Is the MWC better than the Pac 12?
ESPN’s computation ranks it 6th-best after four weeks, scoring it greater than the Big East (7), which I doubt many would argue. But surprisingly, the AP gives the MWC a power rating of 4, which places it not only above West Virginia and its companions, but also higher than the ACC and Pac 12.
Boise State and TCU are MWC power hitters. Both carry national rankings and a recent history of dominance. But two major players of the past have departed for greener pastures, and according to the AP power rating, Utah may have increased its earning potential, while also taking a competitive step backwards.
How is this possible?
The Pac 12 currently has three programs placed in the AP top-25, which is one greater than the MWC. But the league is 4-7 in games versus out-of-conference AQ opponents, and an even worse 1-6 when those teams are ranked. These numbers are a definite blow to national perception, but as you’ll see, the mid-major didn’t fare any better.
In nine games versus out-of-conference AQs, the Mountain West record is a woeful 1-8, which includes an overall posting of 1-4 in games played against ranked opponents. Boise State is the only winner, defeating a 22nd ranked Georgia team in the opening week. TCU is among the losers, falling to unranked Baylor in the first game.
So how exactly does the AP calculate power among conferences? The overall record out-of-conference shows the Pac 12 at 19-11, and the MWC at 16-10. In head-to-games this year, the MWC falls short against the Pac with just one victory (SDSU over Washington State) in three games.
Both conferences are top heavy, which can be said of many others. But in my opinion, there is a substantial drop off in the Moutain West, after Boise and TCU. It was BYU and Utah that once provided a meaty middle, but those schools are now gone and inapplicable to the MWC equation. The Pac 12 has shown early signs of being down from years past, especially when considering winless Oregon State as we enter week five. But even so, I still believe the average team would have more opportunity for success playing through an MWC schedule as opposed to one played in the Pac 12. Apparently, the AP doesn’t share my sentiment.—Or at least not yet.
Is the current Mountain West Conference greater than the Pac 12? According to the Associated Press, the answer is yes. But the more important question may come in January, and only if these power rankings hold. It’s possible that voters will be asked this same question in four months, when it’s a potential share of the national championship on the line. The final decision may inevitably come down to a choice between undefeated programs from the MWC, Pac 12, and ACC.