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Posts Tagged ‘Iowa St.’

Week 3 Top 25

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 15, 2019 at 3:38 PM

I’ll include my thoughts about the most-recent LSU game when I go into detail about Vanderbilt later in the week.  I’ve been waiting to write about the LSU-Vanderbilt series for a while, but there is only so much to say about it since Vandy has not won since 1990.

There is a bit more to say about the top 25 games that weren’t against FCS opponents and the new members of the top 25.  This is still primarily subjective, but I did try out my ratings system for the first time.  It’s pointless to even look at it before everyone plays an FBS opponent, so that’s why I hadn’t looked before.  Now that that’s happened, the system has given me a little bit of guidance; but it’s still somewhat limited.

For the new teams last week, I just added teams who beat opponents I previously thought were good.  That didn’t work out particularly well.  USC promptly lost to BYU, and Maryland promptly lost to Temple.  I don’t believe BYU or Temple belong in the top 25.  BYU should have lost to Tennessee, who I wouldn’t even put in my top 75.  Temple is closer, but I put that win down to Maryland being inconsistent (as usual) more than I put it down to Temple being very good.  Cal, the third team I added after last week, did win; but the Bears didn’t do very much to separate themselves from their opponent North Texas, whose only win is over a basically winless FCS team (I don’t count wins over Division II or lower).

BYU’s Dax Milne catches a 30-yard touchdown pass from Zach Wilson to put the Cougars ahead of USC in the second quarter in Provo on Saturday.

There are very basic observations this early that my computer system is not capable of.  For instance, it doesn’t realize Texas is harder to beat than USC.  They both faced three FBS opponents, and they’re both 2-1.  The opponents of both Texas and USC have a total of 3 wins against FBS opponents (LSU and Louisiana Tech combine for three as do BYU and Stanford).  I don’t add any inputs for how teams did last season or in any recent seasons, so it takes time to differentiate quality wins better.

Number 1 on the computer list is Auburn.  Only 7 teams are 3-0 against FBS teams at this point.  Only one of the Tigers’ three opponents has a loss to another team, and two of those opponents have wins over an FBS team.  All three have wins over FCS teams. Eighty-five of 130 teams have FCS wins, so it’s hard to have a better schedule so far among the unbeaten teams.  You could argue Ohio St. has a better schedule because their opponents had four wins over FBS team.  However, one of the four FBS wins by the Buckeyes’ opponents (Cincinnati over UCLA) was over a completely winless team, and the three other wins by Buckeyes’ opponents were over teams who are winless against the FBS. 

It only goes downhill from there.  In the computer, the worst 3-0 (vs. FBS) team is Alabama, who beat South Carolina (which counts for zero points since they’ve only beaten a winless FCS team) and New Mexico St. (who is completely winless).  Alabama did beat Duke, who beat Middle Tennessee; but as you might guess Middle Tennessee is also winless against FBS opponents. Anyway, this is why I said this early you have to look at more than wins and losses even though later in the year I move away from that.  I think we’ve seen more evidence of the ability to win championships by Alabama than Auburn even though Auburn has had more accomplishments so far.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa has been able to wear down the defenses he’s faced so far, but his coach expressed frustration that the Tide hasn’t been tested against better opponents.

Anyway, I’m not relying on the computer rankings to tell me if one team is better than another, but I did use it to find suggestions for teams to add to the top 25.  Three were teams I was already strongly considering: Arizona St. (which beat Michigan St.), Iowa (which beat Iowa St.), and Wake Forest (which beat North Carolina).  I’m not about to put them in the top 10 like the computer has them, but I think they’ve had a good enough 3 weeks to belong where I put them. 

Kansas St. was not one I was thinking of, but the Wildcats are 3-0 and have a win over Mississippi St.  Otherwise they beat a bad FBS team and a good FCS team.  Another candidate was Virginia, who has a very similar profile; but I think it’s harder to beat Mississippi St than Florida St. right now, especially since the Wildcats went on the road to beat the Bulldogs while the Cavaliers beat the Seminoles at home.

Despite what I said about the North Texas game, I still think Cal’s win over Washington will turn out to be a very good one. So I’m not inclined to take the Bears out of the top 25 unless there is a loss. They go on the road to face Ole Miss before two fairly tough in-conference opponents (Arizona St. and Oregon), so we will soon see how much of a fluke the Washington win was.

Top 25

rankteamlast
1Clemson1
2Alabama2
3Georgia3
4LSU4
5Ohio St.5
6Notre Dame6
7Auburn7
8Florida8
9Wash. St.9
10Oklahoma10
11Michigan11
12Texas A&M12
13Utah13
14Texas14
15C. Florida15
16Penn St.17
17Appalachian18
18Arizona St.
19Iowa
20Wake Forest
21Cincinnati21
22Boise St.22
23Oregon23
24UC-Berkeley25
25Kansas St.

Out of top 25: (16) Michigan St., (19) USC, (20) Maryland, (24) Iowa St.

