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Week 13 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 25, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Florida St. moves into #1 in the computer rankings for the first time this season.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 2 ) Florida St. 2
2 ( 1 ) Alabama 1
3 ( 7 ) Ohio St. 4
4 ( 3 ) Oregon 3
5 ( 4 ) Miss. St. 5
6 ( 8 ) UCLA 8
7 ( 19 ) Marshall 9
8 ( 5 ) TCU 7
9 ( 9 ) Georgia 10
10 ( 12 ) Arizona 15
11 ( 14 ) Auburn 11
12 ( 26 ) Boise St. 12
13 ( 6 ) Baylor 16
14 ( 17 ) Ole Miss 6
15 ( 18 ) Ga. Tech 13
16 ( 21 ) Colo. St. 14
17 ( 10 ) Mich. St. 17
18 ( 15 ) Wisconsin 20
19 ( 11 ) Kansas St. 21
20 ( 16 ) Missouri 22
21 ( 13 ) Arizona St. 18
22 ( 20 ) Oklahoma 23
23 ( 22 ) Clemson 24
24 ( 30 ) Nebraska 19
25 ( 23 ) Minnesota —

(Louisville and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (25) USC

There are a total of 44 teams that got some level of points in the Mock BCS standings linked to above.

Earlier top-25 blogs:
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

Comments

Florida St. moved into #1, although I think another reminder that I don’t factor in margin of victory is in order. Alabama could move back into #1 by beating better opponents in the coming weeks, but something else to keep in mind is Florida St. isn’t the only ACC team playing an SEC team this weekend. If the ACC does significantly better, that’s an even stronger argument in Florida St.’s favor, which my system is designed to recognize.

I thought some of the commentariat brought up some interesting points about the committee’s #4-7 teams.

I want to mention something Jeff Long, a member of the committee, said first though. He said they look at where a team was ranked when you played them. I hope that’s not true, but it would explain why LSU was seemingly penalized so much as compared to other two-loss teams before the Alabama game.

I just don’t think it’s right if they don’t consider that a loss to a top-five team. It’s not LSU’s fault people didn’t yet know they were going to be one of the top teams this season. If anything, the team who is the first to go down should get a break since they’ve had more time to recover from the loss. Also, later teams have more ability to anticipate problem areas and can possibly benefit from injuries. Of course, what they should do is consider how good the opponent is without the loss. For instance, had LSU won the last two games, it may be worth noting in the Bulldogs’ favor that taking out their win over LSU, the Tigers would be in the conversation for the top 4.

I do think there are some unique challenges to beating a previously unbeaten team several weeks in, but I also hope Florida St. isn’t being given credit for a top-five win when Notre Dame isn’t even in the top 25 now. A top-25 win maybe, if you consider the Irish could well be in the top 25 had they simply not played the Seminoles. It is very important to consider those teams just outside of the top 25. I’ll talk more about them at the end.

There was some grumbling about Mississippi St., but I think if they beat Ole Miss, they have a good argument. I do think a one-loss Ohio St. team winning the Big Ten championship game (especially if it’s over Wisconsin) should go ahead of an idle Mississippi St. team, assuming Alabama wins the SEC West anyway, though.

I penalize for bad losses and yet I still have Ohio St. in the top 4, so that tells me that Ohio St.’s 8-game conference schedule + Wisconsin (if the Badgers win) is going to be better than either TCU’s or Baylor’s, assuming we’re going to be comparing one-loss teams. Ohio St. also has respectable wins over Navy and Cincinnati.

Baylor didn’t beat anyone worth mentioning out of conference, and TCU only beat one team, albeit a good one (Minnesota).

Obviously, if Minnesota beats Wisconsin, that’s going to be even better for the Horned Frogs and you could have an argument they’re more deserving in that scenario.

I don’t see any scenario, however, where one-loss Baylor should go ahead of one-loss TCU or one-loss Ohio St.

“B-but head to head” isn’t an argument.

Beating TCU is just a high-quality win.

I know the way tie-breakers work, they don’t care how bad the loss is. For instance, if Alabama had lost to Arkansas or Texas A&M instead of Ole Miss, they still would win the tie-breaker over Mississippi St. if the two finish with the same SEC record.

I do care how bad the loss is. In fact, I think that should be the most important game to compare when you compare two one-loss teams.

So before we even get to Minnesota, I think TCU goes ahead of Baylor. Playing well enough to lose to Baylor by three (my system doesn’t look at the margin, but that doesn’t mean my arguments can’t) is playing well enough to beat all but maybe 10 teams in college football. Playing at that level could be good enough to win a semifinal playoff game.

It’s hard to be complimentary about a 14-point loss to WVU though. It is tougher to play them on the road, but TCU did that and managed to win.

I know not everyone will credit Ohio St. for having a couple of mid-level non-conference wins instead of one good one like TCU, and that’s fine. I can accept that. I could not accept Baylor going ahead of either team though, assuming one loss apiece.

I think the Big Ten is slightly better than the Big XII, but even if they’re equal, consider that when you’re in a 10-team conference you play the worst teams as well as the best. Ohio St. did not play Purdue, and that’s one of the two worst teams in the Big Ten. TCU played Kansas (barely beating them) and will play Iowa St. during championship week.

My hope is Ohio St. is given significant credit for beating a tougher opponent on that weekend. If they are and they come up short, that’s fine. I like TCU better anyway.

A lot of these conversations could become even more muddled if you add in a possible two-loss SEC team. I think Mississippi St. is out with two losses, but a two-loss SEC champion Georgia team, I’m not so sure. They would have wins over Auburn, Georgia Tech, Arkansas, and Missouri, not to mention whoever the SEC West champions will be (most likely Alabama but possibly Mississippi St.)

Also, unlike last year, a loss to Auburn doesn’t necessarily knock Alabama out of the divisional race. Most people predicted Alabama to come out of Oxford with a win, and that didn’t happen. The same thing could happen to Mississippi St.

Alabama beat that West Virginia team mentioned above. They also beat Mississippi St., LSU, and Florida and could possibly beat Georgia in the SEC Championship.

Georgia isn’t guaranteed to win the East though. In fact, they need Arkansas to beat Missouri for that to happen. That may be the key to any two-loss SEC team being included.

Nothing down the list was too interesting. Minnesota actually jumped up 10 spots, so even though they beat Nebraska, they still got pretty significant credit for that even though it wasn’t quite enough to most past the Huskers. When two teams are separated by 16 spots going into a game, it’s not always enough for the lower team to get ahead in the ratings.

Also, it was nice to see Boise St. and Marshall finally get included in the committee’s top 25. I’m generally against “mid-major” teams being in the top 10, but the committee went too far in excluding them for so long.

