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Archive for September, 2015|Monthly archive page

Week 4 Rankings and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 28, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Here are the previous rankings blogs:

Preseason

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

I mentioned previously I started doing my preliminary computer calculations.  They account for approximately 50% of the top 25 below.  After the top four (two of which, LSU and Michigan St., were also in the computer top four), what I did was pick the rest of my top 25 and put them in the order I wanted them without looking at the computers.  Then I averaged where I wanted to put them with the ranking the computer gave them.

For instance, I had UCLA sixth, but the computer had them eighth.  That averages to seventh.  I had TCU fifth, but the computer had them fourth, so that averages to 4.5.  4.5 is a smaller number than 7, so TCU went ahead.

TCU might play better games this season, but right now they get a lot of computer points for Saturday’s win at Texas Tech. (no idea what that white stuff is)

There were some teams in the computer top 25 and not in my top 25, but I didn’t rank any of those teams.  I don’t think teams like Indiana and North Carolina St. have proven they should be ranked yet; but if they’re ranked two weeks from now by the computer, they will be ranked in my top 25 list as well.

So I did not allow the computer to take any teams out of the top 25 I had on my own, but the computer does not have a high opinion of either USC or Wisconsin.  I gave them a reprieve for this week at least though.

I think they’re both in the top 20 toughest teams to beat, it hasn’t really shown on the results (meaning wins and losses) against their respective sets of opponents so far.  I don’t think many people would take Indiana to beat either one on a neutral field.

Again, that won’t matter in a couple of weeks, but I think it should matter at least for now.

I usually don’t take a team from outside the top 25 and put them in the top 10, but I only put Florida 19th.  Three decent wins in four weeks, however, puts them among the best teams in the computers, so that’s just where the average takes them.

Utah was closer to where I had in mind originally.  I had them 12th.  Not only was I considering the win over Oregon, but I was also considering the fact that Michigan just beat a ranked team (BYU) and has not lost since playing the Utes.

I ranked Temple after Week 2 and only wanted to put them back to #25 this week, but Penn St. and Cincinnati still give the Owls a decent amount of points.

I mentioned Wisconsin hasn’t done much to impress the computers, and that was by far Alabama’s best win, so that explains why they’ve fallen so far.  In my formula, every loss is a negative, so some teams without losses are higher even though I understand many of them haven’t played a team as good as Ole Miss.

Northwestern is a bit higher in the computers of course, but they beat Stanford, and Stanford looks good otherwise.  Subjectively, I would move the Wildcats up more gradually, but the best they could have possibly done against their three FBS opponents is beat all of them and for those opponents to be a combined 9-3.  They beat all of them, and those opponents are a combined 8-4.  The only extra loss was by Ball St. to Texas A&M, an undefeated team.

Northwestern doesn’t have any points for their win over winless Eastern Illinois, but the other games are good enough to give them a higher computer rating than anyone else right now.

The only other team that doesn’t match up fairly well to last week’s ranking is Oklahoma St., who falls eight spots.  The Cowboys’ four opponents have only one win combined over FBS opponents (Texas over Rice).  Even though they are undefeated, Oklahoma St. will fall out of the top 25 unless they beat Kansas St. on Saturday.

No one else changed more than five spots, so I think they align pretty well for a transition week.

I reserve the right to make a couple of changes to the computer ratings for next week when I publish this list (the list I publish on the computer rating site is always 100% objective), but after that it will follow the computer ratings almost completely.

After next week, the only team you can expect me to change is the #1 team.  In the first four computer weeks last season, there were four different #1 teams.  I don’t like to change them that often.  The latest playing week where I have ever had a different #1 than the computer was after the last playing week in October in 2009 (I was rightly reluctant to make Iowa #1, and they fell to #6 the following week.)

So basically whoever is the computer #1 after Halloween can expect to be #1 on this list.

Rank Team Previous
1 Ohio St. 1
2 Ole Miss 2
3 Mich. St. 3
4 LSU 4
5 TCU 6
6 UCLA 9
7 N’western 18
8 TX A&M 7
9 Utah

10 Florida

florida_gators_logo

11 Oklahoma 16
12 Clemson 10
13 Baylor 5
14 Georgia 14
15 Notre Dame 12
16 Florida St. 11
17 Temple
18 Stanford 20
19 Alabama 8
20 U. Miami 24
21 Kansas St. 22
22 Michigan

Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M

23 Okie St. 15
24 USC 21
25 Wisconsin 17

Out of rankings (with last week’s rank):

13 Oregon
19 Arizona St.
23 Ga. Tech
25 BYU
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LSU-Syracuse Comments and Notes

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on September 27, 2015 at 12:29 PM

Historical context

LSU got its first road win over an ACC opponent since North Carolina in the 1985 season.  There were only two attempts against current ACC teams since then.  LSU lost @ Virginia Tech in 2002 and @ Florida State in 1990.  Both games were before the opponent had joined the ACC though.

The Tigers have now won 50 consecutive regular-season non-conference games to increase their own record.  That 2002 Virginia Tech game I mentioned was the last time LSU lost such a game.

In the only regular-season games against ACC opponents since 1985, LSU played Virginia Tech at home (2007) and North Carolina at a neutral site (2010), both wins for the Tigers.  There have also been five contests against ACC teams in bowl games over the last 20 years: Clemson (1996 and 2012), Georgia Tech (2000 and 2008), and U. Miami (2005).  LSU did play home games against Florida St. and U. Miami at home (before either joined the ACC) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

LSU’s last game against Syracuse had been the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (now known as the Outback Bowl), but the Orangemen were independent at the time.  LSU’s only contest against Syracuse before that had been the Sugar Bowl after the 1964 season.

Leonard Fournette runs for the only touchdown of the fist half in the Carrier Dome.

Leonard Fournette runs for the only touchdown of the fist half in the Carrier Dome.

Game comments

LSU only won by 10 points, but that’s not what bothers me.  The Tigers could have probably scored a touchdown with just a couple more handoffs at the end of the game.  Also, Syracuse only got within 10 by scoring a touchdown in the last two minutes.

I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of when you’re on the road against a major-conference opponent (especially one who hadn’t lost yet).

What bothers me is the way we kept them in the game.  Without penalties, this could have been a shutout or close to it.  I don’t know if we would have scored more necessarily — we might not have tried to score as much in the second half — but there was definitely one touchdown and possibly a field goal or two that didn’t happen because of penalties.

Between two plays — the first one a decent play that was called back by a hold — LSU lost 40 yards of field position.

