Posts Tagged ‘Air Force’

Week 6 Rankings and Comments

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 6, 2019 at 1:43 PM

I didn’t get around to posting a mid-week blog last week, but I may have a couple of them this week. I forgot to link them last week, but I’ve published my computer ratings for the second time this season. Maybe it’s good that I didn’t link them, because I had made a couple of mistakes that I’ve since caught.

It wasn’t the most eventful week.  Thirty-four teams had the week off.  There were a couple of losses by mid-range top-25 teams, but they were conference road games.  None were particularly shocking.  There was also the Auburn-Florida game.  Most people I saw picked Auburn, but I don’t think anyone was too shocked Florida won. 

In the late game, Stanford beat Washington.  I found out that Stanford’s kicker is named Jet Toner, which sounds like printer ink.  Anyone can beat anyone in the Pac-12 it seems, but Oregon is still probably the best bet to compete for a playoff spot since the Ducks have no conference losses.  The Rose Bowl is not a semifinal this year, so the Pac-12 champion is guaranteed at least that.

Anyway, the main tricky team I got in the computer was Auburn, and that was largely because the Florida loss barely damages the Tigers right now.  As an opponent, Florida is overrated in my system at the moment because their two games against FCS opponents don’t damage the strength of schedule.  As a team, they don’t get much credit for those two games though.  That’s why the computer doesn’t put the Gators ahead of Auburn even though they’re one of the “best losses” possible.  It will be fairer if Florida loses because then the Gators will be harmed in winning percentage (4-1 is a lower percentage than 6-1, but 5-0 isn’t a lower percentage than 7-0).

LB Jonathan Greenard and the Gators defense had an easier time than expected keeping Auburn quarterback Bo Nix from doing a lot of damage (in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday). We will see how they do against LSU QB Joe Burrow in Baton Rouge next Saturday night.

I tinkered with a few different ideas of addressing this before deciding that I would just move Auburn down the normal variation I allowed myself for this week, which is four spots.  There were more undefeated teams I wanted to put ahead of Auburn, but I don’t think numbers 7 to 10 would beat Auburn anyway. 

Clemson is still in the top 3 in the computer formula with three wins against the top 60, so I still don’t think it makes sense to make a change.  Ohio St. has more impressive wins so far, but there isn’t the kind of signature win that justifies becoming #1 in my mind. Maybe Wisconsin in a couple of weeks will do it, depending on how the SEC sorts itself out by then.

Although I tried to stay within the four spots, I did make a few exceptions based on losses (or lack thereof).  

I liked that there was a group of undefeated teams followed by a group of one-loss teams (with Oklahoma thrown in… see below), so I didn’t think it made sense to put Oregon ahead of more undefeated teams, especially now that the team they lost to has a loss itself. So I moved the Ducks one extra spot down.

I moved Oklahoma one extra spot up because I think the Sooners should be ahead of Texas since they’re undefeated.  If the Longhorns are better, they don’t have to wait long to prove it on the field.  Switching them before the game doesn’t accomplish anything. 

Third, I excluded Washington from the top 25 despite a computer rank of 20th.  If you’ve lost 40% of the FBS games you’ve played (to teams with 3 losses combined), that’s not top-25-worthy even with a good schedule.  Again, it’s a problem that can be easily rectified on Saturday. If they beat Arizona (#27 in the computer formula), they’ll be in.  If not, they won’t be.

Stanford K Jet Toner was responsible for 11 of the Cardinal’s 23 points against Washington Saturday night. Stanford dominated in both time of possession total yards largely due to the success of RB Cameron Scarlett (not pictured).

Michigan St. did take the last spot despite two losses, but I think 4-2 vs. FBS (which is what Washington would be with a win on Saturday) is easier to justify than 3-2 with an FCS win.  Also, one of the Spartans’ losses is to the computer #1.  The Huskies’ better loss is to #31.

As for undefeated teams, Memphis, Baylor, and Minnesota all joined the top 25 by virtue of being undefeated.  All the teams who fell out of the top 25 lost on Saturday.  Colorado fell the most spots, but that was partly due to Air Force’s loss to Navy. Michigan and Cincinnati moved back into the top 25 despite earlier losses.  Ohio St. and Wisconsin are two of the top four teams in the computer formula though, so I didn’t see those respective losses as a reason to keep the Wolverines or Bearcats out.  Both had decent wins over the weekend.  Michigan beat Iowa; and Cincinnati beat Central Florida.

A few teams have been seesawing, such as LSU (from 4th to 14th and back up to 3rd) and Notre Dame (from 25th to 7th and back down to 16th), but that’s part of the volatility that takes place in the first weeks of the transition to the computer system.  It’s also partly mistakes on my part in anticipating what the computer formula will do.

LSU gained from beating Utah St., which isn’t a bad team; but Georgia Southern finally won a game, so that gives the Tigers more credit for that win (so it was like two wins in one week).  The Tigers also benefited from the rule changes I made to my top 25.  Georgia and Alabama were too far back in the computer formula, and Auburn lost, so that accounts for all three spots that I moved the Tigers from the computer formula.  This had minimal affect on the ranking, but I also feel like LSU addressed some of its issues in the way it played against Utah St.  I’m less impressed by some of the other undefeateds.  I’ll write more about LSU later in the week.

We will know more about a lot of teams this weekend, not just LSU.  Hopefully that will clarify things and help limit the erratic movements from week to week. 

2Ohio St.5
10Boise St.6
11Penn St.17
12Wake Forest8
15Arizona St.10
16Notre Dame7
25Michigan St.13

Out of top 25: (12) Colorado, (16) Washington, (20) UC-Berkeley, (22) Oklahoma St., (23) Iowa

Week 5 Rankings and Comments

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 29, 2019 at 3:16 PM

This is the first week that I have published my computer rantings; but as I mentioned I did some trial runs before.  I won’t be following the order too closely for now, but that will partly explain some teams that may be in surprising places.