I don’t know what they’re thinking keeping Utah in there though. Losing to Washington St. is pretty bad. If you want to pick a team with four losses, here are some better suggestions: LSU, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and USC. Apart from Notre Dame against Northwestern, none of the rest lost an embarrassing game like that. Since Notre Dame is playing USC and LSU is playing Texas A&M, hopefully the winners will get some strong consideration for that last spot. I would even take Arkansas as a five-loss team given their schedule (In addition to the SEC West, they will have played Georgia and Missouri, the best two teams in the East, as well as Northern Illinois and Texas Tech out of conference).

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Notes on LSU @ Texas A&M 2014

In College Football, General LSU, History, Preview, Rivalry on November 24, 2014 at 6:58 PM

The LSU defense did about as well as could be expected against Johnny Manziel…

But as a more traditional passer, Kyle Allen presents a very different test.

LSU was the only team that went 2-0 against “Johnny Football”, but as the captions above indicate, that’s not necessarily a reason for confidence going into this game. If you missed it, I wrote about LSU’s quarterback situation last week.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been waiting until I can compute the Mock BCS standings before writing a blog about my rankings. Unfortunately, one of the formerly BCS computer rankings still has not been released for this week, so this could not be done on time tonight.

You can still access my ratings for all 128 teams here, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow or the next day for the blog that I write to accompany them.

I updated my LSU-Texas A&M “Rivalry Series” blog after last season’s game, but I thought of a few more possibly interesting tidbits.

From 1989 to 1995, LSU lost 4 consecutive games at Texas A&M. The Tigers did not travel to the state of Texas again until 2002, when they lost to the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl. The last five trips to the state have gone fairly well, however:

2014 – Wisconsin (Houston), 28-24
2013 – TCU (Arlington), 37-27
2012 – @Texas A&M, 24-19
2011 – Oregon (Arlington), 40-27
2010 – Texas A&M (Arlington), 41-24

In trips West of the Mississippi River since that 2002 Texas game I mentioned, LSU is 11-3, with all three losses coming against Arkansas (just in case of confusion, when I put “Little Rock,” that means that’s where the game was played, not that LSU played the University of Arkansas-Little Rock):

2014 LOSS – @Arkansas, 0-17
2012 – @Arkansas, 20-13
2010 LOSS – Arkansas (Little Rock), 23-31
2009 – @Washington, 31-23
2008 LOSS – Arkansas (Little Rock), 30-31
2006 – Arkansas (Little Rock), 31-26
2005 – @Arizona St., 35-31
2004 – Arkansas (Little Rock), 43-14
2003 – @Arizona, 59-13

Since joining the conference, Texas A&M is only 4-6 in SEC play at home. By comparison, when the Aggies beat South Carolina in late August, they ran their SEC road record to 7-2 but have since fallen to 8-4. (If that doesn’t quite seem to add up, they beat Arkansas at a neutral site in 2012.)

Exorcise the Saban Ghost

In College Football, General LSU, History on November 19, 2014 at 3:03 PM

People talk about ghosts of Tiger Stadium (which turns 90 on Tuesday, by the way). Usually it’s positives like Billy Cannon’s Halloween Run in 1959, the 1988 Earthquake Game against Auburn, the five fourth-down conversions against Florida in 2007. There were a couple of other classics against those opponents and others.

There have also been negatives. One negative was when the Tigers went 30 years without a win against Alabama at home. Even though Bear was only there for about the first 1/3 of that time, it was like his ghost was still on the sidelines, pushing the Tide to victory in a way that it wasn’t even present in the state of Alabama.

Other than the national championship, one of the main things I’m grateful for from Saban’s tenure is the fact that he had two home wins over Alabama, the first of which ended that long streak. Neither win came against a great Alabama team, but that wasn’t important. Just like it wasn’t important how young this LSU team was or how well Ole Miss had played in previous games this season.

In January, it will have been ten years since Nick Saban coached an LSU team.

In January, it will have been ten years since Nick Saban coached an LSU team.

Under Miles, things against Alabama started even better. After winning two games over Mike Shula’s teams (I also find it kind of funny that Miami is the team Saban came from due to that last name), Miles won three of his first five games against Saban. If Miles had left after 7 seasons, he’d be known the guy who (unlike Saban) actually beat a number of good Alabama teams at LSU. (In addition to the three wins over Saban, LSU beat a previously unbeaten, 4th-ranked Alabama team in 2005.)

The ghost of Bear might be gone now, but now there is a living ghost in the collective psyche of LSU fans by the name of Nick Saban. Some still openly regret the fact that he’d left and wanted him to come back. I’ve heard from multiple sources there was a group of boosters who thought they could get Saban back if Miles were to leave. Others bitterly resent what they see as his betrayal of LSU by going to Alabama.

I believe like most supposedly supernatural phenomena, this ghost is present in our minds only to the extent we allow it to be, but it’s been really hard to shake since 1/9/12, that fateful day that ended what would have been LSU’s first undefeated season since 1958 (although LSU still won two more games in 2011 than it had in 1958). It also prematurely ended what should have been at least 24 consecutive months of bragging rights over the Tide and gave Alabama another national championship to rub everyone’s noses in.

To backtrack a bit, I want to note that very few people mind the fact that he went to Miami. He had rejected many NFL offers out of respect for LSU, and he was still of the age that it made sense to give it a try. Also Wayne Huizenga, the owner of the Dolphins, had bent over backwards to accommodate Saban’s every contractual demand.

The betrayal was going to Alabama. Alabama may not have ever put too much emphasis on beating LSU, but the same could not be said of LSU’s priorities. Of course, Alabama was not what it once was in 2007, but I think most LSU fans knew it would only be dormant for so long. For the catalyst of Alabama’s return to be Nick Saban was the ultimate slap in the face.

Both LSU and Michigan St. (his two stops before his brief experiment with NFL head coaching) fans took part in derogatory chants against Saban a couple of weeks ago. The Michigan St. fans did it when Chris Fowler interviewed Saban by satellite (if that’s even still the technology used), and the LSU fans did so in person when the Tide came to Tiger Stadium.

What annoys me more though is the perception by some that LSU and Michigan St. owe any success in the last few years to Saban. I wanted to set the record straight on some things, because Saban did not have anything close to the kind of improvement or level of consistency he’s had at Alabama since 2008.

I could probably write a book about all the things I like and don’t like about him and my observations of him as a person and a coach over the last 20 years (I clearly remember Michigan St. both before he took the job and during his time there), but I just want to focus on what exactly changed at Michigan St. and LSU when you look at the results on the field. I also want to consider the argument or suggestion that if he’d stayed at LSU, the LSU football team would be what Alabama has been over the last five seasons.

Saban’s last year at Michigan St. was a good one; but before that, his teams were just about as mediocre as they were under his predecessor there (although to be fair, 6-5-1 and 6-6 at least aren’t losing seasons, which his predecessor had suffered a couple of times). Still, Saban’s second-best season there was only 7-5.

