One of the most-read articles in last year's Season Preview was one which ranked the strength of the 10 FBS conferences and Independents.
Based on the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com, we calculated the power of each team in each conference, then provided an average for each of the leagues and divisions. We believe these rankings may help to provide a better understanding as to why it's so difficult for a school like Boise State of the Mountain West Conference or UCF of the American Conference to find anything close to equal footing in respect to the Power 5 Conferences (ACC, Big, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC).
Most college football fans instinctively know that the pool of teams played by a Mountain West or American Conference school aren't as strong as the pool of teams that an SEC or Big Ten team faces. These rankings put a number on that disparity.
As we said last year, it really is the difference between apples and oranges. The Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC) are the apples. The Group of Five conferences (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt) are the oranges.
There is a certain amount of parity between the five Power 5 conferences with the SEC topping the group at an average power rating of 73.77 among its 14 member schools. The 5th-ranked Power 5 conference is the Big 12 at 69.59. That's a separation of only 4.18 points from the first-to-worst conferences among the elite programs.
The collection of 6 Independent schools (Notre Dame, Army, BYU, UMass, Liberty and New Mexico State) rank 6th over-al with an average power of 62.28. That's 7.29 points lower than the lowest-ranked Power 5 Conference. If you remove Notre Dame's power rating of 90.46 from the group, the average power rating of the Independents would fall to 51.98 and make it the lowest-ranked group in all of major college football.
The Sun Belt, led by strong programs like Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and Troy, jumps from last to first among the Group of Five conferences and ranks 7th over-all. While their rosters may lack depth, most of the 10 Sun Belt schools welcome back 15-to-19 of their 22 starters from a year ago. Still, the average power is only 56.49 which puts the top-ranked Group of Five conference 13.10 points below the lowest-ranked Power 5 conference.
CUSA takes the dubious honor of being the lowest-ranked conference in 2019.
Here is how the conferences and divisions are projected to rank at the end of the 2019 regular season.