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Posts Tagged ‘Duke’

Top 25 after Week 10

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 4, 2018 at 4:46 PM

I’ll talk about my reaction to the Alabama game later in the week.  I updated the LSU-Alabama Rivalry blogHere is the one for Arkansas (which will be the SEC Network night game next week) if you’re interested, but I probably won’t write a detailed blog about that game.

Normally I don’t change the computer results for the list below at this point; but I like there to be some stability, so I’m keeping Alabama in the top spot one more week.  It also doesn’t make sense to move them down after such a win and move Notre Dame ahead after a somewhat lackluster win when the Irish play a mediocre Florida St. team next week.

The top 5 teams are closer together than Clemson (last week’s computer #1) was to Notre Dame last week.  Usually there is more clarity after the LSU-Alabama game, but this time there is less (partly because it was unusual that LSU has the higher computer ranking going in, but it’s a unique combination of results).  Clemson will probably pass up Notre Dame and stay ahead of Alabama next week, but if I’m not going to put the computer #1 anyway, I might as well keep the #1 I have.

Since returning from an injury suffered against Syracuse, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has led the Tigers to an average victory of 60-9 in the last 4 games.  In Chestnut Hill on Saturday, Boston College will try to give the Tigers their first loss of the season.

Next week the #1 will definitely be the highest undefeated team, which I would also expect to be the computer #1.  If it’s Alabama, then I won’t be changing the #1 (although the Citadel in the following week probably wouldn’t be enough stay #1).  If it’s Clemson, then they’ll have earned it with a road win over a decent opponent (Boston College).  If it’s Notre Dame, I’ll be less impressed, but they’ll have to defend it against a good Syracuse team the next week. 

If by some bizarre circumstance the computer #1 is Georgia, I would go with an undefeated team because the Bulldogs play UMass the next week; and someone would likely pass them up.  Michigan is playing Rutgers next week, so that’s not really a concern even if there were some major upsets.

I guess it looks weird how much Central Florida moved up, but the win over Temple gave the Knights a much better strength of schedule.  They’re still behind a number of teams with losses (including a few with two losses), which I think is appropriate. 

Usually I only talk about my top 25, but I thought it was interesting that this is the first time there have been three Sun Belt teams in my top 40 at the same time (Appalachian St., Georgia Southern, and Troy).  Usually there are none.  I guess it was a good idea for Appalachian St. and Georgia Southern to join the FBS, although Georgia Southern just lost to UL-Monroe.

This is the first time UAB has been in my rankings since they canceled the football program in 2014 before reinstating it last season.  I’m not saying the Blazers will win, but Texas A&M may get more than they bargained for in a couple of weeks.

Despite there being 6 nationally ranked SEC teams, the Mississippi St.-Alabama game that I mentioned could be the last conference game between ranked teams before the SEC championship.  The Bulldogs have been held to single digits in three different SEC games so far, so I’m not giving them much of a chance.  I hope I’m wrong.  LSU and Alabama could be playing ranked teams in three weeks; but Texas A&M would have to pass up a lot of teams despite an unremarkable schedule, and Auburn would probably have to upset Georgia. 

I would say this is the last normal SEC week.  Next week, there are only 3 SEC games as most teams will play non-CFP-conference opponents.  Then in rivalry week, a few teams (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Kentucky) also will be playing out of conference.  This is why the SEC East champion is often decided much earlier.  The SEC West was clinched only a few hours later this year because Alabama is at least three games ahead of everyone but LSU, who is two games back with two to play (and who would lose the tiebreaker anyway).

RankTeamPrev.
1Alabama1
2Clemson2
3Notre Dame3
4Georgia6
5Michigan5
6LSU4
7Oklahoma8
8Wash St.11
9Kentucky7
10Ohio St.10
11W. Virginia18
12Army14
13C. Florida25
14Michigan St.
15Penn St.13
16Washington21
17Florida9
18Buffalo19
19Fresno St.17
20NC State20
21Texas16
22Duke
23UAB
24Iowa12
25Boston College

Out of Top 25: (15) Utah, (22) Ga. Southern (23) Stanford, (24) Iowa St.

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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

Top 25 after Week 5

In College Basketball, College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 2, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Before I begin, I know I missed the midweek blog. I had a baseball fantasy team (I won the championship of 10-team league), but that’s obviously over. I had a couple of other obligations last week as well.