I don’t want to dwell on Michigan St. too much — his last season there was 15 years ago — but in his first season gone, they went right back to 5-6, which they had finished the year before Saban started there. That was a long-term impact of approximately 0. In fact, you can go out even further. In the five years before Saban, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. In the five years after he left, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. What are fans today supposed to thank him for again? Other than memories of the 1999 Citrus Bowl?

It doesn’t take a great coach to have a single ten-win season in five years. I don’t think any major programs are beating down the doors of Will Muschamp, Larry Coker, Gerry DiNardo (Saban’s full-time predecessor), or even Gene Chizik, who has a national championship to his credit. Another example from the SEC, David Cutcliffe, took a long time to get back into a head coaching job despite having led Ole Miss to its best season in decades in 2003.

Saban did step things up in his fourth and fifth years at LSU, but the Tigers had a combined 12 losses in his first three years. The conference championship in 2001 was a fluke. How often has the SEC champion had three conference losses? How often does the SEC champion have a loss by 29 points at home?

LSU had worse in the previous two seasons than Michigan St. had had immediately before Saban but had two season of the previous four with wins of 9 games or more, whereas the last time Michigan St. had won even 8 games was five seasons before Saban got there.

LSU likely had better athletes to start with. After being a dormant program for 6 seasons, DiNardo did have some initial success. In his first season, he led the Tigers to only their second bowl win in 16 years, and it was over Saban’s first Michigan St. team. This was followed by a 19-5 record over the next two seasons, which included a win over defending national champions Florida in 1997. Also, Louisiana is more fertile recruiting ground for recruiting than the state of Michigan, and LSU isn’t “little brother” to anyone in the state of Louisiana.

It was not that difficult to have a spike in Louisiana recruiting. It also wasn’t the case that DiNardo couldn’t develop players, which he clearly did given some of the close results against good teams. He just lost the ability (partly due to turnover among his assistants) to manage the team to wins.

I’m sure that put a damper on recruiting in the 1998-99 offseason, but LSU would finish the 1999 campaign with a strong win over a ranked Arkansas team (with an interim coach), and the hope that the hire of Saban brought (probably as much as or more than Saban himself) kept the recruiting after the 1999 season from being a problem. If they could beat a ranked team with a no-name interim coach at the helm, the sky was the limit.

Nonetheless, Saban’s first three seasons were actually worse than DiNardo’s first three by record, and there had been no winning seasons that preceded any of the recruiting classes DiNardo worked with in that time.

Saban’s 9 wins in his final season were good in the context of the 12 years before his arrival, but I don’t remember Les Miles getting a ton of credit for following a national championship season with 8-win and 9-win seasons, respectively. Nor did he get a lot of credit for winning 33 games in the past three full seasons combined. Saban’s best three years at LSU together didn’t account for that many wins.

One of the other coaches I mentioned likely could have coached Saban’s 2004 team to 9 wins or more. Also, the loss to Georgia that season was reminiscent of the handful of bad losses Miles has had. So there was really only one season at LSU that was better than what had taken place at LSU the five seasons before Saban’s arrival.

As he did at Michigan St., he did raise the floor at LSU. When things didn’t go well, he went 8-5 and 8-4 instead of 4-7 and (starting) 2-8. That was an improvement, but just like with Michigan St., he only raised the ceiling in one year.

In both instances, those singular seasons caused his stock to go through the roof (continuing with the housing analogy), although he did decide to stick around at LSU another year anyway. Also, it’s not just wins and losses on their own. There were baffling losses under Saban. In his first season, he lost to Florida by 32, he lost to UAB (with only 10 points scored), and he lost to an Arkansas team (which had gone into the game with a losing record), 14-3.

It’s not good if you have three games where you score 10 or fewer points and four games where you score 17 or fewer.

The next year, they had the opposite problem. The offense was only held under 20 twice, but they allowed 44 to Florida, 25 to a bad Kentucky team, 35 to Ole Miss, 38 to Arkansas, and 34 to Illinois.

2002 was all over the map. They scored 14 or fewer four times, but they scored over 30 seven times. They allowed over 25 points five times.

2003’s team only had a single loss, but it was an ugly one: 19-7 at home against Ron Zook’s Gators. The Tigers struggled offensively at times against the better teams such as Georgia, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma. It helped that that team was able to play 6 teams with losing records and a I-AA opponent. Before the last four games of that season, LSU had not played two teams back-to-back that would finish with winning records. Contrast that with Miles’ last couple of seasons.

The 2004 team did not have a stellar offense, and LSU actually hurt themselves by trying to start JaMarcus Russell too soon. They nearly lost to Florida before Marcus Randall came off the bench to lead a comeback. They also needed Oregon St. to miss a few extra points in order to win the opener by 1 point in overtime. I already mentioned the Georgia loss that year.

LSU scored over 40 points three times that year (against teams with a combined 11 wins), but their highest point output otherwise was 27 against an Ole Miss team that finished 4-7. They only managed to score 24 apiece against the likes of Troy and Vanderbilt.

This was with Jimbo Fisher as the offensive coordinator. To apply the criticism Miles gets to Saban, he must have been holding the offensive coordinator back, right? It would seem to apply to Saban even more. In fact, I’m calling it right now: Cam Cameron is not going to be the head coach of a national-championship team in the next 10 years.

One could have also argued Saban only developed one “real” quarterback (Matt Mauck, whom he actually first recruited during his Michigan St. days) in those five years.

Saban was there when Russell came to LSU, but I’m sure that had more to do with Jimbo. Also, Russell didn’t really come into his own until the middle of his last year, which had nothing to do with Saban.

Point being, if you start from the perspective of looking to blame the head coach for everything, Saban could have taken a lot of blame as well as credit during his time at LSU. I think people just don’t realize how much their expectations have changed, which made every big win Saban had wonderful and every loss (or sometimes even close win) under Miles tragic.

So if we’re going to be assigning blame, we can blame Saban for causing LSU fans to forget what a losing season feels like. I still don’t think we have him to thank for the 7 double-digit-win seasons since he left, although of course he was instrumental for at least the first couple of them.

The LSU fans who do have this pathetic sense of longing for Saban are misguided. Alabama has certain advantages that LSU just isn’t going to have.

I don’t buy into conspiracies, but I think there is a natural degree of deference they get from recruits, from referees, from the media, from conference officials (who, perhaps not coincidentally, are based in Alabama), etc. Notre Dame has not had a sustained presence atop college football in 20 years. For Nebraska, it’s been about 15 years. So Alabama is the focal point of the historically great programs right now. There is just a different level of mystique for such programs. Nick Saban or not, that wasn’t going to be LSU.

People can’t accept that though. They just think that had Saban been here in 2009, 2011, and 2012, we would have had three national championships in those years rather than none. Maybe Saban wins in 2011 with either team (although even that’s arguable), but I’m doubtful about 2009 and 2012.

What if LSU (rather than Alabama) had been undefeated in 2009 and threw an interception on the game-clinching drive against Alabama. You think that gets ruled incomplete and LSU goes on to kick the field goal anyway?

