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Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati’

CFP got top 4 right; Pre-Bowl Top 25

In Bowls, College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on December 2, 2018 at 11:13 AM

As far as #1, I had mixed results between the weighted system and the unweighted system. The top 4 is the same in both, but Clemson is ahead of Alabama in the unweighted system.  I’ve mentioned how Alabama didn’t have a particularly good schedule despite playing in the SEC.  Their best non-conference opponent finished with a losing record, as did one of their two regular-season SEC East opponents.  However, Georgia by itself deserves more consideration than just one game out of 13 (as does LSU), so that’s why I didn’t use the unweighted system by itself below. 

Even though I generally support the SEC, I want to make clear I don’t like Alabama; and I feel like they’re given unfair treatment by the officials in just about every game (though they rarely need it). Nonetheless, it’s important for me to figure out who on paper has accomplished more while taking into account losses (which only applies to one of the top 4 teams). 

A questionable review on this alleged touchdown by Josh Jacobs kept the Tide in the game. As usual, they took full advantage to eliminate the Bulldogs.

I think I would do teams like Alabama a disservice by failing to acknowledge their strength of resume; and both ratings had their strengths and weaknesses, so what I did was combine the two ratings.Since the two systems create very different numbers, I multiplied the unweighted ratings by 15 and then averaged the two. The top 50 teams on average got a number about 15 times higher in the weighted system than in the unweighted system, so I thought this was fair.

These averaged ratings were directly incorporated into my top 25 below without any subjective input.  This isn’t covering new ground, but it’s worth reiterating that this is purely about how good the numbers made the teams look in that formula.  It doesn’t matter how anyone was projected in preseason or how good the public perception of an opponent was at the time they were played.  It doesn’t matter which teams, coaches, and players I like, or which ones I thought got a raw deal in officiating or could beat better teams if only they’d played them, or anything like that. 

Margin of victory only has a slight impact where a home team won by 3 or less in regulation (meaning if they won by 8 in overtime it’s still considered a win with the home advantage) since that’s the average advantage by playing at home, and it also happens to be the smallest number of points typically scored in one play (I don’t know of any two-minute drills to get that key safety to win the game if you’re down by 1 late).

I let the numbers guide me the same way in my rankings below, but another thing I hesitated to do was to put Ohio St. (even though I have strongly disliked the Buckeyes for some time) below Oklahoma.  It’s no question whose best wins came against the better two teams.  Michigan has lost to two teams, and those two teams have a total of one loss between them, and Penn St. isn’t far behind.  The key problem for the Buckeyes is their loss to Purdue. The Boilermakers had to win their final game just to finish 6-6.  I know Texas isn’t spectacular; but if they played Purdue in a bowl game, the Longhorns would probably be favored by double digits.  Texas also lost to a mediocre Big Ten team to be fair; but had Maryland been their only loss, I’d be explaining why Ohio St. deserved to go ahead of them right now.  But I’m not comparing a team with a loss to Maryland to a team with a loss to Purdue: I’m comparing a team with a loss to Texas to a team with a loss to Purdue. 

To give credit where it’s due again and to explain how close it is, the second win for the Buckeyes is also strong.  To get to the next best win for Ohio St.though (Northwestern), I have to go outside of the top 25 and even outside of the top 35.  To get there, I pass up four teams that Oklahoma has beaten: Army, West Virginia, Texas, and Iowa St.  I really don’t know if it’s harder to beat four teams who are better than Northwestern but in the top 15 or to beat two teams who are in the top 15 and none others who are better.  I suspect the former is more difficult; but that loss breaks the tie if it’s just as difficult, so I will defend the outcome here.

As an LSU fan, I know a lot about playing top-15 teams and playing teams somewhere between #16 and #40.  I’d rather have two tough games to focus on against teams in the top 15 than the week-after-week onslaught of #16 to #40 teams.  LSU beat 3 top-10 teams, although I acknowledge two of them didn’t belong anywhere near the top 10 in hindsight.  Although Alabama beats us every year, we had a mediocre team take them to overtime a few years ago.  Georgia definitely belongs in the top 10;they were a play or two away from making the playoff.  We lost to Florida, but I think that’s a better team than Penn St.  If that were the only other game we had needed to get up for and we didn’t play Alabama, I think we would have won. Ohio St. beat Penn St. by 1, and we trailed Florida by 1 before a late “pick six” made the final score a loss by 8. 

The loss to Texas A&M (questionable though it was) and similar losses over the years (such as losing to Kentucky and Arkansas in our 2007 championship year and losing to a mediocre Florida team in our 2003 championship year) would result in increased nerves over Oklahoma’s schedule than Ohio St.’s.  If we had a 45%chance to beat Michigan and a 55% chance to beat Penn St., for instance, that gives us a 25% chance to win both.  (These numbers are just off the top of my head.) If we had a 70% chance to beat Army, a 60% chance to beat West Virginia,a 60% chance to beat Texas, and an 80% chance to beat Iowa St., we’d only have a 20% chance to win all four (assuming independence of the numbers).  Again, it’s very close, but if I have to pick one to be better, I pick Oklahoma.

I’m not persuaded by the arguments for Georgia.  I disagreed with the decision in 2011 (by voters and some computers) to pick Alabama ahead of Oklahoma St.  The Tide had their chance to beat LSU (at home) and shouldn’t have gotten another.  The fact that they got it and took advantage of it didn’t make it the right decision. But I can respect a difference of opinion on that more than I respect the opinion of Georgia being in the top 4 this season.  At least that was a choice between two one-loss teams.  Georgia supporters want them to advance as a two-loss team despite two decent one-loss options. 

Obviously I’m an advocate for LSU and what they’ve done this season—and their record does not fairly represent that in my opinion—but losing to LSU by 20 is not like losing to a title-contender by 3 in overtime,which is what Alabama did in 2011.  I do have the Bulldogs extremely close to Ohio St., mostly because losing to LSU hurts a lot less than losing to Purdue. If Oklahoma had lost to Texas a second time, it would be harder to make the case for the Buckeyes (but I’d still probably do so).  As it stands, I think the Sooners redeemed themselves against Texas (although I don’t think the Big XII championship should be allowed in the first place), their three-point loss in the first game against the Longhorns was probably a fluke, and it’s best that someone else gets a shot at Alabama. I have a feeling the Tide would do better in a rematch with Georgia than they did yesterday. Oklahoma-Alabama is an unknown. For all we know, it could be like the Ohio St.-Alabama game a few years ago.  Let’s find out.

I already made the argument about how LSU should be picked for a major bowl above Florida (which I don’t think will happen) and Washington St. (which I think probably will happen), so I think other than #1 and #4 there isn’t much more to discuss.  ***UPDATE*** LSU has been confirmed for the Fiesta Bowl against Central Florida.  Apparently it was decided not to send the Knights to Atlanta two years in a row.

I would like to say that I would have liked to have seen that North Carolina St./West Virginia game that was canceled. I would have preferred the winner to be in the top 25 over Utah, but that’s the breaks.  The Mountaineers and Wolfpack are #26 and #27, respectively, followed by Stanford and then Texas.

I plan to make the average used here a regular feature on my “weighted average” page on my ratings site.  I may continue to wait until after the first CFP rankings are released to publish that list though.

RankTeamPrev.
1Alabama1
2Clemson3
3Notre Dame2
4Oklahoma6
5Ohio St.5
6Georgia4
7C. Florida9
8Michigan7
9LSU8
10Washington14
11Florida11
12Kentucky10
13Wash St.13
14Penn St.12
15Fresno St.
16App. St.23
17Army18
18Texas A&M15
19Syracuse19
20Missouri16
21Utah St.22
22Boise St.17
23Cincinnati
24Miss. St.20
25Utah21

Out of Top 25: (24) N Carolina St., (25) West Virginia

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Top 25 after Week 11

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 11, 2018 at 4:59 PM

Alabama did end up becoming #1 based on the computer data.  This is both in the formula that I’ve been using for about 10 years and in the “weighted ratings,” which I created last year to give higher ratings for playing very good opponents. 

For instance, I think Mississippi St. is one of the 25 toughest teams to beat, but they’re not in the top 25 below since that system averages every week together equally.    So when Mississippi St. lost to Alabama and beat Auburn, they got 0.27 for those two weeks.  That’s fewer points than Alabama-Birmingham got for beating Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio, for example.  I don’t think for a second Alabama-Birmingham would beat Auburn or Alabama (we’ll see how they do against Texas A&M), but since they have a lot more mediocre wins than losses they appear higher in the original rankings than Mississippi St. does.  The Bulldogs have 4 losses to the Blazers’ 1, so it’s hard for them to overcome the loss disparity AND get enough points in the 5 FBS wins to get a higher rating than UAB (with 8 FBS wins).

So why don’t I just use that system for everything?  The best example is the final rating of last year.  It exacerbated the differences between Alabama’s and Georgia’s respective schedules and gave Georgia the higher rating.  Georgia played Auburn twice, and the second time they did it, Alabama was idle because only two teams can be in the SEC Championship game.  So playing the extra quality opponent, along with the overall schedule, helped Georgia overcome having the extra loss.  I think Georgia and Alabama were close enough in my original formula, so I wouldn’t want to try some kind of average either. 

If Georgia Tech had won a couple more games, for instance, Alabama should have still been #1 after beating Georgia.  But I agreed with the top 4 it picked before the bowl games last year, so it may continue to be useful for that purpose among the top teams.  Also, the SEC is good; but I’m not sure 9 SEC teams in the top 25 (the result of the weighted formula right now) is appropriate, so I’m not using it at all for the top 25 at this time.