I also should mention that I was sad to hear the news about LSU basketball player Wayde Sims. It’s going to hurt the team, but that’s a small consideration compared to a life cut short like that. I’ve lost a couple of other people prematurely who were important in different ways to my sports fandom in other Septembers, so I’m always glad for September for the cooler weather to commence.

Speaking of cooler weather, that’s usually when the Ole Miss game is played, but it was early this year. Here is the updated information about the LSU/Ole Miss series. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the game though. It was sloppy on both sides, but LSU just has a lot more talent. There were a couple of fumbles, but Ole Miss had a lot more penalties than LSU did (one of which negated a fumble), so it balanced out. It was nice for Burrow to do well statistically, although I’m not sure how well the land plankton compare to other SEC defenses. I plan to talk about the upcoming Florida game later this week. I heard an interesting discussion about it today that I’ll talk about as well.

LSU QB Joe Burrow accounted for 388 total yards against Ole Miss.

If you didn’t notice, I did complete my first official computer rankings of the year. I’m obviously not following them exactly in this list, but there were only two teams below whom I moved more than 4 spots. The first was Auburn, which I thought belonged one spot ahead of Washington, which it beat. The Plains Tigers just have low-value wins like Alabama St., Southern Miss, and Arkansas that makes their computer numbers look relatively bad. The second was Central Florida, who has a 17-game winning streak and lost out on potential points due to the hurricane. I will not move either team as much next week or in future weeks though.

There will probably be only a handful of deviations overall from the computer order next week. Some people have been confused about why I change the approach from week to week, but I just think people don’t realize the transition in other mediums. You start with preseason, which is only about how good you think teams will be, maybe with a little bit of consideration for how good they were in prior years. Then when it comes to bowls and the playoff, you want to exclusively base it on how well a team did this season.

You can’t make that transition and approach each week the exact same, but the polls tend to have this arrested development where they try to do that. I imagine them thinking, “I moved team A up 5 spots because they beat team B last week, and team B was in the top 10.” They’ll do that just as much in November as in September. They don’t think back and wonder if team B was only in the top 10 because of what they did this season or not, and then if team B loses to several other teams they don’t take away the extra credit they gave team A. They only reevaluate when it gets right to the end. I don’t understand what they’re waiting for.

I won’t have as much to say about my decision-making process going forward. Where I do make decisions I’m mostly just trying to provide a smooth transition from subjective to objective. It’s going to be more about why the computer formula reacts to input the way it does.

I will talk about the top teams a bit. I didn’t want to move LSU up another spot until they do something more impressive than beating Ole Miss at home. Ohio St. had a better win than Clemson did Saturday, but I’m no longer holding the closeness of the win over Texas A&M against them. The computer had the orange Tigers a good bit higher, so I followed that. Notre Dame is playing well just in time (and I believe Stanford is also better than Syracuse), so I’m now willing to look past the close final scores early on. Those are two examples of how margin of victory won’t really factor in going forward.

I’ve talked about Army and Duke in the last couple of weeks. Duke beat Army, so even though the Blue Devils lost and the Cadets won in big games last week, I decided they were close enough to put the winning team (especially with one fewer loss) ahead.

I’ll just briefly address the other new teams on this list. West Virginia held on in Lubbock to remain undefeated, which I considered in giving them an extra boost here. Florida had a good win in Starkville. I’m still skeptical of North Carolina St. and Indiana, but as I explained objective numbers are taking more of a role now. Indiana doesn’t get much credit for beating Rutgers, but it has moved up as other teams have lost or are no longer receiving extra subjective credit and did too well in the computer ratings to put lower. North Carolina St. got a numerically helpful win against Virginia and is undefeated. The Wolfpack and the Hoosiers are the only two teams to beat the Cavaliers, but we will see if that means anything soon (when Virginia plays U. Miami and Duke in the next two weeks).

Apart from Michigan, all the teams who fell out lost. The Wolverines are getting a lot of credit in other places for beating winless Nebraska (partly due to margin of victory). That doesn’t count for much here. Northwestern, the team they barely beat on Saturday, is 1-3 and lost to Akron. By the way, that’s an example of margin of victory the other direction. One reason I’m not that far away from many rankings who consider margin of victory is it tends to balance out. Anyway, I just didn’t see the logic in putting Michigan ahead of any team on this list, but they’re still close to the top 25.