After going out to a 7-0 lead, the Tigers had a third and three at their own 47.  Fournette runs to just outside the LSU 30 for an apparent first down.  But the tight end is called for a hold.  Not saying it wasn’t  hold, but I don’t believe it was necessary to allow Fournette to evade the tackle.  It would have been at best an attempt at an arm tackle from a weak position.  Instead of a first and 10, it’s a third and 14.  Harris gets sacked and fumbles (recovered by LSU) at the 27.  So it was actually slightly more than 40 yards.

Maybe LSU has to settle for a field goal and misses and there isn’t much difference, but that’s still a huge opportunity wasted, not to mention keeping the defense off the field.  Syracuse would take over around their own 40, so that’s pretty good field position to set up a field goal try, which was successful.

Syracuse should have faced a third and 14 from inside their own 30 before their first touchdown play in the second half, but an LSU player who had lost his helmet helped push the quarterback out of bounds after he was already wrapped up.  Personal foul, first and 10 at the 49 instead.  The 40-yard touchdown came a couple of plays later.  This made the score 17-10 in the third quarter.

In the first 40 minutes of play, LSU had already been penalized 8 times for 69 yards.

At that point LSU had out-gained the Orange 225-150.  That 150 counts the 40-yard Syracuse touchdown I mentioned.

Still in the third quarter, LSU gets the ball back up 24-10.  Fournette runs for 87 yards to the end zone.  If the play stands, the game is essentially over then.  But it doesn’t.  LSU is flagged again, this time for illegal formation.  One of the receivers was a full two yards behind the line and another was about five feet behind the line (some LSU fans contested this, but the angle of the camera made it look like the closer receiver was at the line of scrimmage when he wasn’t).  LSU is eventually forced to punt.

Two more penalties set up the second Syracuse touchdown as well.  The orange earned a first down in LSU territory, but just barely.  Then, there was an unnecessary horse collar penalty, and then right afterward an interference penalty.  The ball was not catchable, but I guess the contact was so early in the play, that didn’t cancel out the interference.  This resulted in a 24-17 score, the last time Syracuse would get within 7.

The third touchdown was a result of LSU playing a sort of  soft zone/prevent mostly (it was 34-17 with just a few minutes left), but this time there was a complete nonsense penalty.  The Syracuse quarterback was running toward the sidelines nowhere near the first-down marker.  The LSU defender made contact as the quarterback approached the hash mark along the sidelines; but I guess because he bumped him to get him out of bounds rather than giving him a big hug or raising his arms up like a basketball player, it was a personal foul.

Then, as I mentioned, LSU got the ball back and ran out the clock even though they were in possible position for a score.

In total, LSU was penalized 14 times for 120 yards.  There were another 120 yards or more that were negated by penalties.

LSU out-gainted Syracuse 425 to 281, so I wasn’t unhappy about that.  Again, could have been a larger margin than that had LSU made it easier for the Syracuse offense to get off the field, but the defense responded pretty well to the pressure it was put under.

Syracuse also had really good field position for most of the game.  This was partly due to a generaly better kicking game.

The Orange had a better night punting than LSU did (5 punts apiece, 228 yards vs. 188 yards), but LSU’s Tre’Davious White ran back a punt for a touchdown, so I guess that helped to even it out.

Syracuse had the advantage in kick returns: 176 yards (7 returns) to 57 (3 returns).

The good news on offense (other than the obvious) was LSU did not turn the ball over, and Brandon Harris had more passing yards in this game (157) than in the previous two games combined.

I mentioned the Tigers got a pretty good amount of yards, but of course Leonard Fournette contributed a good bit to that with 244 rushing yards.  Alley Broussard still holds the LSU record (at 250), but it was put in danger for the second game in a row.  Fournette does now have the LSU road record and is the first Tiger to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games.

For what it’s worth, Broussard seems to be enjoying the renewed interest in his career with the Tigers.  http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2015/09/leonard_fournette_lsu_record.html

 

Week Four SEC Preview

In College Football, General LSU, History, Me, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on September 25, 2015 at 11:44 AM

This won’t be the full “SEC Wednesdays” feature I have planned, but I thought I’d start off with comments and predictions of the coming week so I’ll have more to talk about when Wednesday gets here.

Central Florida @ South Carolina

South Carolina’s season hasn’t been pretty so far, but it’s been better than that of Central Florida, who has lost to both FIU and Furman (as well as Stanford) to start the year.  Despite this, the Gamecocks are only favored by 15.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that they didn’t win easily in their only win, only scoring 17 in that contest with a maximum output of 22 points in the loss to Kentucky.

Still, I think this is by far the worst opponent the Gamecocks have faced and expect them to win something like 31-10.

LSU @ Syracuse

This is also a tough one.  Not that I think LSU will be sweating out the fourth quarter like they did in the game in Starkville, but 24 points is a large spread to expect a road team to beat, especially when it will be 11 a.m. Central at kickoff.

I'll have to get up early if I want to see the kickoff live.  I am excited the Tigers will be playing at this venue...

I’ll have to get up early if I want to see the kickoff live. I am excited the Tigers will be playing at this venue…

But these uniforms hurt my eyes already. Imagine how much worse they'll be when I'm just waking up.

But these uniforms hurt my eyes already. Imagine how much worse they’ll be when I’m just waking up.

Even the 2007 LSU team that won the BCS championship struggled at Tulane early, and that was a short trip with a relatively friendly crowd.  Also, Tulane was a losing team of the CUSA that year.  Syracuse isn’t guaranteed a bowl berth out of the ACC this year, but I still think we can assume they’re a good bit better than Tulane was in 2007.  LSU still eventually won that game 34-9, but the Tigers were more pass-oriented with Matt Flynn under center (he threw for 258 despite the slow start).  I’d expect something similar to score I picked for South Carolina above even if things go well, so I would take the points.  I could be wrong though. I would have taken the points for the Auburn game as well.

Southern @ Georgia

ULM @ Alabama

I don’t think it’s even worth discussing whether Georgia will beat Southern or Alabama will beat ULM (despite what happened in 2007).  I don’t have a line for Georgia, but I know Alabama is favored by 38.  The Warhawks lost to Georgia by “only” 37, so I’m not sure I see Alabama beating ULM by 38.  I’d take the points.

Tennessee @ Florida

I usually lean against favored road teams.  The line is only 1.5 though, so it’s essentially a pick ’em. The Gators did a good job to win by 5 at Kentucky, but I have to guess Tennessee would have won by more than that given the Vols defeat of Bowling Green by 29.  Florida also didn’t play great at home against East Carolina, winning by only 7.

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Arlington, TX)

Texas A&M is favored by 7.5 on a neutral field against Arkansas.  Arky kept it close last year, but I’m not seeing the same fight they had last season.  A&M has done significantly better, including comfortably beating Arizona St. on another neutral field.  I would take the Aggies minus the points.

Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss

Vandy has done well in this series in recent years, but I don’t see them doing so well against this Ole Miss team on the road.  I don’t know that Vandy is much better than the Fresno St. team the Rebels beat by 52, so I’d take Ole Miss minus the 25.

Mississippi St. @ Auburn

LSU just beat both of these teams, and obviously the Bulldogs did better against the Fighting Tigers, but maybe the location (and it being LSU’s first game) had something to do with it.  This is a very good line.  I would pick Auburn by 3.  That puts them just over the line of 2.5.

Missouri @ Kentucky

The Wildcats are favored in this one.  Might have something to do with the Tigers’ underwhelming performances against Arkansas St. and Connecticut, but after the last couple of years I’m not underestimating Missouri in conference play.  As I mentioned, Florida won by five in Lexington, and I don’t see the Gators knocking it out of the ballpark against the likes of East Carolina.  I’ll take Mizzou and the points.  I also think they’re the more likely victor even though they haven’t beaten the Wildcats for 29 straight years like the Gators have.

Twitter

I am not really an expert at Twitter and as you might guess, I’m not a huge fan of the character limit.  If you want to read my tweets, my handle (I also don’t like the whole nomenclature of Twitter) is @TheBayouBlogger.

I had an interesting exchange with Chris Low (@ClowESPN) about Bear Bryant today.  Low mentioned the Bear visited the Mississippi St. locker room to congratulate the Bulldogs after they ended a long Tide winning streak in 1980.  I mentioned a story I liked after another rare Alabama loss.  I guess there was a weekly local football show, and the homer announcer said something like, “Well coach, I guess the Lord just wasn’t on our side in that one.”  Bryant uttered in a low tone: “The Lord expects you to block and tackle.”

Low is probably my favorite writer for ESPN.  He’s certainly better than anyone they typically put on TV to cover college football.

Early Preview of Computer Ratings

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, Rankings Commentary on September 22, 2015 at 3:36 PM

I decided to do my first preliminary computer rankings now that most teams have actually played someone in the FBS who in turn played other teams who have played FBS opponents and it’s possible to get a computer rating on everyone.

Before I reveal more, a couple of disclaimers: I don’t start using a full or almost full computerized system until early October, so my official rankings are still the ones that were posted on Sunday; but I thought it would be interesting to see how the teams shaped up at this point. I like to try to get a smooth transition from subjective to objective. Usually I will still move a couple of teams for the first or second top 25 list (although the ratings on my ratings site are always 100% objective).

The transition is not always easy. I got someone mad at me when my attempted transition backfired with Missouri in 2013. I kept thinking the Tigers would lose (and I also thought the added points they got for beating Vanderbilt would go away, but Vandy had one of their best seasons in recent memory instead), so I kept them down around #20. Then the weekend where I fully moved to the computer rankings, they got another big win (this time over previously unbeaten Georgia, who had already defeated four P5 opponents in the first five weeks) and shot up to #2. So the transition process involves some guessing and gambling, but I still think it’s better than going from 100% subjective to 100% objective in one week.

This was really surprising to me since they usually don’t align early on, but the prelimary #1 is Ohio St., the same as my subjective #1. The prelimary 24th and 25th teams are BYU and U. Miami, the last two teams in my subjective top 25 (but in different order). So to that extent I’m encouraged with my attempts at objectivity.

There many discrepancies in the middle of the two rankings though. One example is Florida St., who is 11th in my rankings but is tied with Arizona, Clemson, and Houston for 48th  in my computer system.  This is because although the Seminoles have beaten three FBS opponents, none of THOSE have beaten an FBS opponent. Boston College did beat a couple of FCS teams, and that would normally result in FSU getting points by extension, but it doesn’t because those FCS teams haven’t beaten ANYONE in FBS or FCS.

In the next month, the Eagles will play Northern Illinois, Duke, and Clemson, so they may turn out to be a strong win for FSU in the near future; they just aren’t now. For its part, FSU only plays Wake Forest in the next two weeks, so they mostly have to rely on teams they’ve already played to win to pick them up or they may fall out of the top 25 when I move to the purely objective system.

Northern Illinois fumbled away a chance at a huge upset in a sloppy game on Saturday, but the Buckeyes still look good on paper.

The top four in total rating are:

Ohio St.

Michigan St.

Texas A&M

Notre Dame

However, it looks a little different when you divide the teams by playing weeks:

Ohio St.

LSU

Michigan St.

West Virginia

Anyway, without further ado, here is the full computer top 25 as it would look if I did the fully objective system now:

Team rating rating/week subjective
1 Ohio St. 0.3874 0.1291 1
2 Mich. St. 0.3615 0.1205 3
3 Notre Dame 0.3309 0.1103 12
4 Texas A&M 0.3294 0.1098 7
5 N’western 0.3032 0.1011 18
6 Oklahoma 0.2908 0.0969 16
7 TCU 0.2890 0.0963 6
8 Iowa 0.2797 0.0932
9 Alabama 0.2669 0.0890 8
10 LSU 0.2583 0.1291 4
11 Utah 0.2468 0.0823
12 Indiana 0.2362 0.0787
13 Ole Miss 0.2335 0.0778 2
14 W. Virginia 0.2245 0.1123
15 Florida 0.2237 0.0746
16 Missouri 0.2121 0.0707
17 UCLA 0.2045 0.0682 9
18 Syracuse 0.1980 0.0660
19 Temple 0.1898 0.0633
20 N.C. St. 0.1879 0.0626
21 Texas Tech 0.1738 0.0579
22 Ohio U. 0.1561 0.0520
23 Toledo 0.1437 0.0718
24 BYU 0.1431 0.0477 25
25 U. Miami 0.1333 0.0444 24

Obviously LSU is higher (they’re 10th the other way) because their Week 1 game was cancelled, but the difference between 2 games and 3 games is statistically much larger than the difference between 12 games and 13 games will be. So right now, I think that’s definitely worth considering. Also, just to note, you have to go down five decimal places to separate tOSU and LSU under the average-week calculation. Almost every other pair of consecutive teams is separated in the second or third decimal place.

West Virginia is sort of a statistical fluke at the moment. That’s the short version anyway. They beat Georgia Southern, who beat Western Michigan. I don’t think Ga. Southern or Western Michigan are good teams, but the former looks like a good win for WVU right now. Western Michigan is the only FBS opponent the Eagles (that’s Ga. Southern’s mascot) have played, and the Broncos played Michigan St., one of the best teams, so they seem to have a really good strength of schedule.

I will mostly be discussing the overall score though.

I also mentioned in my last rankings blog that looking at this year’s results alone, not factoring in last season or any personal perceptions, Texas A&M should be in the top five, so I’ve confirmed that as well.

I’ve laid out several reasons I’m skeptical of the Aggies, but they won’t get a ton of points before playing Alabama in about a month, so their computer rating should come closer to aligning with the subjective ranking anyway.

