Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Week 8 Top 25 and LSU

In College Football, History, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on October 20, 2019 at 11:30 AM

I think the way I organized the blogs last week worked well, so I’ll talk about LSU and a couple of other big games.  I won’t thoroughly go through the top 25, but it’s listed below. Click here for the computer rating of all teams.

I couldn’t find a quality picture of the record-breaking or record-tying pass, but this reception and score by Racey McMath put Joe Burrow one touchdown pass short of the LSU single-season record, which he went on to break in Starkville Saturday.

I’ve updated the LSU/Mississippi St. rivalry blog.  I did think LSU would be slowed early, and that ultimately held the Tigers below 40 for the first time this season.  It was pretty close to the reverse of the 37-7 Bulldog win in Starkville two years ago.  If LSU doesn’t miss an extra point and allow a last-minute touchdown, it would have been the same final score.

If anyone asked, I’m sure Coach Orgeron would say it’s not about him; but I’m sure he’s satisfied to finally get a win in Starkville. There was a lot that went wrong in his tenure at Ole Miss, but his two games there were the main reason he got fired.  To get blown out there his first game against the Bulldogs at LSU had to feel like a bad case of déjà vu.  

I’ve talked a bit about Auburn in previewing both Mississippi St. and Florida.  I might or might not have more to say later, but LSU/Auburn is always a big game. 

For now I’ll just talk briefly about the recent rivalry. This game is at Tiger Stadium, but we had a couple of ugly losses against them at their place before last year.  I mentioned Coach O’s two losses in Starkville as it related to his firing back in 2007.  Les Miles had a much more successful tenure overall, but two losses in two trips to Auburn immediately preceded his firing at LSU. 

Auburn has some desire for payback too.  Those two losses at Auburn at the end of the Miles era are the only LSU losses in the series since Auburn’s 2010 national championship.  Auburn hasn’t won at LSU in 20 years.  LSU beat a few pretty highly-regarded Auburn teams over the past few years, including the one that was one stop/score away from a national championship in 2013 and the one who went to the SEC Championship Game two years ago.  Auburn didn’t end up having a great year last year, but they were ranked #7 and expected to beat LSU by a couple of scores.  The bayou Tigers won on walk-off field goal.  The point being that Auburn would especially enjoy getting LSU back with an upset in this one.

Speaking of Les and upsets, Kansas almost had a big upset in Austin on Saturday; but if they’d won it would have made LSU’s win there less impressive.  Even if the Jayhawks don’t win another game this season, I think he’s had a positive influence there so far.  I was reminded this weekend that Lou Holtz went winless his first year at South Carolina, but Holtz without question got that program headed in the right direction.

Pooka Williams of Kansas ran for 190 yards on 25 carries in the 50-48 loss in Austin Saturday.

I checked the score late in the Wisconsin game, and I thought they would run out the clock being that they were up 9 and had generally had a dominant defense so far.  So I was a bit surprised when I found out what happened.  That takes some of the luster off of the Ohio St. game, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the Buckeyes have more chance to win than they did a few days ago.

I followed the same basic guidelines as last week. I didn’t move anyone more than 3 spots from the computer ranking.  The only difference is there were no exceptions this week.  I anticipate this will be Clemson’s last week at #1, but maybe not if LSU and Ohio St. both lose next week. I think the computer results are starting to make more sense, so I might not move teams much if at all next week.

2Ohio St.2
5Penn St.6
16Boise St.8
19Notre Dame19
20Wake Forest24

Out of Top 25: (14) Arizona St., (21) Washington, (23) Hawaii

Week 12: Not Rivalry Week Yet

In Bowls, College Football, General LSU, History, Me, Preview, Rivalry on November 16, 2018 at 7:42 PM

Apart from some remotely possibly upsets of top teams (I mentioned Clemson and Notre Dame in the Rankings blog), I’m not wildly excited about any of the matchups this week.   I still thought of somethings I’d like to talk about. 

The Former Rivalry Week

I miss the days where this was THE main rivalry week. 