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Week 2 Recap and New Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, History, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 8, 2019 at 2:37 PM

Top 25

rankteamlast
1Clemson1
2Alabama2
3Georgia3
4LSU4
5Ohio St.5
6Notre Dame7
7Auburn8
8Florida9
9Wash. St.10
10Oklahoma11
11Michigan6
12Texas A&M12
13Utah13
14Texas15
15C. Florida16
16Michigan St.17
17Penn St.19
18Appalachian20
19USC
20Maryland
21Cincinnati21
22Boise St.22
23Oregon23
24Iowa St.24
25UC-Berkeley

Out of top 25: (14) Washington, (18) Syracuse, (25) Stanford

Comments

LSU/Texas Recap and Significance

I considered making LSU comments a separate blog, but since it was the only big game this weekend worth delving into, I’m doing it here. 

I wasn’t wrong about LSU winning, but I was wrong about a couple of other things.  I would have been right both about LSU not beating the spread and about LSU not getting to 45 points on offense if only the Tigers had failed in the two-point conversion attempt, so I wasn’t far off.

Anyway, I’m happy to be wrong about LSU being able to get the same number of points Oklahoma did in the Texas win in Dallas last season and happy LSU beat the spread.  I did expect one late score to make the difference though, so my reasoning for picking Texas to beat the spread was sound.  The win didn’t feel secure until LSU went up 12 (14 with the conversion) with 2:27 left in the game, and then the game wasn’t really over until the onsides kick failed with 22 seconds left.  The field was just a couple of inches too narrow for Texas to recover.

Despite some problems that will need to be fixed, it’s at least somewhat encouraging that LSU did 10 points better than Oklahoma did on defense last year in the first game against the Horns.  I thought that was the most impressive Texas game last year, so that’s why it was my point of comparison in the preview.  I wasn’t sure if Texas would be equally impressive on offense in this game, but they were in my opinion. 

I don’t think the LSU offense is quite at the level of the Oklahoma offense last season, but the relative inexperience of the Texas defense (which I thought was the main reason the Longhorns would lose) made it look like that.

Anyway, I’ll add some stats I found interesting.  LSU once again looked extremely good against a top 10 team not named Alabama.  The Tigers are 6-0 in such games under Orgeron and have won 4 of the 6 by at least 7 points.  This game was closer than average, but the offense did about 2 touchdowns better than the average number of points in the previous 5 such games. 

One reason the game was close was the fact that it was on the road.  LSU had never won a road game against a top-10 opponent out of conference; although under Les Miles alone, the Tigers did beat #16 West Virginia in Morgantown in 2011 and #15 Arizona St. in Tempe in 2005.  This was the second LSU win in Austin and first since 1938.

QB Joe Burrow throws downfield in Austin on Saturday. Burrow went 31/39 for 471 yards.

This was also the first time in LSU history that the Tigers had three receivers with over 100 yards each (Jefferson, 163; Chase, 147; and Marshall, 123).  Joe Burrow’s 471-yard performance on Saturday is second in the Tiger record books only to that of Rohan Davey, who threw for 528 yards against (unranked) Alabama in 2001.  Davey (with Josh Booty) also contributed to more total passing yards (485) in the win over Western Carolina in 2000, but neither quarterback exceeded 300 yards.  For possible future reference, the individual home record is held by Tommy Hodson, who threw for 438 yards in a loss to Tennessee in 1989.

Other games

Other people are moving LSU up to the top 4, but since I had them there already, I think the top 10 (apart from Michigan, who needed overtime to beat Army and still deserved to lose) is fine how it is.

The only other big game going into the week was Texas A&M at Clemson.  It went about what I’d expect with the #1 team playing at home against the 6th-best SEC team.  I didn’t make a specific mention of the game; but you can see my preseason top 25 if you don’t believe that was how I viewed the respective teams.

There were two Pac-12 games that were somewhat surprising, especially the endings.  Stanford looked good against USC for about a quarter and a half, but then the Trojans scored the last 35 points of the game to win 45-20.  The Cal (UC-Berkeley) Bears used a lot of ball control late in the game to give themselves a chance against Washington.  It took until about 1:30 a.m. local time (due to a 2-hour lightening delay), but the Bears scored the winning field goal with 8 seconds left after Washington had scored a go-ahead field goal from about 50 yards with just over 2 minutes left.

The only thing else that was surprising was Maryland beating Syracuse by 43 points.  I wouldn’t have been surprised by a closer Maryland win since it was a Terps home game, but the Orange was blown away on defense in both rushing and passing.  It could be a long day when Syracuse faces Clemson next week.

Anthony McFarland, Jr., (no relation to the former LSU player) runs for one of his three touchdowns against Syracuse in College Park, Md., Saturday.

Due to Stanford, Syracuse, and Iowa St. (who was idle after needing 3 OTs to beat FCS foe Northern Iowa), no games within the AP top 25 will be played next weekend.  I left the Cyclones in though, so the battle for the Cy-Hawk trophy is unusually interesting this year.

Final Top 25 of 2018 Season

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 11, 2019 at 6:29 PM

This week is always tough for me to get back on schedule, so having a game on a week night and then trying to write all of this with work the next day caused me to keep pushing this back. I don’t plan to wait until next season for the next blog, but I can’t be sure when I’ll write again.

As demonstrated by the chart I posted along with the last blog, college football is Alabama, Clemson, and everyone else.  I’m happy someone other than Alabama comes out number one about half the time. 

The only thing I ever had against Clemson (other than a fight song that sounds similar to LSU’s) was that when South Carolina lost to them years ago it made the SEC look bad.  But now I don’t think it hurts that Clemson caused 1/4 of the SEC’s inter-conference losses during the season.