LSU got some flak for winning in 2007 with two losses, but at least they won the conference, unlike Alabama in 2011.

Let’s say LSU loses a home game to Alabama like they did this year and everything else plays out like 2011. Do you think LSU gets a re-match over a one-loss champion of another conference? I doubt it.

LSU hasn’t gotten a soft touch at all in their slate against the SEC East even though their annual opponent (Florida) has been better than Alabama’s annual opponent (Tennessee).
The previous two seasons have had “bridge” schedules, temporary stop-gaps before they started off the new rotation, which was formalized before this season.

Alabama drew Missouri in 2012. Missouri played in the 2011 Independence Bowl, but they had an anticipated lull in adjusting to the SEC slate in 2012. In addition to the one good Muschamp team (which would only lose one SEC game), LSU had to play South Carolina, which had gone 11-2 in 2011. South Carolina would finish with the same record in 2012.

If you switch both SEC East opponents around, chances are LSU goes to the SEC Championship game instead of Alabama in 2012, even assuming Alabama still beats LSU in the closing seconds. Point being, I don’t think had Saban coached LSU that year (even if he had players just as good as the ones he had at Alabama), he would have beaten both Florida and South Carolina.

In 2013, LSU got Georgia, which had nearly beaten Alabama in the 2012 championship game, while Alabama played Kentucky, fresh off another losing season. Again, that scenario does not get reversed if Saban coaches LSU instead of Alabama.

It was an extra advantage for Alabama because what turned out to be their top challenger, Auburn, had to play Georgia also. Auburn had a favorable bounce and there were some unfortunate injuries to Bulldogs players between playing LSU and Auburn, but that could have easily been another Alabama divisional win (even with the Iron Bowl loss) owing in significant part to the schedule.

A Saban team might have won another game last season at LSU, but if they don’t end up winning two more, they don’t win the championship anyway.

So all things considered, maybe Saban wins one more championship than Miles did over the last 10 years (that’s right, this is the 10th LSU season after Saban). On the other hand, maybe they don’t win in 2007. You might blame Miles for the OT losses, but maybe Saban loses games to Florida and Auburn (there were some gutsy calls Saban may not have made) and they either lose a third somewhere along the way or someone else wins the division. So it could even be the same number of championships.

I don’t mind the idea of looking at the unmatched level of success Alabama has had over the better part of the last seven seasons (the only time a program had done anything like that in my memory was Nebraska in the mid-1990s) and wanting to match that, but just get over the fact that the head coach there coached LSU 10 years ago. That goes for people who want to insult him and those who wish he’d stayed (or fantasize about his return) alike. For those who persist in being hung up on Saban, at least get your facts right.

Week 12 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU.

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU.

There are 40 teams total that got at least some level of “Mock BCS” points, so you can follow the link below to find them all.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 2 ) Alabama 4
2 ( 1 ) Florida St. 3
3 ( 3 ) Oregon 2
4 ( 7 ) Ohio St. 10
5 ( 4 ) Miss. St. 1
6 ( 8 ) Ole Miss 5
7 ( 5 ) TCU 9
8 ( 10 ) UCLA 6
9 ( 19 ) Marshall 13
10 ( 9 ) Georgia 21
11 ( 14 ) Auburn 7
12 ( 28 ) Boise St. 15
13 ( 17 ) Ga. Tech 22
14 ( 23 ) Colo. St. 11
15 ( 15 ) Arizona 20
16 ( 6 ) Baylor 14
17 ( 11 ) Mich. St. 24
18 ( 13 ) Arizona St. 8
19 ( 22 ) Nebraska 12
Wisconsin head
20 ( 16 ) Wisconsin —
21 ( 12 ) Kansas St. 19
22 ( 18 ) Missouri —
23 ( 21 ) Oklahoma —
24 ( 30 ) Clemson 23
25 ( 24 ) USC —

(Utah and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (16) Notre Dame, (17) Duke, (18) LSU, (25) TX A&M

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Comments

I have serious reservations about both Alabama and Florida St.; but it’s the right thing, at least at this point, for both to be the top 2 teams. Alabama has had major issues with playing on the road (one-point win over Arkansas, virtual loss to LSU, actual loss to Ole Miss), although they don’t have any road games left. Florida St. has too; but it’s been a more general pattern of slow starts on both sides of the ball, followed by quick scores that the opposition offenses can’t keep up with.

Last week, I mentioned that it was possible for both Mississippi St. and Alabama to be in the top 4 with a Tide win over the Bulldogs. This would have happened were it not for another team I didn’t anticipate making the top 4, Ohio St.

A few things came together to help this happen. Even though the Gophers were unranked, that still counts as a good win. The fact that TCU escaped against Kansas on Saturday helped that to continue to count as a good win. (TCU beat Minnesota out of conference.) As I discussed last week in reference to Arizona St./Notre Dame, the effects of those out-of-conference results are huge.

If Minnesota lost to Michigan St., for instance, that would be positive for some Big Ten teams and negative for others, but it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the conference overall. Out-of-conference results have a uniformly positive or negative effect though. If 8 or 9 games you play are made to look better or worse, that makes a big difference.

Ohio St.’s strength of schedule was also assisted by Virginia Tech’s win over Duke. Losses hurt more than wins help, so if another loss had been added to Virginia Tech, that would have continued to weigh Ohio St. down. Instead, the Hokies’ ability to beat another pretty good team makes the loss not hurt so much.

Another factor that helped Ohio St. was Navy’s win over Georgia Southern. I’m not going to pretend Georgia Southern is a great team, but they have 7 FBS wins, so that’s a positive for Navy, which Ohio St. beat earlier in the year.

A big game for the Big Ten in general was Notre Dame/Northwestern. Not only was that a big win for a Big Ten team, but it also damaged what had been a quality opponent for Pac-12 and ACC teams.

Despite Northwestern taking even more of the luster off of Florida St.’s win over Notre Dame, the Seminoles were still able to move into #2 after a quality win that coincided with an Oregon bye week. Ohio St. was a little too far behind to challenge the ’Noles either.

The winner of Ole Miss and Mississippi St. still has a good chance to move into the top 4, particularly if Alabama loses to Auburn. If Ole Miss (@ Arkansas) and Mississippi St. (vs. Vanderbilt) win next week, this would mean that Alabama would be shut out of the SEC championship game.

The way my system operates, it’s a disadvantage not to be in the conference-championship game at the end of the year. This is one reason Alabama did not rate as highly in my system as it did in the BCS in 2011, for instance.

I mentioned TCU earlier. It’s not looking good for the Big XII in my system.

It would take a major group of losses by top teams for the Horned Frogs (currently #7) to move up significantly. They’re idle next week, then they play Texas during Rivalry Week, which is their last chance to get a decent number of points. During championship week, they play Iowa St., so that’s not going to help them out much. Even Marshall would get more points that week with a win. TCU is just a whisker ahead of UCLA, who can get a lot of points by winning out, especially if the Bruins win the Pac-12 South.

