Ranking college football's FBS conferences from 1-10 for the 2022 season – 247Sports

Conference superiority has never been more hotly debated than it is in 2022, a time when conference realignment has every fan base’s hackles up. But, at least for this 2022 season, the conferences as we know them remain the same barring a few changes in the Sun Belt and Conference USA.
This brings us to a popular talking point: Which conference is the best?
That answer isn’t that hard to come up with in the preseason, but there are some interesting debates as you work your way 1-10. Did the Sun Belt pass C-USA? Is the ACC finally better? Can the Big Ten close the gap on the SEC?
Here’s 247Sports preseason ranking of the 10 FBS conferences.
Top 25 Teams: 6
SP+ Average: 24.6
The SEC is the top conference until proven otherwise. It can claim the No. 1 team in the country, Alabama, along with defending national champion Georgia. One could argue the contending pool behind them is smaller than it has been in recent years with schools like Auburn, LSU and Florida going through periods of transition. But the SEC is still extremely strong top to bottom. Every team in the conference, outside of Vanderbilt, harbors legitimate bowl expectations. And 12 of the 14 – removing Vanderbilt and Missouri from the conversation – can at least hope to be ranked at season’s end.
There’s also recruiting to consider. There are 15 teams that have a blue-chip ratio of over 50% in college football; six of them play in the SEC. No other conference comes close to matching that.
Top 25 Teams: 4
SP+ Average: 41.3
Unsurprisingly, the two would-be superconferences sit atop this list. Ohio State is the most talented team in the country located outside of the Southeast, and those like Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State give the conference plenty of firepower when it comes to the national conversation. Those high-level contending programs separate the Big Ten from every other non-SEC league. But the Big Ten also has depth.
Iowa and Minnesota are worthy Top 25 programs while those like Maryland, Nebraska and Purdue are perfectly capable of pushing into that territory. Even perennially bottom-feeding Rutgers should be considerably better in 2022. There are teams with some questions (Indiana, Northwestern), yet there’s little doubt the Big Ten is in a position of strength both financially and on the field.
Top 25 Teams: 3
SP+ Average: 40.7
The Big 12 is the most even top-to-bottom league in the country. That might be misconstrued as the league lacking a true contending class. But we’re not far removed from Oklahoma going on a long College Football Playoff run while Baylor and Oklahoma State both finished last season ranked among the top 10. As it is, nine of the 10 teams in the Big 12 hold legitimate bowl expectations. And while I don’t think there’s a true national contender from the league this year – Oklahoma will be a bit down – there is just a ton of depth. You could easily project five or six teams capable of reaching the Big 12 title game, which is something no other league can claim.
By the way, the league’s annual bottom feeder, Kansas, should be much improved in 2022. It remains to be seen if the big brands (Texas and Oklahoma) hold up their end of the bargain, but the Big 12 is strong.
Top 25 Teams: 5
SP+ Average: 50.5 
There’s a strong argument the ACC has been the worst Power Five league for a few seasons. That looks like it’ll change in 2022. The conference can claim a legitimate national title contender with Clemson and additionally has Top 25-caliber teams like Miami, Pittsburgh, NC State and Wake Forest. What’s different about the ACC this year is the middle of the league. Outside of Georgia Tech and Duke, almost everyone in the league has legitimate bowl expectations. Louisville could end up being a Top 25 team. Virginia isn’t far removed from being a Top 25 team. Boston College could easily go on a run and be a Top 25 team.

The ACC still lacks a bit of depth. But the conference shouldn’t be a cake walk for Clemson like it has in season’s past.
Top 25 Teams: 3
SP+ Average: 58.3
The Pac-12 is going to be better than it has been in recent years. And while Utah, Oregon and USC are more fringe contenders than true national powerhouses, that trio does provide the league some much-needed bite at the top. The general issue for the Pac-12 is the softness of the middle of the league. Washington has been down. Arizona State is trending down. Stanford is down. And while those like Oregon State, Cal and Washington State have decent floors, they lack the overall talent celling to buoy the conference. There’s also Colorado and Arizona, both of which project to be among the worst Power Five teams in the country.
The Pac-12 is fun viewing after dark. But it’s still a step behind the other Power Five leagues.  
Top 25 Teams: 2
SP+ Average: 68.2
The American will again be the strongest Group of Five league. Between Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, the AAC claims a trio of potential Top 25 teams. And Houston, given its returning talent and schedule, can easily make a run at going 12-0 in the regular season. SMU could also challenge for the conference crown given everything it returns. The strength of the league will be determined by those like Tulsa, Memphis, East Carolina and Tulane in the middle of the conference.
Either way, the AAC is the unquestioned top dog among the Group of Five.
Top 25 Teams: 0
SP+ Average: 93.7
The difference between the Sun Belt, Conference USA and the Mountain West is marginal. They could be put in any order, and I wouldn’t argue much. But I’m putting the Sun Belt sixth, largely on the strength of its depth.
While I do wonder how Louisiana will look in the post-Billy Napier era, the league can still lean on teams like Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina and Marshall to carry the torch for the conference. I’d argue the difference between the Sun Belt and the other two conferences being considered is the bottom of the league. ULM, Arkansas State and Texas State aren’t good, but all programs should be better in 2022, which gives the Sun Belt some additional oomph.
Top 25 Teams: 0
SP+ Average: 94.9
You do have to wonder how UAB’s loss of Bill Clark will impact the Blazers. But I’m betting they stay strong, giving C-USA a contending class that includes Western Kentucky, UTSA and potentially North Texas. That’s a strong top tier. If there’s a worry with the league it’s the status of those like FIU and Louisiana Tech with new coaches. But we’re only a season or two removed from both of those teams being contenders.
The top of C-USA isn’t as dominant as the top of the Sun Belt and Mountain West, which means there could be some upsets along the way. Don’t be surprised if C-USA is bunched up throughout the year.
Top 25 Teams: 0
SP+ Average: 87.6
The top of the Mountain West is strong. Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State and Fresno State are top 50ish programs in the country. You’ll assuredly see one or two of them ranked in the Top 25 at some point this year. That makes the race for the Mountain and West divisions compelling. The problem for the Mountain West is the teams at the bottom of the standings. UNLV, Hawaii and New Mexico all project as among the 13-worst programs in the FBS this year, per SP+. And even recently good programs like Nevada and Wyoming project to be down in 2022.
The contending class of the Mountain West is as good as any in the Group of Five. But the depth of the league is lacking.
Top 25 Teams: 0
SP+ Average: 98.6 
There’s little to no question about ranking the MAC last. The only team ranked among the top 65 of SP+ is Toledo at 62nd. There are no truly terrible programs in the MAC – outside of Akron of late – but the league just lacks some of the contending quality that the other G5 conferences can claim. That makes #MACaction rather fun.
Last year, the West division saw every team finish between 4-4 and 6-2 in league play. Barring a surprise, the MAC should continue to be the most top-to-bottom competitive league in the FBS.  
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