I also want to let the Alabama fans who freaked out when I put Clemson #1 earlier in the year to know I’m laughing at them even though I won’t rub it in.

There is no significance to using a Cotton Bowl picture instead of a national championship picture, but this was the best picture I saw of Trevor Lawrence. He snuck by a lot of people who couldn’t stop talking about Tua and Kyler, so I thought he deserved a good picture.

Final SEC Comments

The Alabama loss drops the top six teams of the SEC to 5-2 in postseason.  All three of my computer rankings (weighted, unweighted, and statistical average) have Clemson #1 and Alabama #2 as is appropriate. 

As I talked about in the last blog, the middle of the conference narrowly lost a few games because they were slightly overmatched. I thought I would explain that a little bit more.

Normally the #7 team and 4th in their division doesn’t end up in the Outback Bowl, for instance (last year South Carolina made it with a winning record at fifth place overall and second in the SEC East). If Mississippi St. had played in the Music City Bowl instead (or an even lesser bowl like the St. Petersburg Bowl they played in two years ago), they probably would have won.

Vanderbilt probably would have won had they not been playing a team that tied for fifth in their conference while the Commodores finished sixth of the seven teams in their division. In other years, the last SEC bowl team ended up in the Birmingham Bowl against a non-major opponent (and not a conference champion like LSU played this year and Auburn played last season).

I would honestly say Missouri was ninth in SEC play although they had the same record as a couple of other teams. Mississippi St. only finished 4-4 because they lost to the two best SEC West teams and to two of the three best SEC East teams. Unlike Missouri, they didn’t play the worst team of the other division. South Carolina was in the SEC East along with Missouri, and the Gamecocks beat the Tigers. The Gamecocks lost to Clemson out of conference, but I don’t think anyone would seriously tell me Missouri would have had a meaningful hope of beating Clemson at the end of the year.

Maybe there wouldn’t have been a blowout (and there would have been another SEC win) had Auburn played Oklahoma St. and Missouri played Purdue, but one reason that didn’t happen was Missouri already beat Purdue. Similarly to Auburn, Oklahoma St. seemed to show up best for their major out-of-conference games while being inconsistent in conference. The Cowboys made Boise St. look like Kansas, even though the Cowboys lost six conference games (including an embarrassing home loss to Texas Tech) between that game and the bowl.

I didn’t see the South Carolina game, just the highlights (if you can call them that); but it seemed like they just didn’t show up. I guess when you qualify 11 teams for bowls, chances are that will happen with one of them. Maybe South Carolina vs. Purdue was the pillow fight the bowl season needed.

In sum, I don’t think the top six of any other conference would have won five games (or even four games) against Oklahoma, Texas, Central Florida, Michigan, Penn St., and North Carolina St. I don’t think anyone else’s #11 plays a close game with Baylor like Vandy did or anyone else’s #10 blows out Purdue like Auburn did. Maybe you can quibble with a couple of others; but mid- and low-ranked teams of other conferences aren’t expected to play close games against the same caliber of teams, and with one exception those SEC teams did play close games.

Also, the average SEC team still blows every other conference out of the water. In my conference ratings, 0.07 points separates the #2 conference (the ACC) and the #5 conference (the Pac-12), but 0.19 separates the ACC and the SEC.

Top 10 (Including LSU)

I also think it’s right to have Notre Dame #3.  The Irish’s loss to Clemson doesn’t look as bad now, and–although Michigan lost–two of the better teams the Irish beat, Northwestern and Syracuse, had good bowl results.  Stanford also won; but I don’t know if that really helps Notre Dame’s argument since they beat Pittsburgh, another opponent of theirs.  I don’t factor this in, but there was also some bad luck in their scheduling.  You would have thought at least one team among Navy, USC, and Florida St. would have qualified for a bowl game, but no such luck.

Oklahoma did beat Texas, which added to its value by winning the Sugar Bowl, but there isn’t much else to be excited about in the Big XII results.  Both of the teams who tied for #3 in the regular season, West Virginia and Iowa St., lost.  There were a couple of wins by lower teams over two middling SEC East teams and Cal, but it also hurt Oklahoma that the team who beat them lost in the national championship.  Also, since Alabama played Georgia and Missouri (the second-best team the Big XII beat in bowls), it didn’t help the Sooners as much to have Big XII teams beat them.

Urban Meyer went out a winner in the Rose Bowl. His team was pretty good too, although that Purdue game still defies explanation.

I think it’s right that Ohio St. finishes ahead of the Sooners.  The top of the Big Ten had some losses too, but I don’t think basically a .500 team of any other conference would have beaten Mississippi St. in the Outback Bowl.  I don’t know if (other than the SEC) another conference’s effective #4 team (Northwestern had as good a conference record as Ohio St. but played in a much weaker division and lost three games out of conference) would have beaten Utah.  Maybe Oklahoma would have beaten Washington, but maybe they would have come out flat like Georgia did against what I consider a worse team. More on Texas later.

I have LSU 7th, but with the objective way my ratings work I can’t give credit to my belief that LSU was the better team when they played Texas A&M.  I think most of the voters probably treated that like a tie at worst.  The polls also frown upon losing your last two games regardless of the opponents, so that also contributed to the Tigers passing up the Bulldogs… not to mention that LSU beat Georgia by 20 points.