I think at the end of last season my weighted ratings did a better job with teams lower in the top 25, at least if your primary concern is most difficult teams to play, which is probably closer to the CFP committee’s thinking.  It’s more difficult in both my weighted ratings and in the CFP for teams in lesser conferences to rise in the rankings.    After last season, I used the original rankings for the top 10 and the weighted ratings for 11-25.  I may follow something similar at the end of this season; but since it’s new, I’m not sure if that will be the optimal solution every year.

For now, the entire top 25 is exactly as dictated by the original ratings. 

The Clemson offense celebrates a touchdown in Chestnut Hill, MA, on Saturday.  The Tigers were never threatened and won 27-7, their closest win since September.  Clemson hosts (23) Duke next week before completing the regular season against South Carolina.

I still do not expect Alabama to be first in the original ratings after next week because FCS opponents do not help ratings very much (look how far Army fell); and both Clemson and Notre Dame are playing fairly good opponents (Duke and Syracuse, respectively).  These results tell me that I made the right call last week in keeping Alabama #1 and Clemson #2 for continuity between two weeks ago and now.  Also, Clemson has clinched a berth in the ACC title game, which will help the Tigers to finish ahead of Notre Dame assuming they keep winning.

The two new Mountain West teams in the top 25 is a little strange, but this might help explain how the formula can react to obscure results.  The main reason is that both Boise St. and Utah St. were in the top 30 to begin with and both won, but that’s not the whole story.  BYU’s win over Massachusetts helped their value as an opponent not because the Minutemen are very good, but they did have good opponents themselves.  This contributed to the increase in points for both Boise St. and Utah St. as well as the Mountain West in general (BYU also played Hawaii).  Of course it also helped Boise St. a lot to beat Fresno St.  Utah St.’s win over San Jose St. didn’t count for much, but UNLV’s upset win over San Diego St. (which Utah St. does not play this year) helped the Aggies too.  Also, Boise St. and Utah St. helped one another because both are in the Mountain Division and both beat teams in the Western Division.

Utah (which has not played BYU yet) got back on track with a win over Oregon.  The Utes also have a helpful non-conference win over Northern Illinois, which is now 7-3.  It also helped that two of the three teams who beat Utah won on Saturday (and the other was idle).

Cincinnati benefited from losses by six teams between 15th and 26th (the Bearcats were 27th last week).  Three additional teams (Buffalo, Duke, amd UAB) in that range got very few points, so Cincinnati would have moved up significantly even if they’d played a worse team than then-7-2 South Florida.  Since South Florida has now lost 3 in a row and might well lose 5 in a row, the Bearcats will have to beat Central Florida to keep going up.  So I wouldn’t expect two American Conference teams to be in the top 15 for very long.

Anyway, it’s important not to just look at last week’s results and think that’s the whole story of why a team moves from Point A to Point B.

RankTeamPrev.
1Alabama1
2Clemson2
3Notre Dame3
4Georgia4
5Michigan5
6Oklahoma7
7LSU6
8Ohio St.10
9Wash St.8
10W. Virginia11
11Penn St.15
12C. Florida13
13Boise St.
14Florida17
15Cincinnati
16Texas21
17Army12
18Kentucky9
19Buffalo18
20Washington16
21Utah
22Utah St.
23Duke22
24UAB23
25Iowa St.

Out of Top 25: (14) Michigan St., (19) Fresno St., (20) NC State, (24) Iowa, (25) Boston College

Top 25 after Week 6

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 7, 2018 at 5:49 PM

Eleven of last week’s computer top 25 lost, so that means a few things. (1) It makes it a lot easier for the winning teams to move up, (2) teams that lost might not fall as far as normal, and (3) you can get to a given spot with one more loss now.

I think (1) is obvious, but (2) might seem odd. The reason is if there are teams a couple spots lower who lost they probably won’t go ahead of the team in question. If you go down more than a few spots, even when you take away points from last week’s higher team and add them to the lower team, the lower team started too far back to take the lead.

The perfect example of (3) this week is Kentucky. Last week you needed to be undefeated (if you only had an average schedule) to be #8, but this week you can be #9 with a loss (and an improved schedule compared to what Kentucky had going in).

I know LSU just lost to Florida (see my reaction here), but the loss to Florida isn’t as bad as Florida’s loss to Kentucky and it certainly isn’t as bad as Texas’s loss to Maryland. I’m still moving LSU lower than the computer indicates. The multitude of highly-rated teams with losses as I explained above only resulted in a two-spot drop for the Tigers. Texas A&M, the team that beat Kentucky, doesn’t have a bad loss; but the problem is they have two of them and they don’t have any other good wins.

Arguably the most surprising result of the weekend was Texas’s win over Oklahoma in Dallas. The Longhorns broke the tie in the final seconds (above) after the Sooners rallied for 21 points in the fourth quarter.

Alabama (I’ll talk more about the Tide below) helps to depress the Texas A&M rating more than you would think. It also doesn’t help that the Aggies’ only two prior FBS wins were over Arkansas and UL-Monroe, whose combined record against the FBS is 1-9.

We will know a lot more about A&M when they go on the road to South Carolina, Mississippi St., and Auburn all in the next four weeks. If they keep winning, they’ll be rewarded. Of course it also wouldn’t hurt if Kentucky, Clemson, and Alabama kept winning and maybe if one of the others started winning.

I’m ranking Alabama #1 for now, but that is a weaker undefeated team than Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia, and Ohio St. by the numbers at this point. In the last two weeks the Tide has played Arkansas and UL-Lafayette, who have a combined record of 1-8 against FBS opponents.

Notre Dame, Clemson, and Georgia all have bye weeks in the next two weeks, so I want to see how those teams withstand the byes before I would replace Alabama (assuming Alabama doesn’t lose). Ohio St. is unlikely to be #1 in the near future given the mutual bye with Alabama (in the last week of October) and mediocre upcoming schedule.

I could imagine detractors asking a few other questions, so I’ll pose and try to answer some.

Why did West Virginia fall? Michigan got a good win (for now) over aforementioned Maryland, and a team Maryland beat (Texas) beat Oklahoma. That doesn’t count for much compared to beating Kansas (which lost to Nicholls St. among others). It also didn’t help the Mountaineers that Kansas St. lost while Tennessee and Texas Tech were idle.

Why did Washington fall? You might remember they lost to Auburn, who now has two losses. Washington went up 8 spots last week and West Virginia shot up from unranked to 11th, so I don’t think either one is exactly aggrieved here.

Why did idle Penn St. and Army fall and not idle Duke? The two winning teams who were in striking distance of Duke (West Virginia and South Florida) both passed them up, I had actually moved Duke down a spot compared to the computer last week while I moved Penn St. up, and the Nittany Lions just had bad luck that South Carolina and U. Miami won by a combined 3 points. One of Army’s (Liberty) wins suffered a damaging loss, as did a team who beat them (Oklahoma). Also, Army’s 3-2 record is worse in a way right now, because more teams have won over 60% this week than last week.

That BYU game keeps looking worse for the Wisconsin Badgers. Not only did the Cougars lose to Utah St., but another team that beat them (Cal) lost to Arizona.

Michigan and South Carolina are back after respective one-week hiatuses followed by good conference wins. With Floyd of Rosedale in hand (Midwestern trophies are adorable), Iowa returns after last being ranked in the final rankings last year. Cincinnati is basically just ranked for being undefeated and not playing a terrible schedule (though not a good one either), and San Diego St. now has wins over Arizona St. and Boise St. with the only loss against Stanford (although the Cardinal fell 8 spots after losing to Utah). The Aztecs may fall out as a consequence of playing weaker opponents in the coming weeks though, especially if Stanford keeps losing.

So the only things I did this week compared to the computer top 25 were to make Alabama #1, move LSU down two spots, and switch Texas with Florida.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 2
3 Clemson 3
4 Georgia 5
5 Ohio St. 6
6 LSU 4
7 Florida 22
8 Texas 16
9 Kentucky 8
10 NC State 10
11 Oklahoma 7
12 Michigan —
13 W. Virginia 11
14 S Florida 19
15 Duke 15
16 Washington 13
17 Stanford 9
18 U. Miami 23
19 S Carolina —
20 Penn St. 14
21 Iowa —
22 C. Florida 25
23 San Diego St. —
24 Wisconsin 21
25 Cincinnati —

Out of Top 25: (12) Auburn, (17) Indiana, (18) Army, (20) Okie St., (24) Maryland

Time to Talk Turkey

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings Commentary on November 26, 2013 at 9:38 PM

By turkey, of course I mean football and the coming bowl season. The bird isn’t anything to get excited about really, but it can make an excellent sandwich to accompany football-watching.

First of all, I wanted to remind my All-Blogger voters to get their submissions in. About half of the ballots are still missing. None will be accepted after the first game kicks off on Thanksgiving, which is right about the time I plan to post it.

LSU-Arkansas (Friday on CBS) will be an afterthought among all the interesting games in the next few days, but I originally wrote this blog back in 2006, and it’s what touched off my successful (for me, anyway) Rivalry Series. So if you have any interest at all, please check it out.

Sometimes I wonder if articles are written for Bleacher Report just to annoy me. I used to suspect the same thing of Sporting News. Not me in particular, but they want to get under fans’ skin to get more hits. Brian Pedersen is a “Featured Columnist” on the site, and based on the way his “Which Teams Got Screwed in Week 14 Standings?” column is written, he doesn’t understand how the BCS rankings work after 15 years. The rankings will cease to exist in a couple of weeks. Have some respect.

