theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

Week 4 Top 25

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 17, 2017 at 2:36 PM

If you’re looking for my comments about the LSU game, go here.

This week starts the transition to my objective computer system. A couple of disclaimers for those who may not remember. No one is being penalized for a win (if they move down after one), only for not accomplishing good wins. Ranking team A ahead of team B does not necessarily mean I think team A would beat team B.

Once the transition is complete, teams will be in order of their accomplishments (with points subtracted for losses of course). For the moment though, I’m still giving some deference to my subjective rankings.

Auburn and Florida St., for instance, aren’t even in the top 60 of the objective ratings. They’re basically placeholders for right now. I rate them highly enough subjectively to stay in; but as I give less importance to that, they will likely fall out until they can compensate for the respective losses with quality wins.

Apart from those two exceptions, I required all the other teams to at least be better than U. Miami, which hasn’t played a game against an FBS opponent yet and only has a win over Bethune-Cookman. I guess another disclaimer is I don’t BLAME the team for not having played anyone due to weather events, but it’s not a moral judgment. The whole point of my ratings system is to boil it down to what has been shown on the field.

Anyway, a couple of other teams I considered were Iowa and Colorado; but they both have big games next week where they can play their way in (Penn St. @ Iowa and Washington @ Colorado). In addition to those two, some other match-ups of unbeatens will be significant: Alabama @ Vanderbilt, TCU @ Oklahoma St., Mississippi St. @ Georgia, USC @ UC-Berkeley, Toledo @ U. Miami, Texas Tech @ Houston, and UCF @ Maryland.

Something useful to look at if there are questions about some of these teams is wins by opponents. Kentucky’s opponents have a total of four wins (three of those against FBS teams). UC-Berkeley’s opponents have four wins (two of those over FBS teams). Mississippi St.’s are the same as Cal’s (just not quite as good), and so forth.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Oklahoma 2
3 Clemson 4
4 Penn St. 3
5 Wisconsin 5
6 Okla St. 6
7 Michigan 7
8 USC 8
9 Georgia 12
10 Ohio St. 9
11 Kentucky –
12 UC-Berkeley –
13 Mississippi St. –
14 Vanderbilt –

San Diego St….


… and Vanderbilt scored major wins over ranked teams late on Saturday night.

15 San Diego St. –
16 Florida 17
17 Washington 11
18 South Florida 18
19 Memphis –
20 Louisville 20
21 Wash. St. 21
22 TCU 22
23 Oregon 24
24 Florida St. 10
25 Auburn 15

Out of top 25: (13) LSU, (14) Kansas St., (16) Stanford, (19) U. Miami, (23) Tennessee, (25) S. Carolina

Advertisements

Final Top 25 of the 2016 Season

In Bowls, College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 11, 2017 at 7:36 PM

I’ll keep you in suspense with my conference assessment (although you can find the summary here), but I thought it was interesting that Ohio St. and Washington were able to stay in the top 4. I know the last time I did a blog Penn St. was #4, but they actually fell to #5 after the Army/Navy game and FCS postseason games were added in.

Clemson didn’t win by as much as the champions have won previously in the CFP era, so my only concern is what if a 2-loss team ends up winning the national championship over a previous unbeaten? The winner might not be the best team in my rankings in that scenario; but it would be hard to have an NFL ranking that would put a 10-6 Super Bowl winner first, so I don’t regard that as a huge issue.

Congratulations to Clemson for not only having the best team (at least in the fourth quarter on Monday) but also the best schedule.

Congratulations to Clemson for not only having the best team (at least in the fourth quarter on Monday) but also the best schedule.

I also thought it was interesting that for the first time since I’ve been doing this the team with the best schedule is the national champion. Of course it didn’t hurt that they played three SEC teams and Ohio St. in addition to their ACC schedule.

Back to the other teams… to be fair, if you divide by playing week, Oklahoma and Florida St. would have passed up Washington. Also, Western Michigan (which had a conference championship game) would have fallen to #11.

USC closed the gap with Penn St. pretty well, but they were too far apart to start with for the Trojans to go ahead. USC did finish in the top 10 though, while Michigan fell out of the top 10 for the first time since Week 4.

LSU didn’t squeeze into the top 25 even though they beat the #25 team Louisville, but the Cardinals had built up enough of an advantage over the course of the season. The ACC bowl results didn’t hurt, although as I’ll discuss in the next blog the SEC didn’t do too badly either.

It also hurt the Tigers to have one fewer playing week. If you average ratings by playing week, LSU would have finished 22nd. If you give the Tigers a win over South Alabama (the canceled game), LSU would have probably finished 20th.

Other big movers were Tennessee, Oklahoma St., and Florida, which all improved 4 or 5 spots. Along with the teams that fell out (and Louisville), big movers in the wrong direction were Colorado, Boise St., and West Virginia.

South Florida actually fell a few spots despite beating South Carolina, but that was largely due to a disastrous bowl season for the American Conference (or AAC).

Stanford only had a modest gain after beating North Carolina, but the Pac-12 didn’t have a great bowl season either. It only qualified 6 teams, and only 2 other Pac-12 teams (USC and Utah) won bowl games. Stanford did not play Utah this season and USC was also in the other division, so the other wins didn’t help the Cardinal as much as another Pac-12 North win would have.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Clemson 2
2 Alabama 1
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Washington 5
5 Oklahoma 8
6 Florida St. 10
7 Wisconsin 9
8 Penn St. 4
9 W. Michigan 6
10 USC 13
11 Michigan 7
12 Tennessee 16
13 Okie St. 18
14 Stanford 17
15 Colorado 11
16 Florida 21
17 Boise St. 12
18 S. Florida 15
19 App. St. —
20 U. Miami —
21 Virginia Tech —
22 West Virginia 14
23 W. Kentucky —
24 Georgia Tech —
25 Louisville 19

All 128 Teams

Out of rankings: (20) Nebraska, (22) Temple, (23) Houston, (24) Auburn, (25) Pittsburgh

Final Pre-Bowl Top 25; CFP Plays It Safe but Gets It Wrong

In Bowls, College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on December 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

College Football Committee: Top 4, Sugar Bowl, and Orange Bowl

There were some complaints in the media Saturday night about why the College Football Playoff committee even has weekly rankings.

