theknightswhosay

Week 4 Commentary and Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 24, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Alabama stays #1 and seems to have widened the gap over the competition.

Some may have expected LSU to continue the dominance it had shown in earlier games, the closest of which was the Tigers’ 41-14 win over North Texas in Week 1.

Although a win by a touchdown or so would have been preferable, I didn’t expect it to be an easy win at all. This was an SEC road game for the Tigers of LSU (in a pretty intense series of late at that), and wins at Auburn don’t come easy in these situations. As good of a program as LSU has had the last 12 years or so, it has not won by more than 5 points (which occurred in 2008, the 5-7 year that ended the Tuberville era) at Auburn since 1998 despite going to Auburn every other year since then. The prior instance of an LSU win of more than 5 points at Auburn was 25 years before that.

LSU wasn’t completely inept on offense, it just couldn’t turn field position into points or turn gaining a decent number of yards into first downs very reliably. LSU had 15 first downs to Auburn’s 9 and 351 total yards to Auburn’s 183. Auburn was 2/12 on third downs while LSU was 6/18. LSU was penalized about twice as much and had one fewer turnover, but Auburn’s third turnover was on the last play, so that wasn’t really a determining factor.

Both turnovers by the Bayou Bengals were fumbles by Zach Mettenberger (one of them with an assist from the center) in the first quarter. The first was when LSU had the ball at the Auburn 2. LSU kicked the ball at 4th and 2 or fewer four times, one field goal (which was good) and three punts.

I understand that there are normal fluctuations of a few points in the polls and either LSU will be undefeated and get a bit more support or will have a loss and will have to climb back up anyway, but I’m really annoyed that Oregon has been put ahead of LSU. I can understand if someone wants to say Auburn hasn’t started well, and some teams that clearly aren’t top teams have done better against them (though not at Auburn). That’s if you’re consistent about applying that standard and you’ll punish Stanford, for instance, for only beating San Jose St. by 3. Few are consistent though.

As an aside, that’s one reason I don’t have the Cardinal ahead of USC. USC had the somewhat shaky game against Syracuse, but it was much better than Stanford/SJSU, and at least the Trojans were impressive against somewhat of a lightweight at home. Another reason is the USC/Stanford game was at Stanford. Also, there seems to be something unique about the combination of the two teams that favors Stanford that might not indicate, for example, that Stanford would beat Oregon but USC wouldn’t.

I wonder if many pollsters who moved the Ducks ahead of LSU even bothered to look to find out Oregon scored 21 of its points in the fourth quarter and 36 of its points in the second half. I wonder how many of them realize that Arizona really should have been ahead at halftime after it had the ball at the Oregon 4, the Oregon 18, and the Oregon 2 on consecutive drives in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wildcats had the ball at the Oregon 13 on one drive and at the Oregon 30 on another.

I guess we’ll have to hope the Washington Huskies can do more with their opportunities than Arizona did and this will make LSU (who beat Washington, 41-3) look better, but that would require that the pollsters remember. I’m not betting on it.

This is only an anecdotal example of the problem, but I do take some comfort in the notion that pretty soon their opinions will just be advisory. It’s just too bad that there it still really matters this season and next what the pollsters (officially just those in the coaches’ and Harris polls, though both are influenced by the AP) believe.

If LSU wins easily at Florida in a couple of weeks, that might trump the Oregon situation. There is a lot left to play out of course.

I kept Georgia at #3. They beat Vandy pretty easily, and I don’t think Vandy threw away opportunities the way Arizona did. I don’t see any basis to move them down. I realize my top 3 is all SEC, but it’s not my fault Oklahoma and USC lost instead of two SEC teams. The other USC is actually below where they started the season due to struggling against that Vanderbilt team I mentioned. South Carolina is behind Oregon, so it’s not like I’m averse to moving Oregon ahead of an SEC team if warranted.

As for my #5, I had Oklahoma #2 going in, and Kansas St. beat them and also beat the tar out of Miami. They had a somewhat close game against North Texas, but as I mentioned, North Texas had done the best against LSU going into last week, better than a Washington team that was getting serious top-25 consideration did. I put Oklahoma below Stanford and USC because Oklahoma didn’t do very well in its opener against UTEP (which doesn’t seem like a much different team than they usually are) or beat anyone that seems good. But I’m still allowing for some traces of preseason bias to creep in.

#6 Florida St. finally beat someone, so I didn’t feel a need to hold them back as much this time around. I’m still skeptical though.

Everyone else pretty much moved up in order until we get to the bottom. Michigan didn’t move all the way out like their in-state rivals did because they put up a better fight against Notre Dame. I’m still not thinking this is a good year for Boise St., which only beat BYU 7-6, so that home win doesn’t redeem Sparty in my opinion. This is Michigan’s second loss of course, but I think all but about 13 teams (or fewer) would lose to Notre Dame and Alabama.

I’m less comfortable keeping Nebraska in now that UCLA lost (at home, where the Bruins had beaten Nebraska), and Florida seems to be improving, so this helps Tennessee not to look as bad.

I didn’t think Louisville appeared to be a top-25 team going in, and they have not done anything to convince me they should be one, especially not beating North Carolina by 5 (at home) and FIU by 7 (on the road).

Rutgers is undefeated, but I’m still waiting to be impressed there as well. There are FCS teams who can beat Tulane by 12 (Tulane’s other two games thus far are a 35-point loss to Tulsa and a 39-point loss to Ole Miss). ULM also won at Arkansas, and that was after falling behind when Arkansas still had a good quarterback. Rutgers also beat South Florida by 10 (I’m ignoring the FCS win over Howard), but Ball St. beat the Bulls by 4, so that’s not too impressive either.

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Georgia 4
4 Oregon 5
5 Kansas St. 6
6 Florida St. 12
7 S Carolina 7
8 W Virginia 9
9 USC 10
10 Stanford 11
11 Oklahoma 3
12 TCU 13
13 Texas 14
14 Florida 15
15 Notre Dame 16
16 Oregon St. 17
17 Cincinnati 18
18 Wisconsin 19
19 Miss. St. 20
20 Clemson 21
21 Baylor 22
22 Ohio St. 23
23 Michigan 8
24 UCLA 24
25 Tennessee —

Out of rankings:
(25) Nebraska

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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