Part of the transition from subjective to objective rankings (for this year anyway) is a strict rule that the ranking of a given team can only vary 6 spots from the computer formula.  For instance, Georgia and Washington were 9 and 10, but they ended up 3 and 16. Likewise, teams that started 13 spots apart could be one spot.  If 6 seems like an arbitrary number, it is. I wanted the flexibility to put a team like Oklahoma with no losses ahead of a team like Oklahoma St. with a loss to Texas, whom I was barely able to include in the top 25. I had to leave Berkeley ahead of the Sooners though.

For now I’m keeping the top 5 the same as I had it last week, but I probably won’t next week even if none of them lose. I will give myself less leeway to deviate from the computer, and I expect at least Alabama to have a lower computer rating due to missing out on points entirely during the bye week.

North Carolina had no chance of getting what would have been the go-ahead two-point conversion try in Chapel Hill on Saturday.

Partly because margin of victory for the most-part doesn’t factor into my philosophy (except to fill in the gaps early on and except for certain narrow home victories), I am keeping Clemson #1.  I need some pretty strong evidence a team is the best to make a change at #1; it’s not purely about who had the best 5 weeks and picking a team in a vacuum.  The other candidates don’t have the quality wins necessary yet.  Georgia, with the win over Notre Dame, had the best argument on paper; but their second-best win is Arkansas St., so that doesn’t do it for me.  Alabama hasn’t beaten anyone in the computer top 50, and that may not even change if they beat Texas A& two weeks.  Alabama and Clemson are a much closer 1 and 2 to other teams than earlier in the season, but I’m giving it another week.

Outside of the top 3, Auburn still has too many question marks despite being the computer #1.  Ohio St. is also up there, but the Buckeyes need a better win than Cincinnati (I never bought into the Nebraska hype, and neither does the computer). 

I decided to leave Boise St. ahead of Notre Dame.  While the Irish have the better win against an ACC team (since Virginia beat Florida St.), the Broncos beat Air Force. Notre Dame’s second-best win is over Louisville.  The Irish also have a loss, but I think Boise St. would have also lost, so that wasn’t a major factor.

Arizona St. (which beat Cal Friday in Berkeley) might not have an impressive offense, but the Sun Devils have had two impressive road wins with ball control and defense.

There are some unexpected teams after that.  Arizona St.’s being 2-1 against the top 20 with a third OK FBS win (over Kent St., whose only other loss is to Auburn) is pretty good right now.  Wake Forest is undefeated and didn’t come as close to losing to UNC as Clemson did.  SMU is also undefeated with a win over TCU.  Colorado beat Arizona St. but lost to Air Force.  More on the Falcons below.  Michigan St. lost to Arizona St. but has three fairly decent wins.  Appalachian St. is undefeated and also beat UNC more easily than Clemson did.  Berkeley is 1-1 against the computer top 10 with no other losses, so that was as low as I could put them.

I could have ranked Air Force and Virginia, but I preferred to keep undefeated Iowa and one-loss Texas.  Although LSU hasn’t had depth in its schedule yet, I think the Tigers look like a better team than Boise St. or Notre Dame.  Also, the Longhorns beat a better team (Oklahoma St.) than anyone Virginia beat. Air Force did beat Colorado, but I want to see if they can follow that up with anything before I kick Texas or someone who hasn’t lost out of the top 25. In the next five weeks, the Falcons play Navy, Hawaii, Utah St., and Army.

Not only did Kansas St. lose to Oklahoma St., but the Wildcats’ win over Mississippi St. lost its luster when the Bulldogs got blown out by Auburn.  So Virginia and Kansas St. are the only two teams to fall out from last week.

Hawaii’s Cedric Byrd II celebrates one of two touchdown catches in Reno on Saturday.

I had to rank Hawaii due to the six-spot rule, but I think the Warriors deserve it.  In addition to blowing out Nevada on the road Saturday, they’ve played three Pac-12 teams and only lost to Washington.  Oregon St., as usual, isn’t good; but the Beavers gave Stanford a game.  Arizona hasn’t lost to anyone else yet, although UCLA gave them a scare.

Speaking of the Pac-12, that conference has the highest computer rating per team.  There aren’t any undefeated teams, so the Pac-12 is outnumbered in the top 10 by the SEC.  However, the Pac-12 has more teams in the top 25 and doesn’t have as many teams below 100.  The SEC leads 3-1 in the latter category (Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Tennessee against just UCLA). 

Top 25

5Ohio St.5
6Boise St.7
7Notre Dame25
8Wake Forest9
10Arizona St.22
13Michigan St.23
17Penn St.14
22Oklahoma St.

Out of rankings: (12) Virginia, (17) Kansas St.

Week 6 Top 25 and LSU Comments

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 4, 2016 at 6:46 PM

Orgeron Tenure Weeks 1 and 2

Since I haven’t posted about LSU in a while, I’ll start with just a few comments. Beating Missouri doesn’t mean a whole lot on its own, but the way the Fighting Tigers did it has to mean something. Mississippi St. is a similar team, and LSU could never quite put them away. Granted, LSU was up 17 somewhat late against the Bulldogs, but even despite the onside kick, State would have never been able to make it close had the LSU offense not stagnated.

LSU is given about a 4% chance of running the table in the regular season, but it improves to about 10% if you allow for one loss.

The Fighting Tigers scored their first points of the season in the fourth quarter. Even though the game was over, I think the changes to the play-calling and to the practice schedule are already having an impact on stamina.

