Advanced metrics show strength of SEC West, weakness of SEC East
The SEC is known for being the best conference in college football, but the discrepancy between the two divisions in 2015 is pretty astonishing.
Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ratings show the SEC West is the best division in college football this season, but the SEC East is the worst of any division in the Power 5 conferences, according to SB Nation’s Kevin Trahan.
While some national analysts have tried to portray the SEC West as not as strong as expected, this metric shows it is still the class of college football. Still, the gap between the SEC West and the second toughest division, according to Connelly’s ratings, is not as large you might think. The SEC West has an S&P+ rating of 11.9, and the ACC Atlantic (thanks to Clemson and Florida State) has a rating of 10.0.
The SEC East on the other hand is eighth overall with a S&P+ rating of 4.0, which puts it just behind the Pac-12 North. The AAC West (0.4) and MAC West (-0.2) are next in line behind the SEC East.
In head-to-head matchups, the SEC West is 8-1 against the SEC East this season with the lone East win coming in Florida’s 38-10 rout of Ole Miss. The East also has only one win against a non-conference opponent from a Power 5 conference, which South Carolina collected against North Carolina on the opening night of the season.
The SEC East’s best chance for wins against the West the rest of the way are Missouri against Mississippi State at home on Nov. 5, Georgia’s road tilt against Auburn on Nov. 13 and Missouri’s road game against Arkansas on Nov. 27.
The 11th-ranked Gators happen to be the only team from the division in this week’s AP Top 25, while the SEC West has four teams ranked (No. 4 LSU, No. 7 Alabama, No. 19 Ole Miss and No. 25 Mississippi State).
Connelly’s S&P+ ratings “reflect opponent-adjusted components of four of what Bill Connelly has deemed the Five Factors of college football: efficiency, explosiveness, field position, and finishing drives. (A fifth factor, turnovers, is informed marginally by sack rates, the only quality-based statistic that has a consistent relationship with turnover margins),” according to Football Outsiders.