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.
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.
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.
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.
|2||SEC||Big XII||Big XII|
|3||Big Ten||Big Ten||Big Ten|
|9||Sun Belt||(t) MAC||MWC|
|10||MWC||Sun Belt||Sun Belt|