I think everyone knows the LSU coaches would be crazy not to call a lot of running plays with the current team, but it doesn’t take a genius to know that if you don’t have a particularly mobile quarterback (although he can pick up 5-10 yards in a pinch), it’s probably a good idea to throw some play-action in there somewhat regularly.

Derrius Guice (left) and Darrel Williams combined for 314 yards and 6 touchdowns against Mizzou.  LSU's total offense of 634 yards was the most in an SEC game in program history.

Derrius Guice (left) and Darrel Williams combined for 314 yards and 6 touchdowns against Mizzou. LSU’s total offense of 634 yards was the most in an SEC game in program history.

A lot of LSU fans have whined about the I formation. If you soften up the defense with the pass effectively and you can tempt the defense into focusing on the wrong part of the line, it can be a great formation. It just doesn’t work very well if it’s play after play with the same blockers and the same running backs doing the same things. You can at least switch up the people in the backfield, which they finally did in this game.

Orgeron talked about using elements of the USC offense (not 100% sure if he meant Kiffin or Chow), and I think there were a few minor things that were adapted, although obviously a major overhaul doesn’t happen in a week. New offensive coordinator Ensminger handled two running backs well, Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams. The full-time fullback J.D. Moore was also helpful.

There was a vertical passing game that was at least credible. It’s a long way from what Matt Leinart did, but the defense at least had to be mindful of the receivers.

I don’t know if Leonard Fournette will play next week, but I’m hopeful. I know sometimes the next day it feels worse, but Fournette was able to play (but limping) toward the end of the game against Auburn. I doubt anything happened since then. Maybe there is something major they’re just not telling us.

I know we’re not short on people in the backfield who can gain yards, but Fournette does have a gear that Guice doesn’t have, and he’s not as likely to slow himself down with stutter steps and hesitations. Being tackled inside the 10 versus scoring a touchdown might make a much bigger difference next week.

I almost always enjoy this rivalry though. This isn’t the best game on paper, but I think it’s much more likely to have a stereotypical SEC final score. 21-17 would not surprise me a bit. A lot of these games have been very close over the years. Click here for more on the rivalry.

Rankings Commentary

LSU still has a long way to go before they’re relevant here.

I don’t like to alter what the computer tells me, but for the first couple of weeks of the computer ranking, I think it’s OK to substitute my own #1 and perhaps include a team over another in the top 10 or top 25.

I need to say upfront that I messed up by ranking Louisville so high the last two weeks. When they beat Florida St. so easily, I thought they would also beat Clemson. Before the Florida St. game, I had them #23; so keep in mind they’re only one spot lower now.

Most of the new additions are just teams lucky enough not to have a loss or it’s fairly obvious that they beat a team who fell out. An exception is Air Force, which beat an undefeated Navy team (easily) and moving into the driver’s seat for the Commander-In-Chief Trophy. Navy would have been ranked last week had it been an objective system last week, so the Midshipmen may make it back at some point.

Although he completed only 8 passes, Air Force quarterback Nate Romine led the Falcons to a 28-14 win over Navy.

Although he completed only 8 passes, Air Force quarterback Nate Romine led the Falcons to a 28-14 win over Navy.

I realized that with my new formula, losses aren’t going to subtract enough points this early, so I modified the formula slightly for the purposes of this blog (I did not change my mind about the formula on the ratings site). I tried to rely on objective numbers as much as possible though. I’ll explain how I did that.

I am keeping Alabama #1 (I don’t like to change #1 without a clear problem with the current #1, and I especially don’t like to do this if the computer #1 will play the current #1 soon), and I’m making Western Michigan #11 for now (I’m a little bit skeptical of how good they are, and it just a little bit too far on one week; U. Miami moved farther, but it was justified). Then for #17 to #23, I actually like the order better in the formula on the site. It is somewhat objective, but I chose one objective order of teams over another.

I’m hoping I won’t feel the need to do anything like this next week. If Alabama loses, I plan to follow the site from beginning to end. If Alabama wins, they stay #1; and if Tennessee wins as well, I expect the winner of the game between Tennessee and Alabama will be the computer #1 in two weeks. Their respective opponents on Saturday are no joke though.

I know Western Michigan is a weird one, but they keep beating teams with decent records. It also doesn’t hurt that they don’t have a bye week yet. Also, their FCS opponent hasn’t lost a game against the FCS. It’s kind of a quirk in my system at this point if you’ve played an FCS team like that because very few (if any) of these teams will finish that way.

The system as a whole is designed to be ideal at the end of the year of course, not now. But I still like to know how far along teams are.

Tennessee and Louisville

It makes perfect sense that Tennessee is #1 in my system because they’ve had a big game almost every week. This means they’re the farthest along toward a national championship. If they were to have 3 more intervals that were just as strong, they’d probably have twice as many points as Alabama had last season.

Tennessee celebrating the win at Georgia.

Tennessee celebrating the win at Georgia.

But of course that won’t happen. They’ll play Tennessee Tech, Missouri, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and South Carolina. So far, the only somewhat easy opponent statistically was Ohio, which nonetheless has a winning record. The non-conference opponents may lose ground as the season goes on. If Florida loses to LSU, that would hurt the quality of that win and the quality of the East as a whole. Same thing if Georgia were to lose to Auburn, for instance.

I know things are unstable right now, which is part of why Louisville fell so dramatically (as I mentioned, it was also partly my fault). All their opponents lost. Adding four opponents’ losses makes a big difference at this stage.

You might notice Maryland up there. They have no losses, and the teams they beat also have the same number of combined FBS wins as the teams Louisville beat (but Maryland has no losses).