Ideally, I think it’s good to let teams know where they stand from week to week and start the process from scratch after the games are all finished. But I wonder if that really happened or if they just took the easy route and rubber-stamped what they already had as the top four (Clemson and Ohio St. switched spots, but that won’t affect anything except who wears what jersey and who calls the coin toss). Would it have been easier to pick Penn St. over Washington had the committee not declared a few days before that Washington was #4 and Penn St. was #7? If so, the weekly ratings should be abandoned.

The committee also played it safe by picking as the BCS would have in all the major decisions. There were about 15 teams that were in contention for the major bowls (other than the “automatic” Western Michigan). This is how they would have finished if we had just kept the BCS system.

The BCS average of the polls (AP and Coaches' poll since the Harris poll no longer exists) and the medium 4 computer ratings.  They're calculated as fractions of the perfect score and then averaged.

The BCS average of the polls (AP and Coaches’ poll since the Harris poll no longer exists) and the medium 4 computer rankings. They’re calculated as fractions of the perfect score and then averaged.

As I mentioned last week, I also disagree with Auburn’s selection to the Sugar Bowl, but part of the problem was that it was a three-way race. Although LSU gained on Florida in the last couple of weeks (and actually passed the Gators in the most-recent AP poll) and had the highest computer average of the three, obviously head-to-head came into play in subjective rankings and put LSU at a disadvantage. Auburn would have the stronger argument had they not also lost to their chief SEC East rivals and had that team (Georgia) not been worse than Florida.

The answer Auburn people kept repeating about why it should be Auburn is head to head, but if that’s the primary way you decide between close teams (even if the game was early in the season), why is Ohio St. in the top 4 but not the team who beat them and then won their conference? Why is Florida St. in the Orange Bowl but not Louisville, who not only beat the Seminoles but blew them out? 63-20 is not similar to the difference of a foot or two or a second or two at the end of the game like the two relevant LSU games.

Louisville did lose two games late to fall into a “tie” (although they finished two games ahead of the FSU in the conference standings), but so did Auburn. At least in Florida St.’s case, they blew away the Cardinals in the BCS computer ratings.

To turn back to Washington vs. Penn St., one of the rewarding things about having my own objective mathematical system is when it validates my subjective opinion. I also like that I don’t have to do complicated mathematics like algorithms and least-squared regressions to get there. I’m not sure what any of those tell you about how good a football team is anyway.

Washington didn’t play a single team in my final top 10 and went only 2-1 against the top 25. Penn St. went 2-1 against the top 10, on the other hand. The Nittany Lions did lose to #25 Pitt, but I don’t think it’s really fair to eliminate them based upon that when Washington had one of the worst non-conference schedules in college football. The committee has sent a clear message that record counts for more than schedule and (in view of Ohio St. making the field, although I agree with that) for more than championship status.

Anyway, I think Penn St. did enough to overcome the additional loss; but it’s close enough that if Washington had played a slightly better schedule, the Huskies would have been fourth. So I firmly believe I got the formula right. There are teams (like LSU this year) who aren’t necessarily treated appropriately, but for me it’s always been about getting the top two to four teams right.

That said, it will be interesting to see Penn St. against USC. I hope Penn St. can put this behind them, but it wouldn’t the first time a team that was snubbed or fell just short didn’t really show up for the bowl game. Although the Trojans and Nittany Lions have five losses between them, neither has lost since September. Both teams played the best (other) team in their own division and the best team of the other division in that span. Penn St. also played one of the runners-up from other division.

Washington versus Michigan in that game might have been even better though.

LSU in the Citrus Bowl

Then-Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino pointed at the LSU sidelines in anger (apparently that LSU ran up the score in a 24-point win in 2011) in his previous game against the Tigers.  Petrino is 4-4 against SEC teams since.

Then-Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino pointed at the LSU sidelines in anger (apparently that LSU ran up the score in a 24-point win in 2011) in his previous game against the Tigers. Petrino is 4-4 against SEC teams since.

Also, I want to reiterate that I’m content with LSU’s selection. You have to be extremely lucky to lose four games and go to the Sugar Bowl, so I can’t be too upset there. Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M were penalized more for late losses, so at least we got better bowls than they did. I’m not thrilled with it being early in the day on New Year’s Eve, when I’m typically up until 3 or 4 in the morning. Hopefully I can take a long nap.

Also, our opponent will be another team with a legitimate gripe about being left out of a major bowl in Louisville. Financially speaking at least, the Citrus is the top non-CFP bowl, so that’s something else to be happy about. I’m not sure how much of that actually goes to the school, but with what Louisiana has been through lately, every little bit helps. I always enjoy Bobby Petrino though. He’s a guy most of the SEC loves to hate for multiple reasons, but he’s also a very good coach. We’ve seen LSU DC Dave Arranda give Lane Kiffin about all he could handle, so I’m excited to see how Arranda and our defense do in this game.

I’m less excited to see LSU try to produce on offense, but obviously Kentucky gave me some encouragement. There hasn’t really been time to make many adjustments on offense since the dismissal of Cam Cameron, but often bowl prep allows some flexibility in that area. It has helped LSU before even in years with relatively poor offenses, such as last year.

