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Posts Tagged ‘Arizona’

Week 7 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 12, 2014 at 6:23 PM
Arizona kicker Casey Skowron sits on the field after his missed field goal attempt reduced the number of undefeated FBS teams to six.

Arizona kicker Casey Skowron sits on the field after his missed field goal attempt reduced the number of undefeated FBS teams to six.

Rank/team/previous
1 Florida St. 2
2 Miss. St. 3
3 Ole Miss 4
4 Auburn 1
5 Notre Dame 6
6 Baylor 17
7 Alabama 10
8 Arizona 5
9 Oregon 12
10 Marshall 11
11 Georgia —
12 Oklahoma 15
13 Mich. St. 16
14 Ga. Tech 7
15 Minnesota 20
16 USC —
17 Nebraska 13
18 UCLA 9
19 TCU 8
20 LSU —
colo st
21 Colo. St. —
KentuckyLogo
22 Kentucky —
23 Duke —
24 Okie St. —
25 TX A&M 14

Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in complete agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (18) Missouri, (19) Penn St., (21) Ohio St., (22) Arizona St., (23) Louisville, (24) UC-Berkeley, (25) Florida

Explanation and future rankings

Not to get too off-track, but the LSU game was about what I expected going into it. One of those goofy Les Miles games that we would somehow manage to win. LSU does not lose two in a row often. It’s only happened once since 2002. That was at the end of the regular season in 2008.

I’ll get to my broader thoughts about that later in the week. For now, I’ve updated my LSU/Florida Rivalry blog. I’m working on one for Kentucky. I had done one back on TSN, but I was waiting until LSU played Kentucky again before doing it again here. A lot of people don’t realize that LSU had played Kentucky about 50 years in a row before the SEC reduced the permanent inter-divisional rivalries from two to one.

Anyway, on the list above, I am putting Florida St., who had been my preseason top team, #1 for now. It depends on how other teams do, but it’s possible that Florida St. could beat Notre Dame and become #1 in the computer rankings, so I don’t want to jump them over Mississippi St. when I might just have to reverse it next week. Regardless, after next week, I think I can just go with my formula’s results.

Kentucky isn’t a bad team, but I doubt they’re much of a threat to Mississippi St. a week from Saturday, so I don’t see the point of prolonging it any longer if the Bulldogs are still the computer #1 after the result of the FSU/Notre Dame game. I’m glad that the major polls were willing to put them there though. I was worried the voters would be too deferential to Florida St. until they lose (if they lose).

Lower down, I found it interesting that I have one of the win chains in order, and the major polls do not. Arizona beat Oregon, who beat Michigan St., who beat Nebraska. Looking at the polls, you would think Michigan St. beat Oregon, who beat Arizona, who beat Nebraska. USC doesn’t fit in, but don’t forget they have two losses, not just one.

There were a lot of losses and bye weeks by low-top-25 teams last week, so that explains the turnover, but the highest team that fell out (Missouri) was only #18. Georgia, the team that beat Missouri, is the only new team that rose really high; but they were a close #26 last week, and they were the only team in that vicinity with a good win.

USC also made a fairly large jump, from nowhere to #16, but that can happen when you beat a previously unbeaten team. The Pac-12 overall strength of schedule is improving now that more of the top teams are playing one another. That phenomenon is why Mississippi St. and Ole Miss are so far ahead of the other unbeatens and Auburn is so far ahead of the other one-loss teams.

Kentucky and Colorado St. might not be great, but as I said, there were a lot of losses lower down on the top 25 and even as you continue into the top 35. Kentucky was #29 last week, and Colorado St. was #34. USC’s win had some effect upon Colorado St. too, since the Rams beat Boston College, who had beaten the Trojans.

Duke also joined the top 25 by beating a previously unbeaten team, in their case Georgia Tech.

The Les Miles combo of LSU and Oklahoma St. were only gone a week, so I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on those. Florida was #25 going in, and Oklahoma St.’s prior opponents had some mild successes to augment the Cowboys’ win over Kansas.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

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Week 6 College Football Rankings 2014

In General LSU, Preview, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

LSU plays Florida this week, so if you’re interested, here is my LSU/Florida Rivalry blog.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year.  I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year. I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Florida St. 2
3 Miss. St. 6
4 Ole Miss 11
5 Arizona 15
6 Notre Dame 12
7 Ga. Tech 13
8 TCU 23
9 UCLA 9
10 Alabama 3
11 Marshall 24
12 Oregon 4
13 Nebraska 10
14 TX A&M 8
15 Oklahoma 5
16 Mich. St. —
17 Baylor 17
18 Missouri 25
19 Penn St. —
minnesota
20 Minnesota —
21 Ohio St. —
22 Arizona St. —
23 Louisville 20
Cal-Football-Golden-Bears
24 UC-Berkeley —
25 Florida —

Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (7) BYU, (14) LSU. (16) E. Carolina, (18) Georgia, (19) S. Carolina, (21) Okie St.. (22) NC State

Explanation and future rankings

I only made two adjustments to my computer ratings to make this top 25. One was to keep Florida St. at #2. They actually were #2 in the computer rating last week, but the big points by undefeated Ole Miss, Miss. St., and Arizona teams them all ahead of the Seminoles. I still think it’s too early to put any of them #2 though.

If the Bulldogs win next week, I may even put them #1. If Ole Miss and Auburn win, they may be 1 and 2, but then Florida St. would have a chance to get back in the top 2 with a win over Notre Dame the following week. In that scenario, I may again keep Florida St. #2 pending the outcome of the game against the Irish.

The other adjustment was to keep UCLA at #9. It just doesn’t look right to lose to an unranked team and move up. They were #1 in the computer ratings last week.

I may make similar minor adjustments next week (I mentioned one possibility), but after the following week, I plan to just follow the computer rating to the letter.

In total, 7 of my top 11 teams lost of the 9 possible. There were three games where top-11 teams were playing one another, so that’s why there were only 9 possible losses. The only survivor against a team ranked below #15 was Florida St. Auburn was also a survivor, but LSU was #14 going into last week. (More on LSU below.)

I’m going to talk about new teams in the top 25 and old teams that fell out. I think it’s pretty obvious why South Carolina (losers to Kentucky) and North Carolina St. (losers to Clemson) fell out. Some teams only moved into the rankings because 12 teams ahead of them lost.

BYU fell all the way out after losing to Utah St. That wasn’t based on past opponents so much (although Texas didn’t help), but Utah St. (#87 going into the week) is a bad loss at this point, so having a bad loss this early makes you sink like a stone. Virginia is still a quality win though.

East Carolina’s loss to South Carolina continues to drag them down. Also, the Pirates essentially have zero points to show for the last two weeks (a bye and a win over SMU). Virginia Tech won, but they beat North Carolina (another prior opponent of East Carolina), so that didn’t help much.

Georgia also lost to South Carolina, so that is hurting them as well. Also, Tennessee’s loss wasn’t helpful either.

Oklahoma St. is having issues with prior opponents, and Saturday’s win over Iowa St. (which only has one win) didn’t help much. Texas-San Antonio has struggled, and Texas Tech lost yet again as well. Florida St. is still a respectable loss, but it’s not really more respectable than it was already.

Michigan St. is back after finally getting a good win over Nebraska, nothing controversial there. Their land grant rivals (Penn St.) might be more of a mystery, but Akron, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Central Florida all won last week, and of course some higher teams suffered losses.

There isn’t much analysis required for Minnesota, Ohio St., and Arizona St. Minnesota was idle, so they didn’t really have points added, but it still helped a lot that TCU (the team they lost to) beat Oklahoma. The other two also had fairly decent wins.