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

Out of Top 25: (13) UC-Berkeley, (14) BYU, (17) Michigan, (18) Miss. St., (19) S Carolina, (23) Texas Tech

Top 25 after Week 2

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 9, 2018 at 4:19 PM

I do plan to write blogs other than rankings soon, but there weren’t a lot of extra days in the first two weeks. I posted the preseason rankings right before Week 1 started, and there were 5 playing days followed by the midweek Week 1 rankings. I’ll definitely have something to say about the upcoming LSU-Auburn game, possibly on Thursday.

I’m dropping Clemson because from what I saw they didn’t deserve to win. I’ll take a controversial close win over a major unranked team on the road if you’re #20 maybe, but not if you’re #2. Later in the season, it just counts as a win, but when we have relatively little information about the teams, you have to look at how they won.

If you didn’t see the game or highlights, Texas A&M came close to scoring the potentially tying touchdown in the last few minutes, but the ball was knocked loose. The ruling on the field was a touchback. Although from every angle, it looked like that was wrong, the call stood. I’ll elaborate in the next paragraph, but I’ll warn you it’s a bit of a rant.

I don’t think there is any way to create this image if the ball crossed the goal line before going out of bounds.

I don’t blame the referee if he simply couldn’t tell and made a guess, but the problem I have is that even if the referee has to flip a coin to decide, you have an incredible burden of proof to change the call. I wish there were an option where the referee could appeal directly to the replay booth if he didn’t see or couldn’t tell. Regardless, the call should have been overturned. Every angle shouldn’t have to be 100% clear. I don’t believe it’s possible that the ball went through the end zone. Never mind that this is the most completely unfair rule in football in the first place. If the ball goes out at your own 1, you keep it, but if you make it 99 yards down the field and you fumble forward (but not backward), it’s a turnover? Absurd.

Anyway, despite losing the ball in this ridiculous and unfair fashion, the Aggies were able to get the ball back and score a touchdown anyway. They just weren’t able to get the two-point conversion. Maybe Clemson would have played differently if they’d gotten the ball up 2 instead of 8 (assuming the same unsuccessful conversion play), but either way they would have wanted to hold onto the ball until the clock ran out. There is a very high chance that had the ruling been correct Texas A&M would have won.

I did make a rule for this week that you need to have a win over an FBS opponent from now on, so that explains some of the turnover of teams.

I also lowered Notre Dame a little bit for their close win over Ball St., who now has a 10-game losing streak against FBS opponents.

I indicated last week that Minnesota and Duke were playing for potential rankings, so I stuck to that. Iowa was ranked at the end of last year, and they just beat Iowa St., who was also ranked for much of last year, so I thought it made sense to put the Hawkeyes back. I mentioned Maryland looked good in Week 1 and despite some trouble early on, they won decisively. Arizona St. got in by beating Michigan St., although the Sun Devils’ offense needs work (as does Iowa’s). Virginia Tech and West Virginia haven’t really impressed me. I don’t think Florida St. and Tennessee (their respective Week 1 opponents) are very good, but the Hokies and Mountaineers were both teams I considered ranking before the season and have done nothing to deserve not being ranked.

The only other team that moved a lot was USC. They lost to a good team but didn’t make it very close or beat a very good team in Week 1, so 8 spots seems reasonable.

Stanford RB Bryce Love tries to pad his yardage against USC.. He ran for 136 yards for the game.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Georgia 3
3 Wisconsin 4
4 Ohio St. 5
5 Oklahoma 6
6 Stanford 7
7 Clemson 2
8 Auburn 8
9 Miss. St. 12
10 Boise St. 14
11 Notre Dame 9
12 UCF 16
13 LSU 17
14 Michigan 18
15 Penn St. 19
16 TCU 21
17 Okie St. 24
18 USC 10
19 Minnesota —
20 Iowa —
21 Maryland —
22 Arizona St. —
23 Duke —
24 Va. Tech —
25 W. Virginia —

Out of top 25: (11) Washington, (13) Florida, (15) Fresno St., (20) Mich. St., (22) Memphis, (23) S Carolina, (25) U. Miami

Top 25 after Week 1 (and Week 0)

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 4, 2018 at 3:09 PM

I don’t usually change the rankings too much after the first week, but I’ve modified my approach somewhat. I’ll explain with LSU and U. Miami, which of course was the main game I wanted to talk about anyway. I think U. Miami, for instance, is better than 25th; but they lost and didn’t play very well. That puts them behind most teams at the moment, so it’s a balance between the potential upside of this season and where you are after the one or two results each team has so far (none of the teams below have played two games yet.) In years past, I would have put both teams toward the middle of the top 25.

