Ranking the college football conferences

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We typically have a pretty good idea of the conference pecking order at the end of a normal season. Without any non-conference games and conferences playing different numbers of games in 2020, it’s a lot harder to figure out how the conferences compare against each other.

That’s not going to stop us from trying, however. Here’s our near-end-of-season power rankings for the 10 conferences at the top level of college football.

Australia is the largest country, geographically, and is a continent in itself. It lies in the southern hemisphere so the weather changes are opposite than those of India. Australia has five of the 30 best cities in the world for students to live in based on student mix, affordability, quality of life, and employment opportunities. The capital of Australia is Canberra. Education system Australia has the third-highest number of international students in the world after the United Kingdom and the United States. It also has seven of the top 100 universities in the world. Australia's national quality assurance system is unique in its structure and rigor. The Australian Quality Training Framework has been set up by the government to strengthen the quality assurance processes in education. College Fit: At the higher education level, students have a wide range of options when they choose a college or university. Although there are agencies that attempt to rank colleges and universities, the concept of “fit” is also important. The GPA* of admitted students are important, but majors offered, location, number of students enrolled, and campus culture are all factors influencing a prospective student’s decision. Some colleges and universities are publicly funded, while others are privately supported. *GPA means grade point average. It is the average of all grades received. Popular student destinations: The top universities in Australia are The Australian National University, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Sydney, and Monash University (in no particular order). The area of New South Wales on the east coast of Australia is the centre of all its renowned academic institutes. Most of the best colleges in the country are situated in cities like Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Perth. About 107,673 Indian students are studying in Australia during the academic year 2018-19. Accounting, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Health Care, Information Technology, and Hotel Management are the popular courses Indian students pursue in Australia. Latest Update From November 16, 2019, Adelaide, Perth and Gold Coast are classified as regional by the federal government. This allows the cities' university graduates an additional year of post-study work rights (PSWR). Also, the graduates in Darwin city can stay for two more years and Ph.D. graduates can stay up to six years. Even after receiving the regional status for migration, all cities other than Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will not be entitled to the Destination Australia scholarships. Only areas classified as 'Inner Regional Australia' to 'Very Remote Australia' remain eligible for Destination Australia. Darwin as the only capital city which has access to both the scholarship scheme and an additional two years of PSW. The number of visas set aside for regional migration will increase from 2000 to 25,000. Safety in Australia: Australia is a multicultural society that welcomes people from other cultures, countries, and backgrounds. While the majority of Indian students studying in Australia have a positive experience of living and studying in Australia, there were a number of incidents of assault as well as of robbery during 2009 and 2010, which affected not only Indian students but also members of the larger Indian community in Australia. Presently, no such incidents have been reported and active efforts have been made by the Australian government to prevent such untoward incidents from happening in future. Weather Australia is diverse in its geography and climate. The country is located in the southern hemisphere. This means Australia's summer starts in December and winter begins in June. Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone. Australian Capital Territory – This region covers Canberra. It has hot, dry summers, and cold winters with occasional fog and frequent frosts. The average temperature in summers would be around 30°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 0°C. New South Wales – This region covers Sydney and its weather is very relaxing all around the year. The average temperature in summers would be around 22°C to 40°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 8°C. Northern Territory – This region has a tropical climate, and has two distinct seasons, the 'Wet' and the 'Dry'. The Wet season spans from November until April and is characterized by increased humidity followed by monsoonal rains and storms. The 'Dry’ season, from May until October, is characterized by warm, dry sunny days and cool nights. This region covers Darwin. The average temperature in the wet season would be around 33°C to 25°C; in the dry season, it would be around 35°C to 21°C. Queensland - Warm summers and mild winters are what you can expect here. This region covers Brisbane. The average temperature in summers would be around 20°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 20°C to 10°C. South Australia – This region experiences mild weather with sunshine all year round and covers Adelaide. The average temperature in summers would be around 17°C to 30°C; in winters it would be around 15°C to 6°C. Tasmania - Snow falls in the mountains in winter. However, most people in Tasmania live in towns and cities near the coast. The ocean moderates the temperatures there. It covers cities like Hobart and Devonport. The average temperature in summers would be around 25°C to 10°C; in winters it would be around 11°C to 4°C. Victoria – This region covers Melbourne. It enjoys warm summers, pleasant