rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 6
3 Ohio St. 15
4 S Carolina 11
5 Oregon 13
6 W Virginia 7
7 Florida 14
8 Oregon St. 4
9 Kansas St. 3
10 Stanford 9
11 La. Tech —
12 Texas 18
13 Iowa St. —
14 TX Tech —
15 Cincinnati 12
16 Georgia 10
17 Rutgers —
18 Miss. St. 19
19 Louisville —
20 LSU 2
21 Boise St. —
22 Florida St. 5
23 TX A&M —
24 Toledo —
25 Duke —
Out of rankings: (8) Washington, (16) UCLA, (17) Nebraska, (20) Clemson,
(21) Mich St., (22) Arizona, (23) Missouri, (24) Wisconsin, (25) Baylor
Although I do rank Alabama #1 above, I know people aren’t going to be thrilled with the top couple of teams on my ratings site (can also be accessed via the headings above), but I’m happy with the top 10, and I think it will sort itself out as usual. Ohio St. has played 6 FBS opponents in 6 weeks, so that’s a considerable advantage over some other teams. Notre Dame has had one bye week, but it has played 4 BCS-conference opponents. The Irish’s opponents have also won an average of 54% of their games, and that’s factoring in their respective losses to the Irish. Notre Dame’s opponents’ opponents have won an average of 56.5% of their games. (FCS teams do not count toward these calculations.)
Nos. 3-6 include most people’s top two as well as South Carolina and West Virginia, who I feel have legitimately earned the most so far. Then the next three are Florida, Oregon St., and Kansas St. They weren’t preseason headliners, but you can’t say too much critical of their positions just looking at the resumes.
Then Stanford has had one of the best schedules so far with only one loss. Even San Jose St. has done well in other games.
After the top 10, there are too many teams that are only as high as they are because they don’t have any losses. A 1-loss team later in the year is more likely to be ahead of an undefeated Louisiana Tech or Ohio because they’ll have a lot more wins with which to overcome those losses.
I’m just going to throw a simple mathematical example out there if you’re interested. For instance, if you get one point for beating a good team and lose two points for losing to a good team and then get half a point for beating a poor team, this is what it would look like. 5-0 against poor teams = 2.5; 4-1 against good teams = 2. But the same calculation right before the bowls: 12-0 against poor teams = 6; 11-1 against good teams = 9.
The high SEC teams aren’t a result of some bias built into my formula. It’s pretty consistent all around. Kenneth Massey, one of the BCS computer rankers, compiles a list of the major publications as well as just about every unbiased top-to-bottom computer ranking and based on his averages of the rankings, the numbers are as follows: 3 in the top 3, 6 in the top 14, and 7 in the top 19.
That said, I’m willing to admit that the bottom SEC teams aren’t as good as they have been in past seasons. I remember one year Ole Miss was winless in the SEC but undefeated out of conference; but teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and even Arkansas all have non-conference losses already. Eighth in the SEC on the list mentioned above is Tennessee at #45, followed by Missouri at #50. But the lower teams aren’t terrible either, as Kentucky is last in the SEC but #75 in the country. Every other conference has at least one team significantly lower than that, and all except the Big XII (with only Kansas lower, at #105) have multiple teams lower than that. My rankings are actually less generous toward the lower SEC teams than these sort of aggregate rankings are.
With at least the better SEC teams as good as they are, and most of its easy weeks out of the way (having had a bye week and having played Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, and Ole Miss), Alabama will have plenty of chances to move up. Unlike with the human polls, there is no deference to what a team’s ranking was the week before. So if for instance, Alabama were to beat South Carolina this week, they could jump over several other teams who won games against lesser competition.
In actuality, LSU plays South Carolina this week (and I’m more nervous about this than I was about the BCS championship game), and Alabama won’t play South Carolina (if at all this season) until the SEC Championship game. Alabama does still have divisional games against LSU, Texas A&M, and Mississippi St. The Tide’s inter-divisional slate (consisting of Tennessee and Missouri) isn’t exactly impressive, but they are both decent opportunities for points. What could happen is Alabama could be #1 after going through the divisional games mentioned above and then fall behind after playing Western Carolina and Auburn, but as mentioned, the SEC championship game should help out a good bit.
Last season, Alabama was stuck at #3 because it did not have the benefit of a ninth conference game, so it was FCS opponent, followed by Auburn, followed by no one.
SEC champions, on the other hand, have fared quite well in my rankings, both before and after I made a change to the formula, but I’ll mention the results since the change. Florida was #2 going into the BCS championship in 2008, moving into #1 after winning, but that team had a loss (also, this was before I compiled the strength of schedule myself). Alabama was #1 in 2009, Auburn was #1 in 2010, and LSU was #1 last year. LSU was such a strong #1 that even the loss didn’t knock them out of #1, and Auburn may have obtained the same result with a loss in the 2010 championship. Texas would have surpassed Bama with a win over them in 2009, however.
The other two undefeated top-ten SEC teams should be fine as well. Mississippi St. isn’t realistically going to finish undefeated anyway, but if they did, that’s the only SEC team I could see having problems if they did so.
I’ll end with a couple of general comments. Ohio finished in the top 25 published on my ratings site, but since I had to make some numerical adjustments just to give them a good enough schedule to be rated, I thought it best to put the teams that actually earned all their points higher on here.
There was more turnover in teams than I expected. This was partly due to a relatively eventful week (this week looks like a snooze, by the way). But I would note that none of the five teams I took out of the rankings last week moved back in with the introduction of computerized ranking. So my moves in an effort to be more objective were correct in those instances.
I never claimed to be the best prognosticator–I don’t pay as much attention to things like trends, key athletes, X’s and O’s, and margin of victory, since they don’t factor into my computer ratings–but I actually have done all right when tested this season. Of the picks I’ve made so far this year, I’m 41-9.
So while people get grumpy with me, I think I know just a bit of what I’m talking about when I offer other opinions.
By the way, while I’m still mystified by LSU’s lack of a running game and general offensive ineffectiveness after the first drive last week, I still feel I was correct in criticizing those who ranked some non-SEC team from the Sunshine State ahead of LSU after Week 5.