rank / team / prior
1 Notre Dame 1
2 Alabama 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Kansas St. 4
5 Oregon 5
6 Florida 6
7 Georgia 10
8 Oregon St. 9
9 Louisville 7
10 S Carolina 11
11 Clemson 16
12 Nebraska 18
13 Florida St. 12
14 LSU 8
15 TX A&M 23
16 Stanford 13
17 Toledo 14
18 Texas 22
19 Oklahoma 24
20 La. Tech —
21 N’western 19
22 Rutgers 21
23 SJSU —
24 UCLA —
25 Miss. St. 20
Out of rankings: (15) TX Tech, (17) Boise St., (25) Tulsa
Before my usual top 25 run-down and other notes, I wanted to express my condolences to the University of Texas and its fans for the passing away of Darrell Royal yesterday. I had mentioned him less than two weeks ago in my blog about records and winning percentages of Les Miles and other prominent coaches. Many of the coaches on my list of historic greats are long gone, but some of the ones still alive (most of whom, unlike Royal, made their names in the 1980s and 1990s) are Lou Holtz, Dennis Erickson, Jimmie Johnson, Tom Osborne, and Barry Switzer. At least a couple of the honorable mentions are still around too. For example, Vince Dooley turned 80 a couple of months ago, and Frank Broyles (about 6 months younger than Royal) is expected to turn 88 next month. Broyles and Royal were close friends despite the rivalry at that time, and Royal’s career also overlapped with Switzer’s.
I was also interested to note that Royal attended the University of Oklahoma, where he played for Bud Wilkinson, another coach on my list. Royal intercepted 18 passes in his career with the Sooners, still a school record, particularly impressive given the reluctance of many to employ the forward pass at that time. Perhaps not coincidentally, he is famous for the statement, “Three things can happen when you pass, and two of ’em are bad.” He also was a successful part-time quarterback.
Before becoming the head coach of Texas, where he was known for installing the wishbone offense, Royal briefly coached at Mississippi St. (whose series against LSU I profiled here) and Washington. In his 23 seasons as a college head coach (1954-76), none of his teams ever had a losing record.
Top 25 comments
It may not look like the top teams have changed, and that’s true in ordinal ranking. However, going into last week, Alabama trailed Notre Dame by .23. Now Alabama trails Notre Dame by .04. So the Tide should have no problem passing up the Irish, assuming they can get past Texas A&M. Not a guarantee given that the Aggies had a similarly close game against LSU and just last week dismantled Mississippi St. similarly to the way the Tide did the week before.
Notre Dame will lose standing compared to other undefeated teams as the Irish still have Boston College, Wake Forest, and a bye week. They also have USC of course, but a 3-loss USC is probably not what many people expected they’d face and the three other major undefeateds all have multiple opponents left who rate higher than the Trojans do right now.
Ohio St. is still #3 here, but keep in mind they haven’t had a bye week either (they have one this week and of course will be idle during championship week). If the score is averaged by playing weeks, Ohio St. is 5th instead. I think 5th is more in line with where they should be, but I’m confident it will work itself out.
It doesn’t look like Florida can make the SEC championship game (absent what would be an almost miraculous win by Auburn over Georgia), so in light of LSU’s loss, I don’t think a one-loss SEC champion would be in the mix, unless of course a couple of these other teams lose (in which case maybe a one-loss non-champion could be involved). Georgia had a much worse loss (35-7 to South Carolina) and a significantly weaker schedule than Florida has had (Ole Miss, Auburn, and Georgia Tech in lieu of Texas A&M, LSU, and Florida St.), so they’re a tough sell as a one-loss team. I don’t think Alabama would be able to pull off what Oklahoma did in 2003 and make the BCS championship despite the loss in the conference championship game. Of course the formula has changed quite a bit since then. It would make for interesting conversation if Florida, Georgia, and Alabama all finished with one loss apiece, but practically, I’m afraid that would just dilute the SEC-sympathetic vote.
Anyway, as far as my ratings, Florida is significantly ahead (.11) of Georgia even though the Bulldogs are just the next spot down, so absent Georgia beating Alabama (who has all but clinched the SEC West), they should stay ahead.
I was happy to see Louisville and Toledo each moved down a couple spots as promised. Rutgers only fell one spot during its bye week, but this was partly due to losses by teams in their vicinity.
Georgia and Oregon St. moved up with a couple of respective good-but-not-great wins. Oregon St. could potentially be the top 1-loss team as it can play itself into the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford and Oregon. Of course, Georgia would gain significant ground by winning the SEC, but the Bulldogs don’t have much remaining competition otherwise.
