But when you have a roster full of new players with minimal game experience, it pays to schedule some pansies early on, knowing that the team isn't going to "gel" right away. Schedules are set years in advance, though, and it's hard to anticipate which mid-level teams might actually pose a real challenge....
These things go in cycles.... SEC was so very dominant about 3-4 years ago. Their rosters get SO loaded up, that some of the top recruits go elsewhere, so they don't face such fierce competition to get playing time, and get to start sooner. I think right now, the ACC is on the up-swing. However, this all changes so rapidly. To much success, and your coach gets a sweetheart deal to depart, and then the program suffers a bit.
I would think that right now (with the Big XII evaluating expansion candidates), people get all excited because Houston beat Oklahoma.
But the strength of the program is really "how have they done in the long haul ?". Is the program sustainable ? Lots of wealthy donors ?
A long-term commitment to nice facilities ? Not so much, "How well did the team do in a given week ?"
Agreed the season is early, however, a loss is a loss in college football. Many of the seven teams losing in the SEC will have at least one more loss which most likely have those seven schools out of the playoff contention after week 1.
Houston is not a one year wonder and having a good football coach and power league membership could become a regular playoff contender similar to TCU and Baylor.
I would rate the early season power leagues as follows granted its early in the season.
1 Big Ten all top schools won
2 ACC same as top two schools won
3 SEC until Alabama losses, this league is in the playoffs regardless
4 Big 12 Oklahoma lost and Texas won so depending on the Red River Rivalry game results and if both schools have one loss could be in contention for a playoff spot Baylor cant be counted out as well
5 Pac 12 had a miserable opening week and with Stanford not dominating Kansas State does not look good for this league in the early part of the season
5 AAC tie Houston looks legitimate this year and if the school goes 13 and 0 would make the playoff or college football world will be fed up again with unfairness that resulting in the BCS going away
Notre Dame would have to most likely go undefeated the rest of the season to get into the playoff and that does not look very good in the early season results
I have been waiting for that issue of where two conference teams make the playoff which will prove the inadequacies of the four team playoff. The SEC were always close and in the BCS era had two teams compete for the championship. Possibly the Big Ten could get two teams in if Michigan and Ohio State only have one loss between the two schools at the end of the season and other conference champions have one or more losses. Since Florida State and Clemson play each other, not much chance of the ACC getting two teams in unless Miami becomes a surprise team this year.