I know I don’t have Notre Dame nearly that high, but as far as my ratings know, the Irish beat Virginia by 70 instead of 7, so that’s one reason I have them a good bit lower. Maybe they’re even better with their third QB in just a handful of games going back to the end of last regular season. Sort of like Ohio St. was in the playoff in January.

Notre Dame-UMass SHOULD be dull, but that Notre Dame-Clemson game in two weeks will be huge in determining who goes where in the first computer ratings.

There is a bit of an issue with certain FCS opponents counting for too many points right now, but I’ll discuss that immediately afterward and then add some further comments.

Something else worth considering is that wins over unbeaten FCS teams (who have actually beaten a Division I opponent anyway) count for a good bit of points right now. The only teams that show up in the top 25 who are influenced by this are West Virginia (so that’s another reason WVU is so high in the weekly average), Iowa, North Carolina St., Ohio U., and U. Miami. This also helps #26 Baylor.

Cal-Berkeley and Missouri also get high points from their FCS opponents that will diminish over time. So if you just want take out those points, the top 25 would conclude thusly:

10 Iowa
11 Utah
12 Indiana
13 Ole Miss
14 Florida
15 UCLA
16 Missouri
17 Syracuse
18 W. Virginia
19 Temple
20 Texas Tech
21 N.C. St.
22 Toledo
23 BYU
24 Ohio U.
25 Penn St.

I swear I didn’t rig the system to make LSU’s upcoming opponent (Syracuse) look good this week. Wake Forest is otherwise undefeated, and Central Michigan has a very strong schedule right now having played Oklahoma St. as well.

As an aside I found amusing, Les Miles made a point of talking up Central Michigan (and the MAC in general) during his Monday press conference because apparently his wife is a graduate of CMU. After Syracuse, who beat the Chippewas in overtime last week, LSU will play MAC opponent Eastern Michigan, so that may have been a secondary motivation of bringing up the MAC’s success.

These things will sort themselves out though. If Wake Forest wins more than a few games, I’ll be surprised, and it’s hard to have a good strength of schedule out of the MAC. This year might be an exception for the MAC though after the way teams like Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green have performed against major programs.

Just to go down the list though, Oklahoma and TCU are about right. Waiting for TCU to do something though. Oklahoma may go down a bit if Tennessee loses to Florida, so we’ll see about that. The Sooners also have a bye this coming week, so that will allow some teams to pass them up so that should help make it a more natural transition.

The Horned Frogs play Texas Tech, which looks good statistically right now due to some early competition.

I’m not a believer in Iowa. They’re getting a lot of points for their FCS win. Iowa St. probably will never count as a good win this year (likely a very weak one since the Cyclones went winless in the Big XII last season), and Pittsburgh will probably be mediocre.

Alabama and LSU are about right, with the proviso I mentioned about the latter having only had two playing weeks.

Utah has a good-looking schedule right now, and Michigan helped them out by beating two FBS opponents. The Wolverines are just out of the top 25 at #29.

Indiana is another fluke. The SIU and FIU wins will lose the lustre, I’d expect. Western Kentucky might be all right though.

Then we get to Ole Miss. It’s not exactly a secret that the Rebels didn’t play anyone before Alabama. Again, the fact that they won 70-7 or whatever doesn’t matter.

Unbeaten Florida knocked off unbeaten Kentucky on Saturday. No guarantee that will mean anything in a couple of weeks, but congrats to the Gators.   It’s something to have a 29-game winning streak over another SEC program regardless.

Missouri, UCLA, and Temple are other teams who got away with getting close wins, although there is a very small adjustment when you win a close game (≤3) at home.

North Carolina St. is another fluke. I don’t think we’ll look back at the end of the season and remark at the greatness of their non-conference wins over Troy and Old Dominion. Same thing with Ohio U.’s wins over Marshall and Idaho. Old Dominion and Marshall may turn out to be all right, but they may lose to a few more teams apiece instead of staying otherwise undefeated.

I think it’s fairly clear why Toledo, BYU, and Miami are there. Arkansas does have two losses now, but they got that FBS win and the Hogs’ losses are to two undefeated teams (I mentioned Texas Tech earlier). Nebraska also has two losses from apparently good teams (BYU and U. Miami).

Upcoming blogs

Finally, I wanted to announce something.  Other than the weekly rankings, this blog hasn’t had too much structure to it.  I believe next week I’m going to start a series called “SEC Wednesdays”.  This will be a time when I will go into more detail about past and upcoming SEC games rather than having it clog up space in more general blogs.  Of course there were a few big games last weekend and I mentioned them already.   But after the games this week, I will keep my comments short when it’s an SEC game until the SEC Wednesday blog.

The basic structure of the week will be Sundays (starting in October) the new ratings will come out, with the top 25 rankings and discussion blog coming out Monday generally.  Then on Thursday or Friday I usually do some kind of preview of the upcoming week for other teams or perhaps I might do something specific to LSU.

The last couple of weeks I did “conference reports”.  I will probably do that one more time next week before that series will go on hiatus.  There aren’t enough inter-conference games to sustain it after the first few playing weeks.  I try to do a final one for the regular season before the conference championship games and then another after the bowl games.

Week 3 Rankings and Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 20, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Like last week, I’ll start by mentioning a couple of other blogs and then get to the rankings.

I’ve updated by Auburn Rivalry blog.  Not too much to say about this game, although it was the highest-scoring of the 50 games of the series.

Here are the previous ranking blogs:

Preseason

Week 1

Week 2

Rank Team Previous
1 Ohio St. 1
2 Ole Miss 9
3 Mich. St. 4
4 LSU 11
5 Baylor 5
6 TCU 3
7 TX A&M 14
8 Alabama 2
9 UCLA 7
10 Clemson 8
11 Florida St. 12
12 Notre Dame 16
13 Oregon 10
14 Georgia 15
15 Okie St. 17
16 Oklahoma 18
17 Wisconsin 20
18 Northwestern 25
19 Arizona St. 21
20 Stanford
21 USC 6
22 Kansas St. 19
23 Ga. Tech 13
24 U. Miami
25 BYU 22

Out of rankings: (23) Missouri, (24) Temple

Last week, I talked about LSU in one blog and about the prominent national teams in another; but for the moment, I feel like that’s the same conversation.

I was concerned that Mississippi St. was allowed to get within two and had a chance to win at the end in Week 2 (the Tigers’ first game), so I thought LSU didn’t deserve to be a top 10 team.  But if that were true now, almost no one deserves to be a top 10 team, so I’ve significantly re-evaluated this position.

I’ll give a brief summary of the rest of my new top 12 for comparison of such games.

