Conference Power Rankings (Sept. 25)

San Jose State is 4-0 against the spread, helping the WAC take No. 1 in the Clark County Power Rankings. (US Presswire)

The Conference Power Rankings will always be delivered with a bonus set of rankings. Last week, I broke down which leagues were scheduling the most FCS opponents/team in the Cupcake King Power Rankings. This week we are taking the 11 FBS conferences to The Strip.

The Clark County Power Rankings look at which conferences have the best cumulative against-the-spread (ATS) record. In theory, teams covering the spread are playing at/above the expert expectations. Therefore, leagues with the best cumulative ATS records have been playing at/above expectations so far this season. All ATS results were taken from, and accumulated to make the Clark County Power Rankings.

The Sun Belt and WAC are frequently scheduled for early season matchups against BCS conference opponents, which can hurt the league's overall nonconference record. But both leagues have been providing their share of covers, becoming popular underdog picks to cover large spreads. The Big 12 and Mountain West are the only other leagues above .500, a factor I decided to take into consideration for this week's power rankings.  Are you shocked that the Big 12 and Mountain West are ranked in the top four of the Clark County Power Rankings?  UNLV and Dana Holgorsen are not.  

Clark County Power Rankings
1. WAC: 17-7 (.708)
2. Sun Belt: 22-11 (.667)
3. Big 12: 19-13 (.594)
4. Mountain West: 21-16 (.568)
5. MAC: 24-25 (.489)
6. Big Ten: 22-24 (.478)
7. ACC: 21-24-2 (.467)
8. SEC: 25-29-1 (.463)
9. Big East: 12-16-1 (.429)
10. Pac-12: 18-25-1 (.419)
11. Conference USA: 15-25-1 (.375)

Conference Power Rankings

Big 12
Top 25 Teams: 6
Nonconference record (Week 4): 3-1
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 16-3
Nonconference record (Total): 25-3
Cumulative ATS record:19-13
Looking Ahead: In a way, Oklahoma's loss to Kansas State has strengthened the Big 12's stock. More faith in Kansas State, and less caution about Oklahoma as a top-10 team (it's not one). The conference has just as many top-25 teams as the SEC, but with four fewer members. Like Oklahoma last week, Texas will have a great chance to prove itself on the road against Oklahoma State this week.
Big 12 Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 6
Nonconference record (Week 4): 5-1
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 20-8
Nonconference record (Total): 27-8
Cumulative ATS record:25-29-1
Looking Ahead: The rise of the SEC East has been one of the most interesting stories to track in the young season, and it has helped balance the conference with Arkansas -- and to a lesser extent Auburn -- off to disappointing starts. Almost all-conference play in Week 5, with Georgia needing to hold off Tennessee in the SEC Game of the Week.
SEC Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 4
Nonconference record (Week 4): 0-0
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 16-8
Nonconference record (Total): 23-9
Cumulative ATS record:18-25-1
Looking Ahead: Hard for a team to move in the Power Rankings much after a week of conference play, but Oregon State answered more questions about its legitimacy with ar win over UCLA.  That same tough defense that bottled up Montee Ball proved it was for real doing it again against Bruins' running back Johnathan Franklin.
Pac-12 Power Rankings

Big Ten
Top 25 Teams: 3
Nonconference record (Week 4): 7-3
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 25-13
Nonconference record (Total): 33-13
Cumulative ATS record: 22-24
Looking Ahead: Piling on the Big Ten right now is popular, but as Tom Fornelli pointed out the league is not off to a historically bad start. The fact that the preseason favorites have not been performing up to expectations has skewed the perception. 
Big Ten Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 2
Nonconference record (Week 4): 5-2
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 11-9
Nonconference record (Total): 24-9
Cumulative ATS record:21-24-2
Looking Ahead: Florida State and Clemson's primetown showdown put the ACC on display for the country, and did great representing the conference. Only issue? There is a lot of space between those schools and the rest of the league right now.
ACC Power Rankings

Big East
Top 25 Teams: 2
Nonconference record (Week 4): 3-4
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 9-8
Nonconference record (Total): 16-9
Cumulative ATS record:12-16-1
Looking Ahead: After sweeping the ACC 3-0 in Week 3, the Big East dropped two games over the weekend to its East Coast conference rivals.  I'm declaring this a tie at No. 5, with Virginia Tech-Cincinnati in Week 5 as the tiebreaker.
Big East Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 0
Nonconference record (Week 4): 6-3
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 11-20
Nonconference record (Total): 20-21
Cumulative ATS record: 24-25
Looking Ahead: The Mighty MAC had a marvelous day on Saturday, taking down four nonconference opponents from BCS conferences. That's as good a reason as any to bump it up to the top of the non-AQ conferences. ACC and Big East better watch out, if a couple of these teams get ranked (Ohio, for one) the MAC could be coming for a top spot.

Top 25 Teams: 0
Nonconference record (Week 4): 5-2
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 9-9
Nonconference record (Total): 16-10
Cumulative ATS record: 17-7
Looking Ahead: Did you know the WAC has the best against-the-spread record in college football? Oh, you DID read above?  Nice. The WAC had a strong showing in Week 4 and has played beyond its expectations more than any other conference. Virginia is on alert with Louisiana Tech coming to town in Week 5.

Mountain West
Top 25 Teams: 1
Nonconference record (Week 4): 3-3
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 8-16
Nonconference record (Total): 14-19
Cumulative ATS record: 21-16
Looking Ahead: I've been harsh on the Mountain West in this space, but this week's research shows that the league is one of the best against the spread. Makes sense for a conference that has UNLV and Nevada as members. Boise State is the conference's lone ranked team, but the offense has plenty of questions to answer in the weeks' ahead. 

Sun Belt
Top 25 Teams: 0
Nonconference record (Week 4): 2-4
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 7-17
Nonconference record (Total): 13-18
Cumulative ATS record: 22-11
Looking Ahead: The magic might have run out for Louisiana-Monroe, Western Kentucky and the rest of the Sun Belt. But we will remember the upsets that we cherished in the early season of 2012. 

Top 25 Teams: 0
Nonconference record (Week 4): 1-6
Nonconference record (vs. FBS): 5-26
Nonconference record (Total): 9-27
Cumulative ATS record: 15-25-1
Looking Ahead: Seriously, Conference USA has been so bad this season. Only complex computers rank it above many of these other conferences, and you should NEVER trust those. Didn't you watch "The Terminator"? 

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CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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