Mid-Season SDPI ratings are back for their second crack at handicapping all the conference races. This week we'll take a look at the new Big 10, the new Pac-12, and a pair of non-BCS conferences, Conference USA, and the MAC.
Here are the current Big 10 standings. And here are the SDPI ratings.
Illinois: The Illini aren'tas good as their down-to-down performance would suggest? Who would have thought? Ron Zook is a terrible coach, but I guarantee the Illini will pull off at least one upset in their next 3 (@Penn State, versus Michigan, versus Wisconsin).
Indiana: Things have not been pretty in Hoosierville. Indiana has not beaten a IA school and boasts non-conference losses to Ball State and North Texas.
Ohio State: That offense has been as bad as anyone in the conference, and the defense has not lived up to its previous standard.
Penn State: After they escaped against Temple, the Nittany Lions looked like they could be in for a long season. But here they are at 7-1 and contending for the division title.
Purdue: Yes, they somehow lost to Rice and barely escaped Middle Tennessee State, but the Boilermakers are just one upset away from a bowl game (assuming they beat Indiana).
Wisconsin: They fell in dramatic fashion in East Lansing, but the Badgers still have a great shot of ending up in Pasadena for the second straight year.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes haven't played well, but they are 5-2 and barring an epic upset against Minnesota this Saturday, will be bowl eligible by Halloween.
Michigan: The Wolverines were exposed as a one-dimensional offense against their 'little brother'. Sure, the Wolverines can pass, but not against good defenses.
Michigan State: The Spartans are better than their ranking would indicate. They have faced the top-two offenses in the conference and still have the league's best defense.
Minnesota: The Gophers teased early on with a close loss at Southern Cal, but fans probably knew they were in for a long season when they fell at home to New Mexico State the next week.
Nebraska: The Huskers have not lived up to the preseason hype, particularly on defense. If they have any designs on winning the division, they must beat Michigan State on Saturday.
Northwestern: The Wildcats have lost a few close ones, but their wins have come against Boston College and Eastern Illinois so that tells you all you need to know.
And now the Pac-12.
And here are the SDPI ratings.
California: Better than their 1-3 conference record would indicate, but not anywhere near as good as the super-powers (Oregon and Stanford) in the division.
Oregon: If they had held onto the football against LSU, the showdown in Palo Alto on November 12th would be your game of the year.
Oregon State: Surprise, Surprise. The Beavers have played markedly better since opening the year with losses to Sacramento State and Wisconsin. Unfortunately, Oregon and Stanford are left on the schedule, so a bowl bid is unlikely.
Stanford: I wasn't sold on the Cardinal before the season started, but wow, they are good. I think we'll see another Pac-10(12) versus SEC showdown in this year's BCS National Championship game.
Washington: Like Stanford, the Huskies are another team that has been better than I thought they would be. The Huskies were a very lucky bowl team last season, but they are a legitimate fringe top-25 team this year.
Washington State: The Cougars are light-years from where they were in Paul Wulff's first 3 seasons. Unfortunately, they are still bad and that improvement probably won't buy him a 5th year.
Arizona: The defense is not quite as bad as the rating would indicate. The Wildcats have faced the top-two offenses in the conference (Oregon and Stanford).
Arizona State: Outside of Southern Cal, the Sun Devils are the best of what's around in the Pac-12 South. They won't give Stanford much a challenge in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game though.
Colorado: The Buffaloes are officially in Washington State circa 2008-2009 territory.
Southern Cal: Their turnover-propelled upset of Notre Dame has them a shade overrated. Stanford should handle them with relative ease this Saturday.
UCLA: Tell me again why they fired Karl Dorrell?
Utah: Their first season as a member of a BCS-conference has not quite been as successful as they had hoped. The grass ain't always greener, but the money sure is.
And now we examine the little guys. We'll start with Conference USA.And, once again, the SDPI ratings.
East Carolina: The win Saturday against Navy was huge for their bowl hopes. Despite the fact that a bowl game is still very much up in the air, the Pirates do control their own destiny in the division with Southern Miss and UCF coming to Greenville.
Marshall: Their 3 wins have come by a combined 14 points. Memphis and UAB are still on the schedule, so a bowl bid is a possibility.