Nick Brossette’s 50-yard run was the only touchdown of more than one yard by the LSU offense against U. Miami (Brossette scored the other one as well).

I don’t want to put LSU in the top 15 though since there were still some weaknesses (mostly due to inexperience) exposed. It’s concerning that the Tigers had a worse third-down conversion percentage, fewer first downs, fewer pass completions, fewer yards per pass, and fewer total yards. Without the two interceptions (LSU committed no turnovers themselves), the Tigers would have had a very good chance of losing at the end. It would have changed the final score to 23-17, and that’s if U. Miami didn’t score on the drives in which the interceptions took place and if we assume a late Hurricane punt (rather than a fourth-down-conversion attempt) wouldn’t have given U. Miami good enough field position to score again.

Although no one in the top 25 had as disappointing a result as the Hurricanes did, there weren’t any performances by unranked teams that I thought merited them a spot in the top 25.

I have to say I was impressed by the performance of the SEC. Tennessee lost as expected, but they kept the game close for longer than I thought they would (West Virginia led only 13-7 at the half). Auburn-Washington was a bit of a coin flip, but I certainly wasn’t counting on that one. I thought LSU and Ole Miss (in Houston against Texas Tech) were likely to lose, but both won easily. I also wouldn’t have been shocked had Vanderbilt lost at home against Middle Tennessee, but they won by 28.

Kentucky committed 4 turnovers and was threatened in the first half by Central Michigan, but every other team won by more than I expected.

Notre Dame-Michigan was the only non-SEC game between ranked teams. I felt the need to put Michigan behind LSU, but I still expect the Irish and Wolverines to finish close together, as I had them in my preseason rankings.

The other major movement in my rankings was in dropping Penn St. and Michigan St. I was concerned by the level of experience in both respective teams, and the close results of their games (Penn St. beat Appalachian St. in overtime, and Michigan St. beat Utah St. by 7) raised my level of concern. Iowa and Maryland did better than I expected, so I’m not down on the Big Ten overall though. They’re both on my rankings watch list, as are Minnesota and Northwestern.

In the ACC, I feel vindicated by not ranking Florida St.; but Virginia Tech is another team I have my eye on. Duke is another possibility. There aren’t any other unranked teams worth mentioning right now, but that can always change with upsets.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Georgia 3
4 Wisconsin 4
5 Ohio St. 5
6 Oklahoma 7
7 Stanford 8
8 Auburn 10
9 Notre Dame 12
10 USC 14
11 Washington 6
12 Miss. St. 16
13 Florida 17
14 Boise St. 18
15 Fresno St. 19
16 UCF 20
17 LSU 24
18 Michigan 13
19 Penn St. 15
20 Mich. St. 9
21 TCU 21
22 Memphis 22
23 S Carolina 23
24 Okie St. 25
25 U. Miami 11

Week 2 Rankings and Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 14, 2015 at 1:50 PM

I’ll just start by mentioning a couple of other blogs and then get to the rankings.

Recap and reaction to the LSU-Mississippi St. game

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Auburn

Week 1 top 25

 

New Top 25

Rank Team Previous
1 Ohio St. 1
2 Alabama 2
3 TCU 4
4 Mich. St. 5
5 Baylor 3
6 USC 6
7 UCLA 8
8 Clemson 9
9 Ole Miss 11
10 Oregon 7
11 LSU 10
12 Florida St. 12
13 Ga. Tech 13
14 TX A&M 16
15 Georgia 15
16 Notre Dame 14
17 Okie St. 23
18 Oklahoma 24
19 Kansas St. 25
20 Wisconsin 19
21 Arizona St. 22
22 BYU

BYU_Logo_1969-1998

23 Missouri 20
24 Temple

temple

25 Northwestern

nu_old_logo

Out of rankings

(17) Auburn
(18) Boise St.
(21) Arkansas

I don’t think I’m the only person surprised by some of the results and final scores from over the weekend, but mostly I feel like I made some good choices in the early rankings.