Cal is probably the worst 4-1 team, but their only loss is to undefeated Arizona. Even though the Colorado and Washington St. wins weren’t pretty and the Bears have allowed 144 points in their last 9 quarters, a win is a win. The Pac-12 schedule is a decent boost as well. I’ll mention Florida below.

I don’t factor in margin of victory, so you might wonder why LSU fell so far. The Tigers had two wins over otherwise-unbeaten teams (ULM and Wisconsin) going into the week, but both lost. LSU does still have an extremely good schedule (#12 in FBS average), but it’s very difficult to be in the top 25 with two losses this early, and the ULM and Wisconsin losses made it impossible. Also, an average FBS opponent would have given more points than Sam Houston St.

I’ve already given my thoughts about LSU in the past few blogs, but this was a very good article about what is important in this season at this point. http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/90273/developing-talent-the-key-now-for-lsu?ex_cid=espnapi_public

Forget winning the SEC West. Sure, competitive divisions like that can theoretically have a two-loss champion, but they need to just put it out of their minds completely. It should be a relaxed atmosphere where if you can upset Alabama, Ole Miss, or whoever, that’s great, but just play a good game. We didn’t do that against Auburn, it was like the worse it got the more afraid LSU was of making it even worse. Even though Auburn is in playoff position and could easily be overshadowed with just one slip-up, they played more like a team with nothing to lose than LSU did.

My one disagreement with the author in the piece above is I don’t think you settle on one quarterback. If one of them plays a bad half, take him out. The only decent drives were orchestrated by Jennings in the last game (the touchdown drive was essentially one good play rather than a well-orchestrated drive) and by Harris in the previous game. Neither one should have stayed in. We don’t have to pick next year’s quarterback until next year. If they both get an equal number of snaps this year, then you have even more to go on in picking the quarterback for next year.

I think it’s far worse to wrongly settle on a quarterback and stubbornly refuse to make a change. That’s what happened in the 2012 title game. Maybe they wouldn’t have gotten any points with Lee (who had struggled in the first game against Alabama), but you can’t do worse than 0. Saturday was only one of two times since then (the other being @Alabama last year) that LSU lost by more than one possession.

As mentioned, LSU plays Florida next week. They also have two quarterbacks. Will Muschamp benched one of them to provide an offensive spark, and it worked. I don’t know if he put a better QB in the abstract in, and he probably doesn’t either, but he made a change to see if it would help against a given team in a given situation and it did. I suspect the second quarterback will do better against LSU based on his skill set (at least they might not be shut out for three quarters); but if not, I’m sure Muschamp will put the other guy back in.

The Gators snuck into my top 25 because the Kentucky win was strengthened when the Wildcats beat South Carolina. The one-point win at Tennessee got them some points as well. I think beating a team like that on the road would be something for LSU to be proud of. There will be a lot of unhappy people if they don’t win; but like the ESPN article says, there is a lot of potential for the future either way.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

Week 3 Top 25 + LSU/MSU Notes

In College Football, General LSU, History, Post-game, Preview, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on September 16, 2014 at 3:06 PM

I’ll get my few comments about the LSU/Mississippi St. series out of the way. If you haven’t yet, please check out my Rivalry post about the series, which despite being played annually (in fact, it is LSU’s most-played series) has not resulted in a win for the Bulldogs since 1999. Even in the bad LSU years that preceded that game (such as the 2-9 team in 1992), the Tigers won, usually in convincing fashion. That is my most popular post over the last year. Judging by search teams such as “has mississippi state ever won against lsu” (now that would be a streak if the answer were no), “mississippi state losing streak against lsu”, etc., it’s at least in part due to interest in how well the Tigers have done over the last 20-25 years in the series.

Les Miles isn’t exactly on the hot seat right now, but Glenn Guilbeau had an interesting take on what losing to Mississippi St. has meant for coaching careers at LSU.

Speaking of Les, he mentioned a couple fun facts during his press conference. When the Tigers held ULM scoreless with less than 100 yards of offense, that was the first time since 1941 that the Tigers recorded consecutive shutouts at Tiger Stadium. In 1985, the Tigers had consecutive shut-outs during conference play; but the two games were separated by a bye week, and the second game was on the road. LSU finished in second place in the SEC the latter year (among teams eligible for the title), just a half-game behind Tennessee.

Gerry DiNardo (left) could no longer figure out how to beat anyone in 1999 but nearly upset one of Jackie Sherrill's best teams anyway. LSU has not lost to the Bulldogs since.

Gerry DiNardo (left) could no longer figure out how to beat anyone in 1999 but nearly upset Jackie Sherrill’s Bulldogs anyway. LSU has not lost to Miss. St. since.

Week 3 College Football Rankings 2014

(Teams new to the rankings have logos posted below. I was in more of a retro mood today, especially given some of the teams below.)

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Oregon 2
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Florida St. 4
5 Alabama 6
6 TX A&M 8
7 LSU 7
8 Notre Dame 10
9 Ole Miss 12
10 BYU 11
11 S Carolina 18
12 Penn St. 24
13 Georgia 5
pitt
14 Pittsburgh —
ECU
15 E. Carolina —
BC
16 Boston Coll. —
UCLA
17 UCLA —
18 Va. Tech 9
UVA
19 Virginia —
20 USC 14
21 Louisville 15
22 Ohio St. 19
arizona-logo
23 Arizona —
Missouri_Tigers_Helmet
24 Missouri —
9159_oklahoma_state_cowboys-mascot-2001
25 Okie St. —

Out of rankings: (13) Clemson, (16) Mich. St., (17) Stanford, (20) Arizona St., (21) Baylor, (22) Florida, (23) Duke, (25) N. Illinois

I haven’t become too much of a purist this week (although you can check out my completely objective top 10 here), but I decided you actually have to have beaten somebody of substance to be on this list. I was a little bit liberal with that, especially in the case of Oklahoma St., but UTSA nearly beat Arizona and had a 6-game winning streak going into the Arizona game. This policy will help ease the transition into the computer system.

I also opted against ranking any team ahead of a team that beat them. I think that makes sense this early. The likes of East Carolina, Boston College, and Virginia might be flukes, but if we find that out later, so be it. When teams down the win chain start to beat the higher teams (for instance, maybe Louisville beats Boston College and USC beats UCLA) is when it gets tricky, and that’s when I resort to my objective system.

If you’re a little hazy, I’ll go through the main ones (best wins of the lowest ranked team in parentheses):
Texas A&M > S. Carolina > Georgia (> Clemson)
Pittsburgh > Boston College > USC (> Stanford)
UCLA > Virginia > Louisville (> U. Miami)
East Carolina > Virginia Tech > Ohio St. (> Navy)

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2

Preliminary Computer Top 10 and Explanation

In College Football, Rankings Commentary on September 14, 2014 at 3:31 PM

As you probably know, I stop doing subjective rankings of the team and replace those with computer ratings starting in October each season. Usually people do not receive my first few computer ratings very well, and they can’t make sense of them until later. Of course, someone can get upset with any list of teams you come up with, but most people who give serious thought to it can at least make peace with my later computer rankings.

Disclaimer time: The teams below are NOT who I’m saying should be considered the 10 best teams yet. I did a trial run of my computer rankings this week just to make sure it’s set up properly and so forth. I used to have to do a lot of work the first week I went to the computers, but I’m trying to be as prepared as possible this year. Anyway, while normally I would keep this to myself, I wanted to share the top 10 just for the purpose of explanation. It’s easiest to explain with a small number of games.