Anyway, Louisville may fall out of the top 25 next week as they are idle; but if it comes down to Florida St. or Louisville, I will give the Cardinals the edge for about 43 reasons. That being said, my formula is win/loss (although close home wins only count only get 9/10 of the credit and close away losses only count as 9/10 of the normal “debit”), so it would arguably just be one reason. It will be a long time before Louisville has another shot at a strong win, possibly not until Houston in November. Until then, 1-1 against good teams (provided Florida St. even qualifies as a good team after next week) only takes them so far.

Top 25

1 Alabama 1
2 Tennessee 2
3 Michigan 8
4 Clemson 4
5 Texas A&M 6
6 Washington 19
7 Houston 7
8 Ohio St. 9
9 West Virginia 21
10 U. Miami —
11 W. Michigan 24
12 Wisconsin 5
13 Stanford 10
14 Wake Forest 12
15 Boise St. 13
16 Nebraska 16
17 N. Carolina 25
18 Arkansas 11
19 Florida 15
20 Air Force —
21 Maryland —
22 Baylor —
23 Cal —
24 Louisville 3
25 Virginia Tech 22

Out of rankings: (14) Ga. Tech, (17) Utah, (18) San Diego St., (20) Florida St., (23) Arizona St.

Full ratings 1-128

Thoughts on Pac-12 expansion

In College Football, Realignment on November 12, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Logos in white boxes represent potential additions.  The red areas are the current South Division, and the blue areas are the current North Division.

Logos in white boxes represent potential additions. The red areas are the current South Division, and the blue areas are the current North Division.

With BYU’s success as an independent team (despite losses to Virginia and Utah, the latter a recent Pac-12 addition), I still think the Cougars would be a good fit for the Pac-12. That’s the real rival for Utah–not Colorado, who doesn’t have a real rival in the Pac-12.

I know the conference is expressing reluctance to expand, but it wasn’t too long ago that it was talking about 16 teams. Also, it doesn’t seem like that long ago that the Pac-10 and Big Ten didn’t want to expand, didn’t want a championship game, and didn’t even want to be involved in the BCS. Both wanted their champion to play in the Rose Bowl and for that to be the end of it. A few conferences seemed happy at 12 but have expanded/are expanding anyway.

I still don’t understand why public “research universities” is such a priority for Pac-12 admission, but people always bring it up. I had never heard much about Utah or Arizona St. (or a couple of the more long-standing Pac-8/10/12 schools) being academic powerhouses. Anyway, I do know BYU is a good school (without so much research maybe), and since they’re unaffiliated and there are two schools in the Rockies unconnected with the rest of the conference, it seems it would fit.

Although I don’t know anything about its standing among other schools academically (promotional materials seem to make their research sound impressive:, Texas Tech would be a good way to expand into the pool of Texas talent since it is in Western Texas, actually not very far to the East (although significantly to the South) of Boulder, Colorado. It was one of those potential additions to the Pac-12 when the Big XII nearly fell into pieces.

How to align the divisions would be a challenge, although I do have an idea of how that could be done. Basically, take the 7 rivalry pairs and put all the more sophisticated schools in one division and the other schools in another. Washington St. and Oregon St. seem a little grittier than Washington and Oregon, the latter two being rivals of one other anyway. Stanford/Cal, USC/UCLA, and BYU/Utah are fairly obvious since the first one of each pair is private and the second public. I don’t think I have to elaborate on why Texas Tech is more rough-around-the-edges than Colorado. Just imagine Boulder, then imagine Lubbock. By reputation, Arizona seems a little more buttoned-down than Arizona St., but I’m not sure that matters either way.

Colorado could have an even better rival in Air Force, although that doesn’t really expand the recruiting base. It may add to fan interest though. The service academies have fans scattered all over. Of course, Air Force also regularly played BYU and Utah when all three were in the Mountain West and WAC. The team right now is pretty bad though. You don’t always want to focus on the short term, but I think that would be a meaningful concern. The Pac-12 doesn’t want another doormat.

Boise St. doesn’t have much of an academic profile, but that would seem to make for an easy transition. The Broncos already have the talent and interest to compete, and it would be natural to add them to the Pac-12 North and BYU to the Pac-12 South. I still think teams in Colorado and Utah being in the South seems a little off, but my understanding is everyone not in California wants to play in California at least once a year.

Fresno St., UNLV, San Diego St., and San Jose St. could be other possibilities if academics aren’t a priority. UNLV and San Diego are big unexploited media markets for major college football (and in the case of UNLV, there are no major professional sports in the area either). I’m not sure how much San Jose St. and Fresno St. would add, so they’re probably least likely, but they make obvious geographical sense. There are half a million people in Fresno and no major sports in the surrounding area, where arguably another half a million people or more live. San Jose St. isn’t very far from Stanford, but not everyone is a Stanford person.

Another possibility I thought of was Hawaii, which apparently does have some research credentials, but that program has crashed and burned since June Jones and Colt Brennan left the islands, so it has some of the same problems as Air Force, except I think Air Force has better road fans. Logistics aren’t very favorable for Hawaii either, of course.

Nebraska is a long-shot, but I thought it worth mentioning. I don’t think the Big Ten is quite what the Huskers signed up for. If they have to play a 9-game conference schedule and travel to one of the coasts, why not the Pacific Coast instead? With Colorado, at least they would get one of their traditional rivals back. Maybe if they joined along with Texas Tech, that would be the best way of including new teams in a more logical way.

As to how the divisional alignment would work, Utah could just be switched to the North and keep playing Colorado as a permanent opponent (or “protected series”, as the Big Ten calls it). Berkeley is about the same distance away as Tempe (Arizona St. is the second-closest Pac-12 South opponent for the Utes) is anyway. Nebraska would also help out the competitive balance in the long-run. I’m sure that would be a really expensive proposition though.