Ohio St. just won a home game against a MAC opponent by only a touchdown.  The Buckeyes only managed 13 offensive points before a defensive score late in the third quarter and did not score in the fourth.

Michigan St. only led Western Michigan by 10 points for part of the fourth quarter in Week 1 before kicking a field goal with 8 minutes left.  Still, the margin was less than two possessions (37-24).  Western Michigan was blown out by Georgia Southern.

Midway through the fourth quarter yesterday, TCU only led SMU by five points.

Baylor has only played SMU and Lamar, so no close games yet, but allowing a combined 52 points in those two games has to be concerning.

UCLA only beat BYU by a single point yesterday after taking the lead with just over 4 minutes remaining.

Clemson beat Louisville by a field goal after the Cardinals lost a neutral-site game to Auburn and also lost to Houston at home.

Florida St. only managed one offensive touchdown against Boston College and led only 7-0 going into the fourth quarter.  The defense scored in the fourth quarter, but the offense only scored on its first drive.

Notre Dame trailed Virginia in the final two minutes in Week 2.

There are three SEC teams not mentioned above.  Alabama lost to Ole Miss (and for that reason I’m moving the Rebels up to #2 and moving Alabama down 6 spots).

There is also Texas A&M.  I’m still a little skeptical about the Aggies, who have yet to go on the road (although technically Houston was a neutral site), and perhaps they just got a little lucky in Week 1 when they pulled away from Arizona St. late.  Really though, if Arizona St. is anywhere close to how good they’re supposed to be, A&M should be in the top 5 if we only looked at what’s happened on the field so far.

Going back to LSU, of course it also didn’t hurt to have such a dominating conference win.  The Fighting Tigers were lackluster at a couple of points in the second half, but it was a 24-point lead at the half, and LSU won by 24.

The rest of the top 25…

Oregon is the #2 team with a loss now, so I don’t think 13th is too bad even though it’s worse than last week. I’m concerned about their defense though.

Georgia, the Oklahomas, and Wisconsin just moved ahead of teams that lost or that I moved down.

I moved Northwestern up on the strength of Stanford’s win at USC, then I go to some teams with “good” losses.

Kansas St. needed three overtimes to beat Louisiana Tech, so they moved down, but I put them ahead of Georgia Tech, which lost to Notre Dame.

BYU was only 22nd last week, but I still kept them in because going to the Rose Bowl and losing by a point doesn’t tell me they’re not a top-25 team.

Finally, I put U. Miami in because they had a close win over Nebraska too, but they’re ahead of BYU because they haven’t lost.

U. Miami players celebrate the winning field goal in overtime after the ‘Canes blew a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Missouri and Temple were removed for barely beating basketball schools UConn and UMass.

Starting next week, however, I will no longer consider margin of victory.  It gets too tricky to keep track of who almost beat whom or should have scored more points and the circumstances, but you have to do that early to separate otherwise similar teams.

Week 2 Conference Report & SEC Detractors

In College Football, Conference Reports, Rankings Commentary on September 17, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Before I begin, I wanted to give the link again to the LSU-Auburn Rivalry Blog.

SEC Less Dominant, But Still Best

Once again, rumors of the demise of the SEC have been greatly exaggerated. The conference has a total of three losses in intereconference play.  This is one fewer than the Big XII, which has four fewer teams.  No other conference has fewer than six losses.

Also, the Big XII has half the number of wins over other Power 5 conferences. The only wins have been TCU’s close win over Minnesota in Week 1 and Oklahoma’s overtime win over Tennessee on Saturday.  The SEC has wins over Wisconsin, Arizona St., Louisville, and North Carolina.   On the other hand, it is a plus for the Big XII that three of the losses were by the apparently two worst teams, Iowa St. and Kansas.

The three SEC losses were by teams with a combined conference record of 5-19 last season though, so that’s not a huge disparity.  The opponents had a 64% combined overall winning percentage.  So I don’t think that even though Western Kentucky and Toledo aren’t in Power 5 conferences that somehow that reflects horribly upon the whole conference when they each beat a team which finished last in an SEC division last season.

I have a couple of comments about the Toledo game below.

The Vols celebrated early, but Tennessee's 4th-quarter collapse gives the Big XII #1 for the week.

The Vols celebrated early, but Tennessee’s 4th-quarter collapse gives the Big XII #1 for the week.

I will give the Big XII credit for having a slightly better week.  The only interconference SEC win of note was East Carolina, and of course Tennessee lost the heart-breaker to Oklahoma.  If that goes the other way, it’s another clear SEC win on the week.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re the best though.  You’re supposed to be clearly superior every week or people are going to try to bring you down.  (See “Conference Report” section at the bottom for more on the conferences.)

Auburn and Notre Dame In the Polls

I didn’t address this in my rankings blog, because I had barely looked at the polls when I wrote it.

This is sort of along the same theme of the SEC detractors being a bit off.  This may just be pro-Notre Dame bias, so the affect upon an SEC team might be incidental, but it’s ridiculous to me to not only have Notre Dame in the top 10 to start with but to move them up after they trailed Virginia in the final two minutes.

Then Auburn, which also won a close game over a team it should have been expected to beat comfortably, fell 12 spots in the AP poll.  How does that make any sense?

Granted, I moved Auburn out of my top 25, but I only had them 17th last week and 20th to start the season, so the game really only made a few small difference in my opinion of the Plainsmen.

Likewise, I moved Notre Dame down slightly.

One difference between the two for me is that Louisville lost to Houston, which significantly devalues Auburn’s win over Louisville.  That game was also closer than it should have been in hindsight.  The polls typically rely on how good the opponent SEEMED to be at the time and never give any consideration to prior games again.

Another thing is that I value overtime wins less than wins in regulation; but this does not seem to be considered very often, at least not unless it was a controversial game everyone saw like LSU/Alabama last year.

But for one to move up a spot and the other to fall 12 spots in one poll and 8 spots in the other means they’re not playing by the same rules.  Part of it might have been the difference between FBS and FCS, but Jacksonville St. has given a number of good teams close games and even beat Ole Miss in 2010. On the other hand, since 2009, Virginia has as many losses to FCS teams as bowl appearances (1).  I mention prior seasons because last week isn’t much basis to judge; but regardless, there is no reason to assume Virginia must be that much better to justify such different treatment.

Arkansas-Toledo Comments

It might seem like a silly thing to say, but Arkansas was pretty dominant until it came time to score thoughout the game.  They reached the red zone five times and only had three points to show for it.

It won’t happen very often that one team out-gains the other team 515-318 and loses 16-12. The Hogs only turned the ball over once, so that wasn’t the problem either. Arky also had possession for more than 15 minutes more than the Rockets did and had twice as many first downs.

