Posts Tagged ‘Arkansas St.’

Cancellations and (later) Game Previews

In College Football, History, NFL, Preview on September 9, 2017 at 11:09 AM

I will not make a habit of posting game previews on Saturday, but it just worked out that way this week. I didn’t look for pictures but may do so later.


First of all, I want to make clear that South Florida (and possibly parts of North Florida, West Florida, South Georgia, etc.) are under very serious threat and nothing about Hurricane Irma should be taken lightly.

But being that hurricanes are storm systems that move methodically and don’t shoot out death rays from hundreds of miles away, I do have some criticism over games that were canceled.

hurricane 0909

I understand South Florida and Miami deciding not to play even though they had road games. There would have been too many distractions on Saturday, and there would have been legitimate concerns about the ability to go back after game activities without getting stuck. Preparing to make a couple of days’ trip for a football game and preparing to evacuate indefinitely are two very different things. Maybe the two games could have been moved up to Friday if the decision had been made earlier in the week, but it’s hard to coordinate that with road games against opponents who aren’t used to hurricanes.

I don’t think Florida and Florida St. needed to cancel their games though. I think they should have done what LSU did with the Appalachian St. game in 2008 and played the games in the early morning on Saturday (10:00 Central was early for me anyway, especially as a West Coast resident). The storm would have still been in Cuba at that time, and it would have allowed plenty of storm preparation to help out evacuees from other places.

Along the same lines, I don’t know why it was necessary to cancel the Friday game in Orlando (Memphis @ Central Florida). Attendance might have been low with people having difficulty traveling or for whatever reason having more important matters to attend to, but make-up games often have low attendance anyway.

Anyway, if there are hurricane-force winds in Gainesville, it would probably not be until Monday morning, even later in Tallahassee (if at all). I know some of the players would have had family evacuating from South Florida, but South Floridians play at a large number of schools. I think the primary concern should be for the teams whose campuses were under immediate threat.

Also, for the NFL game, there is of course no question that the game should have been moved. It could have been played at a neutral site elsewhere in Florida, but obviously Florida and Florida St. didn’t want to host games this weekend for NFL or college. Maybe Jacksonville could have been a possibility, but I guess that would have been too close to the anticipated path of the storm. There was also the fact that the Dolphins would have only had six home games. (They already gave up one to play the Saints in London.)

Florida International, which is in the Miami area, managed to host a game on Friday, which makes it even more baffling to me that Central Florida canceled their game. FIU beat Alcorn St. 17-10 if you were curious. Maybe FIU has more sense because they have an international hurricane research center on campus. Also, Florida Atlantic, which is in Boca Raton (North of Miami), is playing @Wisconsin now (Wisconsin will win, but it was surprisingly competitive).

Another possibility is that the road teams who were traveling to Florida got nervous, but I hope that wasn’t the case. I would think someone could have explained that although circular winds in this one have been 160 mph or more within the last day a hurricane isn’t going to suddenly start moving across the map at such a speed. I’m pretty sure people in Monroe understood that, but I’m less sure about whatever city Northern Colorado is in.

Another LSU memory I have is of 2005 when LSU didn’t play Tennessee until Monday night because Hurricane Rita was too close for Tennessee and its fans even though that Saturday in Baton Rouge was just a normal fall evening. Rita was a very destructive storm, just not for Baton Rouge and not on Saturday. That game was also notable because it was Les Miles’ first SEC game at LSU. I’d rather not recall the game itself.

One good thing is that other than Central Florida, none of the games were conference games. Those can cause all kinds of issues later in the year. As you might recall, the SEC had to threaten Florida’s possible berth in the SEC championship (which they eventually earned) before the Gators finally decided to play LSU last year.

Today’s Big Games

Anyway, I did want to talk a little bit about the games that will be played. As I mentioned above, the conference games are the most important, and there is an SEC game between residents of the two “Columbias” (South Carolina and Missouri). I decided that instead of picking all games involving SEC teams, I would just do the conference games and maybe a few extras in weeks with few conference games. So in this game, I’m picking South Carolina +3. I just don’t think Missouri is very good despite all the points they scored last week. They scored 61 against Eastern Michigan last year but lost to South Carolina by 10. I don’t see why the same sort of scenario is less realistic this year.

Offensive lineman Mason Zandi hoists the “Columbia Cup” after last year’s game.

Clemson isn’t in the SEC obviously, but they’re playing Auburn. Clemson won by 6 last year with the best team they’ve had in over 30 years and Auburn was relatively mediocre. So I’m taking Auburn and 5. Auburn might even win, but if they don’t, I can easily see them losing by 3 or 4 and not more.

Somehow Notre Dame is favored by 5 over Georgia. I think if anything Georgia will outperform expectations. Notre Dame’s expectations seem to be unjustifiably positive as usual, so I’m taking Georgia and the points there.