Bring Back the Big West

In Bowls, College Football, Realignment on December 8, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Even though this could have been the promising first year of a reorganized respectable second-tier conference, the WAC as we used to know it seems pretty much dead. All the football members have left or are leaving apart from Idaho and New Mexico St.

As recently as 1995, the top three WAC teams of this year, Louisiana Tech, Utah St., and San Jose St., all competed in the Big West. Nevada, UNLV, and New Mexico St. were also in that conference, and Boise St. joined (along with Idaho) in 1996.

Which got me thinking… since there won’t be a WAC, why can’t there be a Big West in football again? I can’t think of a good reason. In football, the Big East is doing so much expanding from the area near the Mississippi River all the way to Boise and San Diego, so that can incorporate these teams while the rest of the conference can keep operating as it is already, with some possible quality expansion in other sports.

These were the teams in the WAC in 1995:
Air Force
Colorado St.
Fresno St.
New Mexico
San Diego St.

Boise St. and San Diego St. are actually going to be in the Big West in other sports, and Hawaii is already there. I imagine Utah St. and San Jose St. (which appear to be headed to the Mountain West) could be brought back with just the foundation I’ve mentioned so far. BYU left the Mountain West to become independent in football (WCC in other sports, which makes less sense than the Big West would), but no currently AQ-conference has offered them a spot, and they’re naturals to be playing the likes of Boise St. and Utah St., both of which they’ve played this season.

The East-West alliance along the lines of the previously-discussed MWC-CUSA idea didn’t work out because of all the existing obligations (essentially schools could then leave without buyout fees and without paying the conference shares of post-season revenue), but all those problems aren’t here since administratively, it would still really be the Big East.

Louisiana Tech is a definite for the Conference USA, but that’s fine because they were too far to the East for the WAC anyway. The Big West football conference did extend into Arkansas and Louisiana briefly (inlcluding Louisiana Tech and UL-Lafayette, then known as the University of Southwestern Louisiana). There is a bit of a central region in the Big East as well that could provide the anticipated mega-conference some flexibility, so they’re not completely out of the question later.

The Big East has already announced plans to include Memphis, Tulane, SMU, and Houston. With the quality Western teams available, I would think Memphis and Tulane would be playing in the true Big East (by which I mean teams that would be in the Big East in other sports and in the Eastern division in football), but SMU and Houston would be good opponents for them as well. If only one of the four goes out West (in the even both Cincinnati and Connecticut find other conferences), then SMU and Houston could still be permanent opponents.

The only teams left from a couple of years ago (to make up the core of the true Big East) will be Connecticut, Cincinnati, and South Florida.

So this is what I’m thinking as a possible alignment…

Big East Big West
Central Florida Boise St.
Cincinnati BYU
Connecticut Hawaii
East Carolina Houston
Memphis Nevada
South Florida San Diego St.
Temple SMU
Tulane UNLV
Future possibilities Future possibilities
Army Air Force
Louisiana Tech San Jose St.
Navy* Utah St.

*-Navy is already set to join in 2015.

Apart from Navy, the Western future possibilities are more likely in the event of more shuffling of the Eastern teams. The ACC or Big Ten could take teams from the East if they want to go to 16. If the SEC goes to 16, they would likely come from the ACC, which will probably want to replace those two. So if two teams are lost from the Eastern division, they could be replaced by SMU and Houston, whose spots in the Western division could be taken by San Jose St. and Utah St. I could also see SMU and Houston joining the Big XII to make it… wait for it, 12 teams. Then you could simply replace them with San Jose St. and Utah St. Air Force (who could of course be a permanent opponent of Navy) seems like another reasonable possibility

To balance out possible unfairness from permanent opponents, I would be in favor of only counting divisional play toward picking the contestants for the championship game, but this would not rule out one or two games against teams from the other side during the season. If Air Force and Navy were in different divisions, they would still need to play one another. I don’ t know if Army is a possibility, but just for instance, it might be that if all the Commander-in-Chief teams are in this conference, two permanent opponents would be needed. That can’t really be done if it counts as an equal conference game. Other programs may not prefer to play any inter-divisional games.

Also, if circumstances change (which seems to happen every couple of months), maybe there could be too much interest in the East and not enough in the West. Then, you could easily have Memphis and/or Tulane move to the West.

I guess we can expect the Mountain West to have a number of members suitable for a round-robin format, which is sort of why it was created around the turn of the 21st century. So in addition to the three programs mentioned as future possibilities for the Big West, the Mountain West membership includes Wyoming, Colorado St., Fresno St., and New Mexico. I started this off by mentioning Idaho and New Mexico St. They could fit right in if some of the defections take place. Another possibility would be UTEP, which is less than an hour away from New Mexico St. West Texas might be a place to make recruiting inroads. Of course, the Big East is already going to be in East Texas.

Idaho isn’t quite as great of a fit for either conference, but another possibility for Idaho is to go back to the Big Sky, which may also house future FBS programs, by the way.

Anyway, there are definitely suitable teams for an 8-10-team Mountain West as well as an 8-team Big West to be part of the football Big East.

The bowl policies are interesting here. The Fiesta Bowl currently is the Big XII champion’s default destination, but that is going to be the Sugar under the SEC-Big XII contract, so that will open up. Maybe the winner of the football Big East could play there, even if the winner were from the East. An Eastern team might be good enough for the Orange Bowl in some years, but nothing would rule out a Pac-12 or Big XII #2 team playing the MWC champions in the Fiesta Bowl if it worked out that way. I don’t think the MWC under what I’m envisioning would be a fixture in the major bowls, but there may be some years where that would be appropriate. The Cotton Bowl also seems to be taking on increasing importance, but one would think that would be a common location of the SEC-Big XII bowl in the years where the Sugar is a semifinal bowl. In other years, the football Big East might be a good fit as well, regardless of which division the winner comes from.