The Big Ten used to finish up for good, but now they have 3 more weeks including the championship.  Tomorrow it will be exactly 11 years since Ohio St. beat Michigan, probably with no suspicion that they were about to be involved in the craziest ending to a college football season in recent memory.  Although the Buckeyes were ranked only #7 going into that final game, they would enter the bowls as the #1 team in the BCS standings.  Despite its second loss coming in the last regularly-scheduled game, LSU would become the surprise #2 after winning the SEC championship on the same day Numbers 1 and 2 in the BCS (Missouri and West Virginia) both lost. 

LSU LB Ali Highsmith gets to the ball before Ohio St. QB Todd Boeckman can throw it in LSU’s 38-24 championship win in New Orleans on January 7, 2008.

Anyway, I bring that up because the normal time of year for Ohio St. to play Michigan going back to the 1930s was between about November 17 and November 24.  2007 just happened to be the last time the game was on the 17th.  The end of the Big Ten season got pushed closer to the end of November in 2010; and then with the start of the Big Ten Championship game in 2011, the Big Ten season now extends into December.. 

Some Big Ten teams finished conference play even earlier.  For instance, in 2005, Wisconsin played its last Big Ten game on November 12.  There were 11 teams in the Big Ten then, so I guess the Badgers were the odd men out for the rivalry week.  Other end-of-season rivalries in the Big Ten were Minnesota-Iowa, Michigan St.-Penn St., Purdue-Indiana, and Illinois-Northwestern.

Althoughit was often played later (and only became the traditional final regular-seasongame in 1977), Florida played Florida St. on November 17 as recently as 2001.  2001 was also the last time UCLA played USC onNovember 17.  Sometimes there was a latergame for one or both schools, but it was the second-to-last Saturday inNovember going back to the 1970s.

17 Nov 2001: Kevin Arbet tackles Craig Bragg as USC upsets UCLA 27-0 to qualify for a bowl game in Pete Carroll’s first year with the Trojans.

Another big rivalry that used to be the second-to-last Saturday in November was Oklahoma-Nebraska.  It was permanently moved to the last Saturday in November in the early 1990s before it stopped being an annual game in 1998.  Of course Nebraska was a much more important team in those days than they are today.  The date would sometimes vary a week or so, but the rivalry had been played around that time of year since the 1940s.

The Iron Bowl was played between November 17 and November 23 every year from 1993 through 2006.  Those were the first 14 seasons in which I had a meaningful interest in college football on the national level, though I followed LSU for about 5 years before that. 

Anyway, so I think that’s enough explanation of why I always feel like something is missing this week, especially since it became the week for the SEC to take it easy. 

How the SEC Schedule for Mid-November Deteriorated

Although it had been done occasionally a few times before (for instance, South Carolina played Middle Tennessee the week before Clemson in 2006; and LSU played Conference-USA opponents before Arkansas a few times in the 1990s), Alabama led the way with a real commitment to this trend. 

Startingin 2007, the Tide has usually had a bye before the LSU game, so since theycouldn’t have another bye before Auburn, they played UL-Monroe.  The ended up losing to LSU, Auburn, and ULMin 2007; but that didn’t deter Alabama from that strategy.  In 2008, the Tide did the opposite (byebefore Auburn, non-conference game before LSU), and it worked.  Alabama only went a combined 3-3 against LSUand Auburn between 2009 and 2011, but they’re a combined 11-2 in regularly-scheduledgames against the two rivals since.

For itspart, LSU played Tulane the week before the Alabama game in 2008 and 2009,which did not work.  Then LSU went to thebye before Alabama (which worked for two years and hasn’t worked since), but theprecedent was already set.  Sometimes it’sin late October instead of November, but the Tigers have had a late-seasonnon-conference game most of the years since. They did not have one in 2016 only because of rescheduling that resultedfrom the hurricane that hit Florida. 

Auburn has been more consistent.  Except for 2013 when the Plains-Tigers were able to use a second bye before Alabama, Auburn has had a non-conference opponent the week before Alabama every year since 2011.

