A Breakdown of College Football Rankings

Photo from statecollege.com

Let’s face it, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with the way college football teams are ranked. Based on school, division or location, football rankings are hard to understand. VALLEY has the ultimate guide for keeping track of college football ranks to help you better understand the ways of college football rankings!

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Divvying it Up

According to ESPN, there are 11 different NCAA Division I football conferences: American, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, FBS Independents, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, SEC and Sun Belt. As you probably already Penn State is part of the Big Ten Conference, which has both Eastern and Western rankings.

Photo from Bigten.org

Additionally, there are 16 Division II Conferences: AWC, Big Sky, Big South, CAA, FCS Independents, Great West, Ivy, MEAC, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Pioneer, Southern, Southland and SWAC.

Photo from Wbst.com

Just because teams aren’t in the same conference doesn’t mean they can’t play one another. For example, Penn State recently played Auburn University, which is a part of the SEC. Teams from different divisions can also cross paths: Penn State played Villanova this season, even though they’re in the CAA conference, which is Division II.

It All Comes Down to This — Or Does It?

As you might already know, winning a game is what can move your team up and down the AP Top 25 Poll, which is where most Division I football teams are ranked after their Saturday showdowns. The conference and division of the team you face off with also affect your team’s rank. For example, if PSU wins against a team in the Big South conference, it’s going to affect our rank differently than if we were to win against a team like Ohio State or Michigan State, who are both in the Eastern portion of the Big Ten.

Photo from Saturdaydownsouth.com

Another major factor in AP rank is not only if your team wins, but what other teams win — or lose. If Penn State wins the same weekend Oregon Michigan, and Alabama all win, we might not see much change in our place on the AP poll. That to say, it also depends on the teams that Oregon, Michigan and Alabama win against. If they’re beating teams like Notre Dame and Ole Miss, their rank is probably going up, as opposed to teams like Bucknell or Northwestern State.

Have more questions about college football? Ask us, @VALLEYmag, on Twitter!



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