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2012 College Football Final Top 25

In Bowls, College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 11, 2013 at 8:38 PM

The basic idea of my computer ratings is to be a better version of the BCS standings, where the focus is on the top teams and having the correct top 2.
For the first few years, my top 2 agreed with the BCS top 2 with the BCS Champion finishing #1 in my final rankings. That changed last year when I had Oklahoma St. #2 going into the bowls and then LSU stayed #1 despite the loss to Alabama.

Once again this season, my top 2 was different from the BCS top 2. I had Notre Dame #1 going in, but Alabama was down at #4, below Florida and Ohio St.
Some might scoff at Florida, which didn’t even win its division, but neither did last year’s pre-bowl #3. Florida also managed to beat both LSU and Texas A&M, which Alabama could not do, and the Tide didn’t even face one of the top 3 teams of the other division until the SEC Championship game.

As for Ohio St., let’s face it: If they weren’t on probation, they would have been in the title game against Notre Dame.

Since I’m about to paste my top 25 below anyway, I’ll give it away. Alabama did finish as #1 in the final rankings this year, the second year in a row my (completely subjective) preseason #1 ended #1. And if we were to look at the top 2 now, what happens? Rematch! Alabama should have to beat them again. It would be even better if they had to beat Georgia again though. In addition, Alabama should also have to travel back in time and beat Texas a second time in 2009.

I’ll be really annoyed if Alabama has a November loss next year and ends up in the title game again anyway, especially being that their SEC East opponents in the regular season will be Tennessee and Kentucky while LSU, for instance, will play Florida and Georgia.

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Alabama 4
2 Notre Dame 1
3 Ohio St. 2
4 Oregon 6
5 Stanford 5
6 Florida 3
7 S Carolina 8
8 Georgia 10
9 TX A&M 12
10 Kansas St. 7
11 Clemson 15
12 Florida St. 16
13 SJSU 14
14 LSU 9
15 Oklahoma 11
16 Utah St. 19
17 Louisville 21
18 Nebraska 13
19 Boise St. 20
20 N’western 22
21 Ark. St. 25
22 N. Illinois 17
23 Michigan 23
24 Oregon St. 18
25 Cincinnati —

Out of rankings: (24) Ball St.

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13
Week 14

Usually the final poll has a good amount of turnover, but this time, the only change is that Cincinnati replaced Ball St. I thought Cincinnati was a better team anyway. I’m going to mention the teams that moved a few spots. Florida and LSU turned in uninspired performances and lost, even though LSU almost held on.

Texas A&M moved up 3 spots, one over Oklahoma, the team the Aggies beat in the Cotton Bowl, and also moved ahead of LSU and Kansas St. when each lost.

Clemson and Florida St. improved a few spots apiece by winning the Chik-fil-A and Orange Bowls, respectively. I would remind people that Florida beat Florida St. and South Carolina beat Clemson, with the ACC teams hosting both games. Clemson was the only ACC to beat an SEC team this season, winning both in Atlanta (also beating Auburn in the opener).

Utah St. did move closer to San Jose St. but didn’t catch them. Although I know Utah St. won the WAC, but they didn’t go 3-1 against Stanford, BYU, San Diego St., and Navy out of conference. Instead the Aggies lost to BYU and their best non-conference win (before the bowl game) was over Utah. Utah St. beat Toledo, which suffered its fourth loss; but the Rockets were better than their record since they had played @ Arizona (losing in overtime) and hosted Cincinnati (whom they won).

After a 9-0 start, Louisville appeared to be crashing and burning in November but recovered to win the Big East by beating Rutgers in the final week and then beating Florida in the Sugar.

Not only did Nebraska lose, but Wisconsin, the team that destroyed them in the Big Ten title game, also lost, as did most of the other Big Ten teams in bowl games. To be fair, this was partly due to the absence of Ohio St. and Penn St. from the bowls.

Northern Illinois and Oregon St. also lost, combined with some disappointing results by prior opponents.

Arkansas St. capped off its 8-game winning streak to end the season by beating one of those Northern Illinois opponents, Kent St., a team which had a 10-game winning streak going into the MAC title game.

I did want to say a couple of things looking forward to next season just about the SEC West. (This is about the best- and worst-case scenarios for all the SEC teams, by the way.)

Going into this season, I didn’t think LSU was going to win a national title in an even year with a new QB anyway, but if they don’t improve their endgame, it’s hopeless in the foreseeable future as well. People are going to talk about how good the players LSU will be losing are, but that’s not what you look at, you look at who’s coming back. Tyrann Mathieu didn’t come back this year, nor did Mo Claiborne, and what happened, there was a whole collection of new defensive players for LSU that will be seemingly irreplaceable next year. I have a feeling it will be the same the next offseason. It’s too early to make solid predictions, but the idea that LSU is going to be locked out of the top 2 of the West is not one I’m buying.

When Texas A&M faced Florida and LSU, they failed to score 20 points in either game and Manziel was not a household name. When Alabama gave up over 400 yards to the A&M offense in a 29-24 loss, Manziel was all of a sudden the greatest player ever, even though Alabama had given up more yards to LSU, a team criticized most of the season for being offensively inept, the game before.
I wasn’t surprised Saban fixed what ailed the Tide in the following weeks and in bowl preparation, but why does it have to be this team that can lose in November, regroup, and then win the national title two years in a row? And why does this make them odds-on favorites to do it again?

