2018 College Football Conferences Ranked
Ranking all the conferences before a snap has been taken.
Do you think that we, in July, are talking about 2018 college football conferences too early? It’s never too early, and believe it or not, we are only a month away from the start of the season.
Ten Football Bowl Subdivision conferences exist, five of which are “power” conferences and the remainder, well, not power conferences. No, American Athletic Conference, it is not the “Power Six” despite your projection. The question will be asked of them all before, during, and after the season: Which conference is heading for the best 2018 season?
All we have now are two things: (1) Supposition, and (2) Phil Steele’s 2018 college football preview. Now we must take those elements and determine which college football conferences will be the fairest of all in 2018.
2018 College Football Conferences: #10, Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt appears to be the worst conference from top to bottom entering the 2018 college football season. Their best teams might be Appalachian State and Troy, but they will lag far behind the other Group of Five bowl busters. This conference also happens to be home to some of FBS’s worst teams, such as Coastal Carolina and Georgia State. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Chanticleers, but I’m being real.
There is a reason it took decades for a Sun Belt team to get ranked. It probably will not happen again in 2018, though their leading teams could make nice seasons for themselves. There’s so little depth in this league that it’s hard to ignore.
2018 College Football Conferences: #9, Conference USA
It starts with Rice and UTEP, teams so bad last year that they drag down the entire conference. In fact, they almost took it down into tenth place on the list, but the middle and top of the conference are marginally better than the Sun Belt. Of course, this is like comparing a six-inch gash in your leg with a five-and-a-half inch gash. They both suck and will be painful to observe with the naked eye.
What sets it apart is Florida Atlantic, home to Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls. I cannot imagine they will be as good as last year, however they remain the best C-USA has to offer. We will get more entertainment from this conference than the one beneath it.
2018 College Football Conferences: #8, Mid-American Conference
The MAC could have been ninth on this list. They are not as bad as the Sun Belt, and if they are better than C-USA, it is not by much. MACtion seems like a long ago and forgotten time. If Toledo is the best team in the conference, which they probably are, they aren’t going to compete with the Group of Five bowl busters despite having some real offensive talent. 9-3 seems like an achievable goal.
Yet, this isn’t a Toledo Rockets preview, it’s a MAC preseason conference ranking. There are a few teams that will contend with Toledo, like Buffalo and Ohio, but the rest of the MAC is generally awful. You could see abominable campaigns out of Kent State, Ball State, and Bowling Green, to name a few. This is not going to be a year like 2013 in which three MAC teams won 10 games.
2018 College Football Conferences: #7, Mountain West Conference
You know that in the Mountain West, you are going to get something decent out of Boise State and perhaps San Diego State. Those teams are better than any team you will see in any conference previously named on this list. It’s a good thing that they are, because like those other three leagues, the middle and bottom of it reeks.
San Jose State is about as bad as any FBS team you will see this season — at least, if they resemble their 2017 edition in any way. Hawaii has the benefit of playing their home games in a paradise, which will be of cold comfort when they look at the standings in November. Defenses look porous in a lot of places, but four to six bowl bids shouldn’t be out of the question.
2018 College Football Conferences: #6, American Athletic Conference
No, it’s still not a “Power Six,” and a look at what the AAC has to work with tells that story. UCF looks to be the best team in the lot, even as former coach Scott Frost bailed for Nebraska. How do you follow up a “national championship” season with a new cast of characters? Based on what Frost helped build here, that should make for a respectable 2018 season if all holds together.
Now, Charlie Strong might get South Florida up there again as well. Houston and Memphis look okay, like average FBS teams that will get to a bowl but might not have big years, either. Here are the questions: Is the bottom of the AAC better than, say, the bottom of the Big Ten or Pac-12? Is the middle? Of course not. They want to pretend like it is, but no.