theknightswhosay

Week 4 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 28, 2011 at 10:47 PM

I’m going to have a blog tomorrow or Friday about end-of-regular-season collapses in major league baseball, but I promised this tonight. So even though I got a bit distracted, here it is.

I guess I need to put up front what I looked at here before getting into comments about the results this week. I compared undefeated teams ONLY on how good I think the opponents have been so far, with emphasis on the best opponent (meaning if I think it’s the best win anyone had all year, it might count for more than someone else beating two average teams). For teams with one or more loss, I mostly looked at what they did apart from that loss in a similar fashion, but of course there was some decision-making based on the quality of the team(s) that caused those losses.

Since I used this approach, the rankings this week will not be what I call internally consistent. For instance, I’m going to give Alabama a good bit of credit for beating Arkansas, but since Arkansas hasn’t beaten anyone, I won’t be ranking Arkansas. So I’m only allowing my subjective opinion about Arkansas to factor into their quality as an opponent, not their quality as a team for the purposes of ranking.

People have complained about my changing how I do things from week to week, but I believe that’s the logical way to transition from the purely subjective (“on paper”) preseason rankings to the purely objective rankings (results only…with opponents evaluated on results only as well), which I begin using in early October every year. Otherwise, what I would have to do is have the preseason rankings but not factor them in at all after week 1. Every team that beat an FBS opponent would be tied for first since all opponents would be the same 0-1. After Week 2, every team that was 2-0 with two 1-1 opponents would be tied for first, although I suppose I could add a requirement that those 1-1 opponents had to beat teams that were also 1-1 through two weeks.

Anyway, as far as last week, I feel vindicated with Temple’s win (which makes Penn St. look better) and by Notre Dame’s and Michigan’s wins (both of which make Michigan look better).

I can’t believe people thought I was ranking Big Ten teams too high, although obviously Wisconsin fans again aren’t going to be happy with me.

If Wisconsin beats Nebraska, I’ll give the Badgers some credit, but nothing they’ve done so far deserves very much. I did mention a couple of weeks ago that I thought Wisconsin’s 35-0 win over Oregon St. was relatively decent as compared to Nebraska’s close game against Fresno St. (based on what we knew at the time anyway), but there is no way that should be a reason for a high ranking. Since I mentioned Nebraska, I’ll also note that Washington (Nebraska’s opponent last week) beat formerly undefeated Cal, keeping the Huskies otherwise undefeated. In other Pac-12 news, Oregon St. lost to a fairly weak (at least so far) UCLA team to remain winless. To make matters worse for the Badgers, UNLV, another Wisconsin victim, was embarrassed by Southern Utah, which I don’t think has even been an FCS/I-AA team for very long.

None of this is to say Wisconsin won’t beat Nebraska. These rankings are NOT predictive at all. The preseason rankings were predictive, and I allowed some time for teams to prove themselves as I transitioned away from the preseason, but from now on, this is all about what these teams have done this season. This includes how good the wins are and how bad the losses are. I don’t mean margin of victory, but how good the teams played are. I try to approximate a blind resume like they use for comparison of college basketball teams.

My 100% objective mathematical ratings are still on track to begin next week, but that’s more of a hope than a promise.

Anyway, going back to Maryland/Temple, it took a little bit out of Maryland’s ranking of course, but before making it really interesting against West Virginia, the Terps had beaten Miami, who was otherwise undefeated with a win over Ohio St. But Miami also lost to Kansas St. People might accuse me of “penalizing” West Virginia too much for losing to my #1 team, but mostly, their ranking reflects the loss in quality of the Maryland win.

I’ve already mentioned Alabama briefly and Penn St., who lost to Alabama. As to Oklahoma, #2 going into this week, Missouri (losers to the Sooners on Saturday) hasn’t really beaten anyone, like Arkansas hasn’t. But I don’t put Missouri in the same category as Arkansas and Penn St., larely because Missouri has an outside loss (despite playng fairly well). I also don’t put Florida St. (also losers to the Sooners) that high since the Noles lost to Clemson. So that’s why there is a change to #2.

The USC game was the only mild surprise, but it was closer than the final score indicated, and there had been signs of concern for the Trojans against Minnesota especially. Not that I’m sold on Syracuse and Utah.