I did have Arkansas ranked, but I didn’t have them in the top 20 like the major polls did.

I also had Auburn ranked (at 17th last week), but they were picked by voters to win the SEC.  They were also picked #3 in preseason by ESPN the magazine.  I think I’ve been rightly skeptical about both teams.

I’m glad I picked Michigan St. above Oregon, but I was right to only put them a few spots apart in the preseason.

I know their quarterback got hurt (and the other one from last year is now at Florida St.), so I don’t want to be too harsh, but I’m also glad I didn’t put Notre Dame in the top 10.

Georgia is another team I’m glad for the moment I kept out of the top 10.  They didn’t even look like a top-25 team against Vanderbilt.

I also made the right call to rank Oklahoma but not Tennessee in preseason.

Obviously a lot can change throughout the season.  Like I tried to explain in preseason, however, the idea is mostly to rank how the teams start out rather than the projected finish, so overall I think I did a pretty good job based on what I’ve seen.

I kept Missouri in and not Auburn because they weren’t playing an FCS team and they won in regulation.  Also unlike Auburn, they were on the road and they took the lead for good in the third quarter.

Arkansas and Boise St. had losses to unranked teams, so the decisions to remove them were easy.  I decided to rank BYU, who also won at Nebraska.  They had the Hail Mary to win, but they were only down by one point before that.  Tell me what other team has a combination of two defeated opponents that looks better right now.

I did not decide to rank Toledo, partly because Arkansas was their opening game, so there is nothing else on which to judge.  I think it’s much more likely that Arkansas isn’t deserving than that Toledo is really good.

Another team with a respectable combination of wins is Temple.  They beat Penn St. and won at Cincinnati.  You might laugh at them as a ranked team, but if they were named Alabama or Michigan or something of that nature, they would almost certainly be ranked.  They may not last, but it’s still a pretty respectable start.

I also decided to go ahead and rank Northwestern given their win over Stanford.  They played Eastern Illinois, an FCS team this week; but I don’t think many other teams could play Stanford and Eastern Illinois and give up fewer than 7 points combined.  Northwestern beat the Panthers by 41, whereas last year Minnesota only beat them by 22 and Ohio U. only beat them by 15.  Eastern Illinois went .500 against other FCS teams last season.

A few interesting games next week, including Ole Miss going to Tuscaloosa.  It will be interesting to see if Ole Miss dictates the tempo, not that that would guarantee a Rebel victory anyway. It could be like the 49-42 Alabama win over Texas A&M exactly two years ago.

Two big games in Los Angeles (although the home teams should win) as Stanford goes to the Coliseum and BYU visits the Rose Bowl.

A few other games of potential interest:

(12)Florida St. @ Boston College

(13) Georgia Tech @ (16) Notre Dame

South Carolina @ (15) Georgia

(25) Northwestern @ Duke

I don’t expect Northern Illinois @ (1) Ohio St. to be too interesting; but the Buckeyes were only up 17 after three quarters against Hawaii, so the early going could be close.

Every other game should be boring, although it’s possible Louisville can finally play a good game when (8) Clemson comes to town.

Week 8 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM

This penalty took the potential winning points off the board for the Irish.

This penalty took the potential winning points off the board for the Irish.

Rank/team/previous
1 Florida St. 1
2 Ole Miss 3
3 Miss. St. 2
4 Alabama 7
5 Auburn 4
6 Oregon 9
7 Marshall 10
8 Notre Dame 5
9 Georgia 11
10 Arizona 8
11 Minnesota 15
12 UCLA 18
13 Mich. St. 13
14 TCU 19
15 Nebraska 17
16 LSU 20
17 Colo. St. 21
18 Ohio St. —
K State
19 Kansas St. —
20 Baylor 6
21 USC 16
22 Oklahoma 12
23 Clemson —
24 Arizona St. —
25 Duke 23

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

Out of rankings: (14) Ga. Tech, (22) Kentucky, (24) Okie St., (25) TX A&M

I’ve updated the LSU/Kentucky rivalry blog if you haven’t seen it. I’ve been adding basic information to these and mentioning more in-depth observations in other blogs. Games that aren’t close will get less mention in the narrative. I also have one for Ole Miss of course. I also had a bit of fun at TigerDroppings.