Speaking of head-to-head, there is of course an argument Florida should be ahead of Michigan, but the Gators were hurt by being in the SEC East (which went only 2-4 in bowl games) and losing to Missouri.  Florida was the only team outside of my top four who beat Michigan though.

So Michigan finished ninth behind Central Florida, and Washington St. rounds out the top 10. Iowa St. wasn’t a spectacular opponent (although again the bowl selectors did their job in making it entertaining), but 11 wins is a job well-done anyway.

The Rest of the Top 25

Appalachian St. finished higher than I would have liked (simply because I think at least 25 teams would beat them at a neutral site), but I think keeping an 11-2 team outside of the top 15 based on strength of schedule is about the best to be expected, especially when one of the two losses was to a team in the top 20.  Cincinnati also finished 11-2 and barely made the top 25.

Texas finished fairly low considering the two big wins (Oklahoma earlier in the season and Georgia), but let’s not forget they lost to Maryland (who didn’t qualify for a bowl game).  Only one other Longhorn win (over 8-5 Iowa St.) came against a team who finished with fewer than 6 losses, so that hurts them in the weighted ratings.  Texas A&M, which had no bad losses, also had exactly three wins over teams who finished with fewer than 6 losses. 

I’d like to give the Aggies less credit, but I believe in being consistent.  The Aggies’ worst loss was to Auburn; but given that Auburn beat a 5-4 Big Ten team by about 50 points (and didn’t really even try to score in the second half), they probably could have done the same or worse to Maryland, who finished 3-6 in the Big Ten after beating Texas.  So I don’t consider Auburn a bad loss to the same extent.

I finished with three Mountain West teams in the top 25; but I think they were pretty similar, and despite the early losses to major-conference opponents it’s hard to say there were 20+ teams who were more deserving than all of them.  Fresno St. finished higher than I would have liked, but the Bulldogs did beat a fairly decent team in Arizona St. in the bowl game to finish 12-2.  Other than losing to Boise St., for which they redeemed themselves in the conference championship game, Fresno St. won the rest of the conference games.  Utah St. (which finished 11-2) may have been just as good, but they didn’t get the rematch against Boise St. and unfortunately didn’t have a chance at a better team than North Texas in the bowl.  They’ll get a crack at LSU next year though.

Fresno St.’s Ronnie Rivers ran for 212 yards (almost 9 yards per rush) against Arizona St. in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 15. The Bulldogs trailed, 20-17, before Rivers scored the last two touchdowns of the game.

Top 25 List

I did want to note that I’m using the statistical average of the weighted and unweighted ratings (I guess you could call it semi-weighted). I thought including Stanford and Iowa made more sense than the other versions. The top 10 was pretty consistent, so I didn’t worry about that as much as including the right lower teams. Here is the full 130-team list, but the top 25 list below has the recent changes.

RankTeamPrev.
1Clemson2
2Alabama1
3Notre Dame3
4Ohio St.5
5Oklahoma4
6Georgia6
7LSU9
8C. Florida7
9Michigan8
10Wash St.13
11Florida11
12Kentucky12
13Fresno St.15
14Army17
15Syracuse19
16App. St.16
17Texas A&M18
18Washington10
19Texas
20Penn St.14
21Boise St.22
22Utah St.21
23Cincinnati23
24Stanford
25Iowa

Out of Top 25: (20) Missouri, (24) Miss. St., (25) Utah

Top 25 after Week 7

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 14, 2018 at 2:26 PM

Since the top 25 will be almost purely mathematical from now on (I do have three paragraphs about the changes I made to the top 7), I plan to talk more about what happened on the field Saturday than why I like one team better than another.

LSU-Georgia and Comparisons

I wrote extensively about the 2003 game, LSU’s previous home win over Georgia, in my update to the LSU-Georgia Series Blog (since updated to add the result), so it was interesting to see the Advocate’s Scott Rabalais bring that game up here. That was one of the top games in the rivalry in my opinion because at that time they were the last two SEC champions facing off, and it was the first time either team faced opposing head coaches Nick Saban and Mark Richt, respectively. Also, LSU was one of only two teams to beat the Bulldogs that year (which they did twice). Both teams lost to Florida, who somehow lost 5 games on the season; but LSU would win the BCS national championship in the following January.

It’s funny how the start of games can be so different from the way they play out. I almost feel bad for Georgia fans, because I would have been really frustrated. I don’t have to think back very far to recall such a feeling.

After LSU took a 3-0 lead, Georgia took the field and was able to run on LSU almost at will after Florida ran for over 200 yards against the Tigers the week before. I thought it was going to be a long day. Then one running play didn’t work out for the Bulldogs setting up a 2nd and 9, and they largely gave up on the run.

Two incompletions followed, and then on 4th and 9 they ran a fake kick. They gave up on Holyfield and Swift and flipped the ball to Rodrigo Blankenship? That was one of the dumbest set of downs I’ve seen from a major program this year. The Bulldogs didn’t run the ball the next possession either, a three and out. By this time LSU led 13-0. In the next 3 runs the Bulldogs averaged 4.3 yards, but I guess the scoreboard kept them from committing to the run in any kind of consistent way. Georgia ran for 71 yards in the drive that set up the fake field goal (before the lost yardage on the fake) and ended up with only 113 rushing yards for the game, but to be fair a few good runs were canceled out by negative plays.