• explain why Clemson (10-1) got passed by Missouri in the latest standings, despite both teams winning? Yes, Clemson moved up from seventh to sixth

> So let me get this straight. Getting “screwed” means not moving up ENOUGH after beating an FCS opponent? Does it not occur to him that Missouri beat a ranked Ole Miss team. Maybe there are times when beating a ranked team should move you ahead of someone even if that other team doesn’t lose. Is that so hard to imagine? I know a few other teams beat Ole Miss, but let’s review who they were: Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M. Ole Miss has beaten LSU, Texas, and Vanderbilt. Even if you’re not convinced Ole Miss is a good win, let me float this idea: Maybe Clemson shouldn’t have been ahead of Missouri in the first place. This doesn’t convey a highly fundamental misconception of the BCS. Maybe he figured the pollsters would penalize Missouri for what they knew would be a boost in the computers, I don’t know. But wait for it.

> He then mentions South Carolina didn’t lose ground after a similar game. NEITHER DID CLEMSON! He also mentions LSU climbed after beating an FCS opponent “and not just because teams above it lost”. Staying at 13th isn’t climbing. Missouri lost to a team called South Carolina. Guess what Clemson can do if they belong ahead of Missouri?

• But did the (Baylor) Bears‘ loss to Oklahoma State—arguably the hottest team in college football right now and currently ranked seventh—justify dropping from fourth to ninth?

>> Falling 5 spots after being blown out seems reasonable to me. LSU was in the Alabama game until the fourth quarter, and they fell 8 spots. This is the same guy who tries to argue there is a double standard in favor of the SEC. If anything, if you’re further down to begin with, losing to a top team shouldn’t hurt you as much.

>> Another big complaint seems to be that Stanford—which beat Arizona St., Washington, UCLA, and Oregon—passed up the Bears. Let’s review Baylor’s best four wins: Oklahoma… Texas Tech, Buffalo, Kansas St. Utah went downhill since beating Stanford, but they’ve played all the best teams of both divisions (not to mention BYU and Utah St., both of whom they beat) and some of the losses were very close. Stanford just happened to be their lucky game. South Carolina might pass Baylor if they beat Clemson (which would at worst be their second win over a 2-loss team). I think that MAYBE trumps Oklahoma and Texas Tech perhaps?

Michigan State (10-1) is locked into the Big Ten title game, where it will have a chance to earn an automatic BCS bid if it were to beat Ohio State in Indianapolis in two weeks.

>>> And best of luck to them. What’s the problem? Oh, they DIDN’T pass up the likes of Clemson and Baylor. So, the team that stays behind Clemson and Baylor got screwed. Clemson and Baylor also got screwed by not staying ahead of all the teams they had been ahead of. Wow. South Carolina is also ahead. He then mentions how Michigan St. should get more credit for winning its division. Baylor isn’t in a division. Michigan St., unlike Clemson, isn’t in a division with Florida St. Maybe he has a point with South Carolina (which won’t win its division unless Missouri loses to Texas A&M), but not if South Carolina beats Clemson.

Fresno State (10-0) gave its home crowd a powerful sendoff by putting up 69 points against New Mexico on Saturday, getting 820 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns from superstar QB Derek Carr [but fell behind Northern Illinois]… You can probably chalk that up to NIU getting ESPN exposure on weeknights the past two weeks, while FSU was on the lesser-watched CBS Sports Network.

>>>> This is that one shining moment you’ve been waiting for. I seriously doubt a whole lot of voters dropped Fresno St. In fact, their points in both of the BCS polls went UP (maybe a little less than Northern Illinois’); but you know those computers? They don’t get impressed by scores, because the NCAA mandated that the computers couldn’t factor that in. They also don’t care what channel the games were played on. They care that Northern Illinois beat a team with only one other loss (Ball St.) and then another (Toledo) who had been 7-3. Before beating New Mexico (3-8), Fresno St. had a bye week. Those mean computers want you to prevail over actual competition. For shame!

There was some griping about Central Florida and Duke, not completely without merit. But it’s just reality that when it’s 2/3 human polls, they’re not going to start supporting teams that have been out of the spotlight as quickly as you might like. Central Florida wasn’t realistically going to go ahead of undefeated Northern Illinois and Fresno St., but they don’t have to worry about that since all they have to do is win their conference anyway. Duke (with two losses) is behind a few teams with three losses. Maybe they have an argument to be ahead of USC, UCLA, or both; but do we have to pretend the SEC West is roughly equivalent to the ACC Coastal?

Finally, he complains about Cincinnati, with the worst schedule in college football other than possibly Old Dominion, which played mostly FCS schools. Cincinnati was absolutely destroyed by Illinois. The Illini have three other wins, but none of those victories were against teams with a single FBS win of their own. The Bearcats also lost to South Florida, whose one other FBS win was over Connecticut. Cincinnati did beat SMU, Rutgers, and Houston in consecutive weeks, but that doesn’t make up for those losses. The best win before those? 3-7 Memphis.

The same guy also did the bowl projections for this week. I know this will come as a shock to fans of the Stanford Cardinal, but even if they beat Notre Dame, the chances of playing for a national championship are approximately 0. He also assumes Texas will beat that great Baylor team he complains about and play Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl since LSU has three losses. Uhhh, Texas A&M does too; and furthermore, he projects Missouri to beat the Aggies! I had been wondering who to cheer for in this game since I think I might like to see South Carolina play Auburn or Alabama more than Missouri, but it’s clear now. The thought of LSU getting passed up for the Cotton Bowl again despite beating A&M again is a bit frustrating for me, so I’ll be cheering for all three SEC Tiger teams.

All-Blogger Poll Week 12

In Blogger Poll, College Football, Rankings Commentary on November 22, 2013 at 6:34 PM

There were nearly two ties in the top four alone, but Ohio St. edged Baylor by one point for #3.

There were nearly two ties in the top four alone, but Ohio St. edged Baylor by one point for #3.

Apologies for getting this out so late. Sometimes real life gets in the way of maintaining a blog. It was about 1 a.m. on the east coast last night when I tried to prepare this and then realized there was no good reason to try to post it when most people weren’t going to see it until today anyway.

We have our first tie for #1. The only reason Florida St. is on the left in the picture above and listed first is they got 3 first-place votes, and Alabama only got two. The reason it ended up a tie anyway was only one voter had Alabama lower than second. Two had Florida St. lower. Ohio St. got two first-place votes, but four voters ranked the Buckeyes either fourth or fifth. The other voter had them #3. Baylor, despite no first-place votes, finished only a point behind.

There were seven voters again this week, the same voters as there were last week.

Even though I think Stanford is more deserving than Oklahoma St., it’s still a good top 10. It might be the ten teams you’d least want to play. On the other hand, Texas A&M might have been in there by that standard, especially if you’re more defense-minded.

I’d say the teams the voters least knew how to handle were UCLA, Wisconsin, LSU, and Arizona St. One reason for Wisconsin/Arizona St. is Wisconsin should have been able to kick a winning field goal had the quarterback spike the ball instead of put the ball down while in a kneeling motion. Some voters treat that almost as a Wisconsin win; but if you look at the official wins and losses, it’s a good out-of-conference win for a team that also plays in a strong conference. The apparent strength of the win over Wisconsin (not to mention the win over USC) has increased lately.

UCLA has a similar profile to Arizona St., but their non-conference win was without controversy (although against an apparently weaker team), and the Bruins don’t have a non-conference loss. There isn’t a strong win to get excited about for UCLA. On the other hand, the losses are nothing to be ashamed of either.

LSU was put in its place in the fourth quarter against Alabama (after failing to take advantage of playing better than the Tide did in the first half), but the other losses were really close games on the road, so you can look at them as losses to mediocre teams (at least teams with their own share of losses) or good games that just didn’t get a good result. Even though Georgia’s team was depleted by injuries and had a bad-looking loss to Vanderbilt, it looked like they were going to beat Auburn last week. They just had one of their more fortunate performances against LSU. I’m not saying anything bad about Georgia. I’m sure they’d be happy to take the loss to LSU in exchange for a few more wins. Ole Miss had three conference games in October that were decided by a single possession apiece. It so happened they won the one against LSU. The only other loss is to Alabama the week before the loss to Auburn. The Rebels played both teams from Alabama on the road.

Speaking of Ole Miss, the Rebels were the last team out at #26. Interestingly enough, two teams are coached by former Ole Miss head coaches made their first respective appearances. Ed Orgeron is the interim head coach at USC; and David Cutcliffe, his predecessor at Ole Miss, is the head coach of Duke. Maybe if Cincinnati win a couple more games, yet another team coached by a former Ole Miss head coach (Tommy Tuberville in that case) will make it in.

All-Blogger Top 25

rank/team(first place votes)/total points[last week’s rank]

t1 Florida St. (3) 168 [ 1 ]
t1 Alabama (2) 168 [ 2 ]
3 Ohio St. (2) 160 [ 3 ]
4 Baylor 159 [ 5 ]
5 Auburn 137 [ 6 ]
6 Oregon 133 [ 7 ]
7 Clemson 125 [ 8 ]
8 Missouri 117 [ 9 ]
9 Okie St. 111 [ 13 ]
10 Mich. St. 109 [ 12 ]
11 S Carolina 96 [ 10 ]
12 Stanford 95 [ 4 ]
13 TX A&M 83 [ 11 ]
t14 N. Illinois 77 [ 15 ]
t14 UCLA 77 [ 17 ]
16 Fresno St. 75 [ 14 ]
17 Wisconsin 68 [ 18 ]
18 UCF 55 [ 16 ]
19 LSU 51 [ 20 ]
20 Arizona St. 46 [ 19 ]
21 Oklahoma 42 [ 21 ]
22 Louisville 39 [ 25 ]
23 USC 29 [ v ]
24 Minnesota 26 [ 22 ]
25 Duke 19 [ v ]

Others receiving votes: Ole Miss 7 [ ], Texas 2 [ 23 ], Ball St. 1 [ v ]

(v = received at least one vote last week but was unranked)

No longer receiving votes: U. Miami [24], Nebraska, Va. Tech, Texas St., Notre Dame

Previous rankings:
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

2012 College Football Final Top 25

In Bowls, College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 11, 2013 at 8:38 PM

The basic idea of my computer ratings is to be a better version of the BCS standings, where the focus is on the top teams and having the correct top 2.
For the first few years, my top 2 agreed with the BCS top 2 with the BCS Champion finishing #1 in my final rankings. That changed last year when I had Oklahoma St. #2 going into the bowls and then LSU stayed #1 despite the loss to Alabama.