The Big East doesn’t have to be an unmitigated coast-to-coast disaster, but I’m afraid that is a possibility without the kind of clear direction I would like to see it have with the Western teams. Funny that just a could years ago, many (myself included) were thinking the solution might just be to make the MWC an AQ in lieu of the Big East or simply to remove the Big East from AQ status to make room for more MWC or WAC teams. Now I’m talking about a lot of the teams in question being in the same conference somehow.

Week 2 Top 25

In College Football, Rankings on September 14, 2011 at 9:07 PM

A little more complicated this week. #25 was a close call. I went with TCU because they had a convincing win over a challenging team on the road (Air Force) after a 2-point loss to a challenging team on the road (Baylor). I didn’t rank Baylor or Air Force in preseason, but both probably would have been in my top 35. But the fact that these two games were on the road helped to encourage me to give TCU the edge over Auburn even though TCU has a loss and Auburn doesn’t. I do think TCU played the clearly better game in Week 1. The two teams each went undefeated last year and had very few returning starters, so they were comparable. Auburn of course will have many more chances to prove itself, and we’ll see how well it does on the road and whether the Utah St. or Mississippi St. game was an aberration. I’m not sure which, and also, Mississippi St. may not be as good as I originally projected (although I expect tomorrow’s game will be worth watching).

Nos. 21-24 each had a narrow win (2 in the case of USC) but no losses. Penn St. and Oregon are the only other teams with a loss, but I didn’t think they were losses that showed any inaccuracy in the prior rankings. The same is arguably true of BYU, whom I considered retaining, but the combination of a 1-point win over Ole Miss (who I question as being a good team) and a 1-point loss to Texas (which is a developing team, I would say) seemed to be worse than the other teams in that vicinity.

Other than moving losing teams out, the only other slight adjustment made was moving Nebraska down two spots. The Huskers had a very close game against Fresno St. until the closing seconds, while Wisconsin and Oklahoma St. each won in impressive fashion against respectable Pac-12 programs (although Oregon St. of course lost to FCS/I-AA team Sacramento St. in Week 1).

At this point, I’m not penalizing those teams who haven’t had a quality opponent, but that will begin to change next week. Also, I will give less weight to how close the games were as we progress toward early October, when I begin to use strict mathematical computations.

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Oklahoma 2
3 Alabama 3
4 Oregon 4
5 Florida St. 5
6 Texas A&M 6
7 Va. Tech 7
8 Arkansas 8
9 Stanford 9
10 Wisconsin 11
11 Okie St. 12
12 Nebraska 10
13 Boise St. 13
14 S Carolina 14
15 Mich St. 16
16 Penn St. 18
17 Florida 19
18 Texas Tech 20
19 W Virginia 21
20 Maryland 22
21 Baylor —
22 Texas 17
23 USC 23
24 Arizona St. —
25 TCU —

Out of rankings: (15)Mississippi St., (24) BYU, (25) Utah

Prior rankings:

Week 1

In Defense of My Top Three

In Rankings Commentary on October 19, 2010 at 9:55 PM

I just posted the conferences & divisions chart for this week. It can also be found on the “ratings site” tab.

For background of where I’m coming from, please see the end of my last post and the comments here. I should not have checked those comments again before bed last night, but what’s done is done.

I remain convinced that if we had a 7-week season followed by bowls, LSU needs to playing Auburn for the national championship. If we had an 8-week season followed by bowls, the winner of LSU-Auburn would deserve a spot against the winner of Oklahoma-Missouri.

To be clear, my formula in no way (except for when home advantage comes into play) factors in margin of victory (MoV), how well a team was playing when a game was played, and the like. It matters who you beat. How good who you beat is depends on that team’s record and their strength of schedule (which is determined by opponents’ and opponents’ opponents records). I think it’s difficult enough to evaluate a group of 120 teams who typically play only 12 games apiece when you look at wins and losses alone to try to claim to be able to fairly consider the context of each game and how that led to the final score (which is the only reasonable way to use MoV)

The outcome I suggest wouldn’t happen if we left it up the pollsters, who would give us Oregon vs. Boise St. (Boise). The BCS might give us one of the two in the second scenario but neither team in the first scenario.

I’ve been pretty harsh on the ESPN crew, but there is one exchange I would like to highlight. Craig James said at one point that it matters “who you play and who you beat.” Kirk Herbstreit’s response was, “Why are Boise and TCU even in the conversation then?”

Craig was missing a qualifying clause: “When comparing undefeated teams….”

In that case, Kirk’s rhetorical point is well taken. They shouldn’t be!

But we consider them in case we’re comparing them down the line to, let’s say, an Ohio St. team who will have only had one impressive win (over Iowa) if they finish the season undefeated, the way things look right now. I’d be hard-pressed to say that Ohio St. team belongs ahead of an undefeated Boise St. team, especially if Virginia Tech continues to do well and Miami continues to struggle in the ACC. I don’t know how good Utah (awful schedule so far) and Air Force (losses to Oklahoma and San Diego St.) really are, but if they’re both undefeated otherwise from now until the end of the season, especially if we add in an improved Oregon St. team (which also might affect Boise St.), maybe they’d be better if they’re undefeated. So I’m not inflexible here, and I won’t say, “no non-AQs, no way, nohow.”