In LSU’s game at Florida, the Tigers were doing great on both sides of the ball early on. The Tigers had one touchdown drive to start up 7-0. The Gators got one first down on their next drive but stalled immediately afterward. Then LSU took only 5 plays to get down to the Florida 28, and Burrow fumbled it on first down. The Tigers didn’t establish that kind of rhythm again the rest of the game. Even in the only other touchdown drive, it was only four plays and 78 of the 80 yards came on two runs by Nick Brossette, so that’s not really what I’d call a rhythm.

Here is the Mississippi St. rivalry blog if you want to look ahead to that game. It’s not talked about as much as some other series, but LSU has actually played more games against Mississippi St. than any other opponent. Something else I just noticed is LSU’s next three opponents will all be coming off of bye weeks.

Georgia QB Jake Fromm (being pressured by LSU LB Devin White) completed only 47% of his passes, significantly reduced from his previous season average of 73%.

Other Games Saturday

Another thing that had made me a little nervous at the early going of the Georgia game was the way Auburn and Florida had looked against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, respectively. Auburn lost, but Vanderbilt had led Florida 21-3 before losing 37-27.

I guess we’re just at the time of the season that you can’t really take anything from one week to the next as teams get into the heart of their conference schedules. No conference punishes you the way the SEC does if you don’t get up for a given game, but we still saw teams like West Virginia and U. Miami lose road games that on paper they should have won.
I mentioned Auburn and U. Miami, who both lost, but there was another prior LSU opponent who almost lost as well. That was Ole Miss, who really seemed down and out. The Rebels missed a field goal with 13:47 left in the game while down 9.

Arkansas did a good job running the clock and setting up disadvantageous field positions for the Rebels, but the Razorbacks didn’t score again. Ole Miss took advantage with 84- and 97-yard touchdown drives in the final 7 minutes. Arkansas will attempt to end its 6-game losing streak next week against Tulsa before facing Vanderbilt, another victim of a significant comeback. The Razorbacks will have a bye week before hosting LSU on November 9.

Other than the WVU-Iowa St. and U. Miami-Virginia games I referred to earlier, I can’t tell you too much about the non-SEC games. Notre Dame didn’t look very impressive in the quarter or so I watched against Pitt; but as usual the Irish were just good enough to beat a lesser opponent. I only watched Washington-Oregon briefly. I can’t stand watching defenses who can’t tackle.

I was going to turn on Michigan-Wisconsin after the SEC games, but it was already a blowout. I don’t understand how that game was chosen over LSU. The best team Michigan beat was Maryland, the only team Wisconsin beat that wasn’t terrible was Iowa, and both teams had losses (Wisconsin’s was to BYU). At least Lee Corso looks dumb, not that it was the first time.

Top 25 Comments

I’m keeping Alabama #1 for this week, but there is a good chance I will replace the Tide next week if Clemson wins (against N.C. St.) and becomes the computer #1 over idle Notre Dame. It’s not that Bama isn’t playing well; but they haven’t played any of the top 9 teams (in my opinion including non-conference games) in the SEC, and their only game in the next two weeks is against Tennessee. The Vols just beat Auburn; but being that it was their first SEC win since 2016, they’re not one of the top 9 teams in the SEC either. The Tide also don’t have a non-conference win that does them much good: Bama’s three opponents are only a combined 5-11 in FBS play, and two of them play in the Sun Belt.

The only other change from the computer was to move Ohio St. up two spots to be ahead of Texas and Florida. Texas did lose to a Big Ten team after all. I didn’t want to move the Buckeyes higher since they really haven’t played anyone… anyone who didn’t just lose to Michigan St. anyway. Ohio St. belonged ahead of LSU going into the week even though my computer didn’t have them ahead, but with the win (and Penn St.’s loss) LSU is now 3-1 against teams in my top 40 when Ohio St. hasn’t played any of those teams. LSU has beaten 5 teams in the top 65 to Ohio St.’s 2; so however you look at it, I think LSU’s quality wins overcome the one loss at this point. It helps Ohio St. a little bit that the Buckeyes haven’t played an FCS opponent, but still for Ohio St. to be 96th in FBS strength of schedule and for LSU to be 3rd explains how LSU can afford a loss.

Florida did beat LSU and has a better loss than Texas, which is why they’re ahead of the Longhorns; but I didn’t think the Gators had the quality wins to overcome the loss to Kentucky. LSU and Mississippi St. are the only top-50 wins according to my computer rankings. One of those two will lose value next week since they play one another, and Florida will lose value since they have the week off. It just makes sense to keep Ohio St. ahead for now when most likely Florida will fall next week anyway. Texas is off next week as well.

Top 25

rank/team/prev.

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

Out of Top 25: (18) U. Miami, (19) S Carolina, (20) Penn St., (24) Wisconsin

Week 10 Top 25

In College Football, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 29, 2017 at 1:46 PM

So as I said I would do, for the purposes of this list, I’m keeping Alabama #1 here. Assuming one of the top teams is still undefeated, I will make sure the #1 next week is undefeated. This might or might not be Alabama. I hope I can just follow the computer list though.