Still, there were some significant changes in rank. The first group of teams are undefeated with multiple wins over teams that seem good (that would be top 40 or thereabouts, subjectively…I think it’s too soon to try to rate opponents based solely on what they’ve done on the field this season). This list is only 6 teams long. For South Carolina, the only team that I would put in that top 40 category is Navy; Georgia and Vandy are borderline, but I thought three average and above teams should get a little more credit than Michigan’s two seemingly good teams and two non-Big Ten Michigan teams.

Moving on from the multiple “seems good” opponents, I had to get liberal with some of the wins I gave credit for, but I did so as long as the team in question was undefeated. Nebraska and Florida beat more average sort of teams than “seems good” teams, but I let it go, especially since each had a potentially respectable (but not there yet) second win. Boise St. has beaten Georgia, which has another loss (albeit to South Carolina), and Tulsa, which has two other losses (albeit to Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.). I’m going to go out on a limb and say one of those two teams is most likely in the top-40 vicinity despite the early losses to seemingly very good teams.

After that, we have teams with losses. At this point, I would rather a team with a loss that I feel beat someone than a team who I feel has not played anyone but who is undefeated. Ignorance is not bliss. Maybe the undefeated team would have lost to both (or all three?) good opponents that the team with a loss (or losses) faced. If I’m wrong about the ranking, I honestly look forward to the aggrieved team proving themselves against someone. Wisconsin/Nebraska is a big example. Also, someone will win the Texas A&M/Arkansas game. Good for whomever that will be, but the only decent opponents so far were losses for each team.

Along the same lines of Boise St., I retained Oregon in the top 15 based on the combination of Nevada and Arizona (I think there is a good chance at least one of those might be better than average), BUT they moved down compared to teams with better wins, especially if those teams didn’t have a loss. I also didn’t rank Oregon lower because I think it’s in order to give Oregon some credit based on the schedule as compared to other teams at this precise moment in time. (I don’t want someone telling me Oregon has a schedule comparable to LSU’s, for instance, later in the year just because I’m giving them credit now though.)

Anyway, the main rule here is if the team lost to an undefeated team (or to undefeated teams), I don’t have a problem with that as long as they’re lower than those teams. I didn’t have an absolute rule about being below a fellow beaten team, but chances are, the winner will be first in that instance with so few games having been played so far. Also of course, multiple-loss teams tend to go lower.

There ended up being a couple of win chains to fill this out after #14. Illinois beat Arizona St., who beat USC, who beat Utah (who hasn’t really beaten anyone, except for BYU, who isn’t very credible right now, but I think they’re good and they don’t have any other losses either). Temple (which lost to Penn St.) and West Virginia (which lost to LSU) beat Maryland, who beat Miami, who beat Ohio St. (whom I did not rank in preseason, but they were up there…see Utah, although I did rank the Utes in preseason). Kansas St. also beat Miami.

Washington is the last team here, because there is a very understandable loss (to Nebraska), and there is a win over Cal, which I think might be somewhere between average and top 40.

Fans of the 8 exiled teams and Texas (exiled previously despite not losing)…If your team has a loss (or losses), better luck next month. If your team does not have a loss, please either wait until your team plays and beats someone good (possibly next week) or write a letter to your athletic director. It might help if you promise to make a donation to his or her establishment despite any losses that might result from playing better opponents. I’m just some guy ranking teams in a way which I think is fair at this point and only at this point. As can be seen, I am willing to move teams up and down dramatically as more information is received, so do not think a low or nonexistent ranking now will prejudice future rankings, even if any of the powers that be gave a damn what my pre-bowl rankings will be (I’m fairly confident they do not). Those future rankings will be based on mathematical formulae giving credits for on-field results and not based at all on the subjective opinion that goes into this anyway.

I don’t have a whole lot of faith in any of the teams I added, but I’m trying to keep my faith in a team or lack thereof out of it.

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Alabama 3
3 Oklahoma 2
4 Clemson 18
5 S Carolina 7
6 Michigan 17
7 Okie St. 24
8 Baylor 12
9 S. Florida —
10 Florida 9
11 Nebraska 8
12 Boise St. 6
13 TCU 16
14 Penn St. 14
15 Oregon 4
16 Temple —
17 W Virginia 10
18 Kansas St. —
19 Illinois —
20 Arizona St. —
21 USC 13
22 Notre Dame —
23 Maryland 11
24 Miami —
25 Washington —

Out of rankings: (5) Florida St., (15) Utah, (19) Texas A&M, (20) Va. Tech. (21) Arkansas, (22) Stanford, (23) Wisconsin, (25) Texas Tech


Prior rankings:

Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

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