I guess I’ll go against the SEC in the early game of interest, which is TCU (-3) @ Arkansas. Arkansas has started slow a few times in recent years. I think TCU has more of the pieces in place even though I think Kenny Hill probably has a lower ceiling than some of the other quarterbacks in the Big XII alone, but he had a pretty good game in the early going in 2014 against an SEC team (Texas A&M @ South Carolina). Not saying he’ll pass for over 500 yards, just enough to win by 3 or more.

I’m not going to pick any more games against the spread, but there was another early game I’m very eager to follow, which is Pitt at Penn St. It was a great finish last year and probably kept the Nittany Lions out of the playoff in hindsight.

A few other big evening games I haven’t mentioned: Oklahoma @ Ohio St. (two of my top 4, hopefully better than Alabama/Florida St. game), Stanford @ USC (the Trojans were underwhelming last week, but maybe WMU is good), and Boise St. @ Washington St. (I’d take the over, although both struggled offensively in the last couple of games last season).


Week 2 SEC Preview and Other Key Games

In College Football, History, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on September 9, 2016 at 8:38 AM

I added a note to my rankings blog about why this was delayed until today. It’s partly because the playing week hasn’t started yet.


In my first round of SEC predictions, I only got two wrong in each category, with the spread and without. Florida St. and Alabama beat the spread, and obviously LSU and Mississippi St. lost. So the total is 9-2 against the spread and 11-2 overall (I picked the winners for the Thursday games but did not consider the spread).

ESPN doesn’t publish a spread for FCS opponents, and I skip those anyway. Obviously I pick LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M to win.

Florida only beat UMass by 17, and Kentucky usually makes it interesting against the Gators, so I’ll take the Wildcats and the 16.5 points but Florida to win.

I have a feeling Alabama will be high-energy for their home opener, so I would give the 28.5 points there.

Vandy-Middle Tennessee is a good line. I’ll pick Vandy to win but take the 5 points. They may win by a touchdown. They may win by 1 or even lose. I just think the five points roughly reverses the likelihood.

I think South Carolina was lucky to win, while Mississippi St. was very unlucky and has more potential. Another good line, but for this one I’ll give the 6.5 points and pick the home team.

Neither Arkansas nor TCU did very well in their opening games. I’ll give TCU the edge because it’s a home game for the Horned Frogs, but Arkansas could make it very close or win, so I’ll take the 7.5 points. I was tempted to pick the upset, but then I remembered what happened with Texas Tech. The Hogs may be repeating their pattern from last year.

If Auburn can give Clemson trouble the way they did, I see no reason they can’t put Arkansas St. away easily. So I’ll give the 19 points there.

I know Eastern Michigan is bad, but from the game they gave LSU last year and Missouri’s general ineptness the last 11 months, I’ll take the 25 points.

Tennessee will be motivated to redeem itself from Week 1 against Virginia Tech, but I think the setting will motivate both teams and Tennessee has some things to work out. 11.5 is just too many, so I’ll take the points.

Week 2 Preview

It’s sort of a poor man’s rivalry week, but I know it isn’t the most thrilling collection of games. A lot of these teams are not ranked and don’t deserve to be, but some of the teams might treasure obscure- or latent-rivalry wins when we get to bowl season. They are also games that matter with recruiting.

In addition to the Arkansas and Tennessee games, another interesting close interstate game is Washington St. and Boise St. Washington St. lost to Eastern Washington, a very good FCS team, but I wouldn’t count them out. Boise St. is trying to return to being the top Cinderella of the land on the blue field. Had the Cougars gone to Eastern Washington instead of hosting the Eagles, they would have played on a red field last week.

Will the formerly intimidating Smurf Turf return to its past glory?

Will the formerly intimidating Smurf Turf return to its past glory?

There are also some intra-state games to look forward to as well: BYU-Utah took place a couple of playing weeks ago, but it was surprisingly close and may be again. Pitt hasn’t played Penn St. in 16 years. That’s a big inter-conference game as well as a game for bragging rights. I don’t know why some of these games don’t take place more often.

There are some less compelling intrastate games, but they still might have close final scores. Games like New Mexico-New Mexico St. They are both usually terrible, and I have no contrary information, but football games can be like movies. There is a level of badness you get to where the entertainment value starts to improve.

One that may be lopsided is Iowa-Iowa St., but the Cyclones are good for one or two good games a year, and that game is often one of them. I wonder if they’ve given any thought to bringing Gene Chizik back. Speaking of which, North Carolina (where Chizik is an assistant now) travels to Champaign to play the Illini. It wasn’t close last year, but these things can turn on a dime. For instance, you might remember LSU losing in triple-overtime to Kentucky in 2007, but people forget that the year before LSU beat them 49-0.

Another compelling intra-state game is Cal-San Diego St. Sports Illustrated actually picked San Diego St. for the top 25, so that could be a good matchup in hindsight at the end of the year.

Texas Tech and Arizona St. dominated the old Border Conference.

Texas Tech and Arizona St. dominated the old Border Conference.