springs, mild autumns, and crisp winters. The average temperature in summers would be around 26°C to 15°C; in winters it would be around 13°C to 6°C. Western Australia - This region covers Perth and is famous for its long days of sunshine, spotless blue skies, and brilliant beaches. The average temperature in summers would be around 31°C to 18°C; in winters it would be around 17°C to 7°C. Lifestyle tips Australians are known to be friendly and helpful people, with a great sense of humor. Australia is considered one of the most competitive nations on Earth. This covers all areas of life including the workplace. While English is Australia’s national language, there are certain words and expressions that have come to be regarded as uniquely Australian through common usage. Some of them might seem strange to non-Australians. Australians love their sport, both playing it and watching it. The most loved sports in Australia include Australian football, rugby, and cricket. This relatively benign climate has resulted in a country where people spend a good deal of time outdoors at beaches, in the countryside or on sporting fields as either spectators or participants. Indians living in Australia There were nearly 592,000 Indian immigrants living in Australia in 2018. They represent the second-largest immigrant group by country of origin, after China. Almost one-third of all Indian immigrants resided in Victoria. Student life Accommodation Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to live in university managed accommodation, or with a private landlord. Choosing university managed accommodation can also give you a catered or self-catered option. Catered accommodation offers the benefits of your meals being cooked for you and a degree of certainty with meal costs. If you have an idea about what you prefer, the accommodation office at your university will be able to tell you what accommodation they have available - so that’s the place to start. If you are thinking of renting from a private landlord or if your chosen university can’t offer you anything in its own residential facility, the accommodation office should be able to provide you with a list of private properties and landlords in the area. Wherever you choose to live, you should make sure that you know your contractual rights and responsibilities. In most cases you will be asked to enter into a tenancy agreement, which you should read thoroughly before you sign. Orientation Orientation week is mandatory for international students so ensure that you arrive before it starts. This is the time where you will be introduced to the university and its services, as well as enroll in your classes. It is essential that you read your guidebook, which is provided by the college. The guide explains each part of the admission process. Activities Along with sport, colleges offer extra-curricular activities that provide students a wide range of experiences. Music, drama, science and literary societies in colleges offer opportunities for outdoor education and other leisure activities. Visits to theatres, concerts, and places relevant to the courses of study such as art galleries and museums, religious centres or historical sites, scientific companies and projects are all part of college life. Admission process Requirements These vary between study programs and levels. For each course, Indian students will need to meet a minimum English language requirement. Along with that, a minimum academic record of 65% and above in class XII will be required. Foundations and Diploma programs are available for students who have secured below 60%. The student should have completed 18 years of age before joining a degree program. It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual numbers may differ from university to university. The following documents also need to be submitted: • Attested copies of mark sheets of class X, XII, and the Bachelor's degree (if applicable) • At least, two academic reference letters from professors who have taught you most recently • If you have work experience then two letters of recommendation from the employer/manager who knows you well and can comment on your professional abilities • Statement of Purpose (SOP) • Resume • Photocopied score reports of GMAT / IELTS / TOEFL • Portfolio (in case of Students applying for art and design courses & architecture programs) • Others (certificates/achievements at the state and national level and extracurricular activities) • Proof of funds Timeline Most of the colleges in Australia accept online applications. You will have to visit each college's website to apply. In most cases, you will have to make an account on the college website to provide your basic information, submit the scanned version of your documents, and pay application fees. You will be informed about the application process and its stages through this account. Please refer to the website of the colleges of your choice to know the process of applying. Application fee: All colleges require that you pay an application fee while applying. The fee amount will differ depending upon the college and course being applied to, so check with individual colleges about their application fee. Steps: The common steps to applying for admission are as follows: • Search for colleges and courses • Contact schools and visit websites for information • Narrow down your list of schools • Take the entrance exams like SAT, GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, IELTS • Write SOPs and ask for LORs • Apply to the colleges which fit your interests • Appear for video interviews to the colleges who shortlisted you • If accepted, apply for a student visa SOP: A Statement of Purpose (SOP) is your introduction to the college and admission officers. It is always written in first person and describes the reason for applying to a particular college. It needs to highlight why you are a perfect fit for the college and why the college should accept you. The style of writing could differ from formal to casual, but it is important to remember that it should reflect your personality as well. Essay: Essays