The key was the red zone offense, which I mentioned above.  It’s like if a basketball team can run its offense perfectly fine and get open looks but just has a terrible night of shooting.  As Les Miles would say, Arkansas is still a capable team that has a want to compete, but if you’re playing an opponent that went 7-1 in its conference the season before, they might just take advantage when you’re that incapable of scoring points at key times.

Toledo’s one conference loss last season was to Northern Illinois, which Arkansas destroyed last year… on the scoreboard.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the stats of that game.  The Hogs only out-gained the Huskies 427-303.  Instead of having 15 more first downs, they only had 7 more first downs.  Instead of having a 15-minute edge in time of possession, they had only a 9-minute edge.  Final score: Arkansas 52, Northern Illinois 14.  Amazing how a blowout win can compare statistically to a loss in this way.

Conference Report

I mentioned #1 and #2, but the bottom two were also pretty easy.  The Mountain West went winless this week, and the Sun Belt beat its first FBS opponent of the season when Georgia Southern beat Western Michigan.  So now we just have to rank the remaining 6 conferences.

The Big Ten did well despite not finishing with a good record last week.  The record improved this week, but the conference suffered two losses that don’t look so good.  Maryland made a bowl game last year, so they shouldn’t be losing to Bowling Green even though that’s a MAC team that often makes bowl games (they’re not called “home for the holidays Green”).   Also, Rutgers losing to Washington St. at home is embarrassing.  If a team from the other coast comes to visit after they lose to an FCS opponent, you should win.  Rutgers hardly appears to be a conference bottom-dweller either.  The two Michigan teams beat the two Oregon teams though, so that’s a positive.

Speaking of the teams from Oregon, their conference (the Pac-12) didn’t really do anything to be proud of apart from one of their worst teams getting that win I mentioned in Piscataway.  So I rate the Big Ten slightly better again.

The AAC (American) knocked off Louisville (which lost to Houston) and Kansas, which counts for two more Power 5 wins than the ACC has all season.  Added to the Temple win over Penn St. in Week 1, this brings the total to three.

The MAC also had a good week with the wins over Arkansas and Maryland.  Marshall wasn’t a bad win either.  Even Eastern Michigan, typically one of the worst MAC teams, got a win over Wyoming.  Losing to Colorado and Georgia Southern caused them to lose out to the AAC though.

The ACC didn’t do much to help its cause.  Louisville lost, like I just mentioned.  I’ll still give them the edge for the week over the CUSA since at least none of their teams lost to Indiana and their champion from last season didn’t lose to Ohio U.

Below are the weekly and overall rankings.  The MWC might not seem logical on first blush, but #4 through #9 were not that far apart in week 1, so the MWC was really hurt in week 2.  It was close for overall #8, but the CUSA got the edge basically for not having Wyoming, which has lost to Eastern Michigan and North Dakota.

Rank Week 2 Previous Total
1 Big XII SEC SEC
2 SEC Big XII Big XII
3 Big Ten Big Ten Big Ten
4 Pac-12 MWC Pac-12
5 AAC Pac-12 AAC
6 MAC CUSA ACC
7 ACC ACC MAC
8 CUSA (t) AAC CUSA
9 Sun Belt (t) MAC MWC
10 MWC Sun Belt Sun Belt

Week 2 Rankings and Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 14, 2015 at 1:50 PM

I’ll just start by mentioning a couple of other blogs and then get to the rankings.

Recap and reaction to the LSU-Mississippi St. game

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Auburn

Week 1 top 25

 

New Top 25

Rank Team Previous
1 Ohio St. 1
2 Alabama 2
3 TCU 4
4 Mich. St. 5
5 Baylor 3
6 USC 6
7 UCLA 8
8 Clemson 9
9 Ole Miss 11
10 Oregon 7
11 LSU 10
12 Florida St. 12
13 Ga. Tech 13
14 TX A&M 16
15 Georgia 15
16 Notre Dame 14
17 Okie St. 23
18 Oklahoma 24
19 Kansas St. 25
20 Wisconsin 19
21 Arizona St. 22
22 BYU

BYU_Logo_1969-1998

23 Missouri 20
24 Temple

temple

25 Northwestern

nu_old_logo

Out of rankings

(17) Auburn
(18) Boise St.
(21) Arkansas

I don’t think I’m the only person surprised by some of the results and final scores from over the weekend, but mostly I feel like I made some good choices in the early rankings.

I did have Arkansas ranked, but I didn’t have them in the top 20 like the major polls did.

I also had Auburn ranked (at 17th last week), but they were picked by voters to win the SEC.  They were also picked #3 in preseason by ESPN the magazine.  I think I’ve been rightly skeptical about both teams.

I’m glad I picked Michigan St. above Oregon, but I was right to only put them a few spots apart in the preseason.

I know their quarterback got hurt (and the other one from last year is now at Florida St.), so I don’t want to be too harsh, but I’m also glad I didn’t put Notre Dame in the top 10.

Georgia is another team I’m glad for the moment I kept out of the top 10.  They didn’t even look like a top-25 team against Vanderbilt.

I also made the right call to rank Oklahoma but not Tennessee in preseason.

Obviously a lot can change throughout the season.  Like I tried to explain in preseason, however, the idea is mostly to rank how the teams start out rather than the projected finish, so overall I think I did a pretty good job based on what I’ve seen.

I kept Missouri in and not Auburn because they weren’t playing an FCS team and they won in regulation.  Also unlike Auburn, they were on the road and they took the lead for good in the third quarter.

Arkansas and Boise St. had losses to unranked teams, so the decisions to remove them were easy.  I decided to rank BYU, who also won at Nebraska.  They had the Hail Mary to win, but they were only down by one point before that.  Tell me what other team has a combination of two defeated opponents that looks better right now.

I did not decide to rank Toledo, partly because Arkansas was their opening game, so there is nothing else on which to judge.  I think it’s much more likely that Arkansas isn’t deserving than that Toledo is really good.

Another team with a respectable combination of wins is Temple.  They beat Penn St. and won at Cincinnati.  You might laugh at them as a ranked team, but if they were named Alabama or Michigan or something of that nature, they would almost certainly be ranked.  They may not last, but it’s still a pretty respectable start.

I also decided to go ahead and rank Northwestern given their win over Stanford.  They played Eastern Illinois, an FCS team this week; but I don’t think many other teams could play Stanford and Eastern Illinois and give up fewer than 7 points combined.  Northwestern beat the Panthers by 41, whereas last year Minnesota only beat them by 22 and Ohio U. only beat them by 15.  Eastern Illinois went .500 against other FCS teams last season.

A few interesting games next week, including Ole Miss going to Tuscaloosa.  It will be interesting to see if Ole Miss dictates the tempo, not that that would guarantee a Rebel victory anyway. It could be like the 49-42 Alabama win over Texas A&M exactly two years ago.