Headache at the Top

I literally gave myself a headache thinking about what to do and the future possibilities.

I know I indicated that last week might be the last time I would alter the order of the first few teams for my rankings here, but unforeseen circumstances arose to change that. Tennessee is not a good team, but Ole Miss gained enough points last week to pass up Mississippi St. I was thinking Florida St. or Notre Dame (had they won) would be more likely challengers for #1, so I just didn’t think about this possibility.

I said last week I don’t think Kentucky is a good enough team to beat Mississippi St. and in light of yesterday’s game, I even more strongly don’t think they are. I particularly don’t think the Bulldogs would lose such a game after a bye week. Florida St. has a bye next week, so there would have been less reason to keep Florida St. in the top spot had Mississippi St. topped my computer rankings. Also, if Florida St. had lost and I had to make a change anyway, that would have made it even easier.

I’m not expecting LSU to beat Ole Miss, but I think there is a sufficiently large enough chance of a loss to put off making Ole Miss #1 until next week. The flip side is I think that’s the kind of challenge that can substantiate a #1 ranking. I simply don’t think the Rebels have had that kind of challenge yet. Alabama is a better team than LSU right now, possibly by a considerable margin, but home field can make a big difference. (Ole Miss beat Alabama in Oxford if you don’t follow what I’m saying.)

LSU had a better record and seemed to be the better team on paper when they went on the road to play Ole Miss last season. Sometimes rivalry games like this go the other way than people would expect. A possibly more fitting example: 2008 is arguably the worst LSU season since 1999, and the Tigers took Alabama, who was undefeated and ranked #1, to overtime when they played the Tide at home.

Right now, Ole Miss has only played two SEC opponents that do not reside in the state of Tennessee, and as I mentioned, one of them was at home. The Rebels have not won a true road game outside of the SEC (and I they had a degree of home-field advantage against Boise St. in Atlanta). The only reason they’re #1 in my system right now is they’ve had one fewer bye week than their in-state rivals. Also, Alabama is the only team I have in the top 25 right now that they beat. That’s not enough for me.

Why not make Mississippi St. #1 anyway? For one thing, I’m having to depart from the computer rankings anyway. The only reason to move Florida St. down would have been to just take all subjectivity and deference out of it. Why not keep a team who just beat another unbeaten team there for now? Florida St. also has by far the longest unbeaten streak at the moment.

Another reason is I don’t like to make a change one week after another change without both teams losing. If Ole Miss does win next week, then it would have been a new #1 three weeks in a row. That’s the kind of thing that I’m trying to avoid. Also, Florida St. was not a new #1 for this season (and certainly not forever). That’s a higher standard for me, so waiting until they reclaim #1 in the computers seems reasonable.

Mississippi St. will not have a big-points week until November 15 at the soonest (Alabama), so it’s possible someone else would be #1 if Ole Miss loses before that week anyway.

Anyway, expect #1 next week to be from Mississippi (unless both Mississippi St. and Ole Miss lose), and expect that team to also be #1 here. I think it will be good to fully endorse my computer ratings at the same time that the playoff committee has to reveal their opinion for the first time. Outside of the top 3, the rest of the top 25 is completely unaltered from the order of highest points in my computer ratings.

The Rest of the Top 25

Marshall keeps moving up, but keep in mind that unlike in the polls, they can easily get passed up as the season goes on even if they stay undefeated. The problem is when teams have a chance to pass them up, those teams tend to lose (or in the case of Arizona they have bye weeks).

It may understandably seem a bit strange that TCU is behind Minnesota. The Horned Frogs have had two bye weeks, which doesn’t help. Also, for obvious reasons, Baylor is a more harmful loss to TCU than TCU is a harmful loss to Minnesota.

You might not take Colorado St. seriously, but for some reason the polls take USC seriously despite their loss to Boston College. Colorado St. beat Boston College and has only lost one game, to Boise St. (who is just outside of the top 25).