Georgia originally scheduled its late-season non-conference opponent before Auburn, but in 2014 the Bulldogs changed it to the week before Georgia Tech.  I’m not sure why it wasn’t done that way last year, but Georgia is back to that pattern this year. 

A few of the less significant SEC programs are still playing regular games, but the SEC schedule leaves a lot to be desired…

Ole Miss-Vanderbilt Headlines This Week’s SEC Schedule

Anyway, so we are now at the stage where the big SEC rivalry game this week is Ole Miss-Vanderbilt.  I’ll explain why.

Arkansas has played Mississippi St. annually since 1992, but the Bulldogs have won 5 of 6 in the series, and the Hogs are only 2-8 on the season.  Arkansas could back into a single-digit game like they did against LSU last week, but I hardly expect high drama.  So that’s not a game to watch. 

Missouri and Tennessee (the CBS game of the week) have slightly better combined records than Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, but that’s only been a rivalry (of sorts) since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012.  It hasn’t been a very interesting one either.  Missouri ended both 2015 and 2016 really badly and lost to the Vols in the process.  The Tigers won the other games.  The only game of the six decided by fewer than 8 points was in 2012 (when each team would finish 5-7).

Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, however, is a competitive longstanding rivalry between fairly evenly-matched teams. Since 2005, the only SEC team against which the Commodores have a winning record is Ole Miss (7-6).  Vanderbilt won 5 of 6 in the series from 2007 to 2012, but Ole Miss responded by winning the next 3.  The two programs have exchanged home wins over the past two years.  The Commodores have won 4 of the last 6 games played against the Rebels in Vanderbilt Stadium. 

The three touchdowns by Vanderbilt RB Ralph Webb (#7) were the difference in Nashville two years ago. The Commodores had ended a 3-game series winning streak by the Rebels.

As for this year’s respective teams, both are near .500 and have identical 1-5 conference records.  Nonetheless,Vanderbilt could still guarantee a bowl game by finishing the season with home wins over the Rebels and the Volunteers, their two biggest historical rivals.  The Rebels are still on probation and ineligible for a bowl, but I’m sure there is motivation to avoid a losing record and potentially finish with a winning record (which they could do by beating Vanderbilt and winning the Egg Bowl over Mississippi St.).

LSU and Rice Renew a Rivalry Few Missed

One other rivalry I’d like to mention is LSU-Rice.  It was before my time, but this used to be an annual series.  Other than in-state (former/sporadic) rival Tulane, LSU has played Rice more than any other team that is currently outside of the SEC. LSU and Rice played each other every year between 1932 and 1952 and every year but one between 1955 and 1983.  The only meetings between 1983 and this season were in 1987 and 1995.

Rice has only beaten the Tigers once since 1966.  However, despite LSU winning a national championship in 1958, it was a competitive series between 1955 and 1966.  Rice had a 5-4-2 record against LSU during that span. 

The most notable Rice win was in 1961.  The Owls denied the Tigers a chance at second national championship in four seasons.  After losing the opener to Rice 16-3, LSU would win the next 10 games including the Orange Bowl.  Rice would finish 7-4 and lose in the Bluebonnet Bowl, the Owls’ last bowl appearance until 2006.

Rice made 5 bowl games from 2006 to 2014, winning 3 of them, their only wins in bowl games since 1953 (they also lost the 1957 Cotton Bowl and the 1960 Sugar Bowl). 

The Owls have returned to their prior form since that 2014 bowl win though.  After falling just one win short of qualifying for a bowl for the fourth consecutive year in 2015 (with a 5-7 record), Rice has only won 5 games since the start of the 2016 season.  Two of those wins were over FCS opponent Prairie View A&M, including in the opener this year, which was Rice’s only victory in its last 21 contests.  Two of the other wins since 2016 were over UTEP, which finally ended a 20-game losing streak two weeks ago against Rice. The fifth win was over UNC-Charlotte, which only began playing in the FBS in the past few years.  