Since a couple of teams fell from the ranks of the unbeaten anyway, other than the top spot, I just let the chips fall where they may this week. Wisconsin falls a spot on this list only because I artificially moved them up last week as one of the top unbeaten teams. Other than keeping Alabama #1, the remaining order is exactly as the computer numbers gave me.

Clemson may briefly retake #1 in the formula with a win next week, but the Tigers will probably lose ground when they play Florida St. and the Citadel, so I don’t want to jump the gun. How this develops in future weeks also somewhat depends on how Auburn finishes (which matters already because Auburn plays Georgia and Alabama) and how South Carolina (who plays Georgia next week) finishes.

If you’re wondering why Mississippi St. is so high, all of their prior FBS opponents who played (Louisiana Tech, BYU, Georgia, and Kentucky) won in addition to their own win. The Bulldogs now have the 14th-best strength of schedule, which makes a pretty good combination of record and schedule at this point.

The Bulldogs are fourth in the SEC West at the moment, but since Alabama still has to play the best divisional teams and Auburn still has to play Georgia, some interesting possibilities still exist.

Alabama had the opposite situation. Unless they were playing each other (which was the case with Ole Miss and Arkansas), their prior opponents all lost. So despite not playing, the Tide lost about 0.1 points, which is about how far TCU is from Ohio St. or Virginia Tech is from Mississippi St.

I don’t normally point this out, but the Big Ten did rate higher on my chart of top 40 teams this week. The SEC had more teams in the top 40 than any other conference (8), but the Big Ten was the only conference with three teams in the top 10. Also, the Big Ten East edged the SEC West on similar grounds. Although the SEC West has more top 40 teams than any other division (5), the Big Ten East was the only division with two teams in the top 10.

However, the average SEC team is still better than the average Big Ten team. These rankings are at the bottom of the page. The Big Ten did move into second though, just ahead of the Pac-12.

The ACC is fourth and the Big XII a very distant fifth. I haven’t had time to do a more detailed conference analysis.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Georgia 3
3 Clemson 6
4 Notre Dame 7
5 Penn St. 2
6 Wisconsin 5
7 Central Florida 4
8 Ohio St. 17
9 USC 13
10 Memphis 11
11 U. Miami 9
12 San Diego St. 14
13 TCU 10
14 Oklahoma 18
15 Miss. St. –
16 Mich. St. 8
17 Oklahoma St. 20
18 Boise St. 21
19 Wash. St. 12
20 Iowa St. –
21 Washington 19
22 South Carolina 24
23 Virginia Tech 23
24 Iowa –
25 Stanford 15

Out of top 25: (19) N. Carolina St., (22) LSU, (25) Michigan

Week 2 SEC Preview and Other Key Games

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

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

SEC WED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 2 Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LSU Notes and FCS vs. FBS

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on September 2, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Just a random observation and then I’ll have a couple of detailed topics: Arkansas plays four SEC teams in the preseason top 10 in consecutive weeks, beginning September 28. All four won over the weekend, as did the Razorbacks. Kentucky also has a similar string of opponents beginning September 14, but one of the preseason top-10 opponents is Louisville.

FCS schools make statements against the FBS

Oregon St. became the third ranked team ever and first since 2010 to lose to an FCS (formerly I-AA) opponent. The other two were Virginia Tech (to James Madison) and Michigan (to Appalachian St. in 2007).

By my count, FCS programs went 8-21 against FBS (formerly I-A) teams, a better winning percentage than the MAC, MWC, and Independents had against FBS teams in Week 1. Of those, only the MAC had a better winning percentage against Division I as a whole.

The Big Ten schools are in the process of eliminating FCS schools from their schedules. The Big Ten has not lost to any so far, but the Big XII and AAC (the successor to the Big East) lost two such games apiece. The conference should probably re-think that, especially since North Dakota St. and Northern Iowa (and much of the rest of the current Missouri Valley Conference) often fields teams that are more competitive than MAC opponents that may be chosen instead. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Northern Iowa has played interesting in-state games against Iowa and Iowa St. (including this year, when it beat the Cyclones) in recent reasons. Minnesota has struggled against Dakota teams, nearly losing to South Dakota St. in 2009 and then losing to South Dakota in 2010 and to North Dakota St. in 2011. Maybe the Big Ten should place a limit on how far away the FCS opponent can come from instead. Games of regional interest against competitive FCS programs should definitely continue.

North Dakota St.–which came from behind, 21-7, to beat Kansas St.–has beaten an FBS school for the fourth consecutive season. Three of the four were against opponents in auto-bid BCS conferences. The Bison move to 7-3 against FBS opponents in the last 10 years. Before 10 years ago, they weren’t losing to FBS schools; instead they were competing in Division II.

Don’t forget FBS schools often pay for the right to play these FCS opponents. ESPN’s Darren Rovell provided the numbers for two of the games. Kansas State paid North Dakota State $350,000 to play Friday’s game. NDSU paid for its coach’s salary and then some. Craig Bohl has a base salary of $206,000. The UConn Huskies paid Towson $275,000 to beat them Thursday night.

Two of the FCS winners over FBS teams this weekend have played LSU in recent seasons. The Tigers defeated Towson last year and McNeese St. in 2010. Towson beat UConn, 33-18, and McNeese St. beat South Florida, 53-21. Hard to believe UConn was in a BCS bowl in 2010, and in 2007, South Florida was #2 in the BCS standings.