Finally, lest we forget, old Border Conference rivals Texas Tech and Arizona St. will square off in Tempe. They combined for 16 Border Conference championships. All other members of the Border Conference combined for only 11 championships (3 were shared). That conference disbanded during the Kennedy administration, but there you go. Another fun fact: Les Miles’ first win at LSU was against Arizona St., and as of right now his last win was over Texas Tech.

Pre-Bowl (Week 14) Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on December 2, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Notre Dame 1
2 Ohio St. 2
3 Florida 3
4 Alabama 5
5 Stanford 6
6 Oregon 4
7 Kansas St. 8
8 S Carolina 9
9 LSU 10
10 Georgia 7
11 Oklahoma 13
12 TX A&M 12
13 Nebraska 11
14 SJSU 15
15 Clemson 14
16 Florida St. 17
17 N. Illinois 19
18 Oregon St. 16
19 Utah St. 18
20 Boise St. 24
21 Louisville —
22 N’western 20
23 Michigan 23
24 Ball St. —
25 Ark. St. —

Out of rankings: (21) Texas, (22) Rutgers, (25) Kent St.

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

I know people aren’t going to be happy with this necessarily, but I really believe that at least the top 10 or so is exactly as it should be.

Notre Dame has the best collection of wins, followed by Florida. If Florida simply hadn’t played Georgia and played out the rest of the season, they would be ahead of Ohio St. despite having played one fewer game. Also, if you were to give Florida a win over Alabama (while still leaving off the Georgia loss), there is a good chance the Gators would be ahead of Notre Dame.

I do give Ohio St. a poor strength of schedule rating, but that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes were untested. They defeated a 10-win team, a 9-win team, and three 8-win teams. The only team in the top 8 of the Big Ten standings that the Buckeyes avoided playing was Northwestern. All but the most die-hard SEC supporters would not likely be complaining if the Buckeyes were not on probation and were set to play in the BCS championship game as the undefeated Big Ten champions.

As to Florida being ahead of Alabama, I simply think Florida has the better collection of wins.

Florida—LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida St., Vanderbilt
Alabama—LSU, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi St.

When you go much further below the top 40, I don’t think that’s especially relevant for conversations about how to rank the top 5, but even if we cover the top 60, Alabama is still 4-1 while Florida improves all the way to 7-1. Also see my chart in last week’s (actually Friday’s) comments.

I don’t regard Georgia as a worse loss than Texas A&M, but whether you do or not, I don’t think that overcomes the difference in quality wins.

If you think the BCS should have a rule that only conference champions should be considered, then I think many would agree with my ratings that the best two conference champions are Alabama and Stanford. If independents are exceptions to this rule, then this would give you Alabama and Notre Dame, exactly what is going to happen.

Kansas St. would take exception to being behind Stanford among champions, but the Wildcats didn’t beat anyone in my top 10 and only two teams in my top 40. Stanford does have two losses to one, but one of those losses was to Notre Dame, a team that happened to beat Oklahoma, Kansas St.’s best win by far.

Stanford lost to a fairly mediocre Washington team, but there isn’t a big gap between Washington and Baylor. Stanford won six games against my top 40 to Kansas St.’s two. I purposely make wins and losses count a lot here, but it only goes so far.

I can imagine some grumblings over South Carolina being ahead of LSU. LSU did beat the Gamecocks after all. There are a couple of very minor things that could have changed this.
One would have been LSU scoring a couple more points or allowing a couple fewer points against the Gamecocks. While margin of victory is not generally a relevant factor for me, home teams have a historical advantage of around 3 points per game, and home teams win about 5% more often.

Some compensate for this discrepancy by eliminating the point difference (this is done in ratings that include margin of victory of course, usually ones that have something to do with betting since it can be added or subtracted based on the location of a given game), and some compensate by uniformly counting home wins less and away wins more (and usually also home losses more and away losses less).

Since I think the advantage is generally in close games, I do a bit of a hybrid. If a game is decided by three points or fewer (which is also useful because it so happens to be a field goal… often a couple more first downs during the course of a game would have given a team a field goal where in a drive where it ended up with no points or even a touchdown rather than a field goal) or in overtime (obviously, one more point on either side would have avoided overtime in the first place), I only give the home team 90% of the win (not 95% because I don’t give it 5% of a loss), and I penalize the away team 10% less (not 5% because I don’t give it 5% of a win).

So while LSU has slightly better wins and a better second loss (both lost to Florida; Alabama is regarded as slightly better than LSU), it doesn’t show up that way. Lessening South Carolina’s penalty for losing to LSU makes the LSU loss seem to be a better loss than Alabama.

Another way LSU ends up ahead would have been if Washington had not blown an 18-point fourth-quarter lead and lost to Washington St. in overtime.

Maybe the bowl games will sort out this discrepancy anyway.