Two big games in Los Angeles (although the home teams should win) as Stanford goes to the Coliseum and BYU visits the Rose Bowl.

A few other games of potential interest:

(12)Florida St. @ Boston College

(13) Georgia Tech @ (16) Notre Dame

South Carolina @ (15) Georgia

(25) Northwestern @ Duke

I don’t expect Northern Illinois @ (1) Ohio St. to be too interesting; but the Buckeyes were only up 17 after three quarters against Hawaii, so the early going could be close.

Every other game should be boring, although it’s possible Louisville can finally play a good game when (8) Clemson comes to town.

LSU Barely Holds on in Starkville

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on September 13, 2015 at 9:58 AM

I’ll probably do the top 25 tomorrow.  Had LSU continued on the road to what should have been an easy win after being up 21-6, I wouldn’t have seen the need for a post-game blog for this game.

Not to gloat—far from it after the end of this game—but this was LSU’s 8th win in a row and 12th win in 13 tries in Starkville.  For more about the series history, please see the blog I have just updated.

As I’ve said all offseason, the defensive problem I worry about is depth on the secondary, not the line.  This is what the spring game made loud and clear when both quarterbacks could just throw the ball up against the second team, and it was almost always caught, often by a wide-open receiver.

The secondary did all right for most of this game, but as I expected, those cracks showed up in the late third and throughout the fourth quarter.  I don’t care how many returning starters there are: when there isn’t much offensive production, all you need is one player in the secondary to be a step or two out of place on a couple of plays to lose the game.

Also, De’Runnya Wilson can catch some passes when a defender isn’t out of place at all.  Dak Prescott generally didn’t have enough time to get it to a receiver, but I think that’s the difference between Chavis and Haley last year and Steele and Orgeron this year.  LSU will face more experienced offensive lines, but despite that, I was still impressed by the combination of sealing the running lanes and creating a pass rush.

Unlike a lot of LSU fans, I was skeptical of Brandon Harris all of a sudden being a good quarterback, and I’m still skeptical.  He did look better in this game than he did during the spring game against the first-team defense, but this is a defense that only had four returning starters and wasn’t even that great last year.  He had a good completion percentage, a couple of good runs, and didn’t throw the ball into danger; but 71 passing yards is a joke.

Leonard Fournette reaches for the end zone. Fournette ran for 159 yards on 28 carries.

Leonard Fournette reaches for the end zone. Fournette ran for 159 yards on 28 carries.

There has to be a credible passing threat on second and third downs to keep the defense off balance.  This passing threat also needs to exist with an 8-point lead or a 2-point lead when keeping possession is that much more important.  One or two completed passes in each of the last two or three drives could have allowed the Tigers to keep a double-digit until the game ended.

Oddly enough, LSU did have a first-down pass when they were up 15 (second play of the drive after a Bulldog penalty) but did not have another on first or second down.  Les said himself after the game, “If you become one-dimensional, you become very easy to stop.”

The Tigers had their own penalty troubles.  LSU had two touchdowns called back (I think one was on an eventual touchdown drive though), and they had another play late in the game that would have given them the ball inside the 20 when instead they failed to score in the final 21 minutes of the game.  The Tigers were penalized for 95 yards, but there were another 100 or more yards of plays that were taken off the board.

I also think LSU could have gone for it on fourth down late at midfield.  They had two chances to do so, once with the ball at the Mississippi St. 43.  I don’t think a 25-yard punt (what actually happened) or even a 35-yard punt is better than having a chance at a first down to control the end of the game.  LSU had a first and 14 after a hold that called back that play I mentioned that put them inside the 20.  I can’t disagree more with responding to the situation with the predictable run, run, pass, punt.

Now that I have my griping out of the way, I do want to put this in perspective.

It is important to remember that this was LSU’s first game.  Mississippi St. had already had an opportunity to screw up the beginning of a game and come back to win last week, and this week was their home opener after a very good season (especially by their standards) last year.  So their fans seemed even more enthusiastic than normal.

You can have games like this in September though.  Ohio St. of course lost to unranked Virginia Tech at home last season.  The Hokies were actually 34th in the AP preseason poll, whereas Mississippi St. was ranked going into this game.  Florida St. had several games last season that could have been losses but ended up winning its conference undefeated before losing in the playoff.

Alabama, another playoff team last year, started out with a shaky game against a West Virginia team that ended up with six losses.  It was a 3-point lead at halftime and the Mountainers were within a touchdown until about 8 minutes left in the game.

In fact, as I mention in the rivalry blog, in 1958 LSU only beat Mississippi St. (who went 3-6 that season) by a single point.  That is still the only season in which the Tigers went undefeated including a bowl game. (In 1936 and 2011, LSU went undefeated before the bowl game; and LSU had a few previous undefeated seasons in which there was no such a thing as a bowl game.)

The fact that the game was close like this may have been more of a wake-up call.  If Mississippi St. never rallied and LSU won 24-13 or something like that, maybe we think, “OK, well, we’re home for the next game, no problem.”

Speaking of which, Auburn comes to town next week. I know they barely beat Jacksonville St., but I have a feeling we didn’t see the best Auburn team in that game.  So there will be two teams who know they need to make big improvements or their seasons could unravel in a hurry.

Conference Report Week 1

In College Football, Conference Reports on September 11, 2015 at 3:07 PM

The new inter-conference week doesn’t start until Utah/Utah St. tonight.  A formerly WAC and Mountain West and currently Pac-12 team against a formerly WAC and Sun Belt and currently Mountain West team.

Louisiana Tech, a former WAC team, is now in the same conference as Western Kentucky, a former Sun Belt team, so that was not an interconference game last night.

A couple of disclaimers and reminders.  In these conference reports, I basically evaluate each conference as if it were a team.  For instance, “team SEC” beat Wisconsin when Alabama beat Wisconsin, and “team Big Ten” lost to Alabama.  So the SEC gets credit for beating Wisconsin just like a team would.  I don’t treat them as “generic Big Ten team”.  So even though only one week has passed, it’s almost like evaulating one season for a team against another since I believe only one conference game has been played.

Another thing to point out is this is NOT picking the conference who has the best team on average.  Alabama can go 0-8 in the SEC, and the important thing is it got that big non-conference win.  Baylor is apparently a very good team, but how good they are won’t matter too much in these because they don’t appear to have any quality non-conference opponents.

Also, records are against FBS opponents unless otherwise indicated.

I always liked this version of the logo.

I always liked this version of the logo.