Kansas St. plays Baylor during championship week, but Kansas St. has two losses (and Auburn isn’t helping them by losing) and Baylor doesn’t have the prior wins. Their non-conference schedule was just awful.

No one outside of the top 10 has much of a chance of making the top 4, but teams like Georgia Tech, Arizona, and Wisconsin could move up significantly by winning their respective conferences.

As we learned in 2007 though, you never want to say it’s impossible for either a team like TCU or one of those lower teams.

LSU, Notre Dame, and Duke fell out. I think they’re all top-25 teams in ability (although none played like it Saturday), but teams in the 20s are packed pretty closely together, and all have at least one good chance for points coming up.

There were 11 losses or bye weeks in the top 18 last week, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Any team that went into the week in the top 18 and won a game is now in the top 12. All but two (Marshall and Boise St.) are in the top 7.

The Election Is Over, but It’s Time For a Change

In College Football, General LSU on November 15, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Going into this game, I wrote about LSU’s potential for next season. I still believe we will have one of the most talented and capable (to use a Les-ism) teams out there.

At this point, why not start Brandon Harris?

At this point, why not start Brandon Harris?

However, Anthony Jennings’ time as the starting quarterback needs to end, and it needs to end now. I was in favor of him starting this game, but when you play two or three quarters and you have 33 passing yards and 0 points, you shouldn’t stay in the game if there is someone with a pulse on the sidelines to take your place.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who was having flashbacks to the BCS title game after the 2011 season. The difference there was the guy on the sidelines had played Alabama two months before and failed. There was no such justification this time.

Jennings seems like a decent person who tries hard and understands the game to an extent, but we’ve seen enough. I don’t care if Harris starts 1 for 10. If he throws for more than 33 yards in the first three quarters, that will be better than this game was. We have a bye week to get him ready for A&M, and we’ll have a few weeks to get him ready for the bowl game. He needs to be given the ball and told he’s the starting quarterback sink or swim for at least a half. If we’re down 17-0 again in the next game, then maybe you put Jennings back in.

I don’t want to disparage Arkansas or suggest they’re undeserving. This was decent team that was desperately trying to get their first SEC win in a long time after a bye week. They absolutely dominated a Texas Tech team that just gave Oklahoma a good game well into the fourth quarter, and of course they were only a point short of beating Alabama. They were only a couple of minutes away from beating LSU last year.

That’s not a justification though, nor is the fact that it was hard to pick ourselves up after the last game. Our defense was ready to play, but they deserved a better offense. I’m not owed anything as a fan—I don’t buy tickets and rarely even buy merchandise (the last thing I bought was the 2013 media guide)—but those players are owed more than they got.

The runners and blockers are there, but I-formation runs up the middle when the other team sees it coming is never going to be a great play, at least not in the SEC. I don’t understand why we reverted to the same offense that we ran so miserably in the first half against Mississippi St. It works late in the game when there is a credible throwing threat. It doesn’t work with no passing offense to speak of and when the ball doesn’t even move around the backfield with any regularity.

To be fair though, the offensive line fell apart due to injuries.

Colby Delahoussaye did miss field goals; and if it had been 10-6 going into the fourth or even 17-6 going into the last 10 minutes, maybe that would have given us some chance. I don’t think there is a long-term problem with the kicker position though. You might remember Alabama missing some field goals in the regular-season game in 2011 and then hitting 5 of them in the BCS championship. I think that will turn around, but regardless, that’s not the primary problem. We were lucky to even have those two chances to score based on the miserable passing offense. One was set up by a targeting penalty, not even a pass interference. The other drive (leading to the miss in the first half) was a decent one, but if there is a good throw at some point, it may have been a touchdown drive.

Then when LSU finally got another drive together in the fourth quarter, Jennings ended it with a fumble. The knock on backup Brandon Harris had been his tendency to turn the ball over, but that argument for Jennings doesn’t seem very strong right now. Jennings also threw three combined interceptions in the previous two games (against only 16 completions).

I’m updating my blog about the Arkansas series. The pattern of frequent wins by the team with the worse season (so far anyway) continues.

Damn Strong Football Team: Arkansas and Beyond

In College Football, Preview on November 14, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Whether it’s our fault, Alabama’s fault, or the referees’ fault we got there, I know we have to pick ourselves up off the mat and get ready for the next game.

The "Golden Boot" is prepared for its (hopefully brief) trip to Arkansas.

The “Golden Boot” is prepared for its (hopefully brief) trip to Arkansas.

Arkansas nearly caught us looking ahead to the time off last year (bowl game rather than bye week, but still). There have been many instances in this series where the team who wasn’t supposed to win has won. It should also be interesting because of the expected cold weather.

This is something I enjoyed from an LSU fan who goes by Scoob (I was going to be nice and link to the site, but the administrators of that site can join Ole Miss):

Tigers played a good game tonight, it wasn’t meant to be at the end.

Despite all the bitching (because, yes, this one hurt), people played well. Yes, even our young QB, who made some more plays than he did earlier in the year against potentially lesser opponents than tonight’s foe. The biggest thing to remember is this- we played the most physically talented team on our schedule and possibly the best coached one, and our players held their own.

We are returning just about every key player next season, so the future looks very bright. Remember- Alabama, Auburn, Miss St and Ole Miss are all about the same level this year; and we went from being crushed early on to being on the same level as them. And that’s, honestly, top-10 level on the field. Next year, even if we make minimal progression, we’ll be that way to start with. I expect we’ll see a pretty big improvement, so I think next season will be gold

My only objection to that is Jennings absolutely did not have a good game however you want to spin it. The receivers didn’t help him, but I honestly think we didn’t run the ball enough. I saw little evidence Alabama had a better run defense than Ole Miss did, but for some reason people were under the impression we needed to throw it extensively.
To give credit where credit is due, Jennings was improving in each of the last five games going into this one:

9/27 NMSU W 63-7; 2/5 11
10/4 @Auburn L 41-7 5/10 84
10/11 @Florida W 30-27; 10/21 110
10/18 Kentucky W 41-3; 7/14 120
10/25 Ole Miss W 10-7; 8/16 142

I’ll take four steps forward and one step back from a first-year quarterback with young receivers. I just wish the latter weren’t against Alabama. I would have preferred to win this one and lose the next two.

Also, it wasn’t all bad. He did establish himself as a runner, and as he describes it, the game has slowed down for him. I could tell he was looking in more than one place and was flexible about what to do with the ball. There were a couple of instances where he should have run and didn’t, but I think his decision-making has improved. It also hasn’t been as easy for defenders to tell what he’s trying to do.

I do hope Brandon Harris gets another chance though (Les indicated he would, but sometimes that really means that only if the score allows). They both seem intelligent and physically capable, but it’s taking them time to read defenses and learn the system. Unlike Mettenberger (and to a lesser extent Jefferson), they don’t have veteran receivers to make them look good at times. I don’t know why there were at least three huge drops, but up until now, the receivers generally caught the ball on the occasions when it was thrown well and a respectable amount of the time when it wasn’t.