LSU-Auburn Recap and Notes

In College Football, General LSU, History, Post-game, Preview on September 19, 2018 at 1:50 PM

I wanted to address something before going into detail about the LSU-Auburn game. I saw some Auburn fans were incensed about the pass interference (PI) calls during the game; but honestly, the referees didn’t even call all of them. They also apparently had double standards (in Auburn’s favor) about what constitutes a taunting. The referees missed some holding calls too (probably on both sides), but no officiating staff can call every hold. The ones they did call were obvious, but I’m sure some Auburn fans complained about those too.

In the less egregious of the two PIs that were called on the final drive, the defender grabbed the receiver’s elbow before the ball arrived. It wasn’t one of those hand-check PI calls: it hindered the receiver’s ability to catch the ball. The receiver wasn’t tackled or anything, and defenders can get away with worse at times; but there are few if any officials who would have seen that play well and not called it. Earlier in the game, there was another PI call that was borderline uncatchable, but it has to be clearly uncatchable to overrule an interference. The interference took place right as the ball was being released, so it was very hard to say where the receiver would have ended up had the interference (it may have even been holding) not occurred.

I know coaches are careful to avoid saying anything that may result in a fine, but both head coach Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (formerly LSU’s defensive coordinator) deserve credit for properly placing the blame on the way the plays were called and executed. I agree with them that the important thing is LSU made plays with the game on the line and Auburn didn’t.

The only thing I would quibble with is Steele blamed the coverage on the 71-yard touchdown play. Someone may have been a yard out of place; but I think it was mostly just a good offensive play, and no one could catch Derrick Dillon. He had four players right near him when he caught the ball, so the coverage couldn’t have been that bad. He and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow just saw and succeeded at hitting the small space on the field the defense left open. The whole field can’t be covered at all times, especially with LSU running or throwing very short passes on first down most of the time.

LSU WR Derrick Dillon catches a touchdown pass (what would be a touchdown pass after a sprint to the end zone anyway) over the outstretched arms of Auburn LB Deshaun Davis in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Auburn.

It’s been since the mid-1990s (that’s before Saban arrived in Baton Rouge) that either LSU or Auburn beat a team that would finish with a winning record in a road game in this series. LSU won such a game in 1995, and Auburn won one in 1997. When Auburn won in 1999 and when LSU won in 2008 and 2012, the wins came against teams that would finish with losing records and fired head coaches. So in all likelihood, this is one of the best teams to lose at home in the history of the series.

Another historical note: this was the first time since 1993 that LSU won on the road with the other team favored by 10 points or more. That was up the road in Tuscaloosa when a Tiger team that would finish with a losing record (one of six consecutive LSU teams to do so) beat the defending national champions, who had not lost a game in almost 26 months.

I know coaches take things one game at a time, but I don’t have to. I’m not going to pretend to take Louisiana Tech just as seriously as Auburn, so before talking about the next opponent in detail, I wanted to talk more about what I’m looking forward to the rest of the season as a whole. As I said in the last blog, I’m not convinced that LSU is all of a sudden a title contender, even for the SEC title, but I’m confident that the Tigers will return to a bowl game with a winning record already secured. Whether that will be 7 wins or 11 wins, I’m not quite sure. ESPN’s FPI gives LSU a 0.1% chance of winning all of its remaining games. I’m not sure it’s that low, but it’s low enough not to worry about right now.

The Tigers are given a 0.7% chance of winning the conference. That’s about 142:1. I’m not rich, but I’d put down $100 right now if you give me those odds.

Anyway, as to the number of wins, I like LSU’s chances at Arkansas and at home against Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, and Rice. That’s how I get to 7. Even if we somehow lose one of those, I don’t think every other team (at Florida, Mississippi St., Georgia, Alabama, at Texas A&M) would beat us, so even falling to 7-5 (which would mean a 4-5 finish) probably won’t happen either.

I believe there is value to using computer systems, but I think descriptive ones (where you just value results so far) are better than predictive ones (where you try to calculate odds of winning). Anyway, I think the FPI I mentioned isn’t giving LSU enough credit.