Memphis: The Tigers broke a 16-game conference losing streak with their win at Tulane Saturday. They're still awful though.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles dominated fellow contender SMU on Saturday. If they can win in El Paso on Saturday, they will likely creep into the AP top-25 for the first time since 2004.
UAB: The Blazers have been awful this season, but there was nothing fluky about their win over defending league champion UCF on Thursday. The Blazers outgained the Knights by 170 yards
UCF: The Knights are still alive it in the division race. 3 of their 4 losses have come by 7 points or less.
Houston: The Cougars have scored at least 49 points in each of their 3 conference games. The defense remains a liability though, and could cost them their designs on an undefeated season.
Rice: The Owls aren't good, but they somehow beat Purdue in September.
SMU: Their game against Southern Miss could have been a preview of the CUSA Championship Game. The Mustangs are extremely balanced on both sides of the ball and will test Tulsa this week.
Tulane: The Green Wave have a WTF?! rating. How are they rated so high despite a 1-3 league record? In their lone win, they totally dominated, outgaining UAB by nearly 350 yards. They also stayed almost even with UTEP in yards despite the 44-7 loss to the Miners. Then in their most recent defeat to the worst team in the conference, the Green Wave actually outgained Memphis by 170 yards. With the coaching upheaval and their struggle on the scoreboard, I don't trust this rating at all. However, if Tulane pulls off an upset or two in the season's second-half, well, I told you so.
Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane were mostly forgotten after an early season stretch that included games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Boise State. In the conference though, Tulsa has been very impressive. However, their conference slate has included Tulane, UAB, and Rice, so lets see how they do against SMU before we start crowning anyone.
UTEP: The Miners are a notch below the top-3 out west (Houston, SMU, and Tulsa), but if they beat Rice and pull off one upset in their other 4 games, the Miners will be bowling for the second consecutive year.
And finally, we close this week with the MAC.
And the SDPI ratings.
Akron: The Zips have now lost 10 of their last 11 MAC games. The Zips were only within a touchdown at the gun in 3 of those losses.
Bowling Green: With their upset of Temple on Saturday, the Falcons move to 4-4 overall, and have an outside shot at bowl eligibility. The Falcons aren't particularly good, but outside of Temple, Toledo, Ohio, and Northern Illinois, none of the other 9 teams in the conference are either.
Buffalo: The Bulls lost in heart-breaking fashion on Saturday, missing an extra point with under 30 second to go that would have sent their game with Northern Illinois to overtime. The Bulls have played markedly better at home in the conference. In their two league home games (an upset of Ohio and the near miss on Saturday), the Bulls have averaged 541 yards and 34 points per game. In their two league road games (losses to Ball State and Temple), the Bulls have averaged 254 yards and 12.5 points per game.
Kent State: Under new management, the problem remains the same. The Golden Flashes have a phenomenal MAC-level defense, but their offense is absolutely horrendous.
Miami: At 2-5, a bowl bid is basically out of the question. However, the Redhawks can take solace in the fact that they played reasonably well against a pair of teams from BCS conferences (lost by 11 at Missouri and 6 at Minnesota).
Ohio: The Bobcats host the Temple Owls on Tuesday November 2nd in what will likely decide the MAC East.
Temple: Despite their upset loss at Bowling Green, the Owls are the top-rated SDPI team. In their 5 league games, the Owls have allowed just 6 offensive touchdowns.
Ball State: The Cardinals don't do a whole lot well, but they have won the close ones (4-0 in one-score games) and are just one win away from bowl eligibility.
Central Michigan: All offense, no defense. The Chippewas have not been able to stop anyone, so despite their firepower, they are staring at their second straight losing season.
Eastern Michigan: They haven't gotten a lot (or any) press nationally, and they aren't very good, but the Eagles have won 5 games for the first time since 1995. They will have to take two of their last four to get to just their second ever bowl game since they played and beat two IAA schools in the non-conference. I'll be pulling hard for them down the stretch.
Northern Illinois: Their escape at Buffalo leaves them as the only serious challenger to Toledo in the MAC West. They face the Rockets on Tuesday Night Football the day after Halloween.
Toledo: The Rockets are exceptionally balanced on both sides of the ball. A rematch with Temple in the MAC Championship Game would be exciting.
Western Michigan: Like their directional Michigan brethren in the center of the state, the Broncos struggles on defense have prevented them from being a contender.