Even ignoring the officiating discrepancies, the closeness of the game, etc., you can make a real argument that LSU is among the top 10 teams.

Two BCS computer rankings put the Tigers in the top 10, and only one of the six had LSU below #12.

Even looking at the polls, LSU’s ranking isn’t very good, but they only lost to teams ranked #9 or better and beat every team ranked 10 or lower. The philosophy of my formula is similar. LSU deserves some recognition, but if you have three losses—however and to whomever they come—you don’t belong in the national-championship conversation.

That’s usually good enough to put a team in the top 10 because most teams only have one top-10 opponent at this point if any. If LSU is 9-1 right now against a slightly more average schedule (TCU’s, for example), they might even be in the top 5.

I have LSU’s schedule as the 7th-hardest in my listing, but I admit my strength-of-schedule listing isn’t ideal. For one, it punishes successful teams somewhat because beating the teams you play lowers their rating. For another shortcoming, it only gives an average. So you could play one terrible team and it might not fully account for playing several good teams.

Let’s say all teams are evenly spaced apart. Numbers 64 and 65 are easier to go 2-0 against than numbers 1 and 128.

But both of those are actually arguments in LSU’s favor. LSU played New Mexico St., which has one of the worst ratings (they just moved up to 127). Also, LSU doesn’t have a record that the fans expect, but 7-3 is still a good percentage more wins than losses. Point being, it’s possible LSU’s schedule is one of the top 5 hardest.

I have TCU’s schedule as the 30th hardest. To be fair, the same caveats apply to them. They have a good record and they played a really bad team (in their case, SMU). So their schedule may be even better than that. I’m just not about to try to make up a system that applies extra weight to the better team or subtracts out wins by the team with the schedule in question.

TCU has beaten everyone #13 and below. They’re just 0-1 against teams #9 or higher (if you look at the polls), compared to LSU’s 0-3.

I think Baylor is over-rated though. The way I see it, TCU beat everyone #19 or lower and lost to everyone #14 or higher. So looking at things that way, they would actually go behind LSU.

I’m not saying LSU beats TCU or Baylor, but I do think it’s a logical problem with the way polls work. Theoretically, if there were some way to know for sure what the best teams are in order, the 4th best team would be expected to go 0-3 if it were to play numbers 1 through 3. I think most of the voters generally see the rankings as a list of which teams would beat whom, but they often don’t really vote that way if you think about it.

Anyway, however you look at it, I think this Scoob person hit the nail on the head with how good this very young team is right now and how even marginal improvement will put them in a very good situation to start next year.

We were also without a couple of key players for all or most of the game. For instance, Rashard Robinson is suspended indefinitely, Kendell Beckwith missed some early plays, and Kenny Hilliard was hurt in the last game (he is expected to be out the remainder of the regular season). These are additional reasons not to hang our heads and just say Alabama has our number, because I don’t think that’s true. Maybe it’s just easier for people to say to themselves the loss (such that it was) was inevitable no matter what.

Alabama is a fairly young team too, but LSU would be a much different team if it had a junior wide receiver like Amari Cooper to go along with its young offense. Also, I know Blake Sims hardly played before this season, but that doesn’t make him young in the same way LSU’s quarterbacks are.

Last year at this time, Brandon Harris was in high school and Anthony Jennings was a true freshman who had only completed two passes (against Furman and UAB) in his career. Some would argue they haven’t come very far since then, but just being on the field running the offense, not to mention development in practice, improves future ability to perform.

Also, odd years typically go better for us. I know we’re going to have to travel to Alabama, but we have a better record against them on the road anyway. Also, if we get them into overtime again, the road team is undefeated in overtime games in the Alabama series.

Since SEC expansion in 1992 (and probably significantly further back), LSU has not beaten both Auburn and Florida in the same season on the road; but in four of the last five opportunities, LSU went 2-0 against the pair of them at home. The exception was 2009 when Florida beat LSU on the way to finishing 13-1. LSU has won the SEC West in five of the last seven odd years and has never won it in an even year.

More LSU-Alabama Comments & Reaction to CFP Week 3

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on November 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM

I didn’t get a blog off at the end of last week, but I think I’ll have no problem getting off another before Saturday. If for some reason I don’t, here is the link to the Arkansas series blog.

Like LSU-Alabama in recent years, it has been a consistently close game, but the differences are (1) this has been a trend over a longer time period of time and (2) Arkansas can be a lot worse and still make it close. Alabama, by contrast, hasn’t been a lot worse than LSU since 2003, and for the 15 years before that results in the series were not consistently close.

I plan to talk more about this year’s installment of the Arkansas game (and about LSU’s player development and so forth) for the next blog.

In a play that briefly seemed as if it would decide the game, Alabama's T. J. Yeldon fumbles, while Kendell Beckwith (#52) prepares to recover the ball.

In a play that briefly seemed as if it would decide the game, Alabama’s T. J. Yeldon fumbles, while Kendell Beckwith (#52) prepares to recover the ball.

I’m not quite done talking about the Alabama game though. Les Miles wasn’t either. Typically his Monday press conferences are about half the length this one was, and they focus on the next game rather than the preceding game. (He was back to normal… a Les version of normal anyway… when he fielded the after-practice questions today.)

If I understood the comment in the Monday press conference correctly, he said he submitted about 25 calls that he wanted some clarification on. He indicated he did have a satisfactory conversation with the director of officials, but I’ll just hold by breath for SEC officials to be paragons of consistency.

http://www.lsusports.net/mediaPortal/player.dbml?catid=29814&id=3526633

I thought the College Football Playoff committee might have seen the same things. I found it very interesting that LSU, which was only #19 after beating Ole Miss, is now #17. Really, they look better now than they did after the last time they played a game (which was the third win in a row and was over a team ranked #3)? Granted, Alabama moved up one spot in its bye week, but rather than placing Alabama a spot higher after Auburn’s loss, they kept the Tide in the same place and moved TCU up two spots instead.

Of course, I think this can easily be undone by an Alabama win over Mississippi St., but it seems to me this is a message that, “yes, we saw what happened.” I may go into more detail on the listing later this week. You compare to other rankings here and here.

Immediately after the game, I mentioned a couple of the big calls, such as the apparent overtime pass interference(s) and the late personal foul call against LSU (when nothing more happened than a continuation of the play on both sides after the whistle blew).

Now that I’ve calmed down and am a little less furious, I want to explain the game situations caused by a couple of other calls (and subsequent failures to review in both instances).

There were three passes intended for freshman slot WR Trey Quinn. Two passes, one of which hit him in the hands, just should have been caught. I like the guy, he’s still on the banner image of my twitter account, but there are no two ways about his need to have caught those. I want to talk about the third pass though.