It puts the Florida game as almost 50/50. I did think Florida was going to win that game going into the season, but I was worried about LSU’s inexperience. As I said in the last blog, the Auburn and U. Miami wins show that being young isn’t a huge problem even if those are the only really good wins away from home for the whole season. Florida’s 27-16 home loss to Kentucky shows their experience isn’t quite as helpful as I thought it might be. I’m not sure how the FPI works, but it doesn’t seem to take new information on board as well as it should.

The FPI also gives Mississippi St. a 57.5% chance of winning at Tiger Stadium. I expect a tough game, but I really don’t see Mississippi St. on the road being tougher than Auburn at home. The Bulldogs did beat LSU easily last year, but I think that was an LSU team that clearly wasn’t ready for SEC play in a tough road environment. They weren’t even ready for a good Sun Belt opponent at home. We will learn more about Mississippi St. after the Bulldogs play Kentucky and Florida though.

If Mississippi St. is being held against LSU because of last year, why isn’t last year being held against Texas A&M? The Aggies haven’t beaten LSU since the 1990s, and they’re given about a 63% chance of winning this year. A&M looked good against Clemson (in a loss); but Syracuse looked just as good against Clemson last year (actually better because they won), and where did that get the Orange? Obviously one game isn’t proof of how the whole season is going to go, or LSU’s two big wins are proof that the Tigers will win at least 10 games.

There isn’t too much to say about Louisiana Tech, but I hope we take them seriously. There isn’t much difference between a team like that and a team like Troy. The Bulldogs don’t have as many key wins (last beating an SEC team, Ole Miss, in 2011, after beating Mississippi St. in 2008), but the Bulldogs have made bowl games for 4 consecutive years and qualified for them in 6 of 8 years. They’ve played the following Power-5 teams within one possession, all on the road: South Carolina (2017), Arkansas (2016), Kansas St. (2015), Kansas (2013), Mississippi St. (2011), and LSU (2009). The Bulldogs have also beaten Illinois twice over that span. In 2011, Tech narrowly lost the Pointsettia Bowl to TCU, which finished 11-2 that year. In 2007, Tech lost to Hawaii at home by a single point. That Hawaii team suffered its only loss for the season in the Sugar Bowl.

Louisiana Tech RB Daniel Porter throws a touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 13-10 lead as time expires in the second quarter in Baton Rouge in 2009.

This is the first LSU-Louisiana Tech game since the 24-16 LSU win in 2009, which was only the third game in the series since the start of World War II. LSU is 18-1 all time with the only Tiger loss coming in 1904 (one of only five to be played in Ruston; there was one game on a neutral field). LSU has won by as much as 71, which they did in 1930. Since 1914, every game in the series (including this one) has been in Baton Rouge.

Week 5 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 2, 2011 at 10:40 PM

Took me most of the day, but I got it all done finally. I am a little disappointed because I feel like it’s a step back from what I was doing with the subjective rankings (I’ll explain), but it was finally at the point where it was too hard to do a fair subjective ranking anyway. I had the teams arranged in a pretty neat way with the winning teams ahead of the losing teams, but now that’s gotten more complicated. It makes a lot less sense to have Temple between Penn St. and Maryland, for instance, and there is of course the triangle of impossibility with South Florida beating Notre Dame, who beat Pitt, who beat South Florida (handily). Those are just a couple of examples where I thought, “What would I do with this information?”

I don’t see any glaring errors (although I was able to find some), but there usually are some mistakes at this point. Let me know if anything seems ridiculously out of place (like an undefeated team being 80th or a team with one win being 40th or something of that nature). I have one area where I type in the record and another area where wins go in one set of columns and losses go in another, so if that doesn’t match up, it causes really strange results. Sometimes the ratings comparison gives me a heads up when I realize I have the highest or lowest ranking for a given team.

I wish teams with respectable losses were higher (and undefeated teams with bad schedules were lower), but it will come around. Right now in most cases if you have on loss, you’re 25% behind in the winning percentage. Two losses, you’re probably 50% behind or at least 40% behind. When it gets to be more like a 10 or 15% difference with each loss, that will allow some of the good record/poor schedule teams to move down.