There may also be some unhappiness over Oklahoma staying ahead of Texas A&M, but this is another very close call. Texas A&M lost to my #3 and #9 while Oklahoma lost to my #1 and #7. As to the wins, while #4 is obviously a much better win than #28, don’t forget that Texas A&M played two fewer games against AQ-level opponents and one more game against an FCS opponent.

While the proper order of the teams beyond this point is not the objective of my ratings and I do not necessarily endorse this order, it does make some sense. If there were a 25-team playoff (god forbid), they would all have good arguments for inclusion.

San Jose St. does seem unusually high, but they were second for a conference championship behind Utah St. In this conference, Louisiana Tech finished 3rd even though the Bulldogs only fell a two-point conversion short of taking Texas A&M to overtime. San Jose St. itself only lost at Stanford by 3 points. San Jose St. may not beat Clemson or Florida St. on a neutral field, but I don’t think many expected them to win 10 games regardless of the opposition. As to Utah St. (San Jose St.’s other loss), the Aggies only lost to Wisconsin (Big Ten champions) by 2 points and to BYU (which San Jose St. beat) by 3 points. I would also note that BYU lost at Notre Dame by only 3 points.

Oregon St. beat Wisconsin and BYU (despite going on to lose three games overall), so it makes sense that the Beavers are ahead of the Aggies.

Florida St. won the ACC. They beat Clemson but had the worse conference loss, to North Carolina St., so they’re a very small distance behind the Tigers.

Northern Illinois won the MAC championship with only a single loss all season (to Iowa), and Boise St. was the best team in the three-way tie atop the Mountain West (with Fresno St. and San Diego St., both of whom finished just out of the top 25). Boise St. also lost to a mediocre Big Ten team in Michigan St., so this is another reminder to give Ohio St. a bit of credit.
Louisville of course wrapped up the Big East and won 10 games this season.

Northwestern and Michigan were also good enough against quality competition to make the top 25. Michigan of course played Ohio St. in inter-division play and Notre Dame and Alabama out of conference, so this helped make up for having one fewer win than Northwestern does, but still the Wildcats have a slight edge.

Ball St. has won six straight since losing to both MAC-title contestants in back-to-back weeks and the Cardinals’ only other loss was to Clemson. The Cardinals beat Indiana and South Florida. Granted, those aren’t great AQ opponents, but the AQ performance looks a lot better than that by either Northern Illinois or Kent St. (which lost to Kentucky). More impressive than that, they also defeated Toledo (which lost to Arizona in overtime and beat Cincinnati) to end the Rockets’ 8-game winning streak.

Arkansas St. won the Sun Belt and hasn’t lost since September. Along with the one in-conference slip-up against Western Kentucky, the Red Wolves’ only other losses were to Nebraska and Oregon.

Week 13 Top 25

In College Football, Me, Rankings on December 2, 2011 at 11:58 PM

All apologies for my absense. I’ve been trying to move and also very busy at work. Nonetheless, November set another record for most views in a month. I expect December and January may not keep up, but I’m optimistic about next year especially. My goal will be to hit 1000 views in a month at some point in the next year. I was going to write about Oklahoma St. versus Bama as #2, but I’ll address that if Oklahoma St. wins. I can’t see any other reasonable argument taking place.

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Okie St. 2
3 Alabama 3
4 Houston 4
5 Boise St. 5
6 Stanford 9
7 Va. Tech 6
8 Michigan 8
9 USC 12
10 S Carolina 13
11 Oklahoma 11
12 Oregon 14
13 Arkansas 7
14 Georgia 16
15 Kansas St. 10
16 Mich St. 19
17 Nebraska 20
18 Wisconsin 21
19 TCU 18
20 Clemson 17
21 Penn St. 15
22 Baylor 22
23 Ark. St. —
24 Notre Dame 23
25 W Virginia —

Out of rankings: (24) Tulsa, (25) Rutgers

Top 120 Permalink

Prior weeks
Week 12
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Week 12 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM

My ratings didn’t join the SEC trifecta trend. By the way, I added another proposal to my SEC realignment blog. It wouldn’t help out the balance of power though. I also updated my LSU-Ole Miss Rivalry blog.

Alabama should surpass Oklahoma St. next week if they beat Auburn. But if the Tide is idle the following week and the Cowboys defeat the Sooners, Oklahoma St. would resume its #2 spot. Remember that late losses are penalized in the polls but not here. As to #3, Texas A&M isn’t as good as Penn St. is, so that’s one reason Arkansas is a bit behind Alabama. Also, of course, Arkansas’s loss to Alabama hurts it more than Alabama’s loss to LSU hurts the Tide. Alabama also gets credit for a high-quality win over Arkansas.

Another conceptual difference from the polls is you aren’t penalized by losing spots but by losing points. Oklahoma St. did lose about .12 for losing to Iowa St., but since there was a big gap and Alabama only played Georgia Southern, that wasn’t enough to move ahead. Oklahoma, who also might have had a chance to move ahead, lost. Next after Oklahoma was Oregon, who also lost. It’s not at all a typical result to lose to an un-ranked team and stay #2, but this wasn’t a typical weekend.