Once again this season, my top 2 was different from the BCS top 2. I had Notre Dame #1 going in, but Alabama was down at #4, below Florida and Ohio St.
Some might scoff at Florida, which didn’t even win its division, but neither did last year’s pre-bowl #3. Florida also managed to beat both LSU and Texas A&M, which Alabama could not do, and the Tide didn’t even face one of the top 3 teams of the other division until the SEC Championship game.

As for Ohio St., let’s face it: If they weren’t on probation, they would have been in the title game against Notre Dame.

Since I’m about to paste my top 25 below anyway, I’ll give it away. Alabama did finish as #1 in the final rankings this year, the second year in a row my (completely subjective) preseason #1 ended #1. And if we were to look at the top 2 now, what happens? Rematch! Alabama should have to beat them again. It would be even better if they had to beat Georgia again though. In addition, Alabama should also have to travel back in time and beat Texas a second time in 2009.

I’ll be really annoyed if Alabama has a November loss next year and ends up in the title game again anyway, especially being that their SEC East opponents in the regular season will be Tennessee and Kentucky while LSU, for instance, will play Florida and Georgia.

Top 25

rank / team / prior

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

Out of rankings: (24) Ball St.

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Preseason
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
Week 14

Usually the final poll has a good amount of turnover, but this time, the only change is that Cincinnati replaced Ball St. I thought Cincinnati was a better team anyway. I’m going to mention the teams that moved a few spots. Florida and LSU turned in uninspired performances and lost, even though LSU almost held on.

Texas A&M moved up 3 spots, one over Oklahoma, the team the Aggies beat in the Cotton Bowl, and also moved ahead of LSU and Kansas St. when each lost.

Clemson and Florida St. improved a few spots apiece by winning the Chik-fil-A and Orange Bowls, respectively. I would remind people that Florida beat Florida St. and South Carolina beat Clemson, with the ACC teams hosting both games. Clemson was the only ACC to beat an SEC team this season, winning both in Atlanta (also beating Auburn in the opener).

Utah St. did move closer to San Jose St. but didn’t catch them. Although I know Utah St. won the WAC, but they didn’t go 3-1 against Stanford, BYU, San Diego St., and Navy out of conference. Instead the Aggies lost to BYU and their best non-conference win (before the bowl game) was over Utah. Utah St. beat Toledo, which suffered its fourth loss; but the Rockets were better than their record since they had played @ Arizona (losing in overtime) and hosted Cincinnati (whom they won).

After a 9-0 start, Louisville appeared to be crashing and burning in November but recovered to win the Big East by beating Rutgers in the final week and then beating Florida in the Sugar.

Not only did Nebraska lose, but Wisconsin, the team that destroyed them in the Big Ten title game, also lost, as did most of the other Big Ten teams in bowl games. To be fair, this was partly due to the absence of Ohio St. and Penn St. from the bowls.

Northern Illinois and Oregon St. also lost, combined with some disappointing results by prior opponents.

Arkansas St. capped off its 8-game winning streak to end the season by beating one of those Northern Illinois opponents, Kent St., a team which had a 10-game winning streak going into the MAC title game.

I did want to say a couple of things looking forward to next season just about the SEC West. (This is about the best- and worst-case scenarios for all the SEC teams, by the way.)

Going into this season, I didn’t think LSU was going to win a national title in an even year with a new QB anyway, but if they don’t improve their endgame, it’s hopeless in the foreseeable future as well. People are going to talk about how good the players LSU will be losing are, but that’s not what you look at, you look at who’s coming back. Tyrann Mathieu didn’t come back this year, nor did Mo Claiborne, and what happened, there was a whole collection of new defensive players for LSU that will be seemingly irreplaceable next year. I have a feeling it will be the same the next offseason. It’s too early to make solid predictions, but the idea that LSU is going to be locked out of the top 2 of the West is not one I’m buying.

When Texas A&M faced Florida and LSU, they failed to score 20 points in either game and Manziel was not a household name. When Alabama gave up over 400 yards to the A&M offense in a 29-24 loss, Manziel was all of a sudden the greatest player ever, even though Alabama had given up more yards to LSU, a team criticized most of the season for being offensively inept, the game before.
I wasn’t surprised Saban fixed what ailed the Tide in the following weeks and in bowl preparation, but why does it have to be this team that can lose in November, regroup, and then win the national title two years in a row? And why does this make them odds-on favorites to do it again?

I know LSU lost to Arkansas very late in 2007, but that was one season 5 years ago, not two in a row. Why does this kind of thing happen more often to programs and franchises who have won enough already?

But that’s fine. I’d rather LSU be picked third in the West than Preseason #1 in the coaches’ poll anyway. Aside from what was already mentioned about the coaches snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I think either Florida or Georgia (preferably both) have to have seasons that don’t measure up to the ones they had this year. If LSU were to beat all three of the best SEC East teams next year, that would be more top-3 East teams than Alabama has beaten the last two seasons combined (Florida, which finished with an SEC record of only 3-5, in the 2011 regular season; and Georgia in the 2012 SEC Championship).

I don’t know when I’ll be posting again, but until then, happy 2013, and good luck to all your winter sports teams, especially the NHL teams that are just getting started.

Week 10 Top 25 and BCS Mega-Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on November 8, 2011 at 10:17 PM

(Go to the second bold subtitle if you want to skip all the LSU/Alabama stuff. Every time I try to post this, I lose my internet connection, so as I’ve reviewed, I’ve kept thinking of new things to mention.)

LSU/Alabama For the Record

As you might have expected, I’m not quite done talking about LSU/Alabama (since this is the first blog I’ve written since the actual game).

A few notes on the history before I get on my soap box. The last time LSU was in a game where the only scoring was field goal(s), they lost to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979. Alabama won the national championship that year as the only major undefeated and untied team. Going back to 2011, Les Miles moved past Nick Saban in wins against Alabama, 5 to 4 (Miles admittedly leads Saban in losses against Alabama, 2-1). No other coach in LSU history had more than two wins against Alabama, although Bill Arnsparger (1984-86) was an impressive 2-0-1, the tie of course coming in Baton Rouge. If LSU can get past Arkansas, Miles will have a winning record with LSU against every SEC team except for Georgia (1-2). (That would have been true even had LSU lost this game though.) LSU has now won 11 of the last 15 against the Tide in the state of Alabama and 7 of 9 (also 9 of 12) against the Tide overall. Alabama still has leads in the series: 45-25-5 overall, 20-16-2 in Alabama in general, 10-9 in Tuscaloosa, and 25-9-2 in Baton Rouge. The one game missing is a tie in New Orleans. It’s just bizarre that LSU has as many wins in Tuscaloosa in this series as in Baton Rouge despite playing about half as many games in Tuscaloosa. The two teams are tied in their last 31 games (15-15-1), their last 29 games (14-14-1), their last 27 games (13-13-1), and their last 22 games (11-11) against one another. One more thing: LSU now leads in overtimes in the series, 2-1. The Tigers had won in 2005 (in Tuscaloosa, of course) and lost in 2008 (in Baton Rouge, of course).

I’ve seen some criticisms of this year’s LSU/Alabama game that claimed that the defenses weren’t really so great, the offenses were just bad. I guess in that case, in every no-hitter in baseball history, the batting was just bad.

The fact that there were four interceptions thrown is somehow proof that the defense wasn’t that good? Well, the two interceptions thrown by Alabama would have been completions against your average BCS-conference defenders (especially against Oklahoma St. or Kansas St.), and one of them probably would have been a touchdown. Jarrett Lee threw one interception all year, a pass that basically amounted to a punt against Mississippi St. He doesn’t throw two in this game if Alabama doesn’t make him extremely uncomfortable. He was used to being able to resort to his “checkdown” receiver when someone wasn’t open downfield, but the Alabama linebackers were too good to allow that. And the reason Jefferson did better than Lee did is because they couldn’t allow the linebackers to fall back into coverage as easily given Jefferson’s ability to spread out the field and run.

A low-scoring game does not mean there weren’t sustained drives and good scoring opportunities. There were those things. For example, LSU had a 40-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, but that possession had started on the 5. Why did it start on the 5? Alabama punted after a 30-yard drive of their own. So why didn’t that drive put Alabama in better field position? Brad Wing’s 72-yard punt. Why was LSU so backed up before that punt? Eric Reid intercepted a ball at the 1. The offense of one team repeatedly did enough to bury the other team deep in its own territory (although Alabama didn’t do this as often as it perhaps should have due to long field-goal attempts). And how can you call that a boring game when it was tied in the fourth quarter through all these great plays and potential game-winning drives? The defenses basically put up a wall when it came time for the offenses to potentially make a game-changing play. That’s not simply offensive ineptitude.

Of course, there were some stupid penalties, but that takes place in big games all the time, especially in college. The back-of-the-helmet-grabbing penalty (I don’t know if you call that a facecollar or a horsemask or what) actually wasn’t that bad of a penalty, because I don’t know if LSU would have gotten the tackle (at least it may have been many yards downfield) without grabbing at the head and shoulder area. Of course the substitution penalty by Alabama and the pre-punt-return mugging by LSU were inexcusable, but these are young men with the average age of about 20, and it was a very tense, frustrating sort of game, so I don’t think that’s evidence of offensive ineptitude (of course the latter was a special-teams penalty anyway) or an indictment of either team overall. And I think it was tense and frustrating enough that even the coaches lost focus with some of the play-calling and decision-making.