But they don’t just jump to the front of the line because of last year’s team. We’re halfway through the season, even factoring in bowl games and conference championships. Last year is a memory. It deserves no place in the rankings right now.

To get to the nuts and bolts, instead of using my system, which is not biased, but which will be attacked as such, I’ll use Anderson & Hester, which prides itself on rewarding regional dominance. So if anything, it’s an advantage to Oregon and Boise St.

These are Oregon’s opponents:
#12 Stanford
#67 Arizona St.
#75 Tennessee
#96 Washington St.
#109 New Mexico
I-AA/FCS Portland St.

Tennessee, incidentally, is a common opponent with LSU. But Tennessee is LSU’s fifth toughest opponent thus far. I know that’s the one that LSU came closest to losing to, but as I keep reminding people, Alabama beat a mediocre Tennessee team by 2 last year as well.

So Oregon has played one top-66 opponent. Alabama had three in the first five weeks, losing to the fourth. You could make the argument that maybe they shouldn’t even go ahead of Alabama at least until they’ve had two more wins than losses against such teams. My rankings aren’t that harsh toward undefeated teams, but I would have trouble saying that would be wrong.

I just don’t think having one win against a quality team, even if the margin was a big one, qualifies a team to be #1 after 7 weeks. Let’s say a scheduling happenstance has Wisconsin playing Michigan St. later in the year and they go into last week undefeated. You could certainly argue that Ohio St. was better than Stanford, so would the Badgers be a deserving #1 in that case? They also defeated ASU, Oregon’s second-best win right now.

That’s not to say it will be easy for Oregon to defeat Arizona or even some of the more inconsistent Pac-10 teams such as USC, Oregon St., Washington, UCLA, but why don’t we wait until they play some more of those instead of just one?

Boise can’t even look at their schedule in the future and say that. “Now, wait a minute, you’re not giving Oregon credit for it’s future schedule, why do you want to punish Boise.” I don’t, because I’m consistent, unlike the biased or misguided masses who have Oregon and Boise #1 and #2. For Boise, they ignore the future schedule, but it’s justification for Oregon.

Anyway, since I’m fair, unlike those people, let’s look only at Boise St.’s schedule so far.:
#36 Virginia Tech
#37 Oregon St.
#57 Toledo
#73 Wyoming
#100 San Jose St.
#109 New Mexico St.

The best team they beat is #36. That’s OK, especially considering they also beat another team right behind them. But since people want to act like James Rodgers was going to win the Heisman, and that’s why we shouldn’t consider Oregon St. without him, why don’t we look further into Virginia Tech? They started so badly they then went and played James Madison at home and lost (Boise St.-Va. Tech was a neutral crowd, although Boise had a significant traveling disadvantage). Also, let’s further consider the fact that Boise was lucky to escape with a win against Virginia Tech. I can understand putting them near Oregon though. Maybe it’s tougher to beat two top-40 teams that one top-20 team. Maybe it’s better to put someone tested at all against the top 20, on the other hand.

There is a third win just inside the top 60, enough for a decent top-25 resume, but how does that compare to the schedules SO FAR of Oklahoma, Auburn, and LSU?

#15 Florida St.
#17 Texas
#31 Air Force

Let’s stop right there. That’s already three opponents better than Boise St.’s best opponent. Iowa St. is also inside the top 50, ahead of Toledo. I don’t think either win is impressive, but even if we cancel out those, that’s still three opponents better than Boise St. best two opponents. And Florida St. and Texas aren’t even close. I don’t see any logical basis for not putting Oklahoma ahead of Boise St.

To go back to Oregon for a second, when we add in Cincinnati, that’s a total of 5 Oklahoma opponents better than Oregon’s second-best opponent.

#20 Mississippi St.
#21 North Carolina
#25 West Virginia
#26 Florida

That’s four opponents better than Oregon’s second-best and Boise’s best. Call me crazy, but I think 4 wins against #20 to #30, one at a neutral site, one on the road, is more impressive than 1 win against #10 to #20 at home. As mentioned, Tennessee is in the 70s in A&H, Vanderbilt is #82. Last week, LSU beat a I-AA team.

#20 Mississippi St.
#22 South Carolina
#28 Arkansas
#50 Kentucky

That’s four better than Oregon’s second-best or Boise’s third-best. Also three better than Boise’s best.

I could take either side of the Boise vs. Oregon debate, but either of them vs. LSU, Auburn, or Oklahoma, I’m sorry, I don’t see an argument there. Since we have opinion polls involved (I’d be happy if we didn’t, assuming it’s a transparent, relatively easy-to-follow rating system), I don’t have a problem with pollsters considering margin of victory if it’s a close call, but there should be a close call first, and there just isn’t.

There is also the strategy of attacking the results of teams that are beaten by the big three (in my view and that of many objective sources). Tennessee almost lost to UAB, for instance. Colorado beat Georgia, who easily beat Tennessee. I think this does more harm to Oregon since Tennessee is higher on their list, but just as an example.

So let’s look at Stanford then and see how #12 their worst result looks. Beat USC with a field goal at the end of the game, just like the Washington Huskies did the week before. Washington, by the way, lost to 2-5 BYU. USC at #27 in A&H is Stanford’s best win, by the way, followed by Notre Dame at #34. Auburn and Oklahoma each have three wins higher than that, and LSU has four.

I’m not saying Stanford is a bad team by any stretch, but the point is you can over-analyze pretty much any team, especially as the season continues, to make them look bad. Also, if that’s all you have to hang your hat on, you don’t deserve to be #1 in the country. It’s good, but it’s not enough.

