Just which are the best college football conferences for your money? Well, if your money is bet on one conference to beat another conference, then we have your answers.
CollegeFootballWinning.com compiled the against-the-spread (ATS) winning percentage for each conference when playing non-conference teams over the past 10 seasons (from the 2006-2007 season through the 2015-2016 season). We even included the now-defunct Big East and Western Athletic conferences since they were active until the 2013-2014 college football season. Despite any of your guesses, the most profitable conference should surprise you. So, without further adieu, the (worst and) best college football conferences for your money over the past 10 seasons:
#13) The Independents
Although technically not a conference, at one time or another over the past 10 years, Army, BYU, Idaho, Navy, Notre Dame, Temple, and Western Kentucky were all classified as “independent.” These independents have not fared well ATS against legitimate conference contenders. The independents beat the spread against non-independents at the rate of just 45.12%.
#12) The Mountain West
The Mountain West did not fare well, beating the spread against non-Mountain West opponents at the poor rate of 46.31%.
#11) Conference USA
This second “Group of Five” conference to make the bottom-three beat the spread versus non-Conference USA opponents at the rate of just 47.43%.
#10) The Big Ten
Yes, all of the ridicule the Big Ten received by other conferences appears somewhat justified, quantitatively. The Big Ten was the least profitable of the “Power Five” conferences, beating the spread against non-Big Ten teams at the rate of 49.05%
#9) The ACC
The second-least profitable Power Five conference was 49.17% ATS versus non-ACC opponents.
#8) The Sun Belt
The Sun Belt was just a single game away from being perfectly even as they beat non-Sun Belt opponents 49.88% of the time ATS.
#7) The Big East
On the flip side of the Sun Belt’s results, the defunct Big East finished with a single victory above .500 at 50.17%.
#6) The MAC
The MAC beat their non-MAC opponents ATS at the above-average (yet still unprofitable) rate of 50.56%.
#5) The American Athletic Conference (AAC)
The best (and youngest) Group of Five conference beat non-AAC competition ATS at the rate of 50.96%.
#4) The SEC
What many tout as the best conference in college football finished right in the middle of the Power Five conferences for ATS winning rates. When playing non-SEC schools, the SEC beat the spread at the (still not quite profitable) rate of 52.36%.
#3) The Pac-12 (and Pac-10)
Whether playing as the Pac-10 or the Pac-12, this is the first conference on our list to beat non-conference opponents at a profitable rate (in the world of bet-11-to-win-10, which translates to 52.38%). The Pac-12 won at the rate of 52.51%.
#2) The Big 12
The Big 12 was the most profitable of all active FBS conferences. Over the past 10 years, the Big 12 beat non-Big 12 opponents ATS at the rate of 52.93%.
#1) The WAC
The WAC may have stopped playing football after the 2012 season (like the Big East), but they went out ATS champions. The WAC beat non-WAC opponents at the very profitable rate of 55.12%.
As it turns out, two of the seven best college football conferences for your money are now defunct, and that includes THE best college football conference ATS. How much do you miss the WAC now?