I don’t understand why the polls love Oklahoma so much. Any other team that just had its second loss of the season (with no impressive wins) would be lucky to be in the top 25 at all. I would understand doing that for Alabama maybe, but not for a team that hasn’t won a national championship in 14 years.

Kansas St., the second team to beat the Sooners, makes its first appearance in my top 25 since the end of the 2012 season.

Virginia isn’t a bad team, so it might be nice if Duke got more credit for beating them, but the Cavaliers’ record needs to improve for the win to count for more.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7

Week 7 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 12, 2014 at 6:23 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Explanation and future rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All-Blogger Poll Week 14

In Blogger Poll, College Football, Rankings Commentary on December 6, 2013 at 2:23 PM

See below

See below

Sorry for getting this out late. I was waiting on responses longer than usual (there are only 5 entries this week), and it just wasn’t possible to do this yesterday.

It’s contentious toward the top. Voters that really like Auburn seem not to like Ohio St. and vice-versa. Florida St. still got a majority of the #1 votes and got #2 votes from both Ohio St. supporters for the top spot. No. 4 was interesting because two voters had Alabama two spots below Missouri, and another had the Tide two spots ahead of the Tigers. The other two had Alabama one vote ahead. So three of the five did think the Tide should go in front. That’s why they’re on top in the image above.

The Pac-12 seemed to benefit the most from the absent voters as all three teams moved up significantly even though they were all supposed to win and Oregon didn’t even look good doing it.

LSU was “jumped” by Central Florida and Oklahoma, who also gained four spots. LSU remained #17 though.

Duke went up the most, improving by six spots. Clemson and Wisconsin fell eight spots apiece after losses. Fresno St. only fell six spots.

Georgia also gained several spots to get into the top 25 (although they’re still significantly behind those other Bulldogs in points), in part because of Auburn’s win over Alabama. Georgia is ranked for the first time since Week 7. Texas rejoined the top 25 after a two-week absence. It didn’t take much to become ranked this week, as there was a lot of disagreement over who the last couple of teams should be.

All-Blogger Top 25

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

1 Florida St. (3) 123 [ 1 ]
2 Auburn 118 [ 4 ]
3 Ohio St. (2) 117 [ 3 ]
t4 Alabama 108 [ 2 ]
t4 Missouri 108 [ 6 ]
6 Stanford 92 [ 9 ]
7 Okie St. 86 [ 7 ]
8 Mich. St. 84 [ 8 ]
9 S Carolina 81 [ 10 ]
10 Arizona St. 78 [ 11 ]
11 Oregon 72 [ 15 ]
12 Baylor 68 [ 13 ]
t13 N. Illinois 66 [ 14 ]
t13 Clemson 66 [ 5 ]
15 Oklahoma 56 [ 19 ]
16 UCF 53 [ 18 ]
17 LSU 51 [ 17 ]
18 Duke 37 [ 24 ]
19 UCLA 36 [ 23 ]
20 Wisconsin 34 [ 12 ]
21 Louisville 27 [ 21 ]
22 Fresno St. 21 [ 16 ]
23 Georgia 12 [ ]
24 Texas 9 [ v ]
25 Notre Dame 5 [ 25 ]

Others receiving votes: Minnesota 4 [ v ], USC 3 [ 22 ], TX A&M 3 [ 20 ], U. Miami 3 [ ], Iowa 2 [ ], Washington 2 [ ], Ball St. 1 [ v ]

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

Previous rankings:
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

My Top 25 Week 14

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on December 1, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Very little separates the top four, especially the top two.

Very little separates the top four, especially the top two.

In case you missed it, I wrote a blog yesterday about the changes to the Thanksgiving rivalries.

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Florida St. 1
2 Auburn 3
3 Ohio St. 4
4 Missouri 5
5 Arizona St. 7
6 Alabama 2
7 Stanford 11
8 N. Illinois 6
9 Mich. St. 13
10 Baylor 10
11 S Carolina 16
12 Okie St. 8
13 UCF 14
14 Oregon 20
15 Clemson 9
16 Oklahoma 15
17 Duke 21
18 UCLA 25
19 Fresno St. 12
20 Louisville 18
21 LSU 23
22 Wisconsin 17
23 Georgia —
24 Notre Dame 19
25 U. Miami —

Out of rankings: (22) USC, (24) TX A&M

All 126 teams

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

The first part of this is based on the national-championship race, then I’ll get into the other changes to the rankings.

