Is ACC underrated?

Prior to Georgia Tech's win over N.C. State, the Yellow Jackets were already ranked No. 19 by footballoutsiders.com, one of eight ACC teams in its top 30.

Prior to Georgia Tech’s win over N.C. State, the Yellow Jackets were already ranked No. 19 by footballoutsiders.com, one of eight ACC teams in its top 30.

To the always rational and high-minded discussion that is conference strength, consider this contribution to the dialogue.

By the ratings of the website footballoutsiders.com, the ACC has eight teams in the top 30, more than any conference in the country. The depth would explain, to a degree, the dog-eat-dog balance of the Coastal Division in particular. (Note: The rankings are through last weekend’s games.)

By comparison, the College Football Playoff selection committee has four ACC teams in its top 25, as do the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls (Louisville is sixth among the other teams receiving votes in the AP and coaches polls.)

The rankings, a combination of the Fremeau Efficiency Index and the S&P+ Ratings, measure teams’ efficiency with possessions and plays and weighs schedule strength.

Georgia Tech is No. 19, seven spots behind Miami but one spot ahead of Georgia.

And while it could be argued the rankings speak to the alleged bias of ESPN and other outlets towards the SEC, it should also be noted that four of the top five teams and five of the top nine teams are from the SEC West, and six of the top 20 are from the SEC. But a reasonable case could be made that the ACC is the second strongest conference in the country.

Tech’s offense is ranked No. 2 while its defense is No. 78, an improvement. It had been as low as No. 99 previously and possibly lower.

ACC: 8 (No. 8 Florida State, No. 12 Miami, No. 13 Clemson, No. 17 Louisville, No. 19 Georgia Tech, No. 26 Duke, No. 29 Boston College, No. 30 Virginia Tech)

SEC: 6 (No. 1 Auburn, No. 3 Mississippi State, No. 4 Ole Miss, No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 LSU, No. 20 Georgia)

Big 12: 5 (No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 10 TCU, No. 15 Kansas State, No. 18 Baylor, No. 27 West Virginia)

Pac 12: 5 (No. 2 Oregon, No. 16 UCLA, No. 21 Arizona State, No. 23 USC, No. 28 Arizona)

Big Ten: 4 (No. 7 Ohio State, No. 11 Michigan State, No. 14 Nebraska, No. 24 Wisconsin)

Also, No. 22 Notre Dame and No. 25 Marshall.

Of course, different measuring models will interpret results differently. The Sagarin rankings have 10 SEC teams and only three ACC teams in their top 30. The Big 12 has three in the top 10 and four in the top 30.

One more thing – myajc is free Monday and Tuesday if you want to give it a test drive, as our editor put it. There’s plenty of stuff over there that doesn’t go on ajc.com, essentially everything that goes in the print paper. I hope you’ll give it a look. Here’s the link for Tech coverage.

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