Other Changes

Another team that made significant progress was Oklahoma, who will be the other team in the Sugar Bowl. I mentioned 2003 earlier. Oklahoma was in the Sugar Bowl that year of course, and Nick Saban got the better of Bob Stoops, who repaid the favor against Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl 3 years ago. As a former New Orleans resident, welcome back to the Sooners and (other) Tigers. Oklahoma will play Auburn for the first time since the 1972 Sugar Bowl. This will be Auburn’s first Sugar Bowl in 12 years and only the second since 1989, so I guess that might have been a good reason to let them have this one.

West Virginia also made a significant stride even though beating Baylor wasn’t the best win, but it beat a loss or not playing at all.

Temple was also in the top 25 at this point last year before losing in the bowl game, but the Owls have another chance to finish in the final top 25 for the first time.

I’m not sure if Pitt has finished in my top 25 recently, but I don’t recall them doing so. Of course they were helped out by Penn St.’s win, but it was more about the losses by Navy and Virginia Tech.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 3
3 Ohio St. 2
4 Penn St. 6
5 Washington 5
6 W. Michigan 7
7 Michigan 4
8 Oklahoma 12
9 Wisconsin 8
10 Florida St. 10
11 Colorado 9
12 Boise St. 11
13 USC 13
14 West Virginia 21
15 S. Florida 14
16 Tennessee 16
17 Stanford 17
18 Okie St. 15
19 Louisville 20
20 Nebraska 19
21 Florida 18
22 Temple —
23 Houston 23
24 Auburn 22
25 Pittsburgh —

All 128 Teams

Out of rankings: (24) Virginia Tech, (25) Navy

LSU Keeps Coach O and Week 14 Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 27, 2016 at 8:42 PM

I’m going to have to do three blogs this week to keep them from being too long. I’m not sure when I will have my SEC material ready, but since there is only one game coming up, I see no need to do that on Wednesday. I also want to talk about bowl games and other conferences.

LSU Sticks with Coach O

I don’t know what to believe about the LSU coaching search and the conversation with Tom Herman and his agent. One story is there never was any kind of final offer, just informal talks. Another story is Herman asked for $6 million per year and LSU rejected it. A third story is all details of the deal were in place and agreeable to both sides, but LSU withdrew its offer and hired Orgeron when Herman or his agent said he wanted to talk to Texas before signing.

Like Coach O (or Eaux as some fans spell it) said in the Texas A&M press conference, I really would have liked to have had that Florida game. LSU would be all but a lock for the Sugar Bowl as well as making this decision easier. Should falling short by a foot or so when we had a chance to get that win determine who the next coach should be on a permanent basis? I don’t think it should. I’ll talk more about bowl possibilities later in the week.

Coach Orgeron accepting "the greatest job in the country" Saturday.

Coach Orgeron accepting “the greatest job in the country” Saturday.

I don’t want to belittle the job Steve Ensminger and the offensive staff did in trying to make a productive offense out of the playbook and offense that Les Miles and Cam Cameron left behind. It wasn’t very ideal to have to patch something together like that four games into the season, but offensive inadequacies were still exposed against Alabama and Florida and even in the first half against Southern Miss. I hope Coach Ensminger can stay on to help the new coordinator because I think it did show that he’s not just a run-of-the-mill tight ends coach.

If we get one of the best offensive coordinators like Orgeron says he wants to do and that guy has the whole offseason, that should put us in position to score more than 10 points against Alabama, more than 16 points against Florida, more than 18 points against Auburn, and more than 16 points against Wisconsin. Had we done that this season, we would be undefeated. I don’t know if the defense will be quite as good next year as some of our replacement players struggled on Thursday, but we will not be rebuilding from scratch either.

I’m more skeptical about LSU doing well next year than I was this year because I felt like the array of talent should have been just right this year (which was why starting 2-2 was bad enough to fire the coach), but sometimes you do better when you’re not quite as good on paper. One example was when we had a number of players drafted early and a new offensive coordinator in 2007 and had a better year than the year before.

I mostly agree with the decisions Alleva made, although I would prefer to have that Florida game at home next year.

Oh yeah, and we did a couple of neat things in the game (see bolded areas).

Rankings Comments

Before you have too much of a knee-jerk reaction, remember that Ohio St. and Michigan won’t gain any more points this week. It might benefit them slightly if Penn St. beats Wisconsin instead of losing to the Badgers, but the big points will go to the teams that win this weekend. Regardless of the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions, chances are that both will pass up Michigan. If Clemson wins, it is likely they will pass up Ohio St., but the Buckeyes should be secure in the top 4.

I don’t think Western Michigan would beat any team in the top 10, but I think this shows my system has adequate safeguards against an undefeated team with an easy schedule finishing ahead of a one-loss team or even in some cases a two-loss team with a strong schedule.

The idea is to rank playoff-worthiness. If there were an 8-game playoff (heaven forfend), I do think it would be fairer to include a team like Western Michigan than the fourth Big Ten team or the third ACC or Pac-12 team. If the season ended today, I think Wisconsin should get the 7th seed instead (since we won’t really establish which Big Ten team should be fourth until Saturday), but I’m not going to overhaul my formula over a 0.006-point difference between two teams that will be irrelevant after this weekend anyway.

The next thing I can see people griping about is Oklahoma taking a tumble, but that’s because some teams picked up meaningful points while the Sooners were idle. It also didn’t help the Sooners that Houston lost to Memphis, which is obviously more harmful than Ohio St. beating Michigan was helpful. An oversimplified explanation is that Houston’s FBS winning percentage fell 8 points while Ohio St.’s winning percentage only improved 0.8 points. Oklahoma should be able to recover all the lost ground with a win though.

Normally Boise St.’s loss would have hurt more, but of the Broncos’ four out-of-conference opponents, three of them won. The only loss was by Washington St. to Washington, which didn’t hurt very much. ULL and Oregon St. both got really important wins for them. Oregon was by far the best team Oregon St. beat; and Arkansas St. had been undefeated in the Sun Belt, so that was a big win for the Cajuns, who had only had four wins before that game.

