Cincinnati fans are clinging to hope that a win on Saturday would mean the 11-2 AAC Champions would finish ranked ahead of the 12-1 Mountain West Champs Boise State. It is a legitimate discussion and a good time waster until we get to Saturday.
One of the biggest talking points came about from a series of tweets about “power 5” victories. Using P5 wins as a metric to determine what team or conference is a complete and total joke. The biggest reason, is because a large portion of MWC and AAC teams are better than a handful of P5 teams. But at the same time, they are no where near the level of other teams.
Allow me to prove the stupidity in measuring conferences using P5 wins.
So the so-called Power 6 conference went 6-13 against the others? https://t.co/wjxPNcB8ts— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 2, 2019
Stewart Mandel of The Athletic clearly thought it was funny that the American went 6-13 against power 5. But what he and Brett McMurphy fail to provide is the appropriate context. Who did the AAC go 6-13 against? How good were those 9 teams the MWC beat?
Let’s break it down.
AAC vs Power 5
Of the 13 losses, 5 of them came to teams currently ranked in the top 15 with a combined 8 losses and 3 of whom are playing in conference championship games this weekend - Ohio State (Cincy), Wisconsin (USF), Oklahoma (Houston), Notre Dame (Navy), and Auburn (Tulane).
Two more losses were to Indiana and Illinois. Typically, those are two mid-to-low tier Big Ten schools. They both beat UConn, who in 2019 was one of the worst college football teams of all-time and as of this moment, no longer exist to the AAC.
So now, with the proper context, the AAC is 6-6 against P5 teams (or keep it at 6-8 if you really want to include UConn).
The problem for the AAC, is that none of the wins are all too impressive.
Six wins against UCLA (Cincy), Stanford (UCF), Ole Miss (Memphis), Maryland (Temple), Georgia Tech (Temple), and TCU (SMU).
None of those teams are bowl teams in 2019. But the AAC still beat them, proving that they are better than some of the privileged, entitled schools.
The other six losses came to Pittsburgh (UCF), NC State (ECU), Georgia Tech (USF), Washington State (Houston), Michigan State (Tulsa), Oklahoma State (Tulsa).
The Georgia Tech loss is the worst one on the list. 4 of these 6 teams are bowl teams in 2019 and just two of them finished above .500 (Pitt and Oklahoma St).
Mountain West vs Power 5
If we’re going to put context around the AAC’s record, we obviously need to do it around the MWC too. They are 9-10 this year against P5 opponents.
4 of those 10 losses came to top 15 teams - Notre Dame (New Mexico), LSU (Utah St), Oregon (Nevada), Minnesota (Fresno St).
Wins - Florida State (Boise St), Colorado (Air Force), Missouri (Wyoming), Arizona (Hawaii), Oregon St (Hawaii), UCLA (San Diego St), Purdue (Nevada), Arkansas (SJ State), Vanderbilt (UNLV)
Among the 9 wins, 0 came against teams with a winning record. 7 teams finished below .500 and Florida State and Missouri both went 6-6.
Losses - Wake Forest (Utah St), Colorado (Colorado St), Arkansas (Colorado St), Washington (Hawaii), USC (Fresno St), Northwestern (UNLV)
They lost games to Arkansas and Northwestern - two of the worst P5 teams in 2019. 3 of the 6 teams are bowl eligible.
MWC vs AAC
These two conferences played three games against each other, with the American winning all three.
Navy (9-2) beat Air Force (10-2) and Tulsa (4-8) beat Wyoming (7-5) and Tulsa also beat San Jose State (5-7)
This seems like a better metric to use than P5 wins. Especially, when you consider these games featured comparable opponents. Not all P5 wins and losses are created equally. Second place AAC team beat second place AAC team and a bottom AAC team beat a bowl-eligible MWC team. That should mean more in the grand scheme of things.
Appalachian State’s part in this
App State went 2-0 against power 5 teams, beating 4-8 South Carolina and 6-6 North Carolina. This is a perfect example of just because you bought 2 P5 teams, doesn’t mean you beat 2 good teams. If you look at Cincinnati’s resume, beating Memphis and UCF would both be better wins than those two. For Boise, wins over Air Force and arguably Hawaii or Florida State, would at least be better than South Carolina and on par with UNC.
Don’t get caught up in the “power 5” name. Just because they are P5 teams, doesn’t mean they are good teams. That’s the takeaway from assessing the records of both the MWC and AAC.
Maybe Cincinnati is better than Boise State and deserves the Cotton Bowl despite one more loss. Maybe they don’t. But using a conference’s P5 wins is a stupid metric to judge teams on. Especially considering, both Cincinnati and Boise State have a win over bad P5 teams and one of Cincinnati’s two losses came against the best team in college football.
Judge these teams and conferences however you want, but don’t use P5 wins. Because it’s a meaningless number, even though the national media wants to push the narrative.