But there was a lot of movement after the top three because the next few teams were really close together, and they still are. It’s hard to predict whether beating LSU followed by beating Georgia would be enough for Arkansas to be #1 or #2, but it certainly seems possible, particularly if Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia beats Georgia Tech. There would also be some benefit with SEC wins over Wake Forest, Florida St., and Clemson. Arkansas did play Vandy (who will be the team to play Wake) and South Carolina (who will be the team to play Clemson).

Boise St. doesn’t have much to add to its total, although of course wins by Georgia would also help the Broncos. But Wyoming is not a great team and a win over New Mexico wouldn’t be much better than a bye week.

Houston can significantly improve its rating with wins at Tulsa and if they win that, likely Southern Miss in the CUSA championship game. USM wouldn’t be as good of a win now that the Golden Eagles have lost to UAB. Both would be would be tougher games than any Houston have had so far, and Houston was fortunate to beat UCLA (win at home by 4) and Louisiana Tech (win at home by 1) in the early going.

Virginia Tech shouldn’t be overlooked either. They only have the loss to Clemson, which they could redeem in the ACC Championship game, if they can beat Virginia for the ACC Coastal division next week. The ’Hoos last defeated the Hokies in 2003.

I’m disappointed in the voters for putting Stanford 4th, , although I am not surprised. I hope whatever happens (apart from the Cardinal winning the Pac-12 and the only other BCS-conference options having two losses apiece), the voters have the good sense not to put a team with a 23-point home loss in mid-November in the BCS title game. That’s just an echo of Nebraska in 2001 if that happens.

I don’t think the lower teams are an option at this point unless we get to a 2007 scenario (which, except for LSU losses in OT, this year is starting to remind me of), and all of the conscionable choices have two losses.

I’ll just cover the larger movements in the rankings for the lower teams. Oklahoma dropped 7 spots by losing to Baylor, which is more because of how close those teams were than it was because Baylor is a terrible loss. The Bears jumped up to #22 after being un-ranked. This helped to push out Arkansas St., who got little credit for beating #113 Middle Tennessee. Rutgers (who joined the top 25 with a win over Cincinnati) and Tulsa also edged ahead of the Red Wolves, who landed at #26. Southern Mississippi (who fell from #16 all the way out of the top 25) was the only team Arkansas St. was able to surpass.

Clemson tumbled 10 spots after losing to North Carolina St. (still only #71), USC went up 6 spots, putting them right behind the aforementioned Sooners. Of course, the Trojans would likely end up in the Pac-12 title game but for the post-season ban. The Ducks fell 9 spots. Clemson and Oregon can rebound a good bit since they will each have two games left. This is especially true of Clemson, who will definitely play South Carolina and could also face Virginia Tech. Teams with two games left generally have a significant advantage over those who do not.

Top 25:

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Okie St. 2
3 Alabama 3
4 Houston 8
5 Boise St. 6
6 Va. Tech 9
7 Arkansas 10
8 Michigan 12
9 Stanford 11
10 Kansas St. 15
11 Oklahoma 4
12 USC 18
13 S Carolina 13
14 Oregon 5
15 Penn St. 17
16 Georgia 20
17 Clemson 7
18 TCU 19
19 Mich St. 21
20 Nebraska 14
21 Wisconsin 23
22 Baylor —
23 Notre Dame 22
24 Tulsa 25
25 Rutgers —

Out of rankings: (16) Southern Miss., (24) Arkansas St.

Top 120 Permalink

Prior weeks
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Week 11 Top 25 and National-Championship Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Blog note: I plan to post my next two blogs on Thursday morning and Friday evening.

Race for #1

LSU is still #1, but I can almost guarantee they will not be on my ratings site after next week. However, in two weeks and from then on, it should not be a problem for the Tigers if they stay undefeated, as Oklahoma St. will have a bye week on the same weekend that LSU will play Arkansas. A win should give LSU a decent lead that would probably withstand a Cowboys victory in Bedlam.

LSU’s strength of schedule (which does not penalize for FCS/I-AA opponents, which are compensated for elsewhere in my formula) fell to 7th this week, and will probably fall out of the top 10 after they face Ole Miss, which has only one FBS/I-A win this season, over Memphis, and which just lost to Louisiana Tech. Okie St. plays a mediocre Iowa St. team next week, but the Cyclones rate as a much better opponent than the Rebels do.

As far as Oklahoma, if the Sooners were to win Bedlam, I believe they would pass up Alabama (and Oklahoma St.) for #2. A lot of commentators have already been dismissing the Sooners, but I don’t think this is fair.