LSU Game Notes

At first blush, it might appear that the LSU defense struggled with the loss of talent (depending on whom you ask, they had either 4 or 5 returning starters on defense), but when you look closer, not really.

The only touchdown allowed in the first half was allowed by the special teams. The only other TCU scoring drive in the first half was a field goal. The defense did technically allow two touchdown drives in the second half, but one of those started at the LSU 6 after a fumble by the LSU running back.

There were definitely some things the defense did wrong leading up to the other touchdown for the Horned Frogs, but at one point it actually seemed to have a stop before a penalty was called for roughing the passer on third down.

After a bad punt, TCU also got a second-half field goal from 39 yards out after only a 26-yard drive.

The defense also came up with an interception.

Other than the one turnover, the offense did a fairly good job overall. Mettenberger was very on-target, and it’s really an injustice to him that only 50% of his passes were caught. Some of the passes were thrown to perfection, allowing receivers to catch the ball in stride and evade even very good coverage. At least a couple such balls hit receivers in the hands and were not caught.

He did linger in the pocket at times, but I’d prefer that to risking an interception. I think there were missed blocking assignments and things of that nature that contributed to problems and will work themselves out as the season progresses. Mettenberger showed some good scrambling ability, but he’s not great at running or throwing on the run.

Like the receivers, the running backs were a bit of a mixed bag. Odell Beckham, LSU’s top receiver on the night in terms of yardage, also had one of the longer runs on an end-around for 17 yards. Alfred Blue (who committed the turnover) was solid but not spectacular, carrying the ball 19 times for 89 yards. Terrence Magee, who was only credited with one rushing attempt and one reception last season, showed the ability to accelerate on a 52-yard touchdown scamper (the blocking on that play helped make up for some backfield errors) but only gained 43 yards combined in his other 12 carries. Jeremy Hill is serving a (indeterminate) suspension for punching a man outside of a bar, but it’s nice to know there are at least two able backs. Kenny Hilliard showed flashes of brilliance in the past as well, but he only had 4 carries for 8 yards on Saturday.

Aside from struggles with TCU kickoff returns (even apart from the 100-yard touchdown, the Frogs gained 69 yards in the other four returns) and the one bad punt, the special teams did well. There were two other punts, one of 48 yards that was fair caught at midfield and another of 43 yards that went out of bounds at the 9 yard line. There were no punt returns for the Tigers or Horned Frogs.

The three LSU field goals were all of under 30 yards (which says we could use some improvement in the red zone), but all of the kicks were free from any drama from what I could tell.

Odell Beckham did some damage of his own on the LSU kick returns, returning 4 kickoffs for a total of 136 yards.

Some other odds and ends. LSU was 13/19 on third downs compared to 7/13 for TCU. The Tigers out-gained the Horned Frogs, 448-259. TCU was penalized 9 times for 55 yards, and LSU was penalized 7 times for 42 yards. The Tigers had twice as many first downs, 26-13, one fewer turnover, and almost exactly 12 more minutes in time of possession.

The Tigers have won 42 consecutive non-conference regular-season games since losing the opener of the 2002 season at Virginia Tech. I went over the highlights here. This is also the first time in LSU history that the team has won 11 consecutive season openers.

Week 7 Top 25 and Commentary (including LSU post-game)

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on October 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Kansas St. 9
5 Florida 7
6 Oregon St. 8
7 Oregon 5
8 TX Tech 14
9 S Carolina 4
10 W Virginia 6
11 Rutgers 17
12 LSU 20
13 Oklahoma —
14 TX A&M 23
15 Miss. St. 18
16 Louisville 19
17 Cincinnati 15
18 Boise St. 21
19 Stanford 10
20 N’western —
21 USC —
22 La. Tech 11
23 Texas 12
24 Florida St. 22
25 Georgia 16

Out of rankings: (13) Iowa St., (24) Toledo, (25) Duke

Full 124 permalink

Comments

LSU

Since losing his first home game against Tennessee (in which the Tigers gave up a 21-point lead before going on to lose in overtime), Les Miles has only lost 5 home games. Three of those losses occurred in the 2008 season (Georgia, Alabama [in overtime], and Ole Miss), with one loss each in 2007 (Arkansas, again in overtime) and 2009 (Florida). From 2005 to 2007 (Arkansas was LSU’s final home game in 2007), the Tigers won 19 straight games at home. Their current streak, however, is the longest in LSU history at 22 games. Nick Saban, who incidentally won his last 10 home games (and 14 of his last 15) as LSU’s head coach, will be the next coach to attempt to put a stop to that streak.

I had written a blog about the most-recent coach to try to stop that and his personal series against LSU. I would give the link if that blog hadn’t been wiped out by TheSportingNews. I may post a new version later this week, but for now, I’ll mention that LSU is 17-2-1 against South Carolina all time, which now includes three wins in the Spurrier era. South Carolina won the first game between the two schools in 1930 and didn’t win the second until 1994 (its only win in Baton Rouge), then earning the tie in 1995. If you’ll look at my LSU/Florida rivalry post, I included a list of the larger point totals in that series. In four of the five instances in which the Gators scored over 40 and two of the three instances in which they scored over 50 against the Tigers, Spurrier was their coach. Obviously this game yesterday was a huge game anyway, but it always adds a little extra to the spirit of LSU fans to have Spurrier there.