I am well-aware that a team may be great and have great teams they’re going to play later, but maybe they’ve had a bye week and/or an FCS win and/or another win over a win-less team who’s going to be good (which may be true of Central Florida, for instance). So Missouri (who beat two FBS teams—Toledo, who has only beaten an FCS team, and Central Florida—and one FCS team) might well be one of the best teams in the country, but they’re not even in the top 20 of my computer ratings because Central Florida won’t count as a meaningful win until they beat some teams.

The best my system will consider an FCS team is average. North Dakota St., who went 14-0 and beat FBS bowl team Kansas St., was considered about equivalent to low-level bowl teams like Tulane and North Carolina. Even Kansas St. was considered better because I think 7 FBS wins should count for more than 13 FCS wins (one FBS win for each cancels out). Kansas St. was probably a much better team at the end of the year than it was at the beginning, so maybe had they played each other at the end of the season instead of at the beginning, Kansas St. would have proven my formula accurate. The only two ways the Bison could have been considered better were (1) to beat a better FBS team or (2) to beat more than one FBS team.

Of course it’s impossible to put teams in perfect order of who would (or did) beat whom anyway. There are always circular win chains at the end of the year. It seems like this happens in the SEC West every year. In 2013, LSU beat Auburn, who beat Alabama, who beat LSU. In 2012, LSU beat Texas A&M, who beat Alabama, who beat LSU. That’s actually another good reason for me to do this now. There aren’t so many dilemmas to get hung up on.

So this is my computer top 10. I will release my subjective top 10 later this week. There will be a couple of teams in common, but I will not rely on this by any means.

Oklahoma has gotten out to a fast start by beating 3 FBS teams with a combined 5 FBS wins of their own.

Oklahoma has gotten out to a fast start by beating 3 FBS teams with a combined 5 FBS wins of their own.

1. Oklahoma – What does it take to be #1 after three weeks? It wasn’t even close, by the way. Being 3-0 by itself puts you pretty close to the top (I don’t count FCS wins in my records, but I give teams credit separately), but I’ll go deeper into this. Oklahoma has beaten two teams who themselves have two wins apiece (Tennessee and Louisiana Tech). The third team, Tulsa, is 1-2. So being 3-0 and having opponents with a combined 5 (FBS) wins right now is why Oklahoma is a clear #1.

2. Ole Miss – Most importantly, the Rebels are also 3-0. Also important is the fact that Boise St. has two wins. Vanderbilt has an FBS win. Ole Miss got zero points for beating UL-Lafayette apart from the influence on its overall strength of schedule. Losing to an undefeated team and a 2-1 team (Louisiana Tech) gives ULL a decent strength of schedule.

3. UCLA – I think luck will catch up to the Bruins like it did to the cross-town rival Trojans, but hear me out. Like Ole Miss, they are 3-0 with a win over an otherwise unbeaten team (although Virginia has one FBS and one FCS win) and a second win over a team with a BCS win. The third team, Memphis, has a good strength of schedule because the only FBS team they’ve played is undefeated. I know that seems like circular logic, but when Memphis has played a few other FBS teams strength of schedule will begin to be more meaningful. This is another reason to wait for time to pass before I officially use these.

4. Notre Dame – The Irish are 3-0, and Michigan is 2-1, so that’s a good start this early. Purdue also has an FBS win. Rice has no wins, but being that they’ve only played Notre Dame and Texas A&M, that gives them a pretty good strength of schedule.

5. Mississippi St. – Two Mississippi schools in the top five. Can you tell yet why we’re still in the preliminary stages? Guess the Bulldogs’ record. The rest will also generally follow the above script. Mississippi St. is the only team to beat UAB, who has an FBS win and an FCS win. South Alabama’s other two weeks are an FBS win (albeit over a winless team) and a bye. Mississippi St. also beat Southern Mississippi, whose only FBS games have been against 3-0 teams.

6. Arizona – A real top 10 team probably would have won by more against Nevada and UTSA, but as a reminder, this does not factor in margin of victory, which I think you need to do after only three weeks. Arizona is also 3-0, that Nevada team I mentioned has an FBS win and no other losses, and Arizona also beat Texas-San Antonio (again by a small margin), who has an FBS win. UNLV, whose only win is over an FCS team, does not really help except for Arizona’s record of course.

7. Oregon – So the next three are all teams you’ll see in the top 10 of pretty much any major rankings at this point. Oregon is the first team on this list that does NOT have 3 FBS wins (one was over an FCS team). Wyoming, whom the Ducks just beat, has one win over an FBS team and one over an FCS team. Michigan St. only has an FCS win, but at least they don’t have any other losses.

8. Texas A&M – Should be no surprise here. Of course, South Carolina has won two games over otherwise-undefeated teams since losing to the Aggies. East Carolina in turn beat Virginia Tech (who had beaten Ohio St.) after losing to the Gamecocks. I mentioned Rice in reference to Notre Dame. The Aggies have also beaten North Texas, who is 1-2, and an otherwise-unbeaten FCS team.

9. Alabama – We’re back to another 3-0 team, but obviously they wouldn’t be behind two 2-0 teams (with FCS wins) if they had great wins. West Virginia does have an FBS win and an FCS win though. Florida Atlantic is 1-2, and Southern Mississippi (common opponent with Mississippi St.) just has an FCS win.

10. Washington – I took the Huskies out of my subjective top 25 afer struggling to beat Hawaii (who was barely able to beat Northern Iowa last night/this morning) and Eastern Washington, an FCS team. Washington does have another FBS win now, over Illinois, who itself has FBS (over Western Kentucky) and FCS wins. Also, Eastern Washington is 1-0 against the FCS.

Hopefully that’s somewhat enlightening about how the system works. The above does not use any reference whatsoever to preseason rankings or prior seasons. It’s as if the entire FBS started from scratch this year. So it’s completely about what you’ve proven, and if a team has played and won every week and their opponents are in the FBS (especially if such opponents also have a number of FBS wins), that team will have a huge advantage whoever they are.

So when you look at other ratings, like Sagarin for instance, they might be more the teams you expect to see, because they do include reference to prior seasons. That said, his top four teams are all in my top 10, and there are 10 teams in common in our respective top 15 teams. The ones in my top 15 that are not in his are all ones that you would rightly be suspicious of due to recent seasons: Mississippi St., Arizona, Pittsburgh, Washington, and Syracuse.

In fact, apart from UCLA, I think I’ll use those teams in common as my top 9 when I make my subjective rankings for this week. I like to start making it largely results-based at this point, although there will still be at least a bit of a subjective and predictive element, which will be true until I rely exclusively on the computer formula.

This was also a good week to at least look at it this way since it’s already getting difficult to try to fairly rank teams without a major overhaul. South Carolina beat East Carolina who beat Virginia Tech who beat Ohio St. They also beat Georgia, who beat Clemson. So how good must that make Texas A&M for annihilating South Carolina? Then you have Pittsburgh, who beat Boston College, who beat USC, who beat Stanford. As I mentioned, it will only get more confusing once teams lower down the chain beat teams higher up.

I note there are only four SEC teams in the top 10 list above, but there are a total of six in the top 15, seven in the top 20, and ten in the top 30. The others in the top 15 are LSU and Auburn. The West should be interesting this year, by the way. I’ve mentioned everyone but Arkansas, and the Hogs just ran wild all over Texas Tech on the road. So the sixth-best team in the division is 13th and the seventh-best is 34th! I know that will change (It’s impossible not to since they will start playing each other, and there are bye weeks and FCS opponents coming up later in the season for some SEC teams), but I’ll probably get more into out-of-conference play so far later this week.

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: http://www.depts.ttu.edu/vpr/), 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.