Also, someone on the Alabama sidelines should have been making sure something like the substitution infraction didn’t take place. Alabama also had a similar penalty in the first quarter (which also helped put the Tide out of field-goal range, but don’t forget that in both cases, the LSU defense also helped out with tackles for a loss). LSU had a few pre-snap penalties as well, but a good defense will cause those at times. One of them was an illegal shift, which resulted from an effort to gain an advantage on the defense when those were obviously hard to come by. I think the only thing I didn’t cover was a couple of holding penalties, but every game has those—maybe they’re called, maybe not, but they’re there.

There were 32 first downs in the game. By comparison, there were 37 in the Arkansas-South Carolina game, which the Hogs won, 44-28. Also, there was a good mix of run and pass in this game. In yards gained, there was a total of 290 passing yards and 244 rushing yards. Attempts favored rushing of course, but for Alabama even that was close, 29 passing attempts against 31 rushing attempts. The difference in the game, as expected by commentators and coaches alike, was a few big plays and special teams, but that’s not to say nothing else was going on. As stated earlier, those plays are less meaningful without enough offense to set them up.

Ratings/Rankings Commentary

To transition to my ratings, I didn’t have Alabama #2 going into this. They had fallen to #3 due to the bye week. But if I had voted this week, I think I would have put them #2. I watched most of the K-State/OSU game, and that just wasn’t at the same level. Oklahoma’s game against K-State might have been at that level, but that’s the only example I can think of. Maybe we’ll see if Stanford can come up with a similar game this weekend. As to the chorus of complaints from commentators too lazy to actually do research about these teams they think are mistreated by the computers, Stanford’s opponents have an overall winning percentage of 36.7. That’s pretty bad. Alabama’s and Oklahoma St.’s opponents average 52.7%. Even Boise St.’s opponents average 47.6% wins. Oklahoma’s average 55.3%. LSU’s opponents (keep in mind they’re about to play Western Kentucky and Ole Miss) average 61.2%. This doesn’t require a mysterious sophistical formula to explain. I don’t think you consider who these teams are going to play until they play them, and the BCS computers do not do this either.

So that’s nice that Stanford plays a decent team next week. If they win, they’ll get credit for that. They’ll also get credit for Notre Dame, which isn’t to Oregon’s level, but it’s better than a bye week, Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Iowa St., or New Mexico. UCLA does count for significantly less than Iowa St. right now, but they won’t if they win their remaining games in order to capture the Pac-12 South and Iowa St. Cal is in a virtual tie with Iowa St., and Arizona St. (the other possibility in the Pac-12 championship game) is significantly ahead of Iowa St. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. have bye weeks in addition to playing the Cyclones anyway, although the winner of that game stands to gain a good bit to make up for it.

As a side note, this is part of the reason why we have a human element and a computer element. I don’t believe there is a good way to input final scores into a computer. The only way to fairly consider that is as part of a human system where you can also see and consider the circumstances in which those points are scored. But obviously human rankings have too much bias, and I think silly unofficial rules about not moving teams down if they win and keeping teams ranked basically according to preseason rankings. There is also an unfair forgiveness phenomenon when teams like USC and Oklahoma lost to the likes of Stanford and Colorado a few years ago. Also, at times, there can be too much focus on a couple of recent games instead of the overall course of the season.

If anything, I believe human ratings carry too much weight, but then an even greater percentage of football coverage would be taken up by whiny commentators who are too self-important and ignorant for basic math, not to mention the kind of formulas we get in the individual BCS computers. They also forget that part of the rules forbids the computers from considering any kind of margin of victory. So if Texas Tech is in the top 50 (where I have them), they might scratch their heads and talk about what Iowa St. did in Lubbock and how lucky the Red Raiders were to beat Oklahoma, but the computers are only allowed to consider loss vs. Iowa St. and win vs. Oklahoma. There also isn’t room for Andrew Luck’s stats in there (by the way, I don’t know what his numbers were, but he didn’t pass the eye test in the last two weeks anyway). There needs to be a hype-free, emotion-free element in there, and I don’t think 1/3 (even lower than the percenage of games won by Stanford’s opponents thus far) is enough.

Anyway, with that in mind, it looks like a one-loss Alabama team (or Arkansas team) that doesn’t make the SEC Championship game isn’t realistically going to pass up a one-loss Oklahoma team. But to give you an idea of how far the teams are separated, #3 Oklahoma is about as close to #1 LSU as they are to #15 Michigan. The Sooners are also about as close to their in-state rivals (who are #2) as they are to #8 Clemson. The gap between Boise St. and Oklahoma is 1/10 that between Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. The gap between Alabama and Oklahoma is 1/3 that between Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. I believe this is the first time in the history of my rankings that the #1 team this late in the season is in the top 5 of my strength of schedule ratings, which are typically dominated by teams with losing records.

Alabama at least has a good chance to pass up Boise St. and may pass up the loser of Bedlam (for BCS purposes, Tide fans should cheer for the Sooners, although that may not help their ranking for me). Although I would have voted Alabama #2 last week, I think that’s a reasonable place for them to be. I have no plans to tinker with my formula to change any of that. Penn St. was a good team out of conference, but Kent St., North Texas, and Georgia Southern are just too weak of a remaining non-conference slate to pick up Alabama’s other games. Don’t forget that the “Big XII” has a 9-game conference schedule now, so that makes it harder to play three weaklings out of conference for those teams even if they wanted to. Also, right now, Tulsa (with losses to only Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Boise St.) doesn’t qualify. It wouldn’t surprise me that if Stanford wins out, they might pass up Alabama too (probably in the BCS as well), since there would be one extra game, and as referenced Stanford’s worst remaining opponent is Cal (or possibly UCLA, but somehow, having watched local games and sports shows from time to time over the past 7 years, I believe UCLA will not make that game).

If LSU wins out, this is probably a moot point for national-championship purposes, but the SEC West teams should probably cheer for Auburn to beat Georgia for a couple of reasons. It would strengthen the value of Auburn, and also it would probably put a better team, South Carolina, in the SEC Championship game. And furthermore, it weakens the argument for Boise St. of course. Another side note: I believe the only prior wire-to-wire #1s in my personal rankings (this is almost impossible in the computer ratings per se…the first few weeks, I’ll keep #1 subjective) was Florida St. in 1999. I had no computer formula of any sort at that time. I didn’t even give them serious thought until 2003.

There MIGHT be a scenario where Alabama can be a #2 to LSU, but it’s remote. Alabama would have to beat Auburn of course. Auburn getting that win over Georgia would be key. If the SEC wins those remaining non-conference games (South Carolina-Clemson, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida St.), that could help. Of course, Oklahoma beating Oklahoma St. might be good (or if Texas Tech could beat Oklahoma St., that might be even better). Oregon (of course a victim to LSU) beating Stanford would help. A Boise St. loss or a loss or losses by Tulsa would probably help too. UCLA making the Pac-12 championship could keep a Pac-12 champion from the North from getting too much credit as well, but might as well cheer for ASU and UCLA both to lose. A late loss by LSU would not have the Tigers #1, but it could put the Tide #1 if enough dominoes fall, and Arkansas (or maybe one-loss LSU) could conceivably be up there too.

This isn’t just for my ratings, but these are things that help tilt the computers in one way or another as well. The computers are only 1/3 of the BCS formula though, so if there is a strong feeling among the voters, generally the voters get what they want.

Other than Oregon, who could at least factor into the top 4 and other BCS thresholds (and who made a good jump of 6 spots, mostly due to others’ losses), I doubt any of the other one-loss potential champions (Clemson, Va. Tech, Penn St., USM) will matter too much in any of this. There wasn’t anything else too surprising about how the ratings came out. Michigan fell a few spots. Nebraska fell many spots. Both are still ranked. Michigan St. fell a spot despite winning, but since they just lost to Nebraska, that’s not a surprise. Arizona St. and North Carolina both lost, so that opened up spots for Cincinnati and TCU. The reason Cincinnati is 22nd instead of 24th is that both Auburn and Georgia Tech had bye weeks. Georgia didn’t really get much credit for beating New Mexico St., but it (combined with other results) was enough to separate them from Georgia Tech as well. It so happens Nebraska’s loss put the Huskers and the Spartans below Georgia. The only other movement of note was Texas, which beat Texas Tech. This was better than the wins by USC (Colorado), Georgia, and Michigan St. (Minnesota).

Full 120

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

Out of rankings: (22) Arizona St, (25) North Carolina

Prior rankings:

Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

Blog note: It might be obscure and/or boring to some, but my series of LSU/Alabama posts led to by far my highest-ever weekend, with 139 views Friday to Sunday (including my highest-ever views for one day, with 68 on Saturday–my previous high was 49). Anyway, thanks for reading.

Week 8 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 24, 2011 at 7:01 PM

This is a weird point in the season for my mathematical ratings as the top 8 teams are all undefeated, and the best one-loss team is Oklahoma at #9. However, this is probably the only week this will happen. If Oklahoma beats Kansas St., and I think almost anyone would expect them to (despite Oklahoma’s loss last week and Kansas St.’s undefeated status), they would add about .15 to their score. A win by Houston over Rice, however, would only add about .03 to their score. Houston currently leads Oklahoma by .027. Also, don’t forget that these ratings are designed to pick the best teams at the top. An undefeated team in most cases will have a better argument for #1 than a team with a loss. However, with dramatically different schedules (like Oklahoma will have after next week and certainly in two weeks), a team with a loss may be higher. Also, it’s much easier for an 11-1 team to get ahead of a 12-0 team than it is for a 6-1 team to get ahead of a 7-0 team. By the way, in Week 10, Houston will play UAB while Oklahoma will play Texas A&M, so that would be another opportunity for Oklahoma to improve its rating significantly as compared to Houston.