Why is Tennessee still 16th? Well, they beat one conference champion (Appalachian St. of the Sun Belt) and three divisional champions (MAC East, ACC Coastal, and SEC East). That’s in addition to playing Alabama and Texas A&M as non-divisional opponents. Every SEC team is now in the top 75, so while there were only a few good arguments for the top 25, there is still a laundry list of at least somewhat decent teams that the Volunteers beat while none of the losses were catastrophic.

I’ll talk more about conferences later in the week, but because of what I said above, the SEC is still the best top-to-bottom conference in my rankings, although analysis of the top 40 (the part at the top) tells a different story.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Ohio St. 3
3 Clemson 2
4 Michigan 4
5 Washington 8
6 Penn St. 5
7 W. Michigan 10
8 Wisconsin 9
9 Colorado 12
10 Florida St. 14
11 Boise St. 7
12 Oklahoma 6
13 USC 22
14 S. Florida 21
15 Okie St. 16
16 Tennessee 11
17 Stanford 23
18 Florida 18
19 Nebraska 15
20 Louisville 13
21 West Virginia —
22 Auburn 19
23 Houston 17
24 Virginia Tech 24
25 Navy —

All 128 Teams

Out of rankings: (20) Texas A&M, (25) N. Carolina

Week 13 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, College Football Playoff, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 22, 2016 at 8:38 PM

Since I didn’t get a chance to post my rankings blog until today, I’m delaying the SEC Wednesday blog to Thursday. Of course I will try to release it by game time on Thursday, but you may want to check the blog directly in case I’m delayed in one of the various ways I share this.

Before I get to the teams, I wanted to note that the SEC fell out of the top spot of the top-40 conference rankings but not the top-to-bottom ones. There is only one SEC team in my top 10 now, and of course LSU fell out of my top 40. The middle-of-the-pack SEC teams do enough to hurt the higher teams but don’t do enough to put themselves in the top 40.

It’s been strange to have the top-to-bottom so at odds with the top-40 rankings this season.

Top 40:
1. ACC
2. Big Ten
3. SEC
4. Pac-12

Top to Bottom:
1. SEC
2. ACC
3. Pac-12
4. Big Ten

The Big Ten East takes top division in my standings. It did so with its top three teams alone even though both the SEC West and ACC Coastal have more top-40 teams apiece. I don’t average out the divisions, but I would guess the SEC West would be #1 if I did. Maybe I’ll add room for that in the off-season.

The only thing I have to contribute to the playoff conversation is that the first three spots look pretty straightforward (Alabama by winning 2 games, Clemson by winning 2 games, and a 1-loss Big Ten champion or 1-loss non-champion Ohio St.). Even though they’re ahead now, the Sooners have a disadvantage against the Huskies because Washington potentially has two games left instead of one.

If Ohio St. beats Michigan, there is also a strong possibility that the Big XII would be shut out even if Washington were to lose. It would be hard to put the Sooners ahead of a two-loss Big Ten champion (which would be inevitable if Penn St., Ohio St., and Wisconsin all win this weekend). It’s worth noting that one of the teams to beat Oklahoma was Ohio St.

In addition to Oklahoma and Washington, Colorado also make a significant move upwards. The bad news for Washington and Colorado is that now both of their rivalry opponents are damaged as Utah also lost to Oregon. Colorado has not clinched the South, but obviously that should be the opponent that Washington should hope for.

The Pac-12 South will be decided in Boulder, where Colorado has not beaten Utah since 1957.

The Pac-12 South will be decided in Boulder, where Colorado has not beaten Utah since 1957.

I was surprised a little bit by how high Florida climbed in the top 25, but I expected them to make the top 25 with a win. LSU has a long way to go to make the top 25, but it’s not impossible with two quality wins (A&M and a bowl game).

Stanford, USC, and Virginia Tech garnered wins over losing teams who weren’t too terrible, but their progress had more to do with losses by others. The Hokies are one win away from getting the honor of playing Clemson for the ACC title, and USC makes the Pac-12 title game if Utah beats Colorado.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Michigan 4
5 Penn St. 5
6 Oklahoma 13
7 Boise St. 8
8 Washington 12
9 Wisconsin 9
10 W. Michigan 7
11 Tennessee 10
12 Colorado 23
13 Louisville 6
14 Florida St. 14
15 Nebraska 16
16 Okie St. 19
17 Houston 21
18 Florida —
19 Auburn 11
20 Texas A&M 17
21 S. Florida 24
22 USC —
23 Stanford —
24 Virginia Tech —
25 N. Carolina 20

All 128 Teams

Out of rankings:
15 Wash. St.
18 West Virginia
22 Utah
25 Troy

Week 10 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, College Football Playoff, General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 30, 2016 at 5:11 PM

Housekeeping

I haven’t been been doing my weekend blog with everything going on with the election. I don’t want to say anything about my political leanings here, although I would mention that since 1984 the LSU/Alabama game has corresponded with the party that won the presidential election. When a Republican won, LSU beat Alabama; and when a Democrat won, Alabama beat LSU. For more on the series see here and this is a list of other related blogs.

LSU-Alabama Rivalry since 2000.

LSU-Alabama Rivalry since 2000.

Anyway, my weekly schedule may change slightly if I have a reaction to the first College Football Playoff rankings, which will be released on Tuesday afternoon. If I post on Tuesday, I most likely will not post on Wednesday. One reason I’m posting today is so the blogs can be more spread-out.

Contrast with Other Rankings

I usually ignore the polls, but I think there are some important things to address with the losses that took place over the weekend.