All-Blogger Poll Week 7 and Week 8 Preview

In Blogger Poll, College Football, Rankings Commentary on October 17, 2013 at 2:43 PM

This week, the submissions are from two LSU fans (myself included), one Texas fan, one Oklahoma fan, one Michigan fan (new participant), and one Notre Dame fan. All the contributors from last week have returned.

All-Blogger Poll Week 7

rank/team(first place votes)/total points[last week’s rank]
1 Alabama (5) 149 [ 1 ]
2 Oregon (1) 138 [ 2 ]
3 Clemson 137 [ 3 ]
4 Ohio St. 129 [ 5 ]
5 Florida St. 125 [ 6 ]
6 LSU 119 [ 8 ]
7 Missouri 102 [ 21 ]
8 Miami 96 [ 11 ]
9 UCLA 94 [ 13 ]
10 Baylor 91 [ 19 ]
11 Stanford 86 [ 4 ]
12 Louisville 83 [ 12 ]
13 TX A&M 81 [ 10 ]
14 S Carolina 74 [ 14 ]
15 Va. Tech 66 [ 23 ]
16 Texas Tech 59 [ 17 ]
17 Oklahoma 51 [ 9 ]
18 Fresno St. 42 [ 20 ]
19 Georgia 41 [ 7 ]
20 Auburn 29 [ ]
21 Florida 27 [ 18 ]
22 N. Illinois 25 [ 24 ]
23 Nebraska 18 [ ]
24 Mich. St. 14 [ ]
25 Texas 13 [ ]

Others receiving votes: Okie St. 12 [ 25 ], Houston 11 [ ], Washington 11 [ 15 ], Michigan 11 [ 16 ], Wisconsin 6 [ ], Oregon St. 3 [ ], Utah 2 [ ], Notre Dame 2 [ ], N’western 2 [ 22 ]

Oregon edged Clemson on the last ballot, which also kept Alabama from being perfect. It will be interesting to see what happens if Clemson wins on Saturday. If you were wondering, Texas’s only points come from the two Big X(II) participants. The Missouri/Georgia game caused the most movement, as Missouri shot up 14 spots and Georgia fell 12. The Bulldogs did not appear at all in two of the rankings.

Stanford only fell 7 spots, and Oklahoma only fell 8 spots. Auburn’s jump into the top 25 was a bit of a mystery. We’ll see how well they can defend their position against Johnny Football and the Aggies, who fell three spots after a lackluster performance at Ole Miss. Baylor made a significant jump (9 spots) despite a relatively unspectacular win over Kansas St. Virginia Tech also moved up considerably (8 spots) after beating an unranked Pitt team, also by 10. Washington and Michigan both fell dramatically after losses.

Previous ranking

Week 8 Preview

I referenced a couple interesting games this week above. This was the hardest week for me to pick so far, at least among the top 25. I could see Auburn upsetting Texas A&M, being dominated, or anywhere in between. I think Florida will beat Missouri, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Gators’ offense can’t score enough points to accomplish that.

I have no idea who’s more likely to win the FSU/Clemson game. I picked Clemson since they’re at home and I think they proved a lot in the Georgia game. That team we saw in Athens last week was not the team Clemson beat. But none of that means that Florida St. isn’t better, they just haven’t shown it yet. They blew out Maryland, but I’m skeptical Maryland deserved to be ranked (or even come close) in the first place.

If Ole Miss plays the same game they played against Texas A&M, I’m going to be a little worried for my Tigers. Games against Ole Miss (apart from the disaster of Houston Nutt’s last season) are usually pretty close. Hopefully, they used all their energies on the Texas teams, as they also did pretty well against the Horns.

Arizona St./Washington is an interesting contest as well. Arizona St. seems to get preseason hype fairly often before it fizzles. Washington could well be a top-10 team as far as quality, despite the two losses (to Stanford and Oregon). I wouldn’t go by these rankings. Keep in mind that we have no one with a West-coast cheering interest. If you have any suggestions of how to change that, let me know.

There are a couple other major Pac-12 games of note. Utah faces Arizona, which may be another case of hype going up against on-field accomplishments, although the Utes had a couple of questionable performances before upsetting Stanford last week. Speaking of which, UCLA travels to Stanford. I guess we’ll see if there are any serious challengers to the superiority of the Pac-12 North. Seems incredible, but with a win, UCLA could be in the top 5 in the initial BCS standings. There is one other major game involving a Pac-12 team, and that’s USC travelling to Notre Dame. Both teams have two losses already, which takes a little bit away from the rivalry, but either could return to the top 25 with a couple more good wins. Oregon plays Washington St., but I don’t expect that to be close for more than a half (if it’s even close beyond the first few minutes).

There are a couple of non-major games of note, both involving AAC teams. The AAC is a BCS conference this season, but I think few people take them seriously in the national-title hunt. Houston plays an enigmatic BYU team (which has lost to Virginia, blown out Texas, nearly beat Utah, and looked better against Georgia Tech than the U. of Miami had). Louisville puts their undefeated record on the line against Central Florida, but there will be more pressure because it’s a conference game. The Cardinals have won every game by at least 14 so far. Houston has looked shaky a couple of times.

Week 5 Top 25 and Comments and LSU Recap/Rant

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Before I start, I wanted to remind people of my LSU/Florida rivalry blog. I update these (the records anyway) after each game. The two teams have played one another for about 40 years in a row, and they were the first two teams to win two BCS titles apiece, so it’s been an interesting last 10 years especially.

This is the week (the week before the first computer ratings) every year where people try to destroy me and everything I stand for sports-wise because I try to be objective, which is bound to ruffle feathers in small doses, so it’s really big when the whole football world is shaken up if one goes by my rankings. Also, people don’t like that this is a change from going more with the flow in prior weeks. We’ve played nearly half a season, time to take the training wheels off, and if there are scraped knees, spray some antiseptic on it and move on. After all, we’re not talking about shuffleboard, we’re talking about football.

I’m going to start with my rankings since I don’t want to confuse people into thinking I’m giving primary importance to what the voters do, but being unhappy with the voters goes all the way back to 1994 for me—and LSU wasn’t even a team at much risk of having a winning record that year—and that’s what got me started with my own rankings system, which started as purely subjective until it got too difficult to be consistent.

I still use subjective measures early in this season, but as is typical, I try to phase out things like preseason projections, historical strength of programs, and margin of victory before I turn it over to my arithmetical rankings system. This happens every year, it has nothing to do with LSU having less-than-impressive score lines the past two weeks.
So how I did it this year was to basically use a blind resume. I looked at which teams have been beaten and when relevant, I looked at losses. I went ahead and put a couple teams in there with more than one loss, because I couldn’t say any of the unranked undefeated or 1-loss teams fall into the category of having beating someone who at this point seems worth much of anything. I’m going to list the rankings now (after three more sentences). I’m going to go on to give some basic responses to things I’m expecting people to say, and then I’m going to talk about how silly it is to keep moving LSU down. I understand this is mostly just preliminary quibbling with so many teams still undefeated, but if LSU is fortunate enough to win this week and someone complains it was too close, they should be laughed at. If LSU loses, I will just have to be grateful that unless it’s like a Spurrier-era score, we will still look better than USC.

