Toughest Conference Part 1


I am working on my grades for the toughest conference for 2018 and I will go thru each category that I use to determine it. This will be a Five-part series breaking down everything I look at when determining the top conference for the year. The first category I will look at is FCS vs FBS games. When I look at overall non-conference records, I will eliminate all wins versus FCS opponents, but I will count the losses. The Big Ten had the fewest games versus FCS teams with just three for the entire season. The SEC went 15-0 versus FCS teams and the ACC went 14-0 so in the next blog I will eliminate those wins from the totals of the conferences total non-conference record.

There was a total of 112 games versus FCS opponents this year! I tried an FCS magazine once again this past year but the results were poor once again so I will not be producing one in 2019. However, there will be a Phil Steele Plus FCS site where you can have access to all 125 FCS teams and all the information that I have compiled on each of them. The FCS site will be available on Phil Steele Plus 365 days a year and it includes…. Get Phil Steele Plus Here

-Last 8 years game by game stats color coded Green and Red

-Last years’ individual leaders and they will be bold (coming back) and unbold (gone)

-Average Game grades for each game and cumulative running average during year

-Just like the FBS these pages will be updated each week during the season

-Lines for every FCS game from last year



This will allow you to see what kind of experience the team has for 2019 and to go back and get a complete history of each team. Last year on my Phil Steele Plus Tutorials, I provided 8 to 10 free plays per week and those tutorials went 46-18-3 ATS over the last 9 weeks of the season. The tutorials included FBS and NFL selections but also selections on the FCS games each week which were lined last year for the first time. The Free FCS plays were a big part of that outstanding record going 12-2 ATS in that span.

The FBS teams went 105-7 vs the FCS this past year and here are the 7 wins by FCS teams.

Nicholls St (+6.5) 26 Kansas 23

Villanova (+15.5) 19 Temple 17

North Carolina A&T (+7.5) 28 East Carolina 23

Maine (+9) 31 Western Kentucky 28

Northern Arizona (-7) 30 UTEP 10

Illinois State (+4) 35 Colorado St 19

UC Davis (+3) 44 San Jose State 38

People overreact to teams that lose to an FCS team. There is a LOT of value playing ON an FBS team that lost to an FCS team. Here is the value from last year.

Kansas won their next two games ATS after loss

Temple was 4-1 ATS next 5 games after loss

East Carolina won next two games ATS after loss

WKU won their next 3 games ATS after loss

UTEP went 4-2 ATS next 6 games after loss

Colorado St won next two games ATS after loss

San Jose St won their next three games ATS after loss.


There are lines on all FBS vs FCS games and now even lines on all FCS versus FCS games. Let me take a look at how the FBS teams did versus the spread when facing the FCS teams.


FBS team when favored by 3 or less or underdog                0-2  (0%)

FBS team when favored by 3.5-7                                                 2-3 (40%)

FBS team when favored by 7.5-10                                             1-3  (25%)

FBS team when favored by 10.5-14                                            8-3 (72.7%)

FBS team when favored by 14.5-20.5                                        7-3 (70%)

FBS team when favored by 21-27.5                                           8-3-1 (72.7%)

FBS team when favored by 28-35                                              13-12 (52%)

FBS team when favored by 35.5 & higher                              19-24 (44.1%)


Looking at these numbers you can see that teams that were favored by 10.5 to 27.5 points had the talent edge and took their opponent seriously and went a combined 23-9-1 ATS versus their FCS opponents. FBS teams that were favored by 10 or less or favored by 28 or more went a combined 35-44 44.3% versus their FCS foes.

Once again in the overall spreadsheet for the toughest conference I will deduct all wins versus FCS foes in the non-conference record yet keep any losses that were suffered. Does this make an impact? If you rank conferences just based on regular season non-conference records including the FCS games than the Big Ten comes in tied for fourth best record at 28-14 67%. Since the Big Ten only loses 3 of those wins when I deduct the FCS wins, they jump to #3 in the conference rankings with a record of 64.1% and the conference they were tied for in fourth place (the Pac 12) drops to 15-12 55.6%.

I will delve further into how the conferences fared against each other during the regular season in a upcoming blog.


Get Phil’s Extended data and Plus your odds. Click on Learn more to see exactly how Phil uses Phil Steele Plus. FCS only access also available.