I know LSU lost to Arkansas very late in 2007, but that was one season 5 years ago, not two in a row. Why does this kind of thing happen more often to programs and franchises who have won enough already?

But that’s fine. I’d rather LSU be picked third in the West than Preseason #1 in the coaches’ poll anyway. Aside from what was already mentioned about the coaches snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I think either Florida or Georgia (preferably both) have to have seasons that don’t measure up to the ones they had this year. If LSU were to beat all three of the best SEC East teams next year, that would be more top-3 East teams than Alabama has beaten the last two seasons combined (Florida, which finished with an SEC record of only 3-5, in the 2011 regular season; and Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship).

I don’t know when I’ll be posting again, but until then, happy 2013, and good luck to all your winter sports teams, especially the NHL teams that are just getting started.

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2012 SEC Recap

In Bowls, College Football, Conference Reports, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

I’m not happy about Alabama winning the BCS title (and finishing #1 in my ratings) and I still don’t like the man at all, but Nick Saban has been pretty good about reminding people what it means to be in the SEC rather than pretending this is all about Alabama. He gave Georgia and the SEC credit, saying, “We got here by 5 yards — Georgia was 5 yards from scoring [the winning touchdown in the SEC title game],” Saban said. “It’s a pretty tough league we play in. We’re going to have to improve as a program to have the opportunity to play for a national championship again, because of the quality of our league.”

After, the LSU game, Saban’s opening remarks to the media included the following: “LSU played a great game. They had a great game plan. They did a great job of executing. I think their quarterback played really well. There was a stretch there in the second half where they converted seven straight third down and five or mores…. This was a very physical game. I’m going to tell you that our guys are probably going to be as sore as they’ve ever been after any game.” It was obviously in part to give his team credit for winning despite this, but he acknowledged all during the following week that if anything he needed to keep a lid on his team’s self-congratulatory mood (he was smart enough to worry about what happened in the A&M game before it happened), so I don’t think he was just patting himself or the team on the back with these comments.

I also want to give Gregg Doyel (who gave the Saban quote about Georgia here) credit for pointing out what an idiot he made out of himself earlier in the year.

I believe the Tide would have finished undefeated and possibly without the scares it had against LSU and Georgia had it competed in any other conference, and the same may well have been true had the Tide faced Notre Dame’s schedule. That’s not to say there wouldn’t have been any close games, but I don’t think there would have been the type of game that either the Tigers or the Bulldogs had against the Tide. I don’t think Texas A&M was as outstanding as some think they were, but they beat Alabama because they got out to a 20-0 lead, and I’m almost certain that they’re the only team in the country that could have realistically done that.

I just mentioned the three best teams that Alabama played this season (at least based on the games those teams gave Alabama), and it could have easily been any one of them in their place. I’ll further note that the Tide did not play Florida or South Carolina. So if the schedule and a couple other things had worked out differently, Alabama could have been the fifth or sixth team in the SEC this year. After all, that’s the spot LSU (at least according to the polls) ended up in this year, and we saw how close they were to Alabama on the field.

Speaking of which, LSU and Florida (LSU’s only conference loss besides Alabama) had disappointing bowl results, but they were basically national quarterfinalists. Georgia beat Florida, which eventually got the Bulldogs into the semifinal against Alabama, which had beaten LSU to all-but secure its place in the semifinal. The fact that Florida and LSU (and their fans) didn’t seem enthused by the bowls they ended up in–and the teams suffered losses in those games–doesn’t take that away in my view. I don’t think Florida or LSU would have lost those games had they taken place during the regular season even if both the Gators and Fighting Tigers had played them on the road. If you had put LSU or Florida in the Cotton or Sugar against Oklahoma, you might not have seen the same final score, but you would have still seen strong SEC wins in either case. I think the same can be said with regard to the BCS Championship against Notre Dame.

That being said, there were 14 teams in the SEC and that leaves out 8 of them; but even Missouri, which wasn’t eligible for a bowl, beat Arizona St., and Kentucky, which was winless in the SEC, beat Kent St. Northwestern did beat Mississippi St. and even Vanderbilt earlier in the year, but the Commodores came on strong at the end of the year and those Bulldogs did not. Both Tennessee and Vanderbilt beat North Carolina St., Vanderbilt doing it in a bowl, and Tennessee (which did not win enough games for a bowl berth) doing it to start the year. Also, there was another SEC bowl win when Ole Miss soundly beat Pittsburgh, which was a 33-yard field goal (attempted in the second of three overtimes) away from beating Notre Dame in South Bend.

If you look at inter-conference record, the SEC was second to the Big XII, but I think when you look at the top 2 Big XII teams, that’s an indication that the whole conference was a step behind the SEC. The Pac-12 was probably a better conference than the Big XII, but they were 24-11 out of conference to the SEC’s 43-8 before the bowl games. Both the SEC and Pac-12 were just over .500 in games against the AQ’s (and Notre Dame) before the bowls. The Big XII was 25-2 overall, but I think you’ll find that apart from the record, the conference didn’t do anything that impressive.

I don’t have anything particularly complimentary to say about Arkansas and Auburn, but I think in a lot of conferences both would have made bowl games. I felt like Auburn gave up, but with a few wins rather than losses in September and October, I don’t think that would have happened. I almost forgot that Arkansas beat a pretty good Tulsa team in November though.