As I mentioned last week, Boise St. does not have a very helpful schedule in the next two weeks either with a bye in Week 9 and UNLV in Week 10. Oklahoma St. will play Baylor and then Kansas St. To round out the undefeateds, I think many of us already know what Alabama and LSU will be doing the next two weeks (bye for both, followed by LSU @ Alabama); Clemson will play Georgia Tech, followed by a bye week; I already mentioned Kansas St., with Oklahoma, followed by Oklahoma St. (unlikely, but if they make it to the end of the season undefeated, they might deserve to play in the title game regardless of what anyone else does); and Stanford (who had a more meaningful jump) will play USC, followed by Oregon St.

The Alabama-LSU winner is almost assured #1 and may have a significant lead over #2, but it is possible that due to the bye, Alabama will fall at least one spot in the next ratings before getting that chance. LSU is probably safely #1 until the Alabama game.

Lower down in the rankings, the SEC can’t quite keep a third team in the top 10, but South Carolina is knocking on the door. The Cocks play the Hogs in two weeks, and the winner of that game might have a chance. Not a bad under-card to LSU-Alabama. Virginia Tech may not have much staying power with Duke and a bye week coming up.

Michigan St. made a big jump up by beating Wisconsin, which made a similar leap backwards. Arkansas has slipped with a bye week and then Ole Miss last week, but the Razorbacks should pick it back up if they keep winning. USC has also gone up because not only did they beat Notre Dame, but also Notre Dame had defeated Michigan St., so the Irish count for even more than they would have otherwise. Nothing else of note from 11-20.

Southern Mississippi and Syracuse have mostly been lucky, but they did get quality wins in convincing fashion over the weekend. Auburn is still hanging in there despite the loss to LSU. Arizona St. and Cincinnati backed into the top 25 mostly due to others’ losses. Cincinnati’s schedule thus far doesn’t inspire much confidence, neither does their loss to Tennessee, but sometimes not losing is better than playing a good team. With a win next week, Georgia would probably bypass idle Cincinnati. Despite the win over Oklahoma, Texas Tech still has to recover from its easy early schedule and two losses before last week.


Full 120

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Alabama 2
3 Clemson 5
4 Boise St. 3
5 Okie St. 6
6 Kansas St. 7
7 Stanford 12
8 Houston 11
9 Oklahoma 4
10 Va. Tech 9
11 S Carolina 10
12 Michigan 8
13 USC 21
14 Penn St. 14
15 Oregon 17
16 Mich St. 25
17 Nebraska 15
18 Texas A&M 19
19 Arkansas 16
20 Wisconsin 13
21 So. Miss. —
22 Syracuse —
23 Arizona St. —
24 Auburn 20
25 Cincinnati —

Out of rankings: (18) Illinois, (22) Rutgers, (23) Ga. Tech, (24) W Virginia


Prior rankings:

Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

Blog note: I have already set another new record for number of views in a month, with 500 as of midnight.

How I Would Reorganize College Football…… Part III: Big East/ACC Recombination and Big Ten+2+4

In College Football, Realignment on October 22, 2011 at 11:09 PM

LSU note: This is only the Tigers’ fourth 8-0 start (1973, 1958, and 1908). See also the updated LSU/Auburn edition to my Rivalry Series.

Big East/ACC recombination

I’ve already gotten some responses to the first section along the lines of “What about West Virginia? Virginia Tech?” I put them both in this group. As I did before, I’m going to have the two divisions both vertical next to each other with the permanent rivals (other-division team to play every year) paired horizontally.

Miami-BC
Va. Tech-WVU
Virginia-Maryland
USF-Rutgers
UNC-Syracuse
Duke-Army
Wake-Navy
NCS-Connecticut

It’s not the best set-up for West Virginia admittedly, but I think they would have good rivalries with Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Navy. I don’t think they’d be much better off staying in the current Big East with Pitt leaving. I was a little haphazard with the last 5 permanent rivalries, but they wouldn’t really be necessary. The teams could alternate over time. Virginia and Va. Tech could swap occasionally. Breaking up Miami and BC would not be allowed as long as Doug Flutie is alive though. I’m somewhat kidding. You could argue the two Florida teams don’t belong at all, but I’m OK with allowing for custom to prevail over geography in some places.

The Big Ten + 2 + 4

I’ll save going out west for the next blog, so now I’ll go to opponents WVU might miss like Pitt, Louisville, and Cincinnati. I had to pump the current 12-team Big Ten up to sixteen somehow. Wait, I’ve mentioned three…guess who? Could it get a little more obvious than Notre Dame? But hey, that’s a really good basketball conference for them to be in too. Not bad for baseball either. So I think it maintains enough of the Big East that the Domer fans would go for it (I know other sports don’t matter as far as money). Some just want to be obstinate, but remember when the Big Ten and Pac-10 were rigidly opposed to a conference championship game? Not very long ago.

And…and Notre Dame would still play Purdue, Michigan, and Michigan St. every year. Hopefully the mid-90s were long enough ago that they would accept Northwestern as an annual opponent once again. The permanent rival I picked was Louisville. Indiana-Kentucky, makes sense, right?

I toyed with trying to get Notre Dame to play Indiana for the in-state thing or Penn St. to bring back another forsaken rival, but I knew if I got too creative, I would mess up the battle for Paul Bunyan’s little brown oaken bucket of Rosedale or something. I probably already did something bad with putting Ohio St., Illinois, and Indiana in the mostly non-original-Big-Ten division. I checked on this, but I don’t know what all 12 Big Ten trophies are. I read one is being designed right now for Iowa-Nebraska. Good thing I was going to make them permanent rivals anyway. Anyway here it is. If I did miss something more obscure than the Land Grant Trophy (which I reinstated…you’re welcome), keep it to yourself. If I overlooked something major, let me know though.

Michigan-Ohio St.
Michigan St.-Penn St.
Minnesota-Cincinnati
Wisconsin-Pitt
Iowa-Nebraska
Northwestern-Illinois
Notre Dame-Louisville
Purdue-Indiana

I have no reason for Minnesota-Cincinnati or Wisconsin-Pitt, but switching them up didn’t make it any better. The rest seem good. And I know this is crazy, but I would just call the one on the left the North and the one on the right the South.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Florida

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rivalry on October 14, 2010 at 10:50 PM

NOTE: The 2016 LSU-Florida game has been postponed to November. This will be the first game in the series outside of the month of October since 1984 and the first in November since 1972. The two teams tied in both 1972 and 1984,

Overall records (edited after the 2016 game)
Florida leads, 33-29-3
In Baton Rouge, Florida leads, 17-16
In Gainesville, Florida leads, 16-13-3

Longest winning streak–Florida, 9 wins, 1988-1996
Longest LSU winning streak–4 wins, 1977-1980

Home/away streaks
Florida won 4 in a row at LSU, 1989-1995
LSU won 3 in a row at Florida, 1959-1963 (will try to tie next year)
Florida won 7 in a row at home, 1988-2000
LSU won 3 in a row at home, 1937-1954 (the middle game was played in 1941) and 2011-2015

Longest streaks with only one loss:
Florida, 13/14, 1988-2001
LSU, 5/6, 1958-1963, 1977-1982, and 2010-2015

Biggest wins:
Florida, 55, 58-3 in 1993 (@ LSU)
LSU, 41, 48-7 in 1971

Biggest shutout wins:
LSU, 23, in both 1961 (@Florida) and 1962
Florida, 20, 1985 (@ LSU)

Highest point totals
:
1. Florida, 58, 1993*
2. Florida, 56, 1996*
3. Florida, 51, 2008
4. LSU, 48, 1971
5. Florida, 44, 2001*
6. Florida, 42, 1994*
t7. Florida, 41, 2000*
t7. LSU, 41, 2011
9. LSU, 37, 1967
10. LSU, 36, 1977 and 2002

*=during Steve Spurrier’s tenure

Recent games (since 2004)

10/06/2017 LSU @ Florida L 19 27
10/14/2017 LSU (9-4) @ Florida (4-7) W 17 16
11/19/2016 LSU (8-4) vs. Florida (9-4) L 10 16
10/17/2015 LSU (9-3) vs. Florida (10-4) W 35 28
10/11/2014 LSU (8-5) @ Florida (7-5) W 30 27
10/12/2013 LSU (10-3) vs. Florida (4-8) W 17 6
10/06/2012 LSU (10-3) @ Florida (11-2) L 6 14
10/08/2011 LSU (13-1) vs. Florida (7-6) W 41 11
10/09/2010 LSU (11-2) @ Florida (8-5) W 33 29
10/10/2009 LSU (9-4) vs. Florida (13-1) L 3 13
10/11/2008 LSU (8-5) @ Florida (13-1) L 21 51
10/06/2007 LSU (12-2) vs. Florida (9-4) W 28 24
10/07/2006 LSU (11-2) @ Florida (13-1) L 10 23
10/15/2005 LSU (11-2) vs. Florida (9-3) W 21 17
10/9/2004 LSU (9-3) @ Florida (7-5) W 24 21

The italicized games were all decided by one possession.  The records above are final records for the season.

2011 to present (for more in-depth details from 2004 to 2014, see here)

LSU ran over almost everyone in the 2011 season on the way to an SEC title before losing a rematch in the BCS Championship to Alabama.  Florida was no exception, as LSU won, 41-11.

In 2012, with LSU struggling to break in a new quarterback (Georgia transfer Zach Mettenberger), Florida won 14-6 on the way to an 11-1 regular season.