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Kansas St. 5
4 Oregon St. 16
5 Florida St. 6
6 Notre Dame 15
7 W Virginia 8
8 Washington —
9 Stanford 10
10 Georgia 3
11 S Carolina 7
12 Cincinnati 17
13 Oregon 4
14 Florida 14
15 Ohio St. 22
16 UCLA 24
17 Nebraska —
18 Texas 13
19 Miss. St. 19
20 Clemson 20
21 Mich St. —
22 Arizona —
23 Missouri —
24 Wisconsin 18
25 Baylor 21

Out of rankings:
(9) USC, (11) Oklahoma, (12) TCU. (23) Michigan, (25) Tennessee

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

People are going to have objections based on things I don’t care about, because they’re things the voters care about. Just know that it will be 100% objective next week.
But I will mention a couple particulars. You could tell me you know for a fact USC is going to beat UCLA (or any other currently-ranked team they’re playing) 70-0 this year, and even if I believed you are the one person who is known to have traveled time, I would still say I don’t care because at this point it seems that beating Nebraska and losing to Oregon St. is better than beating Hawaii/Syracuse/Cal and losing to Stanford. None of this is forward-looking at all.

Someone may mention that I didn’t rank Arizona when they were undefeated but I am ranking them now and at the same time I moved Oregon down. I still don’t think Arizona is very good (and I doubt Oregon has played another top-60 team), but those teams who happen not to be above Arizona haven’t beaten anyone better in my estimation. A number of teams that I don’t rank ahead of Arizona I still think are better than Arizona. I think Oklahoma or USC would beat Arizona easily. But neither has beaten anyone that you HAVE to be remotely good to beat. Arizona (until there is something to indicate otherwise) had to prove they were at least remotely good to beat Oklahoma St. And the fact that Oklahoma St. lost to Texas doesn’t prove this idea wrong. Oklahoma St. themselves haven’t beaten anyone (unless 3-1 ULL counts), but I was getting pretty desperate there at the end when I added Arizona.

I think I made clear why Oregon is going down, but to summarize. I’m taking out margin of victory (which is what impressed people with the Arizona game moreso than the opponent, be honest), and I’m not factoring in either what my projections (or anyone else’s) were for the Ducks preseason or what they are now. That doesn’t leave the Ducks with much.

I’ll cover LSU in what is becoming my weekly rant, but Washington looks like a heck of a team based on other games, and other than losing to Mississippi St. somewhat convincingly, Auburn doesn’t seem so bad despite its record. “They don’t have a QB”… yes, I’ve heard it. LSU had probably the best 13-0 start of any team ever last year, and they didn’t have much of one either. No risk of me ranking Auburn #1 or #2 though, so don’t worry about that. Anyway, Washington + Auburn seems a lot better than Arizona (a somewhat nobody) + some serious nobodies. I don’t care if LSU beat both teams by 2 and Oregon won by 149 over Arizona instead of 49.

#25 was Baylor, whose best win is over ULM. But none of the other undefeated or one-loss teams have beaten a team that I think has looked as good the first few weeks as ULM has in playing 3 BCS opponents, two on the road. I’m not counting margin of victory for those teams in the top 25, but since ULM is instead being considered as an opponent, I think it is telling that not only did ULM beat Arkansas, but they played Auburn very close in a loss; after all, Auburn didn’t lose convincingly to either Clemson or LSU.

I also don’t care about the “eye test”. If it hasn’t translated into doing well on the beat-somebody test, I don’t care. Wins and losses, maybe an opponent’s final score in other games here and there, but that’s it. Next week, no final scores matter even slightly unless it was within a field goal and the home team won (in which case, I think it’s fair in my system to reduce the value of the win 10% and to reduce the value subtracted by the loss 10%).

Although I did try, I’m sure I wasn’t completely consistent. I’ve been up for 20 hours straight, and when it got toward the end of the year, I used to spend hours trying to be perfectly fair and take every game into account, but I just can’t anymore. Not until someone pays me. So this is as much work as I’m going to do on this all year, except for next week, but it’s much less intellectually taxing to input numbers than it is to rank teams this way.

I usually leave #1 alone, so I didn’t subject Alabama to the same scrutiny, but the win over Michigan plus being 2-0 in the SEC was good enough not to try to find someone else. Another opponent, Western Kentucky, is undefeated apart from the Alabama game .

As to last week, I’m not even going to take seriously ranking Florida St. ahead of LSU. This isn’t the 1990s. And Florida St. has done what exactly? Beat Clemson? Even if Clemson is as good as they were last year, Clemson went into the ACC title game after having won one game (by 3 over Wake Forest) out of four. So they beat Va. Tech, which gave them the right to get drubbed in the Orange Bowl, 70-33.

Forget that a lot of people were ranking USC ahead of LSU a few weeks ago. What happened? USC lost a conference game on the road (to Stanford, which lost to Washington), and LSU won a conference game on the road. LSU also beat that Washington team.

Florida St. easily beat two FCS opponents? That’s a great predictor of being able to beat good teams consistently. This must be why the Seminoles haven’t won the ACC since 2005, a year in which they lost to 5 teams overall. This was despite beating Charleston Southern 62-10 in 2011, beating Samford 59-6 in 2010, and beating Western Carolina 69-0 AND Tennessee-Chattanooga 46-7 in 2008. And in that 5-loss 2005 season, they beat the Citadel, 62-10.

Compare that to LSU’s recent experiences. 2010 was a pretty strong team (11-2 after the Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M), and they only led McNeese St. by 6 after three quarters that year. Prior to that game, the Tigers had already won 4 SEC games.

Western Kentucky is an emerging FBS team now, so maybe they’re a cut above McNeese St. , but LSU only led them 14-7 in the third quarter last year. We can also go back to LSU’s 2007 national-championship season when LSU only led Tulane 10-9 at halftime. 2009 wasn’t a great year (9-4 after losing the CapitalOne Bowl to Penn St.), but the Tigers only beat a BAD Louisiana Tech team by 8 after leading by only 4 going into the fourth quarter.

LSU has won 41 consecutive non-conference regular-season games (all but a handful since Les came to town), so they know what works. A slow, grinding game gives LSU a sufficient advantage. If you start airing it out and being cute, you might win by a lot or you might help out a team that can’t win on talent alone.

As I’ve made clear, I still disagree with the Oregon #2 ranking. Somehow it doesn’t matter that Arizona has lost another game and Washington beat Stanford, because things only matter if they happen before you play the team in question, not after. It probably also won’t matter if we find out Auburn wasn’t so bad after all.

LSU allowed 22 points to Towson on Saturday. But of course we can’t go beneath the surface to consider that 13 of those points were scored in the last 10 minutes. LSU probably could have followed the Oregon/Arizona blueprint and scored a few meaningless touchdowns after that point, rather than just one after a 9-play drive. After all, the score that put the Fighting Tigers up by 22 was on a 53-yard pass on the first play of the 4th quarter.

And maybe LSU could have done more to put a stop to Towson’s 6-minute touchdown drive, but why? Why not just let a team run out the clock on itself? Slow and steady wins the race for LSU’s offense in such games, but it loses the race for a competitor who takes possession of the ball down 22 in the 4th quarter.

I for one am glad the LSU coaching staff didn’t fall into that trap. They worked on things the team needed to work on and finished the game in a respectable manner instead of trying to impress the pollsters. If LSU wins the SEC, it probably won’t matter too much if the voters remember that LSU played that Washington team anyway. Nor will it matter if they were dropped a spot for in the AP poll after declining to run up the score in September. For instance, Mettenberger didn’t need to throw the ball that much. LSU probably could have done just fine making it primarily a rushing attack. LSU may well have done even better considering Mettenberger was sacked 5 times. But the LSU defense succeeded well enough (until the offense came up with the TD to go up 31-9 anyway) that the game wasn’t really threatened by this. (Towson is the Tigers too, so that’s why I’m not being very creative with my subjects.) But he’s a first-year QB; and against Auburn, it showed. He needed to be taken out of his comfort zone against a team that LSU wasn’t too worried about figuring out how to beat.

