Once again, here are the 2020 Conference USA standings.
And here are the APR standings with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded. Since teams played a varied number of games (some played as many as seven or as few as three), the rankings are on a per game basis, not raw totals.
Finally, Conference USA teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.
I use a game and a half as a line of demarcation to determine whether or not a team significantly over or under-performed relative to their APR. Using that standard, Louisiana Tech was the only team that saw their APR differ significantly from their actual record. The Bulldogs also significantly over-achieved relative to their YPP numbers and we went over a few reasons for that two weeks ago, so we'll move on to more important things.
Is Conference USA the Worst FBS Conference Part II: Conference USA Graduates
Two weeks ago I posited that Conference USA may have surpassed both the MAC and the Sun Belt as the worst conference in FBS. I used AP Poll rankings as a proxy and showed Conference USA has the fewest weeks in the College Football Playoff era with at least one team ranked as well as the fewest numbers of conference members to be ranked. This week, instead of further bashing Conference USA, I want to focus on the members the league lost in the latest round of realignment.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, 26 schools have called Conference USA home since the league began play in 1996. While some quality programs used Conference USA as a stepping stone in the late 90's and early 00's (Cincinnati, Louisville, and TCU to name a few), I am only going to focus on the teams that left the conference in 2013 and 2014 during the College Football Playoff realignment. Between 2005 and 2012, Conference USA was quite stable. The league was home to twelve teams, playing in two divisions, with a league title game played the first weekend in December. However, four members left Conference USA beginning with the 2013 season (Houston, Memphis, SMU, and UCF). Those four teams moved to the American Athletic Conference. The next season, three more schools joined them (East Carolina, Tulane, and Tulsa). Those seven schools have had varying levels of success since leaving Conference USA, but each has had at least a moment or two in the sun. All seven have played in bowl games since leaving Conference USA and six have spent at least one week in the AP Poll (Tulane is the only team that has not cracked the rankings).
I'm really burying the lede though. The fact that Tulane has played in a few bowl games since leaving Conference USA won't cause any administrators in the league office to lose much sleep. However, the outsized success that the top three programs (Houston, Memphis, and UCF) have had since leaving probably does. Those three teams have combined for four New Year's Six bowls (out of seven possible bids) and a BCS bowl appearance since leaving Conference USA. Meanwhile, Conference USA has been in the conversation for a New Year's Six invite twice (both times by Marshall), but has not been able to close the deal. If Conference USA had been able to hold those schools perhaps they would have become the preeminent Group of Five conference in the College Football Playoff era.