Now, I’m the last person who wants to give anyone a “pass” for a loss. They lost the game to Texas Tech, that’s why they’re #4 and not #1 or #2 (and they would be lower if everyone else in front of them in recent weeks hadn’t lost), but what about the other 90% of the season thus far? They’ve dominated two teams that, when they played Oklahoma St., came down to the last play. Those teams were Kansas St. and Texas A&M, and Kansas St. played Oklahoma at home and Oklahoma St. on the road. Oklahoma also has had one of the best schedules. The Sooners did not play an FCS/I-AA opponent and did play Florida St. and Tulsa. So I think wins over those two teams plus 8 wins over Big XII teams should be enough to put Oklahoma in the title game.

I’ve heard talk about not wanting to punish teams for having already played LSU (IF LSU is the #1 at the end of this), but what about punishing LSU? Why should the Tigers have to beat a team they already beat on the road (albeit in an extremely close game) at a neutral site? Why should they have to beat a team they already beat easily at a neutral site at yet another neutral site (probably a less-neutral one at that)? If you’re undefeated, you shouldn’t have to worry about a team you’ve already beaten, especially if you didn’t play that team at home.

I’m not saying this because I want LSU to have an easier opponent. As I’ve said, OU will have had a formidable list of accomplishments. They will present their own unique challenges–they have a different kind of offense from Oregon or Alabama, for starters. Plus, along with LSU, Oklahoma would probably be the only relevant team with a win over a top-5 team when we get to the end of the year. I don’t think Stanford will be in the top 5 unless Oregon loses, and I don’t think Arkansas (a loser to Alabama in September) will be in the top 5 unless they beat LSU. I can’t imagine that Oklahoma St. would fall out of the top 5 because of a loss to Oklahoma, unless it’s a complete blowout, which certainly shouldn’t hurt Oklahoma’s argument.

And like LSU’s win over Alabama, Bedlam would be a huge game that everyone knows is a huge game. Also, Oklahoma would be at least mildly disadvantaged by having to play the week before and having to travel to Stillwater, so that would impress me possibly more than what LSU did. I think Bedlam will be the type of game where it’s going to inform us of how good of a game we would get in the BCS national championship game. I don’t think the Texas Tech game would say very much about how Oklahoma would perform in the BCS national championship game.

All things being equal, losing to Texas Tech is worse than losing to LSU (and worse than losing to probably 50 other teams) of course, but all things are not equal. The remainder of Oregon’s schedule would not compare at all. The strongest team in the Pac-12 South is probably USC, who’s not even playing for a championship and who struggled against teams like Minnesota, Arizona, and Utah (and lost to Arizona St.) before coming on more strongly (but if you want to consider that, we should consider that Texas Tech was playing better when they played Oklahoma), and the only real competition in the North was Stanford. That’s not week-in, week-out like the SEC (at least the West and half of the East) and the Big XII.

Alabama of course does play in the SEC West, but hanging their hat on a win in September, regardless of the margin, is more suspect. Obviously if LSU wins out, Alabama would not have had a championship game. Also, the Tide did have an easy non-conference schedule overall. Penn St. was good, perhaps better than Florida St., but there is no respectable #2 out-of-conference opponent, and since Alabama would not be in the championship game, they would have 8 SEC games to Oklahoma’s 9 Big XII games.

The top 10 SEC teams are better than the Big XII, but Alabama played the worst SEC team (Ole Miss) and will have played neither South Carolina nor Georgia, both in the top 5 of the SEC. (I had my doubts about Georgia being that high up there until Saturday.) So the Tide would be a total of 1-1 against the 5 best SEC teams, having played neither of those games on the road. By winning out, Oklahoma would be 4-0 against the 5 best Big XII teams, having played two on the road. LSU, by winning out, would be 3-0 against the top SEC teams (one home, one road, one neutral-site), with a (neutral-site) win over the likely Pac-12 champions and with a (road) win over the possible Big East champions.

As a neutral observer, I would want to see LSU play Oklahoma. As a biased fan, give us Oregon again. Alabama would be the worst of both worlds. I don’t think it’s a compelling game to see a second time. Why do I want to see the same match-ups? I think re-matches just lead to a bunch of over-analyzing and second-guessing rather than either team just playing their game. Those who didn’t like the first game would probably like this even less.

As a fan, I don’t like it because LSU had a little bit of an element of surprise. Many analysts said LSU’s defenders were too small and would allow Alabama room to run. I think Alabama found out otherwise. McCarron threw more than was probably in the game plan, and even though the interceptions were not really McCarron’s fault, with those play-makers on the LSU D, they were playing with fire. Also, I don’t think Alabama suspected LSU would so easily put Jordan Jefferson in there to run the option if Lee struggled.

Now maybe LSU runs the option the whole time (maybe putting in some reverse plays, halfback passes, student bodies, etc.) and wears out the Alabama linebackers and by the fourth quarter, they’re finding the edge routinely (as LSU did on the near-TD in OT), and this possibility would make me feel a little better as a fan, but if that happens, it will be intensely boring as an observer, at least when LSU has the ball. It might be fun for a few moments if you don’t know where the ball is, but mostly it would be like a throwback to Nebraska in the late 1990s. No thanks. I also think Alabama might throw even less, which isn’t fun to imagine either. If they throw more (which they could conceivably try in the hopes that LSU defenders try too hard for big plays and let receivers get behind them), it might be entertaining when Alabama has the ball, but that would still only be half the game…actually less, because then LSU would likely win the time of possession easily. And in that case, I don’t think Alabama would be highlighting their better players.