are also required to be submitted by a prospective student. Essays are an important part of the university admissions process. Students may be required to write one or two essays, along with a few optional essays too. Common topics include career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, skills, experiences, and reasons for considering a particular school. LOR: A letter of recommendation (LOR) is a reference letter written by a third party describing the qualities, characteristics, and capabilities of the prospective student to recommend him to the college in terms of that individual’s ability to perform a particular task or function. The third-party could be a professor, direct manager, etc. Intake seasons Australia generally has two intakes i.e. February and July, with few universities offering multiple intakes in September & November. You should start your admission process around six months before the application deadline. Typically most universities have three deadlines, during one intake. It is up to the convenience of the students, which deadline to aim for. You should be done with your language and aptitude tests by three months before the deadline. The last three months should be dedicated to filling out the application form properly. It is essential to ensure that the ‘complete application process’ along with appearing for interviews and visa application procedures should be complete by Nov-Dec for the February intake. If you are looking to get admission into vocational courses, then some courses may have admissions open in January and perhaps even May or July. Exams Language exams International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardized language tests, which are required to be taken for the purpose of getting admission into colleges. These follow different formats, structures, and result bands. These tests are different in various ways but many colleges ask for anyone of the results. So it's up to the student to decide which exam to appear for. Repetition of exams: IELTS can be taken an unlimited number of times. TOEFL can be retaken as many times as wished, but cannot be taken more than once in a 12-day period. Same with PTE, it can be taken as many times as desired. You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test. Fee: The fee for these exams is INR 14,000 for IELTS, INR 13,625 (US $180) for TOEFL, and INR 13,300 for PTE. Time to apply: Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The universities you will be applying to will mention which exam results they will accept. But if they give a choice to go for either of these, then the choice depends on you. The time required to prepare for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE would depend on the existing English language proficiency. You may require 2 to 4 months of preparation before the exam date. General exams GMAT - The Graduate Management Aptitude Test is used to measure the abilities of the potential MBA aspirant to undertake higher education in the field of business or management. It measures the mathematical, English, and reasoning skills of the student. GRE - The Graduate Record Examination is another test required to be taken by students applying to graduate schools to pursue MA or MS. Increasingly many business schools are also accepting GRE scores for the purpose of granting admission for an MBA. Repetition and Fee: You can give GMAT an unlimited number of times, subject to five times a year, and a gap of 30 days between two tests. You can take these tests with a gap of 30 days from the first time. The cost of GMAT is Rs 18,797, and GRE is Rs 14,44. Ideally, if you are aiming at the September intake you should appear for these exams by November so that you can apply before the first deadline. The preparatory duration generally ranges from 4 to 6 months. Average Scores: The average GMAT accepted across universities is 520. The average GRE score is 145 for Verbal, 160 for Quantitative, and 4.0 for Writing. It is important to note that these numbers are just for reference purposes, the actual scores may differ from university to university. The first condition to start your Study in Australia process is to have an English language test like IELTS or PTE- Academic as a proof of your English language skills. Once you have this you need to follow below 7 steps for your Study in Australia Application Apply for offer letter The first and foremost step is to apply for a offer letter in a university or a college you choose to study. One of the most crucial factors here is to choose a course relevant to your previous studies and any work experience you may have. Prepare for your GTE Assessment GTE is very important to clear. If you fail GTE criteria your Study in Australia application will be refused. So prepare this document with utmost care. Mention all the points which indicate that you are a genuine student whose only intention to go to Australia is o study. Pay for your Tuition fees Once you have prepared your GTE documentation and got it approved by the University you pay your tuition fees to get COE to apply student visa to Australia. COE is confirmation of Enrollment for Australia Prepare your visa file Once you get your COE from The University you prepare for your visa documents, arrange for your medicals and any other paperwork relevant for your Study in Australia visa application. Lodge your application After preparing your visa file you lodge your Australia student visa application with Australian Embassy online. You pay your embassy online at this stage Wait for the decision After lodging your Australia student visa application you wait for the decision of your application. The current processing time for Higher education student visa applications to Australia is about 18 days to 1 month. For any further query you may have about Australia student visa application please contact West Highlander. West Highlander based in Chandigarh is the best study In Australia consultant. Ms Parwinder Kaur one of the key team members of West Highlander is a MARA agent registered with office of Mara Australia