I think the ones he should have caught were both on third down, so that would leave the first-down pass to Quinn as the controversial one. Rolltide.com’s description of the play’s result was that the pass “fell short and incomplete”. The announcers said he trapped it and showed a brief replay, but I saw no indication that it hit the ground in replaying either the live version or the replay. They may have just been relating the apparent judgment of the official.

Whether this could have been overturned, I don’t know, but I can’t imagine the officials had a better view. I think when in doubt when a player has the ball in his hands and his arms under it waiting for it before it gets there, it should be ruled a catch.

Had the pass been ruled complete, LSU would have had a first down at the Alabama 38 with about 2:40 remaining. If LSU is stopped completely or goes backwards, they punt anyway. If they make either one more first down or between 5 and 9 yards, maybe they kick a long field goal (like the 50-yarder that beat Florida).

I mentioned that such plays as described above in reference to Quinn should be ruled a catch, and apparently that’s what happened on Alabama’s final drive of regulation. I suppose when it’s a question of Alabama, when in doubt it’s a catch rather than incomplete. I believe that qualifies as indisputable video evidence, but I haven’t seen slow-motion video zoomed in, just a still picture. Still, it’s pretty persuasive in the context of the live video (which I didn’t look up): http://postimg.org/image/dixpcrx3h

The replay official has the ability to stop the game before another play is run (which in this case was a spike). You’re probably thinking I would have complained had this happened. I would not because I didn’t believe it was a catch when I watched it live. I was actually in my living room signaling “timeout” (to allow time to review). It was only a 3-second difference anyway.

Had the pass been ruled incomplete, Alabama would have faced a fourth and four from the LSU 48 with 15 seconds on the clock. Even if they had completed the same play on fourth down, they would have then had to spike it for a field-goal try of 43 yards rather than the 27-yard attempt that would tie the game. Earlier in the game, Griffith made a 39-yard field goal and missed another 27-yarder.

Griffith has missed three of his last four attempts from 40 yards or more. The missed 27-yarder earlier in the game was his only miss from less than 30 yards, so the ability to get off that last play to reduce the attempt to 27 yards was huge.

From both LSU fans and others, I have seen the responses of “you (/we) should have been playing the same defense at the end as you were before,” “the receivers shouldn’t have dropped those passes,” “you (/we) should have run the ball in overtime,” “the kicker shouldn’t have kicked it out of bounds,” etc.

I’m sorry, when despite all these errors a game goes to overtime, it doesn’t take much uneven officiating to result in one team winning over another. You don’t have to play perfectly to say maybe you deserved to win.

I could go on about how Alabama deserved to lose due to the missed field goal, due to the fumble, due to only moving the ball into scoring position on one drive in the second half, due to possessing the ball for under 22 minutes, due to throwing as many incompletions (26) as LSU had passing attempts.

If your car gets stolen, maybe you forgot to lock it, maybe you parked in a bad spot, maybe you were in a bad neighborhood, maybe you should have realized how late it was, etc. That doesn’t mean a person didn’t steal your car, and it doesn’t mean that you have no right to complain about it. You can file a police report, insurance claim, and so forth. If the person is caught, they can be sued or criminally prosecuted. You’re not told, “oh well, live and learn.”

People might say I’m a bad sport or Les is a bad sport, but if this were a baseball game, it would have been played under protest even when LSU had the lead. Nothing about these complaints originated with the loss. I didn’t go back and look for excuses. Had I written my reaction to an LSU win, I would have mentioned how many bad calls they overcame.

Also, I have a couple of other things that have been bothering me. One, the attack on the LSU defense I referred to. Alabama wasn’t playing in the same way it was in prior possessions. The last time the field had been that spread out was in the second quarter.

The fact that Alabama only had the ball about a minute and a half in the third quarter made the LSU defense look good of course. They had the whole halftime to rest, then LSU had an opening drive that lasted 5:40, followed by a second drive that lasted 7:40 (although the latter only went 40 yards and resulted in no points).

In the fourth quarter before the last drive, Alabama only had a combined 12 plays, two of them punts and one of them a fumble. The best field position during that time was their own 28. They weren’t inclined to try anything too fancy.

But if a team is running a passing offense and running plays in quick succession, the defense can’t pretend they’re throwing 4-yard passes, safe downfield throws near the sidelines, or running the ball at a methodical pace.

I mentioned the second quarter, in which Alabama scored their initial 10 points and ran the drive leading to the missed field goal. There were a number of instances where there was an LSU player rushing at the end whether he couldn’t affect the pocket but where it created throwing opportunities. There were not enough players across the middle of the field and back from the line of scrimmage on the Alabama touchdown. On other plays, Amari Cooper was in one-on-one coverage on the sidelines and he got the ball that way. So LSU certainly didn’t want to make those mistakes again.

One last thing: it’s been 10 years, most people know Saban is a jerk, give it a rest. I hope next time we can pretend he’s just a regular visiting coach – like Kevin Sumlin or Hugh Freeze or Gus Malzahn or the various other coaches we’ve performed well against at home – and get past it. It doesn’t send a good message to be hung up on Saban. Putting him on a pedestal seems like it’s starting to give us an unhealthy inferiority complex. Worst of all, it re-affirms the judgment of the idiots who think we just need to somehow find a way to get rid of Miles and bring Saban back.

Week 11 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM
Pac-12 teams are moving up, in part due to Arizona St.'s win over Notre Dame.

Pac-12 teams are moving up, in part due to Arizona St.’s win over Notre Dame.

Just like last week, there are no newly-ranked teams for the season, so there are no team logos. There are 39 teams total that got at least some level of “Mock BCS” points, so you can follow the link below to find them all.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 1 ) Miss. St. 1
2 ( 4 ) Oregon 5
3 ( 2 ) Florida St. 3
4 ( 3 ) Alabama 6
5 ( 10 ) Ole Miss 4
6 ( 12 ) UCLA 7
7 ( 8 ) Auburn 2
8 ( 7 ) Arizona St. 8
9 ( 5 ) TCU 12
10 ( 9 ) Ohio St. 15
11 ( 23 ) Colo. St. 14
12 ( 11 ) Nebraska 9
13 ( 21 ) Marshall 17
14 ( 6 ) Baylor 22
15 ( 29 ) Boise St. 18
16 ( 15 ) Notre Dame 13
17 ( 20 ) Duke 23
18 ( 17 ) LSU 10
19 ( 13 ) Kansas St. 11
20 ( 19 ) Arizona 21
21 ( 16 ) Georgia 25
22 ( 27 ) Ga. Tech —
23 ( 18 ) Clemson 20
24 ( 14 ) Mich. St. 16
25 ( 22 ) TX A&M —

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (19) Oklahoma, (24) Missouri

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10

Comments

It makes me sick to have to give Alabama credit for a win and to penalize LSU for a loss, just so you know. At least now I don’t have to cheer for the Rammer Jammers in any of their remaining games.

