCAA rule.
But you already knew that.
So which conference had the second-best weekend? At least relative to expectations, it was the ACC. In what was a rather lackluster weekend for most leagues, the way to succeed was to blend into the crowd.
|Result vs. Vegas spread||SEC||ACC||Big 12||B1G||Pac-12|
|Covered by 25+||Ole Miss||Duke
|Covered by 18-24||Texas A&M||Northwestern||USC
|Covered by 11-17||Florida||Wake Forest
|Covered by 4-10||Tennessee
|Result within FG||South Carolina
|Didn't cover, by 4-10||Pittsburgh
|Didn't cover, by 11-17||Kentucky
|Didn't cover, by 18-24||Penn State
|Didn't cover, by 25+||Texas||Washington State|
|Note: Miami, LSU and Georgia are not listed as their games did not go at least 55 minutes, the amount required for a valid wager by Vegas rules.|
Collecting good wins and avoiding bad performances
The Big 12 had West Virginia crush a Georgia Southern team playing without its starting QB, but also had Texas showcase the worst offense in the country against Notre Dame.
The Big Ten's flagship was fine, as Ohio State managed to cover against an unranked Virginia Tech team after the Hokies lost their quarterback to a broken collarbone. Northwestern even upset a ranked Stanford. But that was overshadowed when Penn State gave up 10 sacks in a loss to Temple, Indiana gave up 8.5 yards/play in a narrow escape over Southern Illinois, and Nebraska lost on a Hail Mary to unranked BYU's backup QB in Lincoln.
But worst of all was the Pac-12, the league some wanted to tout as an equal of the SEC.
Washington State lost outright as a 31-point favorite to FCS Portland State. ASU got housed. Oregon was favored by 35 over Eastern Washington and won by just 19, becoming one of six teams to allow more than 6 yards/play to an FCS defense (Kansas, Texas Tech, Army, Ball State, Indiana being the others), and Arizona was favored by 34 over UTSA and won by only 10. Oh, and Stanford lost as a 12-point favorite and Colorado lost to one of the worst teams in FBS, Hawaii.
Half of the 12 Pac-12 schools did not come within 10 points of covering. The Pac-12 is not a bad league, but it was definitely overrated, at very least for the weekend.
The ACC did not obtain any marquee wins, unless you're of the mind to count partial member Notre Dame's 38-3 trouncing of Texas.
But five of its teams beat the spread by double digits, the best of any power league. And every team came within 10 points of Vegas expectations, which no other league can claim. Sharing much of the same footprint as the SEC, the ACC's performance against the league is very important, and North Carolina lost close to South Carolina, as expected, and Louisville lost by only a single score against an Auburn that many have in the Playoff. And VT was right there with Ohio State when quarterback Michael Brewer broke his collarbone.
It's quite fair to say the ACC did not have any of the worst 10 performances across the power conferences, and in Week 1, that was enough to take the title of second-best weekend.
ACC's performance probably unsustainable
The ACC, however, may be unable to keep this up, as it had four major injuries. Pitt lost the 2014 ACC POTY, running back James Conner, to an MCL injury. Syracuse QB Terrel Hunt is done for the year with a torn Achilles. Clemson lost its best deep and red zone threat for a while as receiver Mike Williams fractured his neck. And Virginia Tech's quarterback is going to miss at least a month.