Top 25 and Commentary after Week 7

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Rank Team Last Week
1 Auburn 2
2 LSU 1
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Mich. St. 4
5 Missouri 8
6 Boise St. 5
7 TCU 6
8 Oregon 9
9 Okie St. 12
10 Alabama 11
11 Ohio St. 7
12 Utah 14
13 Kansas St. 20
14 Iowa 25
15 Stanford 17
16 Wisconsin —
17 Florida St. 22
18 Arizona 19
19 Nebraska 10
20 Miss. St. —
21 WVU —
22 Michigan 15
23 Nevada 13
24 NC State 18
25 N.Carolina —
(For full ratings, click here or on the “Ratings Site” tab above.)
Out of top 25: (16) S.Carolina, (21) Air Force, (23) Oregon St., (24) Arkansas

Auburn jumped over LSU with the win over Arkansas. The Swamp Tigers (as opposed to the Plains Tigers) played McNeese St., so it was not surprising that they didn’t hold onto the top spot. Not that it really matters, since the battle of the Tigers is next week at Jordan-Hare.

This is the first time LSU has been 7-0 since 1973, when they actually started 9-0 but lost the last three games, including losing to Tulane for the first time since 1948.

The top 3 have all made a living off of ugly wins, but they all have had formidable schedules and all have 0s in the loss column. Michigan St. only needed to eek out a win in one game (like LSU against Florida, with a fake field goal against Notre Dame), but the same basic logic applies.

Ohio St. and Alabama seem appropriately high in consideration of their losses. Certainly, they belong ahead of Utah, who has had one of the worst schedules thus far. It should improve when the Utes play TCU and Air Force and maybe a couple of other teams in the MWC schedule.

Many of big jumps forward are mostly due to losses by other teams, although of course Mississippi St. and Wisconsin had big wins.

After watching the ESPN BCS show, I had to add in a follow-up comment here. I understand that LSU hasn’t necessarily had impressive wins, but how is that so different from Auburn:
AU 17, Mississippi St. 14 (as opposed to LSU beating Miss. St., 29-7)
AU 27, Clemson 24, OT
AU 37, Kentucky 34
…or Oklahoma:
OK 31, Utah St. 24
OK 27, Air Force 24
OK 31, Cincinnati 29

The people on TV and the voters don’t even think about the logic behind what they’re saying. They just get an impression in their head about a team and completely ignore all of the contradictory stances if you actually sit there and look at the results. And then they wonder why there are computers in the BCS rather than having us just trust them.

Unrelated to that, I just realized there are actually two top-5 match-ups next week, with Oklahoma traveling to Columbia for the first time since 2006. The Sooners have won 7 straight in the series and 19 of 20 against Missouri since 1983.

Top 25 and SEC Thoughts: Week 6

In Rankings on October 10, 2010 at 11:02 PM

(I’m actually posting this on 10/18, but pre-dating so it goes in the right logical place.)

New ratings

Top 25

1 LSU 2 (1)*
2 Auburn 4
3 Oklahoma 3 (2)*
4 Mich. St. 13
5 Boise St. 12
6 TCU 5
7 Ohio St. 8
8 Missouri 10
9 Oregon 9
10 Nebraska 20
11 Alabama 1 (3)*
12 Okie St. 15
13 Nevada 16
14 Utah 21
15 Michigan 7
16 S.Carolina —
17 Stanford 19
18 NC State —
19 Arizona 14
20 Kansas St. 6
21 Air Force 23
22 Florida St. —
23 Oregon St. —
24 Arkansas —
25 Iowa 17

Out of rankings: (11) Florida, (18) N’western, (22) UCLA, (24) Baylor, (25) Temple

*–The numbers in parentheses represent last week’s computer ranking. I thought LSU should at least have to beat Florida before I recognized them as #1 here, however. I have made no such changes this week.

SEC thoughts

I am going to re-post my rivalry blog later this week with the updated records, as I did after the Tennessee game. I plan to post those for future games the week before rather than the week after.

LSU is now the only team with three wins at Florida in the last 9 seasons, which also include two losses at the Swamp. Strangely, Ole Miss is the only team with 2 such victories.

Although LSU did not beat any currently ranked opponents, it earns the best schedule among undefeated teams with wins over 4 teams in the overall top 31. Also, in the rankings of opponents, there are three teams in the top 25 (#16 WVU, #21 Mississippi St., and #22 Florida), along with #26 (North Carolina).

Oklahoma (I know they’re not in the SEC, but they’re worth mentioning for context), who has the second-best schedule among unbeatens (Auburn is higher due to not having had a bye week), has wins over #15 opponent FSU and #18 opponent Air Force, but the third-best opponent is Texas at #33. Cincinnati, fourth-best on Oklahoma’s schedule, is all the way down at #78.

I told everyone all year that you can’t take just two returning defensive starters from last year’s team and expect Alabama to be as dominant. Also, if they don’t run the ball, it’s not at all surprising that they gave up 35 points. I know Saban isn’t an offensive coach, but he’s knowledgeable enough to know something didn’t add up there. For this week at least, I was glad LSU had its coaching staff instead of Alabama’s. Of course, Nick doesn’t have the best record in keeping coordinators, so there may be an issue with staff turnover that I don’t feel like looking up.

LSU had only had one close game against a relatively weak team, so maybe Auburn is the lucky one. They’ve beaten Mississippi St. (who might not be so bad after all), Clemson, and Kentucky by a field goal each.

In the West, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss still control their respective destinies. If Alabama loses again, Arkansas will control its own destiny as well.

In the East, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt (!) control their respective destinies.

The only teams that seem out of the running are Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, but teams with three conference losses have made the SEC title game in the past. LSU even won the SEC with three conference losses in 2001. LSU didn’t start 1-3 or 0-3 in conference that year, but they did start 0-2 and 2-3.,