1. SEC

The SEC gets the edge because there are four teams ranked in the top 10. After that there’s a huge drop-off. Missouri is currently the team with the fifth-best record in the conference at 5-3 and Auburn is at 5-4. Both Tigers have a good shot to finish 6-4. After them, only Ole Miss can plausibly finish at .500

2. ACC

Notre Dame’s presence means the ACC has two teams in the top three of the playoff rankings. Don’t you think the ACC would love to keep the Irish around? Miami is at No. 10 and North Carolina is at No. 17. The best unranked team in the country may be NC State at 8-3 and Boston College, Virginia and Wake Forest are also above .500.

Running back Kyren Williams of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish stiff-arms safety Nolan Turner of the Clemson Tigers on Nov. 7. (Matt Cashore-Pool/Getty Images)

3. Big Ten

It’s pretty clear that No. 4 Ohio State is the top team in the conference and No. 12 Indiana is No. 2. But who is the third-best team? No. 14 Northwestern? No. 19 Iowa? No. 16 Wisconsin? Northwestern has the edge for No. 3 thanks to wins over Wisconsin and Iowa. After that, it’s dealer’s choice. There are 10 teams in the conference with two wins and records ranging from 2-2 to 2-5.

4. Big 12

Iowa State and Oklahoma established themselves as the clear top two teams in the conference. Texas is third thanks to a win over an Oklahoma State team that fell at TCU on Saturday. And in typical Big 12 fashion, the middle of the conference is pretty interchangeable before you get to a Kansas team that’s given up 414 points in nine games.

5. Pac-12

The good news: The Pac-12 has three teams in the top 25. The bad news: two of those teams lost on Saturday. No. 22 Washington lost at home to Stanford while No. 23 Oregon lost at Cal. No. 20 USC easily beat Washington State on Sunday and the Trojans look like the clear frontrunners despite the comebacks needed for wins in their first two games of the season.

6. American

The AAC’s Power Six push isn’t too far off in 2020. Cincinnati and Tulsa are legit and UCF has put up nearly 400 points in nine games. And SMU, Memphis and Tulane have all each won at least six games.

7. Sun Belt

Yes, the Sun Belt is the second-best Group of Five conference. Both Coastal and Louisiana are ranked and Appalachian State is at 7-3 and Georgia Southern is at 7-4 while Georgia State and Troy have five wins apiece. Remember, Arkansas State beat Kansas State too.

8. Mountain West

The Mountain West would be No. 2 among the G5 conferences if it weren’t for the Sun Belt’s really good year. The battle for the conference title game among San Jose State, Boise State and Nevada is fun and San Diego State didn’t get blown out by undefeated Colorado in a hastily arranged game.

9. MAC

The MAC has been fun this year in its abbreviated season. Buffalo and RB Jarret Patterson have scored 203 points in four games and Kent State’s scored just four fewer. In the West, Ball State and Western Michigan will meet on Saturday for the division title. Oh, Akron even won a game for the first time since Oct. 27, 2018.

10. Conference USA

Marshall was making C-USA relevant in 2020 until it lost to Rice on Saturday. The No. 21 Thundering Herd will assuredly fall out of the CFP rankings on Tuesday. After the Thundering Herd, is Florida Atlantic the second-best team in the conference? Texas-San Antonio? Louisiana Tech? Someone else?

– Nick Bromberg

Did South Carolina make right call with Shane Beamer hire?

South Carolina had its next coach in place as soon as the 2020 season was over.

The Gamecocks made the hire of Shane Beamer official on Sunday, a day after USC finished the season at 2-8 with a loss to Kentucky.

South Carolina’s coaching search began on Nov. 15 after the school fired Will Muschamp. The decision to fire Muschamp was a costly one in the middle of a pandemic. His buyout was $13 million.

When a school pays that much to get rid of a coach and gets rid of that coach before the season is over it’s typically looking to make a splashy hire and get ahead of other schools who will be making coaching changes at the end of the season.

And while Beamer is a former South Carolina assistant and the son of longtime Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, his hire is much more of a ripple than a splash. And it’s hard to see him getting hired at any other Power Five school this offseason.

Does that automatically mean that Beamer is a bad hire? Absolutely not. Beamer knows the area from his time as the lead recruiter with the Gamecocks under Steve Spurrier in 2009 and 2010. And his hire comes 10 days before the early signing period begins. He’ll have over a week to keep South Carolina’s recruiting class together.

Shane Beamer of the Oklahoma Sooners coaches from the sidelines in the second half of a game against Iowa State. (David Purdy/Getty Images)
Shane Beamer of the Oklahoma Sooners coaches from the sidelines in the second half of a game against Iowa State. (David Purdy/Getty Images)

But it’s also hard to see how South Carolina immediately improves its standing in the SEC East. The Gamecocks are going to finish sixth in the division. The only team behind USC in the standings is Vanderbilt, the other SEC school looking for a new head coach.

Simply being better than Vanderbilt isn’t good enough. That’s why Muschamp was fired in the first place. Muschamp’s career record with the Gamecocks ended at 28-30 and included two winning seasons over the course of four-plus seasons.