These rankings are made with the emphasis on having the top 5 to 10 teams in the right order at the end of the season. I give teams some amount of credit based on winning FCS games, and it depends in part on that team’s record. It doesn’t amount to much at the end of the season, but with 1/3 to 1/5 of opponents being FCS for a lot of teams, it does count for more now, so there can be some weird results because of that. Also, if a team has a bye week and an FCS opponent at this point, that makes it more likely that team has gotten by without playing anyone. So even if it’s a team that will likely finish with 4 or 5 wins, they might look good mathematically right now. So not only do my ratings not predict future events, but future events are needed in order to make my ratings look better.

This also isn’t a good barometer yet for teams that have played and lost tough games. Oregon, for instance, would have been better off beating another FCS team than losing to LSU. The Ducks only have intra-subdivision wins over Nevada and Arizona. The only reason Oregon is as high as they are is because Nevada has had a good schedule. I don’t think Arizona will finish winless against FBS teams, so when they win a game, that will pick the Ducks up a little more, and Nevada’s record should improve at least to the vicinity of .500.

The system’s limitations on giving Oregon its due have also affected LSU. In the by-the-numbers ratings, LSU is 4th because the only win that comes across as being of very high quality is West Virginia. Along with Oregon, Mississippi St. doesn’t count for too much because the Bulldogs have only beaten Memphis and Louisiana Tech (in OT at home, which gives Miss. St. even less credit). But again, if they turn their record around and get some wins of higher quality, this will help out LSU.

I treat #1 as a special case, and as is typical, I leave the team I have at #1 unless there is something at least troubling that happens. An example is the game USC nearly lost at Washington in 2007 (the Trojans won, 27-24, and lost to Stanford the next week). LSU just beat Kentucky 35-7, with the 7 coming as the last score of the game, so nothing troubling there. And as I just explained, I think they’ve beaten quality teams, it just hasn’t come across in the numbers yet. But my ratings site is always going to be the exact numbers the formula gives me.

I’ll at least leave LSU there for a few weeks unless I think the team that rates #1 is either equally deserving or more deserving. If LSU loses, that will also cause me to lean toward the by-the-numbers #1. Not only do the Tigers face Florida next week, but Oregon will play Cal and Arizona St. in the next two weeks. Mississippi St. faces UAB (not a good team, but a needed chance for an FBS win) and South Carolina. Getting into the conference schedule already helps out the stronger conferences in general.

Well, here it is, just keep the things I just said in mind.

Full ratings site
(1-120) {or see the “Ratings Site” tab above}

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Michigan 6
3 Clemson 4
4 Alabama 2
5 Illinois 19
6 Texas —
7 Oklahoma 3
8 Boise St. 12
9 Ga. Tech —
10 Wisconsin —
11 S Carolina 5
12 Okie St. 7
13 Nebraska 11
14 Kansas St. 18
15 Stanford —
16 N.Carolina —
17 Auburn —
18 Va. Tech —
19 Houston —
20 Washington 25
21 W Virginia 17
22 S. Florida 9
23 Texas Tech —
24 USC 21
25 Florida 10

Out of rankings: (8) Baylor, (13) TCU, (14) Penn St., (15) Oregon, (16) Temple, (20) Arizona St., (22) Notre Dame, (23) Maryland, (24) U. Miami

Prior rankings:

Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Week 4 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 28, 2011 at 10:47 PM

I’m going to have a blog tomorrow or Friday about end-of-regular-season collapses in major league baseball, but I promised this tonight. So even though I got a bit distracted, here it is.

I guess I need to put up front what I looked at here before getting into comments about the results this week. I compared undefeated teams ONLY on how good I think the opponents have been so far, with emphasis on the best opponent (meaning if I think it’s the best win anyone had all year, it might count for more than someone else beating two average teams). For teams with one or more loss, I mostly looked at what they did apart from that loss in a similar fashion, but of course there was some decision-making based on the quality of the team(s) that caused those losses.