LSU was strong in 2013 despite the eventual three losses (all in close games to teams that were very good at the time), but Florida only had four wins that year.  LSU won a fairly uneventful contest, 17-6.  Florida had been ranked going into the game but would not win another game all season.

LSU won close games in both 2014 and 2015.  Both games were tied late in the game.  In 2014, it appeared the Gators may be driving for the winning points, but LSU came up with an interception before hitting a long field goal to win.  This was slightly surprising given that the same kicker had missed an extra point earlier in the game.

In 2015, Florida tied the game on a 72-yard punt return with just over 1 minute left in the third quarter.  With 10:40 left in the game, LSU got into field goal position.  Even though it was a fourth and long, it wasn’t exactly shocking to see the kicker run around the end and catch a pass from the holder.  Unlike Josh Jasper in 2010, Trent Domingue made it all the way to the end zone.  Florida made it to midfield a couple of times, but one drive ended after an incompletion on fourth and 10 and the other ended when the clock ran out and Florida QB Treon Harris threw the ball out bounds.

This is only the second time LSU won three home games in a row against the Gators.  The previous time it was three games spread out over 18 seasons.  This was also the third time and first since 1982 that LSU has won five times in six contests against the Gators.  Also, since 2007, LSU is 12 for 16 on fourth downs against the Gators with at least four successful fakes, three of them fake field goals.  LSU has converted its last six fourth-down-conversion attempts against Florida.

In 2016, it was Florida stopping LSU on fourth down, avoiding what would have been a 17-16 LSU win in Baton Rouge.

That happened to be the exact final score in Gainesville in 2017.

This was the first year since 1980 in which LSU beat Auburn and Florida with at least one of those wins coming on the road. Just like this year, there were also wins at Florida and at home against Auburn that season. That year was the last of four consecutive LSU wins against Florida, which has not been repeated since then. LSU has won 6 of 8 against the Gators and 3 of the last 4 in Gainesville though. All three of those wins in Gainesville were decided in the final moments, and this was the ninth LSU-Florida game since (and including) 2004 that was decided by one possession.

Before the loss to LSU, Florida had won 14 of 15 home games and 10 of the last 11 decided by 8 points or fewer (with the previous close loss coming to LSU in 2015). Now both LSU and Texas A&M have won close games in the Swamp (by 1 and 2 points respectively) in consecutive weeks. The Gators’ remaining home games this season are against UAB and Florida St.

New narrative, 2002-2010

The original TSN post is below after the date it was written (10/2/07), but it was written before one of the best games in the series, at least in my recollection. 2007 was not the game that made Urban Meyer cry (see below for 2005), but it was Urban’s next visit to Tiger Stadium. I meant it was the best because of the play, not because of how it seemed to affect the Florida coach. I think even Florida fans would be hard-pressed to say the 2007 game wasn’t an incredible display of college football. I’ll get to the details below.

Actually, I’ll go back to 2002 since that’s the year this became a competitive rivalry again after Florida had won 13 of 14 before that. The series did not turn around with LSU’s hiring of Nick Saban but with Steve Spurrier’s departure from Florida. LSU did win the SEC in 2001, but only after a 44-15 loss to the Gators, which followed a 41-9 loss in Saban’s first year. I’ll give the ESPN links for the game recaps.

In 2002, LSU essentially was two different teams. One rebounded from an opening loss in Blacksburg to put together a 6-game winning streak, during which they looked much like the team that ended 2001 with a separate 6-game winning streak on the way to LSU’s first undisputed SEC title since 1986 (and first of any nature since 1988). That is the team that played Florida in Gainesville and won easily, the first win @ Florida since 1986 (no, that’s not deja vu or a copying error). (See below for the historic significance of the margin of victory.) The other LSU team is what we ended up with after Matt Mauck (who would be the hero of the 2003 season) fell to injury and Marcus Randall took over, although the downward spiral wasn’t entirely the fault of that one position of course. The Tigers would finish the season with 4 losses in 6 games, including a 1-point loss in the regular-season finale against Arkansas that kept them from returning to the SEC Championship game. Florida would finish with the exact same record of 8-5.

Florida (3-3 going into the game) wasn’t intimidated in their return trip to Baton Rouge, where they had won 6 out of 7, to face the 5-0 Tigers. Despite impressive numbers against weaker teams, 2003‘s offense had shown some weakness against Georgia three weeks before. Florida’s defense apparently came out with something to prove after giving up 36 points to the Tigers in Gainesville the season before and Florida won, 19-7. LSU would get the last laugh, as they finished 13-1 with a BCS title and Florida once again finished 8-5. On the other hand, it is still annoying to LSU fans that we’re supposed to “share” the national title with USC, and that is largely Florida’s fault.

In 2004, Florida had started 3-1 with a 2-point loss to Tennessee as the only blemish. LSU already had two losses and would have had three were it not for several missed extra points by Oregon St. kicker Alexis Serna. LSU’s first two road trips were a last-minute one-point loss to Auburn and a 45-16 thrashing at the hands of Georgia the week before (tied for the third-worst loss of the Nick Saban era…two of those top four were losses to Steve Spurrier’s Gators). I don’t recall the spread, but it could not have been surprising that Florida got out to a 14-0 lead. LSU outscored them the rest of the way, however, 24-7. Consecutive home losses to LSU for the first time since 1980 and 1982 were probably not the reason, but LSU broke the tie against Ron Zook, and the record has remained 2-1 ever since. This time LSU would finish the regular season on a 6-game winning streak before giving up a hail mary to lose to Iowa in the bowl game, in Nick Saban’s final game. Florida once again finished with 5 losses (can’t do that three years in a row in Gainesville).

Since then, it has been Urban Meyer vs. Les Miles and surprisingly to some, the two are now dead even.

I mentioned that despite Urban Meyer’s tears (maybe because he lost to Les Miles, come to think of it), 2005 wasn’t as good as 2007 would be. Meyer refused to answer a question about Miles in the post-game press conference this year, by the way. Interestingly enough, Florida was LSU’s first home win in 2005, despite it coming on Oct. 8. LSU had their regularly scheduled opener postponed, their next scheduled home game against Arizona St. was moved to Tempe, and the Tigers lost a heart-breaker to Tennessee before road games against Mississippi St. and Vanderbilt. LSU was more sloppy that year, and the Florida game was decided based on mistakes rather than great plays. LSU turned the ball over 5 times, suffered 5 sacks, and was penalized 11 times in the win. This came after 4 turnovers and 14 penalties in the prior game against Vanderbilt. This time, LSU got out to a 14-point first-quarter lead before falling behind. The Tigers won with the only fourth-quarter points, a touchdown with about 12:30 left. Until the final Florida drive ended due to the clock running out, every other drive from then on ended with a punt.

I don’t know if it was Katrina or Les Miles’ first season or just the leadership that we had on the team, but that team was like a derailed train at times. It was really fast and could run you over, but it could also crash and burn at a moment’s notice. Although LSU finished 11-2 that year, LSU nearly lost to Arizona St. before a second-half comeback, it blew a 21-0 halftime lead over Tennessee to lose in overtime, and it was also lucky to escape with a win over Auburn in overtime (as it was lucky to beat Florida). In the second loss, LSU just ran out of steam and got destroyed by Georgia in the SEC Championship game. It didn’t help matters that the Tigers already knew the national championship was out of reach. In other games that year, LSU beat Alabama by 3 in overtime and Arkansas by 2. LSU was certainly ready for Miami in the Peach Bowl, which they would win, 40-3. Combined with losses to Alabama and South Carolina, the Gators’ win over Georgia in their next game was not enough to give Florida the East title, but the Gators won the Outback Bowl to finish 9-3.

In the 2006 game, the sloppiness continued for LSU, but this time Florida took advantage. LSU turned the ball over 5 times. LSU took a 7-0 lead after a 9-play, 73-yard drive, but then gave the ball to Florida with a fumbled punt return that led to a tying touchdown for the Gators. The Tigers then had the ball on the Florida 2 with a chance to take the lead again, but JaMarcus Russell fumbled. Florida would instead take the lead in the waning seconds of the first half. Then, LSU fumbled the second half kickoff for a safety, giving Florida a 9-point lead. Tim Tebow had a good game, but that one was lost by LSU five times as much as it was won by Florida. Florida would win the national championship over Ohio St., and LSU didn’t do too poorly for the season either, finishing 11-2 after winning the Sugar Bowl over Notre Dame.

2007 was won simply by virtue of Les Miles’ refusals to send out the punting team and Jacob Hester’s refusals to go down. This might sound vaguely familiar…After taking some chances, LSU scored a touchdown on its final drive, beating Florida by 4 to go 6-0 for the season. Good thing LSU isn’t traveling to Lexington next week. The earlier parts of the game went a little bit differently. Florida had three separate 10-point leads before a combination of ball control and defense kept the Gators scoreless for the fourth quarter. LSU had two fourth-down conversions on the final drive alone and was 5-5 on fourth downs for the game. Not coincidentally, LSU had a time of possession of almost 36 minutes and Florida had the ball for less than three minutes in the fourth quarter. LSU’s final drive was 15 plays for 60 yards and took up 8:11. LSU only led for the final 70 seconds of the game, and the only tie had been at 0-0. LSU would become the first team in recent memory to be the consensus national champions with two losses, 12-2. Florida, which had entered the game with a 4-1 record, would finish 9-4.