Apparently, because some teams lost, Nebraska essentially gets a mulligan. The best team the Huskers have beaten is Wyoming, but they stay in the top 10 despite a loss. I can’t even take that seriously. LSU lost to Wisconsin by 2 points and fell 16 spots, but now losing a close game to Wisconsin is like losing to Alabama I guess despite the Badgers’ two losses.

Other than now-#22 (my #30) Oklahoma St., Baylor has beaten NO ONE and now has a loss to a Texas team that didn’t even get a single top 25 vote THIS WEEK. But the Bears stay 13th.

I understand Western Michigan being a lot lower than I have them because for me they’ll keep going down while for the polls (assuming wins) they’ll keep going up despite not having any tough opponents coming up, whereas the only way a team like Baylor, West Virginia, or Nebraska fails to get quality wins in the coming weeks is if they lose again and fall below Western Michigan anyway. Nebraska might have to lose twice though.

I’m hoping the college football rankings exercise some greater degree of sense, but I suspect they’ll give the three Power-5 teams I just mentioned the benefit of the doubt more than they deserve.

Discussion of My Rankings

I didn’t have the time and energy to look it up for my last rankings blog, but I wanted to mention that last week is the first time Colorado has been ranked in my top 25 since September 30, 2007. The Buffs finished that season 6-7 after losing to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in the Independence Bowl.

Colorado QB Cody Hawkins throws a pass in the upset of Oklahoma in September 2007.

Colorado QB Cody Hawkins throws a pass in the upset of Oklahoma in September 2007.

Due to the large number of losses, Colorado just barely remains in the top 25 this week despite the bye.

As I anticipated, Alabama remained #1 despite the Clemson win (while the Tide was idle). It also helped Bama that USC and Kent St. won.

Clemson had another close call, but being that the game was on the road, this does nothing to diminish how many points they get. I only lower the reward or penalty if the home team wins a close game (defined as overtime or within 3 points) since home field accords an advantage or about 3 points. The Tigers were just too far behind to surpass the Tide in one week.

Ohio St. won of course, but it also helped that Wisconsin (the Buckeyes’ best win) won. Texas A&M’s best win had been Tennessee, which lost. The Aggies also didn’t gain very much by beating New Mexico St.

Western Michigan fell two spots during the bye week, but this fall will probably continue as the Broncos will play the lower-rated MAC teams in the coming weeks.

Tennessee still has the best schedule, which is why they remain so high; and again, it also helps that so many other teams lost.

The Power-5 teams between 7 and 21 are well-positioned to move up into the top 5 or top 10 with quality wins. I don’t have some vendetta against the teams in that range, but some of them haven’t played the better teams in their respective conferences yet.

One example was Washington, who hadn’t really played anyone before this week. But they beat a good team this week, so they move up. Baylor lost to a mediocre team, so they remain un-ranked. The Bears still have chances for quality wins though.

Boise St. is another team that I expect will fall in the coming weeks since the Broncos do not play anyone better than #100 Hawaii until November 25.

Boise St. was upset by Wyoming, which as I mentioned played Nebraska earlier in the season. So this is one reason why the Huskers didn’t fall lower.

The conference standings tightened because Minnesota joined the top 40 while the number of SEC teams in the top 40 remained the same. Arkansas fell out as a result of its bye week, but Kentucky moved into the top 40.

South Carolina’s upset of Tennessee also hurt the SEC because it knocked the Vols out of the top 10 but did not add South Carolina to the top 40 (the Gamecocks are now #50). It may increase the number of bowl-eligible SEC teams when we get to that point though.

The ACC was hurt slightly by Clemson’s win over Florida St. since it knocked the Seminoles out of the top 25, while a loss may have put both in the top 10. Also, Wake Forest loss to Army, which took the Demon Deacons out of the top 40.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Michigan 3
4 Ohio St. 8
5 Texas A&M 5
6 W. Michigan 4
7 Penn St. 10
8 Washington 17
9 Boise St. 6
10 Louisville 9
11 Tennessee 7
12 Wisconsin 18
13 Auburn 15
14 Nebraska 11
15 Houston 21
16 Virginia Tech —
17 Wash. St. 20
18 Florida 23
19 Oklahoma 19
20 South Florida —
21 West Virginia 13
22 N. Carolina 12
23 App. St. 25
24 Utah 14
25 Colorado 22

All 128 teams

Out of rankings: (16) Florida St., (24) Navy

Week 9 Top 25 and Comments

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 24, 2016 at 5:17 PM

This blog is mostly about the rankings, but I wanted to mention I have updated the LSU/Ole Miss Rivalry blog. LSU earned its 40th win over Ole Miss in Baton Rouge and 60th in the series overall. I hadn’t fully updated it after the last two games, so the last few paragraphs are new. Also, it’s not too early to check out the Alabama Rivalry page.

Western Michigan and Washington (and Baylor)

I know the obvious first criticism a lot of people will have is Western Michigan is in the top 4 and Washington is not even in the top 15.

I’ll talk about Western Michigan first. The only other team that has won 8 games so far is Alabama, and as I’ll get to in the next section, Alabama is such a clear #1 that in all likelihood they’ll be able to take a week off and stay #1. So despite Western Michigan’s having beaten two Big Ten opponents, there is still a significant gap in reward for playing a top schedule.

One of Western Michigan’s weakest wins was over FCS opponent North Carolina Central, but that’s a good FCS opponent. So when some teams would have taken a hit in points for playing an FCS opponent, that didn’t happen here.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell led the Broncos to their third consecutive Michigan MAC trophy with the win over Eastern Michigan.

Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell led the Broncos to their third consecutive Michigan MAC trophy with the win over Eastern Michigan.

Although the MAC has several teams that are in the bottom fourth of FBS football, the Broncos have not played many of the particularly weak opponents on their schedule yet. Not to worry though because they don’t play an opponent in the top 100 for the next month, so their point total will not increase very substantially. This will give other teams, particularly those in power conferences, plenty of opportunity to pass them up.