I’m not telling the voters to pick Oklahoma over Alabama in that scenario because you don’t want to see a re-match, but pick Oklahoma because of the teams they’ve beaten since September and because if they beat Oklahoma St., they deserve a chance to beat another great team for the championship. This is from someone who would be voting Alabama #2 right now, but barring an upset in the next two weeks, I would probably change that vote after Bedlam.

Except for Arkansas (who could possibly beat LSU, propel itself over Alabama in the BCS standings, and then win the SEC championship), I doubt anyone below #5 right now matters. There would have to be a series of upsets that made the last two weeks of 2007 look pedestrian. It’s highly unlikely that the Big XII champion would be anything other than one-loss Oklahoma or undefeated Oklahoma St. It’s doubtful that Oregon would lose again (they play home games against USC and Oregon St., probably followed by another home game for the Pac-12 championship). Auburn (or Georgia Southern) over Alabama would be an incredible upset. All of those need to happen for the ACC champion, Boise St., or Houston to even merit discussion. The Big Ten and Big East can forget it too. I could see Stanford getting an argument from some if Oregon loses again, but they just got smacked around at home. This is mid-November, I don’t think you recover from that by beating Notre Dame, Cal, and UCLA or ASU.

New Top-25 Teams

I’ll just skip the 10-team carousel from #12 to #21. It was nice to see a few teams fall off and give two new teams a chance. Tulsa, still with losses only to Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Boise St., makes its first Top 25 appearance of the year. The fact that it took this long means they haven’t beaten anyone, but they have Houston in two weeks, and if they get past the Coogs, they would likely face Southern Miss in the CUSA championship. So those are a couple chances for decent wins. Arkansas St. makes its first appearance ever. The Red Wolves have losses to only Illinois (in the season opener) and Virginia Tech. Since losing to the Hokies, they have won 7 straight, also over no one special, but on Saturday, they became only the third team (one of them Oklahoma St.) to beat ULL.

So back to the fact that Arkansas St. is in my top 25. I have now ranked at one time or another 93 of the 120 current FBS teams in the 17 seasons I’ve been doing rankings. Of course, the number is considerably lower in my mathematical ratings, which I’ve only done in their current format since 2008. I did a top-40 mathematical rating of sorts from 2004 to 2007, but it was a much different formula. Anyway, I’m counting any team that I ever listed as top 25, even if it was early in the season, before I begin using any mathematical formula.

Notre Dame and Wisconsin have climbed back on, and they deserve it, but they were both over-rated for much of this season. The Domers have won 7 of 8, beating competitive BCS teams Michigan St. and Wake Forest in the process (maybe you can include Pitt, but it would depend on which team showed up).

I can still hear Craig James whining about Wisconsin not getting computer love. (If his son sounds anything like that, I would put him in a closet too.) Wisky is there because other teams lost mostly, but before this week, their LONE quality win over Nebraska didn’t look as good as it does now. I’m not being a jerk; these are their other wins—(2-7) UNLV, (2-8) Oregon St., (6-3) Northern Illinois, (3-4) South Dakota, (0-9) Indiana, (4-5) Purdue, (2-8) Minnesota. I didn’t count wins against lower-division teams. That eliminates one win each from Northern Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue; and it eliminates three wins from South Dakota (an FCS team with three non-DI wins). I did count losses to lower-division teams, of which there were three (one each by UNLV, Oregon St., and Minnesota). Northern Illinois’s opponents have won only 34% of their games, by the way, so even that isn’t as good of a record as it might first appear. I do realize the Badgers played a top-25-caliber game against Michigan St., but computers are banned from considering margin of victory, so don’t blame the computers for just treating that like any other loss. They’re playing the role they’re designed to play, and that role is not to factor in margin of victory (which would also give Wisconsin more credit for beating Nebraska {along with their other large margins of victory}).

Top 25:

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Oklahoma St. 2
3 Alabama 5
4 Oklahoma 3
5 Oregon 9
6 Boise St. 4
7 Clemson 8
8 Houston 7
9 Virginia Tech 10
10 Arkansas 12
11 Stanford 6
12 Michigan 15
13 South Carolina 13
14 Nebraska 21
15 Kansas St. 16
16 Southern Mississippi 14
17 Penn St. 11
18 USC 18
19 TCU 25
20 Georgia 19
21 Michigan St. 20
22 Notre Dame —
23 Wisconsin —
24 Arkansas St. —
25 Tulsa —

Out of rankings: (17) Texas, (22) Cincinnati, (23) Ga. Tech, (24) Auburn

Top 120 Permalink

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

Conference Report #4: Weeks 6 through 8

In Conference Reports on October 29, 2010 at 6:02 PM

This will probably be my second-to-last pre-bowl conference report.