#2 Debate Redux

In General LSU, Rankings Commentary on September 27, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Note after UW-Stanford: The last time the Huskies defeated a top 10 team was in 2009 over USC, just a couple of weeks after losing to LSU.

I’m glad I post things in places where I get some feedback. It reminds me that the opinions of even dedicated sports fans don’t always take into account hard facts but rely in large part on perceptions.

I didn’t have anything special to post this week in addition to my rankings blog and my update to the LSU/Auburn series, so I’ll talk a little more about the change at #2 in the major polls.

Again, let me reiterate that I’m not upset with people having seen the Auburn game or having seen how close the Auburn game was having less confidence in LSU. But I am annoyed with not looking at all the facts and being consistent.

Oregon deserves to be #2, the logic goes, because they beat Arizona. Arizona is good because they were ranked. (this leaves out that Arizona was ranked because they beat Oklahoma St., which was ranked because they were good last year… might as well rank LSU higher for beating Oregon last year, but I digress.)

LSU beat Auburn, who had two prior losses (by 7 on a neutral field against Clemson and by 18 @ Mississippi St.) and was not ranked. LSU does not have a good schedule, people claim, because the week before Auburn, they played Idaho and in the following week, they play Towson.

I think this analysis is extraordinarily flimsy, but it seems enough for a lot of people.

The schedule portion is the most problematic, so I’ll address that first. I ask this. Which of the following is more difficult to navigate undefeated?

Schedule A
North Texas
Washington
Idaho
@Auburn

Schedule B
Arkansas St.
Fresno St.
Tennessee Tech
Arizona

Schedule A belongs to LSU. I don’t think it’s even close. And that’s without mentioning that North Texas seems to be a not-terrible team this year since Kansas St. (which won @Oklahoma by 5 and beat Miami by 39) only beat the Mean Green Eagles by 14 in Manhattan. It’s also without mentioning that Arizona needed overtime to beat Toledo in Week 1 before beating Oklahoma St. in Week 2.

LSU’s next opponent, as mentioned, is Towson. That’s not intended to be a fierce competition and I don’t expect it will be, but why punish LSU after 4 weeks for its Week 5 opponent? Oregon’s next opponent is Washington St., which just lost to Colorado at home. I still don’t think Oregon has a better schedule after 5 weeks, but I do admit reasonable minds can differ on this.

Before anyone accuses me of quibbling with the below, those who moved LSU down are already quibbling by complaining about the close score against Auburn, so we might as well take a closer look at the other major-conference game LSU played and the sole major-conference game Oregon played.

Except for taking over after LSU fumbled the opening kickoff (this exchange netting the Huskies’ only points of the game), Washington did not go past the LSU 46 until mid-way through the third quarter when the score was already 27-3 LSU.

Contrast that with Arizona/Oregon. Oregon didn’t take a 3-possession lead until mid-way through the third quarter, 21-0. That the Ducks then went on to score 4 more touchdowns isn’t that impressive to me. But OK, 27-3 and 21-0 at similar points in the game isn’t a big difference. I mentioned Washington’s drive progression for a reason though, so let’s talk about the opportunities Arizona had had by that point. In the first quarter, the Wildcats had the ball at the Oregon 4 (went over on downs), the Oregon 18 (interception), and the Oregon 2 (went over on downs). Those were the only 3 first-quarter possessions for Arizona. Three possessions in a row in the red zone in one quarter is generally pretty good, especially when your opponent only scores 13 in the whole first half. Not in this case, but it’s not sufficient evidence we should be wowed by Oregon’s defense (which gave up 34 to Arkansas St. and 25 to Fresno St.) as well as its offense. In the first two possessions of the second quarter, Arizona had two more opportunities, with the ball at the Oregon 13 (blocked field goal) and the Oregon 30 (fumble). At the time or that fumble, the Ducks had only scored 7 points (in the drive that immediately succeeded the interception mentioned earlier).

So even if Arizona is a little better than Washington (which is not in line with pre-season projections), I still give LSU a little more credit for the way they won their game against a Pac-12 team. Auburn isn’t having a good season, but at this point, I’m still going to regard them as better (especially at home) than Fresno St. or any Oregon opponent who wasn’t Arizona (especially since all were home games for Oregon).

Just to refresh people’s recollections, last year Auburn was 8-5 (losses @Clemson, @Arkansas, @LSU, @Georgia, @Alabama), Washington was 7-6 (losses to the top 3 Pac-12 teams as well as @Nebraska, @Oregon St., and to Baylor in the bowl game), and Arizona was 4-8 (wins against Northern Arizona, UCLA, ULL, and @Arizona St.)

After Week 6, LSU will have played Washington, @ Auburn, and @ Florida. Oregon will have played Fresno St. (I’m guessing they’re better than WSU, which just lost at home to Colorado), Arizona, and Washington. I’m really going to be annoyed if at that point I hear Oregon has had the better schedule so far.

Week 4 Commentary and Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 24, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Alabama stays #1 and seems to have widened the gap over the competition.

Some may have expected LSU to continue the dominance it had shown in earlier games, the closest of which was the Tigers’ 41-14 win over North Texas in Week 1.

Although a win by a touchdown or so would have been preferable, I didn’t expect it to be an easy win at all. This was an SEC road game for the Tigers of LSU (in a pretty intense series of late at that), and wins at Auburn don’t come easy in these situations. As good of a program as LSU has had the last 12 years or so, it has not won by more than 5 points (which occurred in 2008, the 5-7 year that ended the Tuberville era) at Auburn since 1998 despite going to Auburn every other year since then. The prior instance of an LSU win of more than 5 points at Auburn was 25 years before that.

LSU wasn’t completely inept on offense, it just couldn’t turn field position into points or turn gaining a decent number of yards into first downs very reliably. LSU had 15 first downs to Auburn’s 9 and 351 total yards to Auburn’s 183. Auburn was 2/12 on third downs while LSU was 6/18. LSU was penalized about twice as much and had one fewer turnover, but Auburn’s third turnover was on the last play, so that wasn’t really a determining factor.

Both turnovers by the Bayou Bengals were fumbles by Zach Mettenberger (one of them with an assist from the center) in the first quarter. The first was when LSU had the ball at the Auburn 2. LSU kicked the ball at 4th and 2 or fewer four times, one field goal (which was good) and three punts.

I understand that there are normal fluctuations of a few points in the polls and either LSU will be undefeated and get a bit more support or will have a loss and will have to climb back up anyway, but I’m really annoyed that Oregon has been put ahead of LSU. I can understand if someone wants to say Auburn hasn’t started well, and some teams that clearly aren’t top teams have done better against them (though not at Auburn). That’s if you’re consistent about applying that standard and you’ll punish Stanford, for instance, for only beating San Jose St. by 3. Few are consistent though.

As an aside, that’s one reason I don’t have the Cardinal ahead of USC. USC had the somewhat shaky game against Syracuse, but it was much better than Stanford/SJSU, and at least the Trojans were impressive against somewhat of a lightweight at home. Another reason is the USC/Stanford game was at Stanford. Also, there seems to be something unique about the combination of the two teams that favors Stanford that might not indicate, for example, that Stanford would beat Oregon but USC wouldn’t.

I wonder if many pollsters who moved the Ducks ahead of LSU even bothered to look to find out Oregon scored 21 of its points in the fourth quarter and 36 of its points in the second half. I wonder how many of them realize that Arizona really should have been ahead at halftime after it had the ball at the Oregon 4, the Oregon 18, and the Oregon 2 on consecutive drives in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wildcats had the ball at the Oregon 13 on one drive and at the Oregon 30 on another.