Normally a team like this doesn’t get so high in the first place, but (along with the front-loaded schedule) things happen. They would be a spot lower if Penn St. doesn’t block a field goal and return it for a touchdown against Ohio St. They would be a spot lower if Tennessee scores a touchdown in the first overtime instead of a field goal against Texas A&M.

It’s also worth noting that if you control for number of playing weeks, Boise St. and Texas A&M would both be ahead of Western Michigan. That imbalance will be corrected when the Broncos have a bye nest weekend.

As for Washington, they did play a non-conference game against a Power-5 opponent, but it was Rutgers, one of the worst Power-5 teams. The Huskies’ best win is over Stanford, but that’s by far their best win; and Stanford has two other losses. The second-best win was over Idaho. Third-best was 2-5 Arizona, which has only a single win over an FBS opponent.

I’m convinced that the 16 teams ahead of Washington would also be undefeated against that schedule so far, and I suspect several others would be as well. Basically, it would be anyone who would beat Stanford and have some reasonable level of consistency apart from that.

Western Michigan wins: #55, #57, #62, #68, #70, #99, #115. As I mentioned, they also beat North Carolina Central, which is undefeated (5-0) against FCS opponents and has also lost to Duke.

Even if a good team has an 80% chance to beat numbers 55 to 70 and a 95% chance to beat the other three, that team would only have a 28% chance of going undefeated thus far.

Washington wins: #33, #73, #90, #95, #98, #108. The FCS opponent, Portland St., is only 1-3 within the FCS and also has a loss to San Jose St.

So Western Michigan has beaten five teams that are better than Washington’s second-best win. Washington’s third-best win is only marginally better than Western Michigan’s sixth-best win. I add in FCS games differently, but it’s possible that the latter should be the seventh-best win.

However, unlike Western Michigan, Washington’s schedule the rest of the way is pretty tough. It’s not SEC West, ACC Atlantic, or Big Ten East tough; but @Utah, @Cal, USC, Arizona St., @Washington St. isn’t something against which many teams would go undefeated.

If you were wondering about Baylor, the Bears also only have one win over a top-70 team, but in their case it’s #47 Oklahoma St. Baylor has played 3 teams ranked #119 or worse and has a win over FCS team Northwestern St., which has no wins over any Division I opponent.

#1 This Week and Next

Back to Alabama, the Tide gained about 0.18 in points for beating an undefeated team with a top schedule in Texas A&M. Since Clemson actually lost points during its bye week (I’ll give other examples of how you’re at the mercy of prior opponents during a bye week), the Tide has an advantage of almost 0.20.

Alabama's Jonathan Allen helped put Texas A&M away by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter.

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen helped put Texas A&M away by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter.

So even if Clemson beats Florida St. (which has had a very good schedule as well), giving a team its third loss doesn’t help you at as much as giving a team its first loss. Unless it’s just a terrible day for Alabama’s previous opponents and a great day for Clemson’s, I don’t think it’s possible for Alabama go get passed up.

Michigan plays Michigan St., which isn’t a big opportunity for points.

Bye Weeks, Florida, and North Texas

Most teams do lose ground during bye weeks. Tennessee fell one spot, but when you get in an area where the teams are packed closer together, you can fall six spots like Florida St. did. Of course it also depends on teams around you and prior opponents.

Florida actually gained ground as Stanford, Arkansas, and South Florida all lost. The Gators were also assisted by wins by North Texas and to a lesser extent Vanderbilt. They also had prior opponents who lost, but sometimes an opponent with fewer wins has its point total increase more rapidly with a win. For instance, Alabama’s quality as an opponent didn’t change as much because Alabama’s winning percentage didn’t change.

North Texas’s quality as an opponent more than doubled. The Mean Green got a quality win over Army, and the two other teams who had beaten them had huge wins (for them anyway). SMU beat Houston, and Middle Tennessee beat Missouri.
Anyway, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest also had byes, but since none of their prior opponents’ ratings improved so much, they were also passed by Florida.

SEC

So the SEC reclaimed its #1 spot in my conference standings and also has the best average ranking. There are now 5 SEC teams in the top 25, 7 SEC teams in the top 40, and 11 SEC teams in the top half of FBS (or top 64). The ACC has more top-40 teams with 8, but half of them are not in the top 25.
LSU is still not in the top 25, but I suspect the Tigers would make it in with a win over Alabama in two weeks.

Arkansas is also idle next week, so it’s possible Arkansas and/or LSU could fall out of the top 40 simply as a result of not playing. On the other hand, losses in the 35 to 50 range are not uncommon, so they could also get lucky and move up slightly. Arkansas’s next opponent is Florida (who plays Georgia in Jacksonville this weekend), and then the Hogs play LSU.

Top 25

rank/team/prev
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Michigan 4
4 W. Michigan 7
5 Texas A&M 3
6 Boise St. 8
7 Tennessee 6
8 Ohio St. 5
9 Louisville 14
10 Penn St. 16
11 Nebraska 11
12 N. Carolina 12
13 West Virginia 15
14 Utah 17
15 Auburn 23
16 Florida St. 10
17 Washington 13
18 Wisconsin —
19 Oklahoma 19
20 Wash. St. 24
21 Houston 9
22 Colorado —
23 Florida —
24 Navy 21
25 App. St. —

All 128 teams

Out of rankings: (18) Pittsburgh, (20) Stanford, (22) Arkansas, (25) South Florida

Thoughts on Pac-12 expansion

In College Football, Realignment on November 12, 2013 at 8:26 PM
Logos in white boxes represent potential additions.  The red areas are the current South Division, and the blue areas are the current North Division.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LSU vs. the Pac-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arizona

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

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

Arizona St.