I’ll just get to the point. If there weren’t championship games, I would absolutely want Florida St. to play Auburn for the title. If Auburn beats Missouri, I’m not changing my mind about that one, but I’ll wait and see on Ohio St. I don’t factor in margin of victory in my ratings; but as a fan, I lean heavily toward Florida St. because no one has given them a game yet. It would be a shame to do everything they could be expected to do and not get to play for a title, assuming they beat Duke.

The main thing I wanted to do was just to give a summary of where the big opponents (defined as the top 60 teams in the FBS) of the four major title competitors rank in my new ratings.

(1) Florida St. (undefeated):
(15) Clemson
(25) Miami
(57) Boston Collegte
(58) Pittsburgh

(3) Ohio St. (undefeated):
(22) Wisconsin
(35) Iowa
(37) Michigan
(50) Penn St.
(54) Buffalo

Ohio St. has more wins from #30 to #60, but I think based on what I’d call good opponents (top 30), there are more teams that can go undefeated against Ohio St.’s schedule than Florida St.’s schedule. I think even 7-5 Michigan was perfectly capable of going undefeated against Ohio St.’s schedule so far. Ohio St. didn’t play Michigan St. (the only team to beat Michigan convincingly) or Nebraska (who beat Michigan by 4), and Michigan only lost by a field goal apiece to Penn St. (in OT) and Iowa. Michigan did beat Notre Dame, which I think is about as good as Wisconsin, Ohio St.’s best win.

Onto the two one-loss teams:

(2) Auburn:
(6) Alabama
(21) LSU – LOSS
(23) Georgia
(28) Texas A&M
(38) Ole Miss
(56) Mississippi St.

(4) Missouri:
(11) South Carolina – LOSS
(23) Georgia
(28) Texas A&M
(38) Ole Miss
(40) Vanderbilt

You can see why I wouldn’t necessarily endorse Missouri over an undefeated team. Even with the win over Auburn, that’s still just one top-20 win. Two top-25 wins, but Florida St. would have three. If you start talking about teams below the top 25, that might be an advantage in arguing against Florida St., but it would be a disadvantage in arguing for Missouri against Ohio St. I just think it should be a clearer case before you put a team with a loss in instead of an undefeated team. Auburn qualifies; Missouri probably doesn’t.

This is another way of looking at it that I saw on another blog.

Source: CollegeFootballTalk on WordPress

Source: CollegeFootballTalk on WordPress

I had a feeling I was going to end up regretting that the 4-team playoff didn’t start this year (Alabama would be the natural fourth, although I have to admit I’m personally glad they seem to be out of the running); but if Ohio St. or Florida St. ends up losing, then it would be the perfect two-team outcome. If they both lose, then maybe we can get another all-SEC championship.

To get to the rest of the top 10, Alabama stayed in the top 4 in the major polls, but computer formulas treat a loss as just a loss. It also doesn’t help that the Tide’s SEC East opponents were Tennessee and Kentucky. Arizona St. also edged in front by beating Arizona. It’s likely that Stanford would take Arizona St.’s place in front of Alabama with a win. Northern Illinois could pass up one or two of the conference-championship losers. Michigan St. of course could gain a few spots by beating Ohio St. Baylor can also capitalize on others’ losses if they get past Texas.

Below the top 10, Oklahoma St. fell a few spots by being idle. The same principle applies to them as to Baylor except that OSU plays a btter team. One team they may pass up is South Carolina, which jumped five spots by beating Clemson, which went down six spots. Oregon went up six spots after beating Oregon St. UCLA and Duke also went up considerably after winning their rivalry games.

Fresno St., Wisconsin, and Notre Dame all fell a bit by losing. USC and Texas A&M were in the last few teams last week, so they couldn’t stay in the top 25 with their losses. Georgia beat Georgia Tech, and it also helped out that Auburn and Missouri won. Miami’s win over Pittsburgh, combined with with losses by others, put the Hurricanes back into the top 25.

I did make a small adjustment to how losses to FCS teams are treated, but of course all the revelant teams are outside of the top 25.