I haven’t forced myself to cheer for Alabama since Thanksgiving Day of 2010 (I was neutral when they played Notre Dame in January 2013); but if LSU had kept winning, I would have had to cheer for them in one or possibly both of their remaining games.

Anyway, Oregon is #2 for the moment, but things will even out when the Ducks have a bye week next week. If I were to account for the extra week now, Oregon would actually be #4.

I was pleased that my rankings gave some credit to the Pac-12. I didn’t make a rankings system to favor one conference (and neither did any of the widely-recognized systems). So while it’s not quite as strong as the SEC West (everyone but Arkansas has no losses outside the division), the Oregon/Arizona St./Arizona/UCLA group of teams has played well enough to help one another out, especially with ASU’s win over Notre Dame. UCLA did lose to Utah, and Arizona did lose to USC, so that’s why it’s not quite the same as the top of the SEC West.

I explained the circumstances, but the fact that Oregon is close enough to Alabama in the first place shows that it’s not impossible to break into the group of SEC teams even if they weren’t beating each other constantly. The best Pac-12 team with two losses isn’t ahead of the best SEC team with two losses (Ole Miss), but they are ahead of the second-best (Auburn).

Arizona St. only has one loss; but unlike UCLA, they won’t play Oregon until the Pac-12 championship (if at all) and they haven’t played Arizona yet. UCLA’s win over Texas is also looking better after the Horns beat WVU.

I skipped Florida St. They should be a somewhat comfortable #2 next week if they win. U. Miami is possibly the best three-loss team (after LSU anyway). One of the Hurricanes’ losses is to Nebraska, and they are the only team to beat Duke.

Auburn/Ole Miss is not a mistake or oversight. Even though Auburn beat Ole Miss, I still think the Rebels belong ahead. Ole Miss is 1-0 against the top two teams in the West, and Auburn is 0-1. Also, the loss at LSU is more forgivable than the loss at home against A&M.

TCU and Ohio St. are where they belong. Basically, the wrong teams won. Either conference’s best chance was for the teams that were undefeated in conference with respectable out-of-conference losses (Michigan St. to Oregon and KSU to Auburn) to win out.

TCU’s best win is the one they just had over Kansas St. The Oklahoma win is looking less impressive now. The Frogs beat Minnesota out of conference, but their games against Samford and still-winless SMU don’t help them out much.

Of course, Ohio St.’s loss to mediocre Virginia Tech is going to be difficult to overcome, but they may have an outside shot if they can beat Nebraska (preferably if they don’t incur any further losses) in the Big Ten championship.

There is then a huge gap before getting to #11, Colorado St. The Rams have a bye week, followed by New Mexico, so there will be plenty of opportunity for teams to pass them. Marshall already had its bye weeks, but the best team on their schedule right now (pending whoever wins the other division) is Rice.

Nebraska is between the two mid-major/group-of-five teams, but as I indicated, they can find their way to move up by winning.

Baylor only has the one loss, but the Bears played SMU, Northwestern St., and Buffalo out of conference. Also, they have yet to play Kansas St. That’s on championship week, so I guess it will be a good chance to make one last statement if the Bears keep winning.

Boise St. is not likely to move up very much. Notre Dame can move up a little bit, but neither of those will be particularly relevant with two losses.

Duke certainly still has some potential for points being that they may earn a rematch in the ACC title game with Florida St., but there isn’t too much before then.
Everyone else is mostly just jockeying for non-CFP bowl consideration.

Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M don’t want to fall too far down the list of SEC bowls (I don’t think the Bulldogs want to see Jacksonville again, for instance). Michigan St. looks like it may be playing an SEC team somewhere in Florida.

I mentioned Kansas St. and Arizona earlier. They look out of their respective conference races for the moment, but there are big games left.

Georgia Tech and Clemson will square off for best two-loss ACC team.

LSU/Alabama reaction

In General LSU, Post-game on November 8, 2014 at 9:50 PM

This is what I said/retweeted on twitter during and after the game.

Bamatweets2
Bamatweets1

I apologize in advance for not using the customary neutral tone I try to pursue, but I just can’t right now.

I think this is worse than the Auburn game in 2006, which had been the worst-officiated game I’d seen. Granted, I don’t always watch every play of games involving other teams. I’ve seen huge calls there were touchdown vs. not a touchdown that were bigger calls that directly affected the outcome. Sometimes referees get a big call wrong, but it’s not a mistake to give one team just about every break imaginable.

In the case of LSU, two calls stand out for the impact they made. One correct call (either no flag or offsetting penalties) would have retained the LSU possession at about the 5 instead of the 20 before the go-ahead field goal (that could have been a go-ahead touchdown). Another correct call (pass interference in the end zone) would have given the Tigers a great chance at the tying touchdown in overtime. There was a less obvious penalty earlier in the possession (I believe on the previous play) and while the second-down throw was not a good one, there was a hold of the jersey/shoulder pad that preceded the throw.

There is absolutely no justification for how many calls went against LSU. Borderline catches were un-reviewable catches for Alabama and were un-reviewable incompletions for LSU. Penalties against Alabama could be rescinded if Saban put in a strong word against them. Mutual pushing and shoving after a short gain was a personal foul against LSU, completely legal play for Alabama. The Tide players consistently had their hands on the faces and facemasks of LSU players. I don’t believe they were called for it even once, not even when the facemask came off of Anthony Jennings. LSU was around their own 30 and had a clear first down. Not when the referee marked it almost a yard short. LSU got the first down anyway, but the fix was in the entire game.

Other people are giving credit to Alabama, but I won’t. In anything approaching a reasonably called game, they lost a close game to a team that should show up in the standings tomorrow as having two losses on the road AGAIN. They can’t take the pressure. Good thing they had help.

I updated my blog about the series.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Alabama

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2014 at 4:48 PM

I decided not to post a new blog tonight. I’ll share some thoughts here: https://twitter.com/TheBayouBlogger

“Ask me after, I’m busy. Have a great day.” -Les Miles

The Bayou Blogger

Bear Bryant with Mike the Tiger

This is being re-posted on November 5, 2014, exactly 3 years after the 9-6 “game of the century” in 2011. I also got a record number of views that weekend. The record stood until the week of the Mississippi St. game this year.

Final scores, 2000 to present (I decided to start when Nick Saban first came to LSU)
2000 – LSU 30, Alabama 28
2001 – LSU 35, Alabama 31
2002 – Alabama 31, LSU…
2003 – LSU 27, Alabama 3
2004 – LSU 26, Alabama 10
2005 – LSU 16, Alabama 13 (OT)
2006 – LSU 28, Alabama 14
2007 – LSU 41, Alabama 34
2008 – Alabama 27, LSU 21 (OT)
2009 – Alabama 24, LSU 15
2010 – LSU 24, Alabama 21
2011 – LSU 9, Alabama 6 (OT)
2011 BCS – Alabama 21, LSU…
2012 – Alabama 21, LSU 17
2013 – Alabama 38, LSU…

View original post 3,824 more words