Another college football season is coming to a close, so it’s time to take our annual look at the state of each power five conferences. Every conference has its annual powerhouse programs, but their quality top-to-bottom fluctuates on a year-to-year basis.
Here are college football’s Power Five conferences ranked from worst to best.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is the worst of all five Power Five conferences. The defending champion Clemson Tigers have been one of the most dominant teams this decade and they will once again be in the playoff (barring anything shocking in the next two weeks), but the rest of the conference is abysmal.
Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and Louisville all have respectable squads in 2019, but none of them are worthy of being ranked in the top 25. UNC looks promising on paper, but they haven’t been able to string together wins, now sitting at 5-6.
Meanwhile, the bottom tier of the conference showcases some of the worst teams in the nation. Syracuse, NC State, Georgia Tech, Duke, and Boston College are all bad, and the usually-dominant Florida State Seminoles are a shadow of what they used to be.
4. Big 12
The Big 12 is one of the most exciting conferences to watch, thanks to nearly every team annually boasting a high octane offense. But the reality is that the conference doesn’t hold many decent teams.
Oklahoma is one of the nation’s top teams and will once again be making a playoff push while Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State also have ranked programs. The predicted two-man race between Oklahoma and Texas quickly crashed and burned, but that honestly made the conference more exciting.
Oklahoma and Baylor emerged as the conference’s top two teams, but all four programs mentioned above had a legitimate shot at reaching the conference championship.
However, like the ACC, the bottom half of the conference is quite embarrassing. Texas and West Virginia have regressed from playoff threats to five-plus loss teams, while the likes of Kansas, Texas Tech, and TCU are all really bad.
They get the nod over the ACC because they at least have multiple teams worthy of making a playoff bid.
3. PAC 12
A season ago, the Pac 12 was the worst power five conference by far, but they made great strides in 2019. A year ago, they had no real hope of sending a team to the playoff, but this season, Oregon and Utah both had playoff resumes heading into Week 13.
The Northern division has been a major disappointment. Oregon State has been their usual “meh,” but playoff-hopefuls Washington and Washington State ended up with shockingly bad seasons. Cal boasts one of the nation’s best defenses, but endless injuries on both sides of the ball have derailed their season.
The Southern division hasn’t been much better, but they have seen a surprisingly strong season from USC, who is ranked heading into the final week of the regular season. Arizona and Arizona State aren’t exactly contenders, but they have very promising young teams that could make some noise if they can recruit better in the future.
Overall, the conference still lacks depth from top to bottom, but it has three great teams and a ton of young teams with potential moving forward.
2. Big Ten
The top two spots remain unchanged from last year’s ranking, as the Big Ten will once again come second to the SEC. The Big Ten still doesn’t quite have the star-studded lineup of the SEC, but they’re still very good and very deep.
Ohio State is the best team in the country, but they still had legitimate threats all season long. Penn State and Minnesota were both running playoff-caliber campaigns before Week 13 and will both be playing in nice bowl games. Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa once again pulled out fantastic teams that are capable of hanging with the best in the country.
To add to their resume, the Big Ten also had strong seasons from some usually irrelevant programs. Indiana and Illinois are both bowl-eligible and have made some noise against the Big Ten’s top-tier teams at multiple points this season.
The only asterisk on the Big Ten’s reputation this year is a shockingly bad season from Michigan State.
Northwestern and Nebraska still aren’t back, while Maryland and Rutgers are still terrible, but the conference has a lineup that can only be rivaled by the SEC.
The SEC is still the top-dog in the world of college football. Their commercials about how it “just means more” down south might be a little weird, but you can’t deny how consistently good the conference is at the top.
Alabama, LSU, and Georgia are all still alive in the playoff race, with Alabama looking as dominant as ever (even without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa). Auburn and Florida are both top-tier teams, but they’ve found themselves just outside the playoff conversation due to brutal schedules.
The SEC gets a lot of heat for poor non-conference scheduling (rightfully so), but this year they opened the season with Auburn’s win over potential Pac 12 champion Oregon.
While they are no longer as deep as the Big Ten, their top five teams are so good that they still deserve the top spot as the nation’s best conference.