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

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

Oregon

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

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

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

Oregon St.

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

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

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

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

Stanford

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

USC

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

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

Colorado

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utah

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

Total

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

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

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

Playoffs: Are You Kidding Me?

In College Football, General LSU, History, Me, Rankings Commentary on July 6, 2012 at 5:16 PM

There has been some big news in how college football is going to handle the end of the season starting in a couple of years (Also check out this post on my ratings site with top 4 lists from the past few seasons), but I can’t help but think about the end to the most-recent season.

As you might have guessed, I’m still slightly traumatized by the way college football ended 6 months ago. At first, I couldn’t even listen to “Sweet Home Alabama”. While I’ve gotten over that, I was still moderately offended by what appeared to be a houndstooth wall in a hotel room I stayed in recently, for example.

I also don’t like that Monarchy of Roses song by Red Hot Chili Peppers (which mentions a “crimson tide is flowing”), but that might just be because it’s not a good song.

It’s not just because I’m an LSU fan. It’s also because of the special regard I have for the University of Alabama. I’ll explain. Unlike most other teams, LSU does not have an unquestionable #1 rival. The most equally reciprocated rivalry is probably that with Arkansas, but I think Hogs fans would still rather beat Texas despite that being an irregular rivalry in the last couple of decades. Texas of course seems more interested in their rivalries with Texas A&M and Oklahoma (or I guess I should use past tense in the former case). I don’t know if I’m representative of most LSU fans, but if the Tigers could only beat one team all year, I would choose Alabama. I don’t really care if Alabama regards its rivalries with Tennessee and Auburn as more important. I’m generally happy to cheer for them to lose to the Vols or to those other Tigers too.

Something else that bothered me was that LSU had successfully navigated the great SEC without a single loss. This included 8 regular-season conference games and a game against a ninth team in the SEC championship. Also, the Fighting Tigers had beaten Oregon and West Virginia, who each went on to win BCS bowls, and had not lost out of conference.

Despite the change of heart by the voters in 2006 to avoid a rematch scenario, I knew it would happen one of these years, but for this team, my team, to have to play a team they had already beaten on the road in order to claim a championship, that especially wasn’t right, even before knowing the result. If LSU had lost a game to another team, then I would have had absolutely no problem with it. But in the ONE game to win a national championship (after already winning 13), they had to line up against this same team again? You can’t pretend that’s the same thing as playing and beating a new opponent.

I also wasn’t a stranger to history. I knew that although LSU beat Ole Miss in 1959 on Billy Cannon’s historic punt return, Ole Miss would win the Sugar Bowl (by a score of 21-0) in a rematch.

Billy Cannon on his way to the end zone on October 31, 1959.

But at least LSU had lost to Tennessee, so they weren’t playing for a national championship anyway. The two teams were on equal footing. Yes, they had played one another, but each had finished with one loss against a similar schedule before that Sugar Bowl game. It wasn’t 9-0 in conference play vs. 7-1 with at 6 common conference opponents like it was last year.

And not just looking at it from LSU’s perspective, shouldn’t another team who wasn’t on LSU’s schedule get the opportunity to be the one team to knock them off?

Getting to the point, I hope there is a silver lining in that LSU fans aren’t the only people with a bad taste left in their mouths from this game and that this game helped lead to the 4-team playoff. I’m a big SEC fan, I will demand that the SEC gets every bit of credit it deserves; but it can’t be good for college football to claim a championship of 120 teams should simply be two teams of the same division of the same conference playing one another for the second time. I don’t believe it was right to tell Oklahoma St. (a team I thought should have gone ahead of Alabama anyway) that in order to go ahead of a team who didn’t even win its division that they should have gone undefeated. The sport should demand at a minimum access to a championship for other teams. Even though only 9 teams did, all 11 SEC teams had a chance to play LSU. The other SEC East teams (Vanderbilt and South Carolina) should have beaten Georgia or at least finished with a better record than Georgia did. No one should have been concerned about SEC teams having a fair chance but about the 100+ teams that didn’t have even a theoretical chance to play LSU outside of a national championship game last season.

There are going to be some people who want to say that based on the results Alabama must have been the right choice. What happened after the fact does not go back in time and change the arguments. But even if that were valid, assuming LSU’s offense was similarly inept, maybe the first five scores by Oklahoma St. would have had some touchdowns mixed in, so the result could have easily been worse.

I didn’t even notice this development with the semifinal format until the last couple of days. I guess it’s the fact that while I mostly only blog about football, I have been a bit distracted by the European “Football” Championships, Wimbledon, and baseball, not to mention certain recent political developments and having a job.

Reflections on non-playoffs

My feelings about Alabama precede the arrival of Nick Saban by the better part of a decade, although he did increase my desire for LSU to win this annual game. It’s also the fact that for the first time since the early 1990s Alabama seems to have a good team every year once again. 1992, Alabama’s last pre-Saban championship, was actually the year where I didn’t feel slightly cheated by not having a playoff. Although I was new to the sports word at that time (1988 was basically the first year I understood and remembered what was going on for any sport) I was aware of there being some controversy between Miami and Notre Dame. But I didn’t worry about them playing one another because, as I’m sure someone explained to me, they did play one another, so voters had information from that game to inform them. 1988 had also been a presidential election year, so some aspects of voting had also been explained to me. It didn’t seem to be a problem that this is how it was done in college football.

1990 and 1991 showed that voting wasn’t good enough. The two teams that claimed national championships should have played one another. Georgia Tech should have played Colorado, and then Miami should have played Washington the next year. But these were just two-team controversies.

