Four weeks into the season, most of the FBS is entering conference play. With 2023 being the last year of existence for the current Power Five, let’s take a look at a mid-season set of conference power rankings.
5. Big 12
This is probably the easiest ranking on the list. While #3 Texas has had a great season so far, there isn’t much depth in the Big 12 this year. #14 Oklahoma and #24 Kansas are undefeated and in the top-25, but that’s pretty much it for the conference. TCU isn’t good enough for a College Football Playoff encore, Cincinnati is far from its dream 2021 season, and there are some pretty bad teams at the bottom. Baylor is 1-3 and lost at home to Texas State, and 1-3 Texas Tech fell to Wyoming. The Big 12 is in desperate need of its 2024 additions, especially Utah and Colorado.
The ACC is the first conference to have six 4-0 teams since the SEC in 2012. So how is it only the fourth best conference in the country? Well, there just isn’t enough power at the top. #5 Florida State has a marquee win over #13 LSU and overall looks like a CFP contenter, but that’s about it for the ACC at the top. Duke, UNC, Louisville, Miami, and Syracuse have all looked solid, but none of those teams have jumped into the top echelon of the country. Clemson is no longer a national title contender like it used to be, already with two conference losses. Plus, the bottom of the conference is abysmal. Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Boston College are three of the worst Power Five teams in the nation. Depth is great, but there won’t be six undefeated teams in the ACC for long. Once the conference beats each other up over the next few weeks, the veil will lift on where the ACC truly stands.
The almighty SEC hasn’t fallen… but for now, it’s no longer on top of the conference power rankings. Two-time defending champion Georgia is still ranked first in the county. There are still seven SEC teams in the top-25. However, four of those teams are ranked between 20 and 25. The conference has also come out on the losing end in inter-conference battles. The SEC is 2-4 against ACC schools, including #13 LSU losing to #5 Florida State. #12 Alabama also fell to #3 Texas. The SEC is still very strong and doesn’t have a single awful team, but it needs to prove itself more to reclaim the top spot. For now, Georgia is the only team safely in title contention, and that’s what drops the SEC so low.
2. Big Ten
The Big Ten is a tale of two divisions. In the East, there’s three national championship contenders: #2 Michigan, #4 Ohio State, and #6 Penn State. Maryland and Rutgers have also had strong starts to the season. Out in the West, it isn’t so pretty. There isn’t a single undefeated or ranked team. No team has seen awful, but when Wisconsin is the best a division has to offer, that’s a rough look. However, having three of the best six teams in the country keeps the Big Ten towards the top. At the end of the day, championships matter most, and the conference has a few teams that can get there.
If you told me before the season that a lame duck conference a year away from death would be the best in the country this year, I would have laughed at you. But the Pac-12 has it all. It has four teams in the top-10, all of which can fight for a playoff spot. #7 Washington, #8 USC, and #9 Oregon all look dangerous, and #10 Utah could be as well if its quarterback Cam Rising can get healthy. Beyond those four teams, there’s still plenty of depth. #16 Washington State is undefeated, and #19 Oregon State would be if it didn’t need to battle the Cougars so early in the season. Plus, who could forget about Colorado? The Pac-12 is the strongest conference in the nation in terms of depth, while still having heavy hitters at the top of the country. It’s a shame for college football that the conference is splitting up just as it’s hitting its stride. But for now, while the Pac-12 is still alive, it’s at the top of the conference power rankings.