Conference Power Rankings (Sept. 18)

Texas and quarterback David Ash, the Big 12 moves back into No. 2 in the Power Rankigns. (US Presswire)

In doing research for the Conference Power Rankings, I decided to take the first three weeks of non-conference play and see who has been padding their stats. Last week, we broke down non-conference records and gave bonus points for pulling big upsets. This week, we continue to grant favor for entertainment and upsets - but also will penalize records padded by FCS wins.

Games against FCS opponents have been under the microscope this season following Savannah State's brutal back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Florida State. Both sides of the debate have value. Sometimes, like in the case of Florida State, there are other factors that essentially force a school to fill a slot with anybody.

But when comparing the conferences, taking in a cumulative count of FCS opponents is important with the small sample size of competition. Each week, the Conference Power Rankings will be led by a small subset of rankings. This list is not a favorable one, as we break down the number of cumulative FCS games that conferences have played in the Cupcake King Power Rankings.

The ACC's commanding lead with 12 FCS games this season played a role in their fall from No. 5 to No. 6 in the power rankings. Take away those games, and the league has only a .500 record against FBS competition, including an 0-3 showing against the Big East in Week 3. The Big 12 is less affected by its high FCS count because it backs it up with a 13-2 record against FBS competition.

Cupcake King Power Rankings

1. ACC - 12 (1.0/team)
2. Big 12 - 9 (0.9/team)
2. Mountain West - 9 (0.9/team)
4. MAC - 8 (0.75/team)
4. Pac-12 - 8 (0.75/team)

With bonus points for upsets, entertainment and general intrigue, I present the Conference Power Rankings heading into Week 4.

Conference Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 6
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 16-7
Non-conference record (Total): 22-7
Best Week 3 Win: Missouri 24, Arizona State  20
Worst Week 3 Loss: Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky  31
Looking Ahead: Even with Arkansas completely out of the picture as a power, the weight of Alabama and LSU as the top two teams in the country have to account for something. The Bayou Bengals will get a test this week on the road against Auburn.   
SEC Power Rankings

Big 12
Top 25 Teams: 5
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 13-2
Non-conference record (Total): 22-2
Best Week 3 Win: Texas 66, Ole Miss 31
Worst Week 3 Loss: No non-conference losses
Looking Ahead: Lots of possible contenders in the Big 12. As conference play begins, we will learn more. Kansas State has a big challenge on the road against Oklahoma in Week 4. 
Big 12 Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 5
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 16-8
Non-conference record (Total): 23-9
Best Week 3 Win: Utah 24, BYU 21
Worst Week 3 Loss: Fresno State 69, Colorado 14
Looking Ahead: All conference play ahead in Week 4, which doesn't leave much room for movement. It will be interesting to see how USC and Stanford move forward from their showdown in Week 3. 
Pac-12 Power Rankings

Big Ten
Top 25 Teams: 4
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 20-10
Non-conference record (Total): 26-10
Best Week 3 Win: Penn State 34, Navy 7
Worst Week 3 Loss: Ball State 41, Indiana 39
Looking Ahead: Michigan and Notre Dame will be the highlight of Week 4, but for Conference Power Rankings purposes keep an eye on Louisiana Tech - Illinois. The Bulldogs are carrying the flag for the WAC, and Illinois is one of those middle-of-the-road B1G teams with a chance to boost its stock.
Big Ten Power Rankings

Big East
Top 25 Teams: 1
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 7-4
Non-conference record (Total): 13-5
Best Week 3 Win: Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17
Worst Week 3 Loss: None
Looking Ahead: An undefeated weekend, including a sweep of the ACC, moves the Big East into the top 5. Rutgers and Louisville will carry the Big East banner on the road this weekend, facing an embattled Arkansas team and Florida International.
Big East Power Rankings

Top 25 Teams: 2
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 7-7
Non-conference record (Total): 19-7
Best Week 3 Win: NC State 31, South Alabama 7
Worst Week 3 Loss: Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17
Looking Ahead: If the ACC is going to play more FCS teams than anyone else in the country, it needs to hold its own against comparable competition.  Going 0-3 against the Big East in Week 3, particularly with Virginia Tech losing, will lead to a slip in the power rankings. 
ACC Power Rankings

Sun Belt
Top 25 Teams: 0
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 6-13
Non-conference record (Total): 11-14
Best Week 3 Win: Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31
Worst Week 3 Loss: Oklahoma State 65, Louisiana-Lafayette 24
Looking Ahead: The record doesn't speak for the number of competitive games the Sun Belt has played, and especially the ones it has won. In addition to knocking teams from the Top 25, the conference has played seven non-conference games against currently ranked teams (second among FBS conferences). As we said, bonus points for entertainment.

Top 25 Teams: 0
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 7-17
Non-conference record (Total): 14-18
Best Week 3 Win: Ball State 41, Indiana 39
Worst Week 3 Loss: Minnesota 28, Western Michigan 23
Looking Ahead: Oh, didn't you know? Mid-week MACtion starts on Wednesday.  We'll be right there with you enjoying the mayhem.  

Top 25 Teams: 0
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 6-7
Non-conference record (Total): 11-8
Best Week 3 Win: Louisiana Tech 56, Rice 37 
Worst Week 3 Loss: Wisconsin 16, Utah State 14
Looking Ahead: Utah State did not suffer a "bad" loss, but it should be noted that was a winnable game and a big opportunity lost for the Aggies. Conference frontrunners Louisiana Tech and San Jose State go on the road with a chance to steal some FBS wins in Week 4.

Top 25 Teams: 1
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 5-13
Non-conference record (Total): 11-16
Best Week 3 Win: Fresno State 69, Colorado 14
Worst Week 3 Loss: Cal Poly 24, Wyoming 22
Looking Ahead: Boise State is ranked again, while both Fresno State and Nevada have been impressive this season. But after those three teams is a big dropoff to the rest of the conference, arguably one of the bigger disparities among the 11 FBS conferences.

Top 25 Teams: 0
Non-conference record (vs. FBS): 4-20
Non-conference record (Total): 8-21
Best Week 3 Win: UCF 33, FIU 20
Worst Week 3 Loss: Middle Tennessee  48, Memphis 30
Looking Ahead: Conference USA's .167 winning percentage against FBS competition is the worst in the country.  These power rankings have no respect for such performance.  

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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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