The SEC was the unquestionable top conference of week 1, going 10-1 with wins over Wisconsin, Arizona St., Louisville, and North Carolina.  The only loss was to that Western Kentucky team I just mentioned.  The Hilltoppers beat Vanderbilt by two points after the SEC ’Doremats failed on a late two-point conversion attempt.  According to most gambling sources, Vandy either beat the spread or came out even, so while it would have been nice for the SEC to get that win, it’s not a huge problem that it didn’t.

The only record by a P5 conference (those are SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, ACC, and Pac-12) that came close was that of the 5-1 Big XII.  But the ten teams of the XII only combined to beat one major-conference opponent.  This was TCU’s win over Minnesota.  The other major opponent was when Texas lost to Notre Dame.  The other four wins were nothing special: SMU, Central Michigan, Akron, and Georgia Southern (which just became a full member of the Sun Belt after being in FCS and a transitional year).  Also, that record is not counting the fact that Kansas lost to FCS South Dakota St.  So even if Kansas is the Vanderbilt equivalent, losing to Western Kentucky is probably better than losing to South Dakota St.

The Mountain West went 2-1 with wins over Washington, and Colorado, but they also lost to an FCS team (Wyoming to North Dakota).  I can’t fault UNLV (another possible worst-in-conference team) much for losing to Northern Illinois.

The only other conference with a winning record was the CUSA at 5-4.  The CUSA did not beat any impressive teams, although it was a surprise that FIU beat Central Florida (which is now and American Conference [AAC] team).  The two wins over P5 teams were over Purdue and Vanderbilt, who are possibly the worst teams in their respective conferences.

The ACC is last among the power conferences, although it didn’t really do anything wrong, but there should have been a toss-up or something close where they won.  The only one where the ACC should have had a chance was North Carolina vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte); and the Tar Heels were respectable competition, but they didn’t win.  I can’t hold the losses by Virginia to UCLA, by Virginia Tech to Ohio St., and by Louisville to Auburn against the conference to any large extent.

The Pac-12 was relatively disappointing.  Arizona St. was supposed to be one of the best teams in the conference (based on returning starters anyway), and Stanford was supposed to be a sleeper team in the North Division.  So those losses (to Texas A&M and Northwestern, respectively) are worse than the ACC losses.  As for the wins, they are: Michigan (Utah probably isn’t great, so this is a positive), Virginia (which UCLA should have won easily anyway), UTSA (which Arizona should have won easily and didn’t), and Arkansas St. (by USC in a blowout that was expected).  Colorado might be the worst team in the Pac-12, but Hawaii was certainly a winnable game.  Also, another contender for worst in the Pac-12 is WSU, which certainly should have beaten Portland St.

So I mentioned two big wins by the Big Ten above, but there were somehow six losses.  They were all fairly excusable though.  Michigan and Minnesota put up a good fight in games few expected them to win (I picked Michigan, but hard to win on the road against a P5 opponent with four turnovers), and Nebraska of course lost the heart-breaker to BYU.  The other two wins were against MAC teams that probably won’t even be competitive in that conference, but still I think there were more positives than negatives despite the losing record.

Since we’re down to three independents, I’m not going to go into those as a category this year.  They don’t even play one another, so it’s hard to take pride in each other’s accomplishments, which is kind of the point of this. You might not be happy if your team goes 8-5, but you can take some pride in playing a lot of good teams that did well against other conferences and still making a bowl game.  It was different when Navy was there and played Army and Notre Dame annually, and Notre Dame has also played Army and BYU in recent years (I consider 2010 a recent year anyway).

The rest is mostly just a matter of who had the ugliest losses.  The good news is I mentioned the three relevant FCS losses already.  I’m just going to call it a tie between the MAC and AAC.  On the one hand, the AAC beat Penn St., but on the other hand (as mentioned) it lost to FIU.  The MAC just had vanilla results up and down the line.  Idaho and UNLV are possibly two of the worst teams in the FBS, and I can’t blame them for losing to teams that will likely make bowls.  Illinois and Old Dominion may not, but if the MAC is to beat such teams, EMU (I always wondered why their mascot wasn’t the emus) and Kent St. are probably not going to be the ones to do it.

The Sun Belt went winless (apart from against the FCS), so you can’t really do worse.

  1. SEC
  2. Big XII
  3. Big Ten
  4. MWC
  5. Pac-12
  6. CUSA
  7. ACC
  8. (tie) AAC
  9. (tie) MAC
  10. Sun Belt

College Football Week 1 Top 25

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 8, 2015 at 1:02 PM

Rank- Team-Previous

1 Ohio St. 1
2 Alabama 4
3 Baylor 2
4 TCU 3
5 Mich. St. 5
6 USC 6
7 Oregon 7
8 UCLA 8
9 Clemson 9
10 LSU 10
11 Ole Miss 11
12 Florida St. 12
13 Ga. Tech 13
14 Notre Dame 14
15 Georgia 17
16 TX A&M 25
17 Auburn 20
18 Boise St. 16
19 Wisconsin 18
20 Missouri 19
21 Arkansas 21
22 Arizona St. 15
23 Okie St. 23
24 Oklahoma 24

k state
25 Kansas St. —

Out of rankings: (22) Stanford

Not too much to say this week.  Alabama did a good job controlling the game against what I believe is a good Wisconsin team.  Baylor and TCU didn’t do such great jobs against SMU and Minnesota, respectively.  Baylor’s defense did not seem like that of a title contender, and TCU didn’t put the Gophers away until the clock ran out.

Everyone else in the top 14 just stayed where they were.

I did move Boise down a couple of spots after being shut out in the second half against Washington.  The Broncos could have probably scored at least 30 by the middle of the third quarter, but instead they almost allowed the game to go into overtime.

Texas A&M impressed me late, and Auburn looked better than I thought they would.   Auburn could definitely be dangerous later in the year when the offense settles in a little better.

Georgia had an impressive margin of victory in only 50 minutes of play, but they only moved up because of Boise and Arizona St. moving down.

I could have put Wisconsin below Missouri, but I don’t think the Tigers would have done any better.

Oklahoma St. had a dubious performance, but it was on the road, and maybe Central Michigan isn’t so bad.  We’ll see.

Kansas St. wasn’t playing a good team even by FCS standards, but they won in a shutout, and it was 24-0 at halftime.  I can’t find any fault there.  As I mentioned in preseason, they were one of the strong considerations I had for the top 25 that just narrowly missed.

The coming week may be even more uneventful, although there are some potential revenge games to highlight.  LSU (who as I mentioned didn’t end up playing in opening week) will go on the road against Mississippi St., and Oregon visits Michigan St.  Also, Boise St. travels to BYU (which won on a Hail Mary to spoil Mike Riley’s debut at Nebraska), and Oklahoma travels to Tennessee.  I considered the Vols for the rankings above, but giving up 30 to Bowling Green was too much of a cause for concern in my view.