I guess we’ll have to hope the Washington Huskies can do more with their opportunities than Arizona did and this will make LSU (who beat Washington, 41-3) look better, but that would require that the pollsters remember. I’m not betting on it.

This is only an anecdotal example of the problem, but I do take some comfort in the notion that pretty soon their opinions will just be advisory. It’s just too bad that there it still really matters this season and next what the pollsters (officially just those in the coaches’ and Harris polls, though both are influenced by the AP) believe.

If LSU wins easily at Florida in a couple of weeks, that might trump the Oregon situation. There is a lot left to play out of course.

I kept Georgia at #3. They beat Vandy pretty easily, and I don’t think Vandy threw away opportunities the way Arizona did. I don’t see any basis to move them down. I realize my top 3 is all SEC, but it’s not my fault Oklahoma and USC lost instead of two SEC teams. The other USC is actually below where they started the season due to struggling against that Vanderbilt team I mentioned. South Carolina is behind Oregon, so it’s not like I’m averse to moving Oregon ahead of an SEC team if warranted.

As for my #5, I had Oklahoma #2 going in, and Kansas St. beat them and also beat the tar out of Miami. They had a somewhat close game against North Texas, but as I mentioned, North Texas had done the best against LSU going into last week, better than a Washington team that was getting serious top-25 consideration did. I put Oklahoma below Stanford and USC because Oklahoma didn’t do very well in its opener against UTEP (which doesn’t seem like a much different team than they usually are) or beat anyone that seems good. But I’m still allowing for some traces of preseason bias to creep in.

#6 Florida St. finally beat someone, so I didn’t feel a need to hold them back as much this time around. I’m still skeptical though.

Everyone else pretty much moved up in order until we get to the bottom. Michigan didn’t move all the way out like their in-state rivals did because they put up a better fight against Notre Dame. I’m still not thinking this is a good year for Boise St., which only beat BYU 7-6, so that home win doesn’t redeem Sparty in my opinion. This is Michigan’s second loss of course, but I think all but about 13 teams (or fewer) would lose to Notre Dame and Alabama.

I’m less comfortable keeping Nebraska in now that UCLA lost (at home, where the Bruins had beaten Nebraska), and Florida seems to be improving, so this helps Tennessee not to look as bad.

I didn’t think Louisville appeared to be a top-25 team going in, and they have not done anything to convince me they should be one, especially not beating North Carolina by 5 (at home) and FIU by 7 (on the road).

Rutgers is undefeated, but I’m still waiting to be impressed there as well. There are FCS teams who can beat Tulane by 12 (Tulane’s other two games thus far are a 35-point loss to Tulsa and a 39-point loss to Ole Miss). ULM also won at Arkansas, and that was after falling behind when Arkansas still had a good quarterback. Rutgers also beat South Florida by 10 (I’m ignoring the FCS win over Howard), but Ball St. beat the Bulls by 4, so that’s not too impressive either.

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Georgia 4
4 Oregon 5
5 Kansas St. 6
6 Florida St. 12
7 S Carolina 7
8 W Virginia 9
9 USC 10
10 Stanford 11
11 Oklahoma 3
12 TCU 13
13 Texas 14
14 Florida 15
15 Notre Dame 16
16 Oregon St. 17
17 Cincinnati 18
18 Wisconsin 19
19 Miss. St. 20
20 Clemson 21
21 Baylor 22
22 Ohio St. 23
23 Michigan 8
24 UCLA 24
25 Tennessee —

Out of rankings:
(25) Nebraska

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

LSU vs. the Pac-12

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rivalry on September 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Most of the following is adapted from a blog originally published on TSN on September 13, 2009. When details of a recent LSU season are not mentioned, this is because LSU played multiple Pac-10/current Pac-12 opponents in a season (1976, 1977, 1979, and 1984). In 2013, I discovered box scores and detailed game results for old LSU games, so I added summaries of those for a few select close games.

I’ll start with Washington since that’s the team LSU played last week, then I’ll go in alphabetical order for the Pac-10 teams, followed by the new Pac-12 teams. Washington was the seventh game against a Pac-10/Pac-12 team for LSU in the past 10 seasons (2003 to present). All of them were the first major-conference opponent of the respective seasons for LSU. The game last week was only the third between the Huskies and Tigers.

In the first meeting, LSU’s second home game in 1983, LSU broke a record for attendance at Tiger Stadium and beat the 9th-ranked Huskies, 40-14. LSU would only win 2 subsequent games on the season, finishing 4-7. That season, combined with a 1-3 end to the previous season, cost head coach Jerry Stovall his job. Washington finished 8-4.

Many of you probably remember the second meeting between the two, in 2009. LSU was ranked #11 going in, so many found the final score underwhelming in light of the Huskies’ 0-12 season the year before. Meanwhile, LSU had its most losses since 2002 in the prior year. The Tigers only won by 8, but it was only that close because Washington had scored as time expired. There was also a point earlier in the fourth quarter where the Huskies closed to within 8 with a field goal. Washington’s game-ending touchdown had been the first since its opening drive.

Washington would lose three subsequent games by even fewer points (one of those in OT) and would barely miss bowl-eligibility after a 5-7 campaign. LSU would finish 9-4 (only one game better than 2008) after losing to Penn St. in the CapitalOne Bowl.

Arizona

LSU is 3-0 against Arizona. The first game, in 1984 (see USC for more details on that season) was close, with LSU winning 27-26. Arizona would finish 7-4 but failed to make a bowl game. It wasn’t quite as exciting as the score indicated. LSU scored twice in 1:40 to take the lead 27-20 in the third quarter, the second score by Dalton Hilliard (who rushed for 145 yards in the game) with about 10 minutes left in the quarter. The Wildcats kicked one field goad (a 50-yarder) later in the third quarter and, strangely, another on fourth and five in the fourth quarter with about 3 minutes left. Arizona did get the ball back (after electing NOT to try an on-sides kick), but they went nowhere and turned the ball over on downs. The Tigers easily outpaced the Wildcats in first downs and total yards on the game.

LSU blew out Arizona in both games in the last decade, with LSU winning 59-13 in Tucson in 2003 and 45-3 in Baton Rouge in 2006. The 2003 game was the first time LSU had played a Pac-10 team since 1984, when the Tigers played Arizona and USC in consecutive weeks. LSU would win the BCS national championship in 2003 and the Sugar Bowl in 2006 (finishing 11-2 after 7 straight victories to close out the year). Arizona finished 2-10 in 2003 and 6-6 in 2006.

Arizona St.

The only game against Arizona St. was in 2005. Some call it the Katrina Game. LSU’s original opening-game opponent that year was North Texas, whom the Tigers played on schedule this season after another hurricane passed through Louisiana almost 7 years to the day. In 2005, however, that game was canceled in anticipation. ASU was supposed to have been the first game of a home and home in Baton Rouge, but with the LSU campus playing a large role in shelter and triage in the week after Katrina (the game was less than two weeks afterward), it was moved to Tempe, and Arizona St. donated the profits to hurricane relief, so it didn’t count toward the home and home, which was moved to 2015-16. 2015 is the next game LSU is scheduled to play against a Pac-12 opponent.

LSU (led by JaMarcus Russell and Joseph Addai) won an exciting back-and-forth game, 35-31, after Early Doucet scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 39-yard pass with 1:13 left in the game. Sam Keller of ASU threw 4 touchdowns in the loss. Arizona St. out-gained LSU 560-434, but the Tigers (in the first game with Les Miles at the helm) converted all three fourth-down-conversion attempts and blocked a field goal, returning it for a touchdown. 28 of the Tigers’ points were scored in the fourth quarter.