In 1992, Miami did play Alabama. Unlike their games against Notre Dame in the prior years, this was actually played at the end of the season in the Sugar Bowl. While I didn’t particularly care about that outcome either way (to me, Miami seemed like the more dominant team and this was before I heard talk of Alabama’s dozen national championships or whatever it was at that point), it was nice to have it decided on the field once and for all. So if someone had told my 11-year-old self at that point that we’re going to have the best two teams play each other for the championship every year, I probably wouldn’t have thought of any objection to this.

Then came 1993. There were two extremely good undefeated teams, Auburn and Nebraska. Auburn wasn’t eligible for a bowl game, but I still wanted to know whether they were as good as those other teams. Florida St. had lost at Notre Dame before the Irish lost to Boston College. So Boston College was the only team from outside of the top 4 to have beaten a top-4 team, and I believe they did so by a single point. Florida St. would narrowly beat Nebraska in a bowl game and Notre Dame won their bowl game as well. Nebraska playing Florida St. didn’t seem to really solve anything. It just made it so that, along with undefeated Auburn who wasn’t in any bowl game, we had a team who lost to Notre Dame, a team who (beat Florida St. but) lost to Boston College, and a team who lost to Florida St. Contrary to the apparent opinion of Notre Dame fans, I did not believe the bowls strengthened the Irish’s position. They beat Texas A&M while Florida St. beat Nebraska. Had Notre Dame beaten Auburn, then I might have given more credence to the idea that you knock it down to the top two and pick the winner. But even that wouldn’t have been satisfactory. Losing to Boston College was certainly worse than losing to Notre Dame.

So we really would have needed another game. This is what I touched on earlier, there can be a circumstance where such a rematch makes sense.

Florida St. should have played Auburn (assuming Auburn didn’t deserve to be higher) and Notre Dame should have played Nebraska. If Florida St. and Notre Dame had both won, so be it.

After nothing too unusual happened in 1994 (the then-common two-team dispute, when Penn St. should have played Nebraska) and 1995 (when Nebraska beat Florida), another situation, also involving Florida St., took place in 1996. Florida, despite the big loss at the end of the 1995 season, looked like the #1 team (almost) all year until they lost a close game in Tallahassee. Ohio St. looked on its way to perhaps an undefeated season when the Buckeyes lost to archrival Michigan by 4 points the week before. There were two undefeated teams, Florida St. and Arizona St. What actually happened was Ohio St. beat Arizona St. in the Rose Bowl, and Florida beat Florida St. in the Sugar Bowl. Florida, like Alabama did last year, took a close loss and made it into a big win in the rematch. But Florida St. should have played Ohio St., and Florida should have played Arizona St. This was another instance where the solution was clear, there should have been a way to have these four teams play to decide the championship.

Regardless, it has seemed to me since that time that four should be the minimum number involved. Of course, there have been other times since then when two wasn’t enough (2001 and 2003 come to mind), but all that did was confirm what I already believed.

Conclusion

I would mention one proviso that I think should be added regarding possible rematches. In 2009, my ratings suggest that Alabama should have played Florida in the semifinal. I think college football should adopt a modified version of the baseball rule where two teams in the same division could not play one another in the first round. Except I would say that in the semifinals two teams that played one another already should not play again. If a rematch of some type is unavoidable, then you have a non-conference rematch rather than an intra-conference rematch. So I think it should avoid rematches but obviously not forbid them entirely.

I wouldn’t have had any problem at all last season with Alabama being included in the top 4 and settling the question of which team should be in the title game with Oklahoma St. on the field. I think some of LSU’s problems stemmed from having played Alabama, but if the LSU offense played just as poorly and the coaching staff failed to make adjustments similarly, LSU could have lost to a number of teams in the semifinal. But none of those teams would have had an advantage the way Alabama did, so I think the loss would have been easier to take. And from a more neutral fan perspective, it would have also been better to let other teams see what they can do against these two great SEC teams.

One criticism that is always going to take place is, no matter what number we get to, someone will always say they should be #4 instead of #5, #8 instead of #9, #68 instead of #69, whatever. (I’ve forgotten how many at-larges there are in college basketball, but apparently at-larges can be as bad as 14-seeds, which is a tie for 53rd.)

I can’t think of a #5 team that I really thought should have been a national champion or strongly considered for a championship. The best team I can think of that wouldn’t have made any of the top 4 lists was Utah in 2008, but I didn’t think they were so good until they beat Alabama the way they did. But maybe that was more a reflection of Alabama than it was of Utah, like I think LSU’s performance in the 2011 championship was more a reflection of LSU failing to execute, well, anything offensively than it was of Alabama having an overwhelming performance on either side of the ball.

So let’s say Alabama gets blown out by Oklahoma instead of by Utah (and Oklahoma then went on to lost to Florida as they did in the real championship game that year), and Utah had beaten the ACC or Big East champion. Although Utah would have still been undefeated, I don’t think their case looks the same.at the end of the day.

So far, the Boise St.’s and TCU’s and Utahs haven’t been able to play for a championship. That’s a far different dynamic, but the fact that, as mentioned on my rating site, one of those teams might have had a chance just about every year, that’s a lot better even if there may be a situation where there are two such teams in the mix and a committee has to pick just one. Even if they lose out to someone like the 2009 Florida team, that team went 12-0 to start out too. You can’t really argue they had a tougher road, they just suffered the inconvenience of having to play a championship game which those other teams did not. So I can’t imagine feeling that bad for a #5 team.

But on the other hand, if that Florida team had been left out, I wouldn’t have had a problem with the argument of, “You had your chance and you lost.” Same thing if somehow this year LSU had lost to Georgia and was not included in the semifinals.

Putting all the technicalities and arguments aside, this is exciting. So when this is implemented in 2014, I’ll have been waiting for about 20 years. Even though I have time to prepare myself, I don’t quite believe it right now and probably won’t quite believe it then. I just hope nothing too silly happens in the next two seasons.