Since I used this approach, the rankings this week will not be what I call internally consistent. For instance, I’m going to give Alabama a good bit of credit for beating Arkansas, but since Arkansas hasn’t beaten anyone, I won’t be ranking Arkansas. So I’m only allowing my subjective opinion about Arkansas to factor into their quality as an opponent, not their quality as a team for the purposes of ranking.

People have complained about my changing how I do things from week to week, but I believe that’s the logical way to transition from the purely subjective (“on paper”) preseason rankings to the purely objective rankings (results only…with opponents evaluated on results only as well), which I begin using in early October every year. Otherwise, what I would have to do is have the preseason rankings but not factor them in at all after week 1. Every team that beat an FBS opponent would be tied for first since all opponents would be the same 0-1. After Week 2, every team that was 2-0 with two 1-1 opponents would be tied for first, although I suppose I could add a requirement that those 1-1 opponents had to beat teams that were also 1-1 through two weeks.

Anyway, as far as last week, I feel vindicated with Temple’s win (which makes Penn St. look better) and by Notre Dame’s and Michigan’s wins (both of which make Michigan look better).

I can’t believe people thought I was ranking Big Ten teams too high, although obviously Wisconsin fans again aren’t going to be happy with me.

If Wisconsin beats Nebraska, I’ll give the Badgers some credit, but nothing they’ve done so far deserves very much. I did mention a couple of weeks ago that I thought Wisconsin’s 35-0 win over Oregon St. was relatively decent as compared to Nebraska’s close game against Fresno St. (based on what we knew at the time anyway), but there is no way that should be a reason for a high ranking. Since I mentioned Nebraska, I’ll also note that Washington (Nebraska’s opponent last week) beat formerly undefeated Cal, keeping the Huskies otherwise undefeated. In other Pac-12 news, Oregon St. lost to a fairly weak (at least so far) UCLA team to remain winless. To make matters worse for the Badgers, UNLV, another Wisconsin victim, was embarrassed by Southern Utah, which I don’t think has even been an FCS/I-AA team for very long.

None of this is to say Wisconsin won’t beat Nebraska. These rankings are NOT predictive at all. The preseason rankings were predictive, and I allowed some time for teams to prove themselves as I transitioned away from the preseason, but from now on, this is all about what these teams have done this season. This includes how good the wins are and how bad the losses are. I don’t mean margin of victory, but how good the teams played are. I try to approximate a blind resume like they use for comparison of college basketball teams.

My 100% objective mathematical ratings are still on track to begin next week, but that’s more of a hope than a promise.

Anyway, going back to Maryland/Temple, it took a little bit out of Maryland’s ranking of course, but before making it really interesting against West Virginia, the Terps had beaten Miami, who was otherwise undefeated with a win over Ohio St. But Miami also lost to Kansas St. People might accuse me of “penalizing” West Virginia too much for losing to my #1 team, but mostly, their ranking reflects the loss in quality of the Maryland win.

I’ve already mentioned Alabama briefly and Penn St., who lost to Alabama. As to Oklahoma, #2 going into this week, Missouri (losers to the Sooners on Saturday) hasn’t really beaten anyone, like Arkansas hasn’t. But I don’t put Missouri in the same category as Arkansas and Penn St., larely because Missouri has an outside loss (despite playng fairly well). I also don’t put Florida St. (also losers to the Sooners) that high since the Noles lost to Clemson. So that’s why there is a change to #2.

The USC game was the only mild surprise, but it was closer than the final score indicated, and there had been signs of concern for the Trojans against Minnesota especially. Not that I’m sold on Syracuse and Utah.

Still, there were some significant changes in rank. The first group of teams are undefeated with multiple wins over teams that seem good (that would be top 40 or thereabouts, subjectively…I think it’s too soon to try to rate opponents based solely on what they’ve done on the field this season). This list is only 6 teams long. For South Carolina, the only team that I would put in that top 40 category is Navy; Georgia and Vandy are borderline, but I thought three average and above teams should get a little more credit than Michigan’s two seemingly good teams and two non-Big Ten Michigan teams.