Beamer needs to get this team to .500 pretty quickly. And that means pulling an upset or two in his first couple seasons because South Carolina’s schedule annually consists of Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M and a rivalry game against Clemson. All four of those teams are currently ranked in the top eight of the College Football Playoff rankings.

That schedule is one of the reasons why South Carolina is firmly a lower-tier job in the SEC. As the SEC East seems to have a rotating cast of third- and fourth-place teams, South Carolina needs to get into that rotation for Beamer’s first college head coaching job to last more than a few seasons.

– Nick Bromberg

The most surprising upsets of the 2020 season

BYU 55, Navy 3 (Sept. 7)

Week 1 had a limited number of games, but the main attraction was expected to be the Monday night matchup between BYU and Navy. It wasn’t much of a matchup. BYU closed as a one-point favorite on the road that night and ended up demolishing the Midshipmen, 55-3. We found out after the fact that Navy had not been tackling in practices due to COVID-19 concerns. Since then, we’ve also learned that BYU is a really, really good team.

Kansas State 38, No. 3 Oklahoma 35 (Sept. 26)

Two top-10 teams were upset back in Week 4. Both were shockers. No. 3 Oklahoma was upset at home by Kansas State, a team that had just lost to Arkansas State. The Sooners led 35-14 late in the third quarter, but the Wildcats scored the game’s final 24 points to pull off the shocker. Spencer Rattler, in his first Big 12 start, threw three costly interceptions.

Mississippi State 44, No. 6 LSU 34 (Sept. 26)

On the same day, the defending national champion LSU Tigers were upset by Mississippi State down in Baton Rouge. It was the first game for Mike Leach at Mississippi State and his offense was cooking. The Bulldogs torched Bo Pelini’s defense as K.J. Costello set an SEC record with 623 passing yards to go with his five touchdowns in his SEC debut.

Would it be a sign of things to come? For MSU, not at all. The Bulldogs were horrific on offense for much of the year and currently sit at 2-6. LSU’s defensive struggles, though, have lingered all year. Most recently, the Tigers gave up 650 yards in a 55-17 loss to Alabama to drop to 3-5 on year.

Florida State 31, No. 5 North Carolina 28 (Oct. 17)

On the heels of a 1-3 start (where the only win was in come-from-behind fashion vs. Jacksonville State), Florida State somehow upset No. 5 North Carolina in Tallahassee. UNC was coming off a win over Virginia Tech in which it put up 656 yards and 56 points. But on this night, the Tar Heels fell behind 24-0 and spent the rest of the night trying to come back. They almost did, but the FSU defense somehow managed to hold in the final minutes. The No. 5 ranking proved to be pretty lofty for UNC, but it’s still been a pretty strong season for Mack Brown’s team. FSU, in Year 1 under Mike Norvell, has not won a game since.

Michigan State 27, No. 13 Michigan 24 (Oct. 31)

Michigan opened up Big Ten play by trouncing Minnesota on the road. Michigan State lost at home to Rutgers to open the Mel Tucker era. Surely Jim Harbaugh’s group would deliver a thumping, right? Wrong. Michigan State was a 21.5-point underdog but it managed to upset its in-state rival, 27-24. Michigan’s defense was miserable against the pass. And that trend has continued in a miserable year for the Wolverines, who are currently 2-4 on the year. Michigan State is also 2-4, with its other win another upset — a 29-20 win over No. 8 Northwestern as a 13.5-point underdog.

Maryland 35, Penn State 19 (Nov. 7)

Penn State was ranked No. 8 in the country when it began its season, but was 0-2 and out of the Top 25 when it hosted Maryland. The Nittany Lions lost a heartbreaker to Indiana and then at home to Ohio State. Most thought they would get their first win of the year against an overmatched Maryland team. Instead, the Terps ran them out of Beaver Stadium. Maryland stormed out to a 35-7 lead in an embarrassing performance from PSU. PSU would end up starting the year 0-5 for the first time ever, but have since won two straight. Maryland (2-2) has seen its schedule get depleted by COVID-19.

Rice 20, No. 21 Marshall 0 (Dec. 5)

Marshall was 7-0 and ranked No. 21 entering Saturday’s game against Rice, a team that had played just three games on the year and wasn’t expected to give the Thundering Herd much of a game. The 23-point spread was evidence of that. But the Owls did more than that, they pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the year. The Rice defense forced Marshall QB Grant Wells to throw five interceptions, including a pick-six in the third quarter. Rice had only 213 yards of offense, but when you pitch a shutout your offensive woes don’t matter as much.

– Sam Cooper

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