Power Ranking College Football Conferences Following 2024 Realignment (2024)

Power Ranking College Football Conferences Following 2024 Realignment (1)

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Realignment has reshaped college football as we head into 2024. The Power 5 doesn't really exist anymore, as all but two teams have left the Pac-12. The Big Ten and Big 12 have made some sweeping changes to their makeup.

With all that happening, how do we make sense of how the conferences stack up against each other? I'm glad you asked! I've taken a look at every FBS conference and ranked them from one to nine.

Let's power rank all the FBS conferences following realignment. Note: I'm not ranking the independents because, well...that's not a conference, and I'm not ranking the Pac-2 on its own because that just feels silly.

9. Conference USA

Realignment has really hurt Conference USA. Teams like Marshall, North Texas, Rice, Old Dominion, and UTSA have all left in recent years. The newer additions, meanwhile, have instantly jumped to the top of the conference. Liberty, New Mexico State, and Jacksonville State had 1-2-3 finishes in CUSA last season. All joined in 2023.

Composite 247 CUSA Recruiting Rankings 2024: (Minus is better than 2023)

1. Liberty #99 (-12)
2. FIU #103 (+24)
3. La. Tech #107 (+30)
4. WKU #109 (-25)
5. UTEP #114 (-8)
6. SHS #120 (+24)
7. Jax. St. #127 (-37)
8. MTSU #128 (+8)
9. Kenn. St #130 (-45)
10. NMS #152 (+39)

— TurtlePower98 (@sstaedtler98) February 5, 2024

That speaks to the overall dearth of strength here. The Flames came in and immediately went 9-0 in conference play. Despite that, there was no argument about the team being a playoff contender. This wasn't like when Cincinnati went undefeated in 2021 and made it into the playoff as a G5 program. The Flames were relegated to the Fiesta Bowl, where Oregon destroyed them 45-6.

There's some fun football here, but it's not necessarily good football.

8. MAC

MACtion just doesn't get enough respect. Sure, it's eighth out of nine conferences on this list, but I think the gap between it and Conference USA is fairly big.

One thing the MAC always has going for it? Stability. Every current MAC program has been in the conference since 1998 or earlier. Aside from three football-only affiliate members, only one full member, Marshall, has left the conference this century. That creates some competitive football because regional rivalries are given space to bloom.

As for the MAC in 2024, the conference is coming off a season that saw six teams qualify for bowl games. Three teams had double-digit wins. Miami (OH) in particular should be really good next season.

7. American

It wasn't long ago that the American looked like a conference that would perennially be atop the Group of Five. Then, it lost arguably its three-best teams to the Big 12, and that was that. Now, last season's champion, SMU, is off to the ACC.

That's not to say there isn't talent left in the conference. Memphis, South Florida, Tulane, UTSA -- those are all really good programs! New additions like North Texas and Rice have intriguing upside. The AAC could make it a three-horse race for the top of the G5, but for now, there's a little gap between them and the next two teams.

6. Mountain West

Deciding between fifth and sixth place was by far the most difficult thing about these rankings because both the Sun Belt and Mountain West have a strong claim for being the best Group of Five conference. I settled on the Sun Belt for reasons I'll mention in the next section, but let's focus right now on the positives about the Mountain West.

The short-term future for Oregon State and Washington State has mostly settled.

Homes are found, schedules are set, a few hurdles remain (like the CFP).

"That gives us time."

But long term? There's probably only two options: https://t.co/cNrdZhqLYGhttps://t.co/cNrdZhqLYG

— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) February 8, 2024

First, I'm kind of half-counting Oregon State and Washington State here. They aren't in the Mountain West, but their scheduling alliance means they're essentially playing a Mountain West schedule in 2024. But they aren't technically members, which is what pushes the Mountain West down to sixth.

Anyways, the good stuff about the conference in 2024 includes the fact you can argue Boise State can be the best G5 team in the country if Malachi Nelson is as good as advertised. Meanwhile, six other Mountain West teams made bowl games last season.

5. Sun Belt

There might not be a deeper conference than the Sun Belt. Last season, 12 of the 14 teams made bowl games. The conference went 5-7 in those games, but we won't hold that against them too much.

The top of the Sun Belt is just incredibly talented. James Madison, Troy, Appalachian State, and Coastal Carolina are all incredibly good programs that should contend every year. South Alabama is on a really good two-year stretch. Texas State is on the rise. Even a team that finished at the bottom of its division, Marshall, had a big non-conference win over ACC program Virginia Tech.

4. ACC

Out with the Power 5 and in with the Power 4 as the Pac-12 disintegrated, with the remnants spread out all over the place, including to the ACC.

The problem for the ACC is they didn't get the cream of the crop when it comes to former Pac-12 programs, as the conference added Cal and Stanford, who combined for six conference wins last year. What the ACC did add that piques my interest is American champion SMU. The Mustangs have money and now that they're in a power conference, we can get a chance to see how they use that money.

As far as returning teams, there isn't necessarily a national title contender here, but teams like Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, Miami, and NC State can beat any team on any given night, while there are also teams like Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech who play some good football. This conference might be ranked last of the power conferences, but don't sleep on them.

3. Big 12

When Texas and Oklahoma announced they were leaving the Big 12, there was some thought that it was the end of the conference. How do you replace those two blue blood programs?

The first wave of replacement was to poach Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF from the American and also add BYU. That helped shore things up, but it didn't quite fix the major issue. Where were the title contenders?

Big 12 returning production heading into 2024.

Data via @ESPN_BillC pic.twitter.com/6VB3LC4CTl

— Justin Apodaca (@JustinApod) February 5, 2024

Then the Pac-12 started to fall apart. The Big 12 grabbed Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah in that. Now, things look a lot stronger. Utah is a program that can challenge for titles. The other three all have some key positives. Returning teams like Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas, and Kansas State are poised for big 2024 seasons. There's really not a single program in this conference that lacks the resources to contend in the new-look Big 12.

2. Big Ten

The gap between the SEC and Big Ten just got a whole lot smaller, but there's still a bit of a gap. The conference is adding three really good Pac-12 programs in Oregon, USC, and Washington, plus a fourth in UCLA. Combine that with having Ohio State and Michigan and the long-term health of the Big Ten looks astounding. This could wind up as the top conference in college football.

There does seem to be a bit of an issue with depth, however. Several teams just don't have a shot at really contending for a finish in the top half of the league like Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, and Purdue.

1. SEC

The SEC still reigns supreme in the college football world. With the addition of Oklahoma and Texas, the conference winds up dominating the early power rankings. In fact, our early top 25 for next year features eight SEC teams in the top 15, including the top three spots all belonging to SEC teams, with Georgia at No. 1, Texas at No. 2, and Alabama at No. 3.

2024 Projected Regular Season Win Totals for each SEC Team according to @FanDuel:

Texas 10.5
Georgia 10.5
Ole Miss 9.5
LSU 9.5
Missouri 9.5
Alabama 9.5
Tennessee 8.5
Texas A&M 8.5
Auburn 7.5
Oklahoma 7.5
Kentucky 6.5
Florida 5.5
Arkansas 5.5
South Carolina 5.5
Mississippi State… pic.twitter.com/KaKrJpJ5tl

— College Football Report (@CFBRep) February 10, 2024

Sure, the SEC has some programs like Vanderbilt that aren't going to be contending for anything, but no conference has the firepower at the top that the SEC has. That's why it remains the No. 1 conference heading into 2024.

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