With a full month of football in the books, we have a deep enough database of non-conference games to take a look at how inter-league play has gone so far among the BCS conferences. First a couple of generalities.
HOME SWEET HOME
Obviously the six BCS conferences know they are working from a position of strength when it comes to scheduling, and all teams want (and need) as many home gates as they can get. But the three conferences with the best reputation for making money (SEC - Big 12 - Big 10) have a non-conference scheduling system they closely follow.
Stay at home -- load up on FCS and regional D-1 patsies -- and have a occasional match against a "name" opponent.
The SEC plays 80% of its non conference games on campus. The Big 10 is right behind with 77% while the Big 12 has 73% of its non-conference games at home. The teams in these three conferences have four non-conference games a year, and just about all of them have the goal of getting 3 home games a season. That leads to creative scheduling.
In the 140 non-conference games played this year by the Big 3, 39 (28%) are against other BCS schools (including Notre Dame).
There are 28 (20%) FCS opponents on the schedule as well. The rest are D-1 opponents from "Bracket Buster" conferences, mostly with regional ties.
Here are some notes from each conference so far.
This league has the most games against other BCS schools of any other league (20). That is 42% of the league's non-conference slate. To compensate for that, they have the most games against FCS opponents (14 - 29%) of any BCS league.
As of right now, the ACC is 10-11 against all D-1 opponents in non-league play and only 4-7 (36%) against other BCS programs. This league has the honor of being home to the only BCS teams to lose to FCS opponents this year (Richmond beat Duke and Bill & Mary tripped up Virginia).
Fun Fact: When Miami (2-1) hosts OU this weekend it will be their first non-conference game of the season.
The Darwinian Theory carries over to the BCS conferences, where the bottom half of the leagues don't have the luxury of quite so much "home cooking." Teams in the Big East have 59% of their non-league games at home and they play 8 of their 12 games against BCS opponents on the road.
Fun Fact: The Big East has only one more game left with another BCS opponent -- West Virginia hosts Colorado, and a Mountaineer win would give the league a 6-6 record against BCS teams.
Its talent base may be drying up and moving away, but it's fan base is still strong enough to help the league get a favorable non-conference slate. Iowa, Michigan and Penn State will all finish at 4-0 in non-conference games, and out of those 12 contests, exactly one (Iowa at Iowa State) will have been played on the road.
Fun Fact: The league is 5-7 against other BCS opponents, with Michigan's win over Notre Dame the highest profile victory.
This league gets ripped for being lousy, but it is the most competitive BCS league when it comes to scheduling. This year 50% (15) of the leagues non-conferences games are against other BCS squads, and only 6 FCS teams dot the schedule. This is also the only league to have every other BCS conference and Notre Dame represented on the schedule.
Fun Fact: The Pac 10 stands 6-5 against other BCS opponents with four more non-conference games left -- all of them against Notre Dame.
This league is the marketing genius of college football. The system is play at home - and when you travel, make sure the distance is so short that you can travel by bus. The SEC knows that its rabid fan base will turn out to watch them play anyone and that the BCS computers give them such love for inter-league play that there is no real reason to schedule outside the region.
There will be exceptions that prove the rule, but generally the SEC likes to give its regional D-1 brethren a beating and a nice parting gift in the form of a paycheck.
This year the SEC is 23-2 in non-conference play so far - with 6 of the 25 games being on the road. The league is 6-2 against other BCS opponents, the best win being Alabama's win over Virginia Tech in Atlanta. There are six more games against BCS opponents left on the schedule, mainly the regional contests like Georiga-Ga. Tech, South Carolina-Clemson and Florida-Florida State.
Fun Fact: So far the SEC is 12-0 against D-1 schools outside the BCS. Not one of those victories has come against a team with a winning record, and several (Ball State, Florida International, Florida Atlantic Miami, Ohio, Rice, Memphis) are winless.
The league has taken a hit so far with its performance in non-league play and deservedly so. The Big 12 plays the least amount of games, 11 (23%) against BCS teams of any of the conferences. It plays almost as many games, (9) against FCS opponents. The Big 12 is 32-10 overall (76%) and 19-6 against teams outside the BCS conferences. Colorado's 54-38 loss to Toledo on a Friday night (when there were no other games to distract from the beat down) especially hurt the perception of the league.
Right now the Big 12 is 4-4 against BCS competition with three games left -- Texas A&M vs Arkansas at Jerry's World, OU at Miami and Colorado at West Virginia.