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.
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.
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.