Moving on from the multiple “seems good” opponents, I had to get liberal with some of the wins I gave credit for, but I did so as long as the team in question was undefeated. Nebraska and Florida beat more average sort of teams than “seems good” teams, but I let it go, especially since each had a potentially respectable (but not there yet) second win. Boise St. has beaten Georgia, which has another loss (albeit to South Carolina), and Tulsa, which has two other losses (albeit to Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.). I’m going to go out on a limb and say one of those two teams is most likely in the top-40 vicinity despite the early losses to seemingly very good teams.

After that, we have teams with losses. At this point, I would rather a team with a loss that I feel beat someone than a team who I feel has not played anyone but who is undefeated. Ignorance is not bliss. Maybe the undefeated team would have lost to both (or all three?) good opponents that the team with a loss (or losses) faced. If I’m wrong about the ranking, I honestly look forward to the aggrieved team proving themselves against someone. Wisconsin/Nebraska is a big example. Also, someone will win the Texas A&M/Arkansas game. Good for whomever that will be, but the only decent opponents so far were losses for each team.

Along the same lines of Boise St., I retained Oregon in the top 15 based on the combination of Nevada and Arizona (I think there is a good chance at least one of those might be better than average), BUT they moved down compared to teams with better wins, especially if those teams didn’t have a loss. I also didn’t rank Oregon lower because I think it’s in order to give Oregon some credit based on the schedule as compared to other teams at this precise moment in time. (I don’t want someone telling me Oregon has a schedule comparable to LSU’s, for instance, later in the year just because I’m giving them credit now though.)

Anyway, the main rule here is if the team lost to an undefeated team (or to undefeated teams), I don’t have a problem with that as long as they’re lower than those teams. I didn’t have an absolute rule about being below a fellow beaten team, but chances are, the winner will be first in that instance with so few games having been played so far. Also of course, multiple-loss teams tend to go lower.

There ended up being a couple of win chains to fill this out after #14. Illinois beat Arizona St., who beat USC, who beat Utah (who hasn’t really beaten anyone, except for BYU, who isn’t very credible right now, but I think they’re good and they don’t have any other losses either). Temple (which lost to Penn St.) and West Virginia (which lost to LSU) beat Maryland, who beat Miami, who beat Ohio St. (whom I did not rank in preseason, but they were up there…see Utah, although I did rank the Utes in preseason). Kansas St. also beat Miami.

Washington is the last team here, because there is a very understandable loss (to Nebraska), and there is a win over Cal, which I think might be somewhere between average and top 40.

Fans of the 8 exiled teams and Texas (exiled previously despite not losing)…If your team has a loss (or losses), better luck next month. If your team does not have a loss, please either wait until your team plays and beats someone good (possibly next week) or write a letter to your athletic director. It might help if you promise to make a donation to his or her establishment despite any losses that might result from playing better opponents. I’m just some guy ranking teams in a way which I think is fair at this point and only at this point. As can be seen, I am willing to move teams up and down dramatically as more information is received, so do not think a low or nonexistent ranking now will prejudice future rankings, even if any of the powers that be gave a damn what my pre-bowl rankings will be (I’m fairly confident they do not). Those future rankings will be based on mathematical formulae giving credits for on-field results and not based at all on the subjective opinion that goes into this anyway.

I don’t have a whole lot of faith in any of the teams I added, but I’m trying to keep my faith in a team or lack thereof out of it.

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Alabama 3
3 Oklahoma 2
4 Clemson 18
5 S Carolina 7
6 Michigan 17
7 Okie St. 24
8 Baylor 12
9 S. Florida —
10 Florida 9
11 Nebraska 8
12 Boise St. 6
13 TCU 16
14 Penn St. 14
15 Oregon 4
16 Temple —
17 W Virginia 10
18 Kansas St. —
19 Illinois —
20 Arizona St. —
21 USC 13
22 Notre Dame —
23 Maryland 11
24 Miami —
25 Washington —

Out of rankings: (5) Florida St., (15) Utah, (19) Texas A&M, (20) Va. Tech. (21) Arkansas, (22) Stanford, (23) Wisconsin, (25) Texas Tech

Prior rankings:

Week 3
Week 2
Week 1