Week 9 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 30, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Notre Dame 2
2 Alabama 1
3 Ohio St. 5
4 Kansas St. 4
5 Oregon 6
6 Florida 3
7 Louisville 12
8 LSU 8
9 Oregon St. 7
10 Georgia 21
11 S Carolina 15
12 Florida St. 16
13 Stanford 18
14 Toledo 13
15 TX Tech 9
16 Clemson 22
17 Boise St. 17
18 Nebraska —
19 N’western —
20 Miss. St. 11
21 Rutgers 10
22 Texas 20
23 TX A&M 25
24 Oklahoma 14
25 Tulsa —

Out of rankings: (20) W Virginia, (24) USC, (25) Wisconsin

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

I’m going to write separately about LSU-Alabama. For now, I’ll just mention that while I expect LSU won’t win, I had the same feeling the last time a coach I particularly dislike as a person brought a top-5 team to Baton Rouge. LSU may also have benefited from that experience. I certainly hope the Tigers are at a higher level than Mississippi St. is, and that was probably the best team Alabama has played by far. I believe that South Carolina and Florida are both better teams (or at least South Carolina was).

Top 25 comments

As I indicated last week, I have put aside my cynicism about Notre Dame for the purposes of this top 25 listing. From now on, I expect to just paste the top 25 that my computer formula comes up with. This is not about any deficiency of Alabama, who I believe has a shot at becoming #1 again in the next couple of weeks (the Tide faces LSU and Texas A&M), regardless of what Notre Dame does against Pitt and Boston College.

For the most-part, the undefeated teams are ahead of the one-loss teams. Florida is a notable exception. Why are they higher here than in the major polls? LSU and Florida have each beaten Texas A&M and South Carolina. But while the loss to Georgia loses Florida more points than LSU’s loss to Florida loses them, LSU still has to accumulate good enough wins to overcome the points that Florida got for beating LSU. The Tigers have not done so. I think LSU being ahead in the polls is merely a result of when the respective losses happened. If Florida had lost to Georgia before beating LSU and South Carolina, and LSU had beaten South Carolina before losing to Florida, I think you would see the poll rankings more in line with how many rankings are.

Except for a brief mention below, I’m going to talk about Louisville moving ahead of LSU in a comment to my main blog. It would have taken up too much space otherwise.

Ohio St. curiously moved ahead of Kansas St. even though Texas Tech is a better win than Penn St. is. So that was a result of past opponents for the respective teams. Oklahoma counts for much less of a win after losing to Notre Dame than it did before that. Not only was that a negative for Kansas St., but there were also some positives for Ohio St. with how past opponents such as Nebraska, Michigan St., and Miami U. (which beat a previously undefeated Ohio U.) fared on Saturday.

Oregon was close enough to Florida to move ahead, and I think the Gators’ drop was reasonable. There was a big gap between #7 and #8 last week and it showed when neither Florida nor Oregon St. fell out of the top 10.

I would note that in my old ratings, Louisville wouldn’t even be close to LSU, but the idea of this rating is to put the top two teams at the top. More often than not, an undefeated team deserves consideration ahead of a team with a loss. And we’re not talking one loss at the end of the season (in which case a few SEC teams with losses could be ahead of Louisville), we’re talking about one loss if the season were merely (for most teams) the 8 playing weeks that have gone by so far.

Georgia’s jump forward had some similarities to Louisville’s. It wasn’t just the value of the win (which for Georgia was much greater), it was also the improvement of Georgia’s strength of schedule as a result of the game.

Texas Tech slipped 6 spots for losing to Kansas St. but has a chance to move ahead of some teams next week, as Nos. 11, 12, and 14 all have byes, and #13 Stanford plays Colorado.
Clemson is up 6 spots, mostly as a result of other teams’ losses, and also because this was a part of the rankings where teams were statistically very close together. This is also why Oklahoma fell so far.

Nebraska and Northwestern benefited from other teams similarly to the way Clemson did, although they picked up quality wins also.

Texas and Texas A&M, like Boise St., just hardly got any points for their wins on Saturday. Too bad they won’t be playing each other this year, that could have been a good one.

Admittedly, the best team Tulsa has beaten has been Fresno St. (barely in the top 50), but if you win 7 games in a row, you have a shot to sneak into this top 25, especially if the one loss (Iowa St.) is near the top 25 (#34). Maybe one could argue Tulsa should be behind Iowa St. because of the loss to them, but I don’t want to punish so much for a loss to Iowa St. that it counts as worse than Iowa St.’s three losses. After all, one of Iowa St.’s losses is to Oklahoma St., which is about their equal.

  1. What it comes down to with LSU is, “Is it enough to overcome a loss to a one-loss team if you’ve beaten four weak teams, a strong 4-loss team, and two good 2-loss teams?”
    When the undefeated team in question has itself beaten a good 2-loss team (at least good in the sense that the losses are respectable) and a decent 3-loss team (North Carolina has a strong schedule, especially considering it plays in the ACC), the answer is (just barely) no. At this point.

    I’m aware North Carolina lost to Wake Forest, but they have some meaningful wins there. Before Saturday, Georgia (who defeated the only team to beat LSU so far) hadn’t beaten anyone better than Missouri. I have North Carolina St. and Miami (two of UNC’s wins) ahead of Missouri.

    But with the win, Georgia is a good 1-loss team. However, I don’t believe that either Georgia or LSU has impressive enough wins to go ahead of an undefeated team who has two legitimate top-50 wins now. Georgia has the one really good win, but Georgia’s loss is worse than LSU’s loss. LSU’s top win (South Carolina) isn’t quite as good as Georgia’s top win. I hurt a team more for relatively bad losses, so that’s much of the reason LSU is ahead of Georgia. It also helps that Washington (another team that lost to LSU) beat Oregon St. on Saturday.

    Something else to keep in mind is that South Carolina may not lose again. They don’t have another LSU or Florida, and they won’t be playing Alabama. They have Arkansas, Wofford, and Clemson left. Arkansas and Wofford won’t help South Carolina too much in their own right, but they improve the winning percentage, which would lessen Georgia’s penalty for losing to them and would increase LSU’s reward for beating them.

    All of this is not to mention the giant red elephant in the room, which is LSU is about to play Alabama. The points from such a win would easily overwhelm Louisville, so there may well be three 1-loss SEC teams all ahead of an undefeated Louisville. That would get some criticism from the other side about teams like Louisville not being given a fair shake. So it’s not an easy balance, and I can’t say every ranking is in order of who I think would beat whom, but I feel that I’ve struck the right balance in the formula.

    If LSU loses, then you’re comparing a 2-loss LSU team to an undefeated Louisville, and the argument resolves itself that way.

    There is a strange arithmetical domino effect that took place to put Louisville so high for what seems like a routine win. Due to having played several 4 FBS teams with either one FBS win or no FBS wins, Louisville had a very bad SoS number. Think of it like a bell curve. As you move away from the edge, you can go dramatically higher on the y-axis, even though when most others move the same distance, it doesn’t seem very dramatic. Put more simply, adding in a decent opponent like Cincinnati made the average much more mainstream.

    Also, LSU is much closer to Louisville than they were to Oregon St., so their position did improve somewhat despite coming off a bye week.

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