Overall rankings and a list of results from the last three weeks follow.

I’m only ranking those conferences (the independents are ranked as a conference) with three or more inter-conference games during the period.

Rankings for the period

Rank Conference Overall (vs. AQ)
1. SEC 5-0 (1-0)

The SEC gained slightly against the Big XII with Arkansas’s win over Texas A&M. It’s hard to tell where either stands in their respective conferences. Both are technically toward the bottom of their divisions, but two conference losses aren’t anything to be ashamed of. Arkansas could realistically finish in a tie for second in the SEC West (or even a very crowded tie for first), Texas A&M has a chance to actually win the Big XII South outright. My guess is this is a fairly even match-up, but we need more games to assess it properly. Either could finish in a tie for last as well. The rest of the games weren’t remarkable, although most probably wouldn’t have picked Mississippi St. to beat Houston early on in the season. I think LSU/McNeese St. was the only recent I-AA/FCS game, but that isn’t really considered anyway.

2. Independents 5-0 (2-0)

Pitt and Wake Forest aren’t great, but they’re both AQ programs that have had some success in recent years. SMU wasn’t necessarily an easy win by Navy either.

3. Mountain West 1-2 (1-1)

I’m not going to penalize them much for losses by the two bottom-feeders, even though New Mexico lost to another bottom-feeder, New Mexico St. of the WAC. Utah is undefeated, but Iowa St. was an important win to give them a little bit of big-conference legitimacy after a weak early schedule.

4. Big East 3-1 (0-1)

5. CUSA 1-5 (1-3)

I just thought there were too many losses to have the CUSA up higher, but East Carolina got a good win over an ACC team. They’ve been making a habit of that over the years. It would have been a meaningful upset had the CUSA won any of its other games. Navy isn’t classified as AQ because they don’t get Notre Dame’s special BCS treatment, but Navy is playing like an AQ team right now. The only other loss is by Tulane to Army, and Tulane shouldn’t have been expected to win that game.

6. ACC 3-2 (0-0)
The wins are nothing impressive, so I had to put them below the CUSA. Eastern Michigan (even if it was a win by Virginia), Middle Tennessee, and Central Michigan (this is not Brian Kelly’s Central Michigan either).

7. Sun Belt 0-3 (0-3)
Similar reasoning to above. Arkansas St. was the only one with a realistic chance and they played Indiana so close, it’s hard to hold that against them.

8. MAC 0-5 (0-4)

This is the other side of the coin from the CUSA. If anything, Vanderbilt and Virginia should be subtracted from the AQ category, although they did both play a pretty bad EMU team. Miami U. was a chance to win based on Cincinnati’s other performances (sans Oklahoma). This wasn’t nearly bad enough to drop them back below the Sun Belt overall, however.

Overall rankings

Overall (vs. FBS/I-A)

1. SEC
29-5 (24-4)

2. Big XII
36-7 (30-6)

3. Pac-10
21-9 (14-9)

4. Big Ten
35-8 (26-7)

5. MWC
16-17 (12-17)

6. WAC
20-18 (13-17)

7. Independents
11-7 (10-7)

8. ACC
25-14 (14-13)

9. Big East
22-15 (12-15)

10. CUSA
15-24 (9-24)

11. MAC
15-33 (7-31)

12. Sun Belt
4-25 (2-25)

The SEC still has a big week against the ACC coming up at the end of the year, so there is still a chance for the Big XII.

Results for the period

Virginia Tech beat Central Michigan
Wake Forest lost to Navy
Virginia beat Eastern Michigan
Georgia Tech beat Middle Tennessee
N.C. State lost to East Carolina

Oklahoma St. beat ULL
Texas A&M lost to Arkansas

Big East
Louisville beat Memphis
West Virginia beat UNLV
Pitt lost to Notre Dame
Cincinnati beat Miami U.

Big Ten
Indiana beat Arkansas St.

East Carolina beat N.C. State
Memphis lost to Louisville
Tulane lost to Army
Houston lost to Mississippi St.
UAB lost to Mississippi St.
SMU lost to Navy

Notre Dame beat Pitt
Notre Dame beat Western Michigan
Army beat Tulane
Navy beat Wake Forest
Navy beat SMU

Central Michigan lost to Virginia Tech
Miami U. lost to Cincinnati
Toledo lost to Boise St.
Eastern Michigan lost to Virginia
Eastern Michigan lost to Vanderbilt

UNLV lost to West Virginia
Utah beat Iowa St.
New Mexico lost to New Mexico St.

Vanderbilt beat Eastern Michigan
Arkansas beat Texas A&M
Mississippi St. beat Houston
Mississippi St. beat UAB

Sun Belt
ULL lost to Oklahoma St.
Arkansas St. lost to Indiana
Middle Tennessee lost to Georgia Tech

Boise St. beat Toledo
New Mexico St. beat New Mexico