I’m going to switch it up and put my top 25 last, since that’s old news at this point. But you can always look up my new ratings early Sunday morning and all week long via that link.
Saban vs. Muschamp and SEC notes
Also, I don’t think we really learned anything new last week. I’m not saying I predicted every game to happen as it did, but there was nothing earth-shattering. I do think the SEC should have quieted a bit of the talk about it being some kind of fraud illusion. I’ll get back to that after mentioning the Muschamp/Saban dispute, both of whom I remember well as LSU coaches of course.
Florida is a solid #3 now in my top 25. If Alabama beats Georgia, I would honestly rather see the Gators in the title game to Notre Dame. At least the Tide would have a greater chance of losing. But a certain head coach doesn’t even think Florida deserves the Sugar.
“You play your way into the (SEC) championship game, which means you’re the best team in your division. …”
Does it always mean that? Really? We wouldn’t to give a one-loss team that didn’t win its division the benefit of the doubt in some cases, right?
And Florida actually tied for its division, kind of like Alabama would have done with Texas A&M (which would have been followed by Alabama watching from home and hoping for a Sugar invite) had Florida not beaten Texas A&M. I hardly think it a coincidence that the two of the top-6 SEC teams who are playing for the championship had the weakest interdivisional competition (Alabama played Tennessee and Missouri, while Georgia played Auburn and Ole Miss).
So let’s look at top wins and losses by either potential loser against Florida. I list all the wins over teams .500 or better in BCS-conference competition. And don’t forget that you’re adding a second loss to either Georgia or Alabama.
|Florida wins||Alabama wins||Georgia wins|
|Texas A&M||Miss. St.||Vanderbilt|
|Florida St.||Michigan||Georgia Tech|
|Florida loss||Alabama loss||Georgia loss|
|Georgia||Texas A&M||South Carolina|
How do you NOT pick Florida?
Muschamp offered to play in the game in lieu of Alabama, and implicitly would have let the Tide have the Sugar Bowl. I’d probably rather see that game, actually.
Of course, I indicated above two of the SEC’s wins over the ACC over the weekend. Also, South Carolina beat Clemson and Vandy beat Wake Forest. The fact that Vandy not only won but was expected to win and won easily shows how far they’ve come. Being in the middle of this league (#7 based on wins and losses in conference) is hard to do. Vandy did lose to Northwestern earlier in the year though. No other such losses by the SEC top 8 though.
Even some of the lower teams got good wins earlier in the year. Kentucky, winless in the SEC, beat Kent St., who’s playing for the MAC Championship tonight. Missouri beat Arizona St., which tied for second in the Pac-12 South. Missouri only won two conference games. Tennessee, which only won a single conference game (over Kentucky), beat North Carolina St., which went .500 in the ACC.
It would have been nice had Washington (which LSU beat) held on against Washington St., which is a reminder of how those rivalry games can be, and if Michigan had beaten Ohio St., but the SEC held its own up and down the standings.
Strength of schedule
The argument of “the SEC didn’t play anyone” rings hollow. The SEC played 13 games against AQ conferences. The Pac-12, albeit with two fewer teams, played 11 games against AQ conferences and Notre Dame. Both finished one game above .500 in such games.
Speaking of the Pac-12, I enjoyed this list of underwhelming preseason #1 teams in the AP before USC this season (they would rate about 4th if included on the list).
Anyway, the Big XII was the only conference with a clear advantage against other AQ teams (5-1, with the loss by Oklahoma to Notre Dame), but it had no impressive wins: Texas over Ole Miss, Iowa St. over Iowa, Kansas St. over Miami, West Virginia over Maryland, and TCU over Virginia. This is how 9 of the 10 teams in the Big XII are bowl-eligible.
I do understand the general complaint that we don’t have quality inter-conference games, but the rise of 9-game conference schedules with a possible championship game has something to do with this. People have forgotten that there used to only be 5 or 6 conference games, which allowed more scheduling flexibility for the other games. The 13 teams of the MAC did manage to play 25 games against AQ conferences, but how much of that was because the MAC loves competition and how much of it was the fact that a team like Florida would rather play Bowling Green than a 10th AQ-level opponent? Teams never used to do that before. As late as the early 1960s, some prominent teams were still playing 9 games total and calling it a season.
I’ll give just a few notes about the top 25.
I would expect Alabama to jump Oregon with a win over Georgia, but I’m not sure about Florida, and they wouldn’t pass up Ohio St. without winning a bowl at least. I think even with a win, Georgia will be stuck behind Florida no matter what. Maybe they’d have a chance if Georgia Tech beats Florida St. though.
Kansas St. slipped some more. I think some probably thought they didn’t fall enough spots after the Baylor loss, but now that they’ve had a bye week, I think it gives a more accurate picture. Texas would still be a decent win though. I’m not sure what happened to the Horns against the Horned Frogs, however.
LSU got passed up by South Carolina due to the Cocks’ win over Clemson. That Washington loss didn’t help matters either. LSU did stay ahead of Nebraska. The two are very close, so Nebraska will pass up LSU with a win for sure. Oklahoma will be trying to pass up idle SEC teams LSU and Texas A&M as well.
Florida St. may pass up some idle teams as well by beating Georgia Tech, and the winner of the MAC will be poised to move up as well. Also, Texas can reclaim a lot of lost ground (if not do even better) if they can beat Kansas St.
Louisville secured the Big East title last night, but it’s not like the champion of the Big East has a whole lot of bearing on this, and a lot of these teams aren’t playing before the bowls, so this is still basically the current top 25. I guess you can take out Rutgers and assume Louisville is 24th, and that’s about what it is right now. Louisville beat Kentucky head-to-head, and Rutgers lost to Kent St., who lost to Kentucky, so I guess the right team has won the Big East. That’s also why I say 24th instead of 25th. The Cardinals may go higher than that anyway. By the way, Kent St. is in my rankings for the first time, making the Golden Flashes the 98th team I have ranked.
An aside about the Big East before the rankings… I enjoyed this exchange about the Big East (see video), by the way… apparently it will soon simply be the Conference USA by a different name, having recently announced that it will be adding Tulane and East Carolina. Conference USA would be a better title anyway since it already goes from Tampa to New Jersey to San Diego to Idaho. So I guess one more year of the Big East being an automatic entry. Good riddance. By the way, Louisville seems to be headed to the ACC, Cincinnati probably will too, West Virginia and Pittsburgh are of course already gone. Rutgers should have a lot of championship opportunities to come.
rank / team / prior
1 Notre Dame 1
2 Ohio St. 2
3 Florida 3
4 Oregon 6
5 Alabama 4
6 Stanford 7
7 Georgia 8
8 Kansas St. 5
9 S Carolina 12
10 LSU 9
11 Nebraska 10
12 TX A&M 13
13 Oklahoma 16
14 Clemson 11
15 SJSU 19
16 Oregon St. 15
17 Florida St. 14
18 Utah St. 22
19 N. Illinois 23
20 N’western 25
21 Texas 18
22 Rutgers 17
23 Michigan 21
24 Boise St. —
25 Kent St. —
Out of rankings: (20) Louisville, (24) UCLA