South Carolina, Clemson, Nebraska, and Florida St. benefited from LSU’s loss and all moved up. The Gamecocks only moved up one spot though, because of course they had lost to LSU. Florida St. only moved up one spot because of its bye week and because that Duke win doesn’t count as much as it did last week.
Nebraska still gets credit for beating Michigan St., although the losses are adding up for the Spartans too. Also, the Huskers got a boost from UCLA (which beat Nebraska in September) beating Arizona.
Northwestern also felt the effects of the bye week, as they were passed up by Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana Tech. Texas A&M got the big win over Mississippi St., which in turn helped out Louisiana Tech. Texas and Oklahoma got decent wins in their own right, and also helped each other out.
San Jose St. is just gradually moving up as other teams lose, but we’ll see if they belong when they play BYU and Louisiana Tech. One of the Spartans’ two losses is to Stanford, so that’s why there aren’t a lot of negative points there. It also helped SJSU out that San Diego St. (whom they beat in September) beat Boise St. The Spartans are the 96th team I have ranked out of 124 in the nearly two decades I have ranked teams (I’m getting old). Obviously, the four new teams haven’t had much of a chance yet.
Three consecutive wins since the humiliation in Berkeley have put UCLA back in the top 25, and Mississippi St. is still barely hanging on at #25.
23 of my top 25 teams are also in the BCS top 25. The only exceptions are Ohio St., which is on probation and excluded from the BCS ratings, and San Jose St. Texas Tech and USC are the two teams in the BCS top 25 but not in my top 25.
SEC and LSU Notes
9 of the top 22 schedules in my formula belong to the SEC. That number might be a little skewed because I don’t factor in FCS games, but as of right now, the SEC has played fewer such games per team than any other major conference apart from the Big Ten. The SEC has seven teams in my top 25. The SEC is easily first in my conference rankings, but due to tiebreakers, the Pac-12 North is now the top division, although keep in mind that this only looks at where the good teams are ranked and does not consider how bad teams like Washington St. and Arkansas are.
Kentucky has announced that head coach Joker Philips will not be retained next season. I rank Kentucky’s schedule third, but I rank the team 98th. The Cats beat a Kent St. team that has beaten Rutgers and has done very well in the MAC. They also gave Georgia a very close game, but there were no wins apart from Kent St., and if you’re even occasionally bad enough to lose to Vanderbilt 40-0 at home, I can see the administration wanting to make a change. Kentucky made a bowl game in 2010 and barely missed one in 2011, so it may be time to try to right the ship before any further damage is done.
The Captain Obvious (or should that be spelled “Oblivious”?) award for the week goes to Les Miles, who admitted the fake field goal (a pass from the punter to the kicker at that) on 4th and 12 was not the right play.
As if there wasn’t enough bad about the LSU/Bama game, one thing that made it even worse was that LSU used the game as a major recruiting event. Kain Daub, a LB who may be one of the top recruits in the nation in 2014, announced a few days later that he has opened up his options since committing to LSU in the offseason. Alabama is one of several schools he is now considering, but he hasn’t completely eliminated LSU. Kendall Beckwith, a 4-star “ATH” (I so hate that designation) from Louisiana, is still leaning toward LSU, but is also considering Alabama. I wonder if the outcome of this game might come into play when he decides. Beckwith plans to attend the A&M/Alabama game as well.
Speaking of which, unless there is a three-way tie with Alabama and Texas A&M (which would require losses by the Tide to A&M and Auburn), LSU will not make the SEC championship game this season. The Tigers have made the SEC championship game 5 times, but all were in odd-numbered years. LSU has played @Auburn and @Florida in every even-numbered year since the SEC championship game began. The Tigers have also hosted Alabama in even-numbered years that whole time and have generally fared worse against the Tide at home than on the road.
For the eighth presidential election in a row, the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the outcome of the presidential election. It’s simple: LSU beats Alabama in an election year, the Republican wins; Alabama beats LSU, the Democrat wins. So if you don’t like Obama, blame Les Miles for getting him re-elected. The Alabama/LSU game often takes place after the election though.
It has sometimes been the second Saturday in November instead of the first. (And of course even the first Saturday sometimes falls after Election Day… which by law is the first Tuesday that is not November 1.) The game was actually played on the third Saturday in 2002 and 2003 and on the fourth Saturday in 1973, but obviously those weren’t election years and the streak didn’t start until 1984 anyway. Otherwise, it’s been on one of those two days since this started being an annual rivalry in 1964.
The “Redskins Rule” (which has to do with the Redskins defending the incumbent’s party by winning at home), on the other hand, has been wrong in two of the last three elections.