I’m going to be a bit lazy and forego reliving 2008 and 2009 except for a condensed version of events. In 2008, Florida got out to a 20-0 lead. LSU rallied to get back to within 6, but two quick touchdowns for the Gators followed. It was officially over on the first play in the fourth quarter, LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee threw a touchdown to the wrong team to give Florida a 41-14 lead. With an LSU touchdown instead it would have been at least conceivable for LSU to complete a comeback, but our defense just couldn’t keep up quite well enough. Florida would win the national championship while LSU would finish 8-5. Last year, it (obviously) was more of a defensive struggle, 13-3. It was every bit as week an offensive performance by LSU as the score indicated. LSU had under 100 passing yards and under 70 rushing yards. The Tigers had nine penalties and were 1-9 on third downs. It’s truly amazing that the defense was able to hold Florida to 13 with such little assistance. The Gators dealt LSU its first loss for the second consecutive season and for the third time in 7 seasons. Florida of course lost the SEC title rematch with Alabama for their only loss of the season before winning the Sugar Bowl over Cincinnati. LSU finished 9-4 after a CapitalOne Bowl loss to Penn St.

Finally, that takes us to 2014. With the win, LSU became the only team to have beaten Florida on the road three times since 2002 (inclusive). Ole Miss is the only other team to have done it twice in that time period. I’m almost certain Florida is the only team to have won at LSU twice in that same time period. Anyway, this year wasn’t like 2007 where LSU was battling from behind the whole night or 2005 where Florida’s ineptness on offense saved LSU’s mistakes from hurting them. This was the best LSU looked as compared to Florida (again, they both played great in 2007, but LSU didn’t look much better if better at all) since 2002 despite the close score. The Tigers outgained the Gators, 385-243. There were similarities to 2007 in that LSU converted two fourth downs (including the crazy fake field goal) and had the ball for almost 10 minutes longer than Florida did. Also, the 2007 game and just now were the only instances of a second consecutive loss by Florida under Urban Meyer.

Florida had kept it close by taking over (and then scoring touchdowns) at the LSU 17 twice, once after an interception and once after a punt. Both gave the Gators 4-point early leads. LSU also had what should have been a safety canceled due to an incidental facemask on the tackle before either of those touchdown drives. It was very reminiscent of 2006 except despite all of that, LSU still led by 6 at the half. I’ll give credit to Andre Debose for his return that brought the Gators to within 5, but still, it was set up by a short kick and all but a few Tigers ran past him before they seemed to realize it had been a short kick. So LSU could have easily ended up winning in a blowout, but like I told one of my blogging colleagues, I’ll take a win at Florida however they can get it, especially when throughout the 1990s, that seemed like a complete impossibility.

2005, 2007, and 2010 (LSU’s last three wins in the series) were each by exactly 4 points. Five of LSU’s last 7 wins in the series were by four points or fewer (including 3-point wins in 1987 and 2004). LSU won by 7 in 1997 and by 29 in 2002. The 2002 win was LSU’s biggest since 1971, which was the first of 40 consecutive seasons in which this series has been played now. 2002 was also the only times since 1980 that LSU even won by two touchdowns or more.’

LSU has never dealt Florida its only loss. The Gators finished 13-1 in three of the last four seasons and beat LSU every time. But aside from those, LSU has won 4 in a row.

Original SportingNews blog


Oct 02, 2007 04:18 AM

As I mentioned in that rankings blog, this is LSU’s first AP #1 appearance since 1959, and when they relinquished #1 that November, it was because the Tigers had suffered their first loss after 19 consecutive wins.

LSU has won 7 SEC games in a row, 8 SEC home games in a row, and 16 home games in a row overall. The Tigers also have the nation’s second-longest winning streak at 12 games. The last loss? Florida.

Since losing to Ron Zook’s Florida Gators in LSU’s national championship year of 2003, LSU has won 14 of 15 SEC home games and 26 of 27 home games overall. The one loss was the Monday night game against Tennessee in overtime shortly after Hurricane Rita left the area in 2005.

Recent history of LSU and the rivalry

I have a couple of TSN friends (if not more) who are in high school, and people that age—or people that don’t remember the late ’80s and early ’90s in college football for whatever reason—don’t realize just how low the LSU program had gotten and that it was a very difficult process over 9 seasons that eventually led to a national championship in 2003, an event still dismissed by USC fans as charity (a couple tangents are below).

Where did LSU come from?

I know this is a compliment in a way, but I actually see people who list LSU as their least-favorite team. Usually least favorites are teams with a significant resume of dominance—USC (slowed down in the ’90s but still were usually a bowl team, had won a national championship almost 20 years more recently than LSU had before 2003), Alabama (claims 13 national championships; although a few are sketchy at best, that’s still impressive), Florida (LSU wasn’t the only SEC they dominated from the late ’80s until the Ron Zook era), Notre Dame (0-5 doesn’t erase being the one of the most successful and storied programs in college football), Michigan (not far behind N.D.), etc.

My point is that I can’t imagine that, for all teams you can choose to be the #1 team you want to lose, you’re going to target a program with 8 losing seasons of the last 18? LSU finished with 4 or fewer wins four times from 1992-1999, with a fifth in 1989.

Anyway, I thought reclaiming the #1 spot before this game was interesting, and you’ll see why in a minute. Where did LSU come from? After six consecutive losing seasons, LSU hired former Notre Dame player and then-Vanderbilt head coach Gerry DiNardo, who had more than doubled Vandy’s average number of wins per season. His recruiting wouldn’t quite take, but he was hired for his ability to get the most out of a small talent pool. He managed 16 SEC wins in 3 years when the Tigers had had only 14 in those six losing seasons combined.

Background for 1997 game

After an “only” 18-point loss to #3 Florida in 1995, a match-up between undefeateds in 1996—#12 LSU @ #1 Florida—was picked up by CBS. LSU had already gone on the road to knock off #14 Auburn, whom they had beaten the year before when Auburn was ranked #5, which had garnered LSU its first national ranking since early starting 0-2 in 1989. Not only would Florida defeat LSU for the 9th consecutive season, but they humiliated the Tigers, 56-13. It was the second time in 4 years Florida had beaten LSU by over 40 (the first, a 58-3 loss at Tiger Stadium in 1993 which ESPN actually apologized for broadcasting) and third time in four years the Gators won by more than 3 touchdowns.

LSU would finish the 1996 season 10-2, the only other loss a continuation of an Alabama undefeated streak in Baton Rouge that would be 30 years old before it ended. Florida, of course, finished with 1 loss, @ Florida St. by a field goal, before winning the national championship that year.

In preseason 1997, the Gators held onto #1, and LSU actually got its first top-10 ranking that pre-season since its loss @ Ohio St. in week 4 of the 1988 season.]

Florida rolled into the LSU game in early October still undefeated, and after a 3-point loss to Auburn and 1-point win against Vanderbilt, the Tigers had slipped to #14, lower than they had been the year before. But, not wanting to pass up on a chance to have the #1 team on its airwaves, ESPN decided to give the Florida-LSU series another shot. They wouldn’t regret it, as the Tigers won, 28-21.

See the connection? Loss to Auburn by 3 at home…#1 team in the country…LSU-Florida…upset.

At least the #1 team is at home this time, and the other team isn’t trying to get revenge for the year before, or for the nine years before for that matter.

And if this game needed an extra boost (not likely), it will be the debut of Mike VI, LSU’s new live tiger mascot. A Mike the Tiger has intimidated visiting football teams since 1936, almost the entire history of LSU’s membership in the SEC. Terry Bowden commented that on his first visit to Tiger Stadium, he was given a rude welcome by Mike V and was reminded why coaches wear dark pants.

Urban Meyer wouldn’t have provided as many meals, and Mike V was in his old age (3 days shy of his 16th birthday), so Meyer didn’t mention anything about the tiger, but Urban’s first visit to Tiger Stadium, a 21-17 loss two years ago, caused him to weep openly after the game.

The all-time series

(See above for updated overall records)

Since going 1-13 against Florida from 1988 to 2001 (including 1-11 against Spurrier, see the link to the South Carolina series below), LSU has won 3 of 5 in the series, but only one of the three (Urban Meyer’s first visit, mentioned above) was in Baton Rouge.

The only other times that a 3-2 record occurred for either team were between 1954 and 1961. There were two windows of time that the teams were 2-2-1 over five years, 1980-84 and 1982-86. But even those years can also be viewed as parts of various streaks.

LSU went 3-0-1 in the first four games between the programs, which took place between 1937 and 1954. Since then, there has only been one gap in the rivalry, from 1968 to 1970.

Florida responded with a 3-0 streak to tie but would not take the lead until after one-time LSU head coach Bill Arnsparger hired Steve Spurrier at Florida, where Arnsparger had become the AD.

LSU then won 5 of 6, the first game of that group was in LSU’s championship season in 1958, which earned LSU its first of those 19 straight weeks on top, and in the second LSU was ranked #1. So LSU is 1-0 against Florida with LSU as #1, but this is the first time LSU was ranked #1 while hosting the Gators.

Florida and LSU then repeated the first 7 games, but in reverse: Florida went 3-0 followed by LSU going 3-0-1 from 1967-73.

Florida responded with yet another 3-0 streak. LSU then won 4 in a row. Florida went 3-1-1 over the next five years, from 1981-85. After the Tigers won the next two in a row, they didn’t win again until 1997.

1977-1987 was the best long-term LSU run, 7-3-1, which included 4-0-1 at Florida. The second-best was 8-4-1 to start the series, from 1937 to 1963.

LSU has not won 4 of 6 against the Gators since it won 5 of 6 from 1977-82.

Florida is LSU’s seventh most-common opponent. While the LSU-Kentucky series (which I’ll get to next) takes its next break, the Gators will move up to fifth, as Florida is only one behind Kentucky and Rice, who will be tied for fifth after this year, and LSU has no plans to renew its rivalry with Rice.

This will be the 37th consecutive season that LSU has played Florida, the sixth-longest streak overall for LSU and fourth-longest active streak after Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Alabama. Tulane and Kentucky are the longer streaks that have ended.

Other installments of the LSU rivalry series:
(Obsolete; see here instead)

Approval Rating: 100% (out of 8 reviews).