Big East Strong ATS Trends Out of Conference
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 09/05/2008
Out of all the BCS conferences the Big East has taken a beating in public perception more than any other league since Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami bolted for the ACC in 2003 and 2004. The conference was left with only one real perennial contender in West Virginia with the rest of the conference being made up of struggling programs with once proud histories like Syracuse and Pittsburgh, fledgling Division 1-A newcomers like Connecticut and South Florida and former Conference USA teams like Cincinnati and Louisville. Not to mention a lowly Rutgers team that had always struggled.
Since that first uncertain year, the Big East has cemented its status as at least one of the top six conferences in the country and a conference that has National Championship contending teams annually. They have gained respect from college football fans by winning BCS Bowls; Louisville in the Orange Bowl and West Virginia in the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls and they have gained respect among Big East backers at the betting window with the best ATS record over the last half decade against non-conference opponents.
Despite a rough Week 1 that saw the only four Big East teams to face a Division 1A team lose outright, the Big East still carries a 101-68 record ATS in the last five seasons. Rutgers (16-6), Syracuse (16-10), Louisville (14-10), Cincinnati (12-8) and UConn (15-10) all rank among the top 20 in all of college football ATS in non-conference games over the last five seasons. West Virginia split their games, going 10-10 against the number and only Pitt failed to cover more often than not with a 10-11 ATS record. In limited time as part of the conference South Florida has gone an impressive 8-3 ATS.
The Big East continues to struggle with the overall perception that they are an inferior conference. It shows in the polls each week with rarely more than two teams ranked in the Top 25 and in the bowl bids with top teams in the conference often going to the lesser bowl games. Quietly though, the Big East continues to win money for its backers - and that's what is most important to us at Doc's Sports. Only the Pac-10 has more than two teams in the top 20 ATS versus non-conference opponents over the last five years. USC (18-6), Oregon (13-6) and UCLA (13-9) are all in the top 20 and LSU (17-4) and Florida (15-6) out of the SEC and Missouri (14-6) and Oklahoma State (12-6) from the Big 12 also joined this illustrious group.
The Big Ten and ACC, both conferences with far more prestige in the college football world, only have one team each among the top 20 in college football ATS in out of conference games. Minnesota (12-8) and Georgia Tech (10-7) both represent their conferences with hardly impressive ATS records and both teams have recently undergone coaching changes so they will likely be left off the list for the next five years.
Finding it increasingly harder to maintain a strong strength of schedule while in a conference like the Big East with few top tier teams, Big East teams are scheduling tough out of conference games more and more. WVU has lined up Colorado and Auburn on the schedule this year and the only other ranked team in the conference, South Florida, is going up against Kansas. While often being overlooked by public bettors and oddsmakers, the Big East continues to deliver for its backers in out of conference games.