Oregon

Before the game last year, LSU was 2-1 against Oregon, all in Baton Rouge, but that series was last played in 1977, which LSU won 56-17 (Oregon would finish 2-9). The two teams traded wins in the 1930s.

Last year was a match-up of preseason top-5 teams and neither one was a dud. LSU didn’t show up well in the BCS Championship game, but that was after an impressive 13-0 showing in prior games. After following the LSU game with a 9-game winning streak, Oregon’s only other loss last season was to USC by three points. The Ducks went on to win the Rose Bowl.

As to the actual game action, LSU had the opening score (a field goal) after only a 12-yard drive. The Tigers continued to struggled on offense, but Tyran Matthieu provided the Tigers’ first touchdown to put them on top 9-6. Oregon had taken a 13-9 lead with 5 minutes to go in the first half, but then the Tigers scored 24 consecutive points. LSU led 16-13 at halftime and 30-13 after 3 quarters. 13 points (the final margin) is the closest the Ducks would get in the 4th quarter.

Oregon St.

LSU beat Oregon St. all four times, all in Baton Rouge. Two of the games were close: 1981 and 2004.

In 1981, LSU won 27-24. After 50 minutes or so of a somewhat conventional defensive game where no team scored more than 10 consecutive points, the two teams were tied at 17. Then LSU recovered a Beaver fumble at the OSU 37. This resulted in a short field goal with 6:13 remaining. Oregon St. was undaunted and drove 78 yards in five plays to take a 24-20 lead. As we might say now, they scored too soon. The Tigers were more methodical but did not face a third down until a 3rd and 1 at the OSU 2. LSU scored on that play, leaving the Beavers with just 55 seconds on the clock. After four quick downs, the Tigers got the ball back and ran out the clock. That season, LSU finished 3-7-1, its worst season since 1956. The Tigers would not do so poorly again for another 11 years. Oregon St. had won in Week 1 of that season but would not win again, finishing 1-10.

Winning LSU teams beat similarly bad Oregon St. teams in both 1976 and 1982.

In 2004, Oregon St. was the first team to visit Tiger Stadium after the Tigers won their first national championship since 1958. But the Beavers got the crowd out of it early– shutting out the Tigers in the first half, 9-0–and led by 8 after three quarters. The reason they didn’t lead by 9 after the teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter is the same reason they didn’t lead by 10 to begin with: Alexis Serna missed the extra point. LSU tied the game in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. So it went to overtime, when the two teams exchanged touchdowns, and surprise, Serna missed yet another extra point, and LSU won, 22-21. The game wasn’t without blown opportunities for LSU though, which included having the ball at the Oregon St. 2 late in the fourth quarter and failing to score. LSU would finish Nick Saban’s final season at 9-3, and Oregon St. would finish 7-5.

Stanford

LSU played Stanford in 1977, losing the Sun Bowl, 24-14. It was LSU’s first bowl game in four seasons and Stanford’s first bowl game since the 1971 season. The Tigers were shut out in the second half after leading 14-10 at halftime. Both teams had entered the game at 8-3. Stanford had a winning season every year from 1968 to 1978. The game took place during a relative lull in LSU’s successes. Although they had their share of winning seasons, LSU lost at least three games every year from 1973 to 1984, the longest such time period since World War II.

USC

Finally, LSU and USC played a home and home in 1979 and 1984. The road team won both games. LSU would only finish 7-5 in legendary coach Charles McClendon’s (137-59-7 in 18 seasons) last season in 1979. USC entered the game on an 11-game winning streak after sharing the national title with Alabama in 1978 and was still ranked #1. They won 17-12. LSU’s rank actually improved from 20th to 17th the next week despite the loss. USC went 28-0-2 between Oct. 14, 1978 and Nov. 15, 1980. (The tie in 1979 kept USC from repeating, and Alabama would finish undefeated.)

In 1984, LSU beat 15th-ranked USC on the road 23-3. That was the fifth game LSU played against a Pac-10 team in four seasons. LSU lost only one SEC game that year, 16-14 on the road against Mississippi St., but lost to Notre Dame at home and lost to Nebraska in that Sugar Bowl. USC, which did not lose again until 7 weeks later, would beat Ohio St. in the Rose Bowl, finishing 9-3.

Colorado

The first meeting was in the Orange Bowl after the 1961 season. Colorado had finished the Big 8 undefeated but was not in the national-championship race due to a loss to Utah.

LSU had also finished undefeated in the SEC but had a non-conference loss to Rice to open the year. The Tigers went to the Orange Bowl rather than the Sugar Bowl because Alabama also finished undefeated in the SEC. The Tide just didn’t have any other losses. Impressively, Alabama didn’t allow any opponent to score more than 7 points. So LSU likely would not have won a national championship anyway, at least not without going through the Tide to do it.

Even though LSU beat the Buffaloes, 25-7, they lost a spot in the final rankings to Texas (I suppose because the Longhorns beat Rice and Arkansas, who acquitted itself well in losing the Sugar Bowl) and finished 4th.

Unfortunately, the quality of the games in the LSU-CU series went downhill from there.

Both would have respectable teams in 1971 but lost two games apiece outside of the contest instead of 1. Colorado beat AP #9 LSU in the first game of the season, 31-21, in Tiger Stadium. I tried to find more details about this game, but I was unsuccessful.

Colorado would play LSU four more times, between 1973 to 1980, inclusive, but had losing seasons all four times. The most interesting was in 1980 when LSU only prevailed by 3 points. The Tigers roared out to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Buffaloes hung around. After Colorado touchdowns in the second, third, and fourth quarters, the game was tied with under three minutes left. LSU then punted, giving the Buffs a chance to win or tie in the final 80 seconds. They did neither, as on first down the Colorado QB nearly threw a touchdown pass to the wrong team. The Tigers then fumbled on their first down but recovered and eventually kicked a 17-yard field goal. That was no guarantee, as each team had missed an extra point earlier in the game. Colorado would finish 1-10, and LSU would finish 7-4 (when such teams couldn’t count on going to bowl games). The one team Colorado did beat that year was Iowa St., who themselves finished with a winning record.

The prior year, 1979, LSU was similarly above average, and Colorado was almost as bad (finishing 3-8), but LSU had won, 44-0. The 1979 game ironically was the only one played in Boulder.

The 1973 game was unremarkable all around as LSU won 17-6. LSU would finish 9-3 and Colorado 5-6 (after a 4-game losing streak to end the season). Colorado finished the same in 1974 but lost 42-14 to an LSU team that would finish 5-5-1.

Utah

LSU played Utah during the same decade as the regular-season match-ups that LSU had with Colorado. Utah finished 1-10 in 1974 and lost to LSU, 35-10. Utah finished 3-8 in 1976 and lost to LSU (who would finish 6-4-1), 35-7. The only thing odd was that second game was played after the respective rivalry games as kind of a post-Thanksgiving bowl game. Neither played in an actual bowl game of course. Both of these games were played in Tiger Stadium.

Total

LSU has won 12 consecutive games played against the former Pac-10, dating back to the 1981 win over Oregon St., and is 15-3 overall.

If we add in the new Pac-12 teams, LSU has won 13 straight going back to 1980 (Colorado) and is 22-4 overall. The losses took place in 1932 (Oregon), 1971 (Colorado), 1977 (Stanford), and 1979 (USC).

I mentioned 2003 as the beginning of the recent spate of Pac-10/Pac-12 games. Incidentally, LSU hasn’t lost a regular-season game to any other team outside of the SEC during that time either.