This was the 9th time in the LSU/South Carolina series that the game was decided by 8 points or fewer, so LSU is 6-2-1 in such games against the Gamecocks. Both losses were by one point apiece.

I have to admit I was mildly surprised about the offense. A team with only one official third-down conversion a week ago went 11/19 on third down. South Carolina was only 3/13, although they were 2/2 on fourth down, the second of which set up the touchdown to bring the score to within 2. The passing yards were even more modest than last week (by 10 yards), but Mettenberger was sacked one time instead of four and threw one fewer incompletion. His stats were also not padded by a 56-yard completion that only really amounted to a punt on third down last week anyway, so he showed a lot more ability to throw it far enough to keep drives going.

I’m still not sure what happened to the running game against Florida, but LSU did a better job of mixing run with pass and approached running plays with a variety of blocking schemes, not to mention directing the ball to different locations along the line. For example, there was a wildcat play that put LSU into what should have been scoring position, and Jeremy Hill (yes, we apparently found another good running back) scored on a delayed pitch to give LSU some breathing room (which they needed every bit of) with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

LSU had 406 yards of total offense to South Carolina’s 211. Going into halftime, the Gamecocks had more yards on an interception (LSU’s only turnover) return than the offense had gained. South Carolina only ran for 34 yards (1.4 yards per rush) compared to the 176 rushing yards by Florida (3.0 yards per rush) last week. LSU improved to 4.9 yards per rush (258 rushing yards) after gaining only 1.7 yards per rush (42 rushing yards) last week.

So before now-#1 Alabama goes to Tiger Stadium, LSU travels to College Station for the first time since 1995 next week and there will be a bye week thereafter. Also feel free to check out the Texas A&M entry to my rivalry series.

I’d like the passing game to continue to progress of course, but my main concern going into next week is finishing drives. The Tigers do have a very good defense, but three field goals of 23 yards or less next week (as was the case yesterday; there was also a miss from 32), and I doubt that’s going to be a win. Texas A&M gave Florida a better game than LSU did (LSU also settled for field goals of 31 and 21 against Florida), and the Aggies only scored 17 points in that one, so despite some less-than-stellar performances (such as giving up 57 to Louisiana Tech yesterday and giving up 27 to Ole Miss the week before, both away from home), they have some players on defense too.

Other teams

I’m going to keep Alabama as the #1 team in my blog and in my voting (I vote on two of the sites where I participate) unless they lose or run into serious trouble in the next two weeks. Regardless of what Alabama does, I will promote Notre Dame to #1 across the board if my formula puts them #1 and they get past Oklahoma.

I’m sure some Ducks fans have their feathers ruffled about being #3 in the BCS (I have them a bit lower of course), but when your best win is Arizona (which isn’t even top-40) and you’ve had a bye week and an FCS opponent, you should be happy with #3. Of course nothing precludes the Ducks moving up if they beat Stanford, USC (possibly twice), and Oregon St. (Arizona St. may not be bad either). The possibilities for significant advancement are there, and Florida and Alabama can’t both finish undefeated anyway.

Although Ohio is a top-25 team in my ratings, I will exclude them from the top 25 above until their schedule ceases to be so bad I have to substitute a number for my formula to work. The Bobcats’ opponents have an average winning percentage of 15.15, 123rd of 124 teams. Texas-San Antonio is 124th, and I would not rank them either, but in the Roadrunners’ defense, they are transitioning into FBS play and still scheduled a couple of non-Division I opponents, which do not factor in.

I’m not sure if I mentioned last week that the middle teams (around 10-20) were all very close together, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Normally, #10 (Stanford, in this case) doesn’t fall 10 spots for losing to #1, for instance. But penalties for losses or relative stagnation are point subtraction or the points staying the same, they’re not for a given number of spots like the way most people seem to do ordinal rankings. Louisiana Tech fell 12 spots for losing to a ranked team (Texas A&M). LSU was able to gain 8 spots partly because they weren’t that far behind numbers 10 and 11 that week even though 9 spots seems far. Oklahoma jumped up 14 spots from #27 for beating Texas, which was #12 last week.

Of course this also involved the cooperation of some losing teams and others who did little to help their point totals. Georgia didn’t even play, but it also lost points (and dropped 9 spots) because South Carolina lost. Florida St. didn’t gain very much for beating Boston College, so they actually stayed behind Texas.

It’s also important to note at this point which teams haven’t had either a bye week or a FCS (I-AA) opponent or have had multiple such weeks. (3) Ohio St. and (9) South Carolina have neither had a bye nor a I-AA opponent. This is one reason why, along with one other ranking system, I have Ohio St. higher than anyone else does. This is also partly why South Carolina is still ahead of LSU. Another reason is that Georgia (South Carolina’s best win) is better than Washington (LSU’s best win, and the Huskies lost over the weekend). Oregon St. would actually be #2 if I ranked the teams in order of best average playing week, since the Beavers have had two bye weeks (one due to a rescheduled game as a result of Hurricane Isaac).

Much more common Is having had a bye week and an FCS opponent already, as is the case with Kansas St., Oregon, Texas Tech, Wes t Virginia, Texas A&M, Mississippi St., and Louisville. Florida St. is basically in the same boat with having played two FCS opponents, one of whom is winless against all competition.

Two teams are really at a disadvantage right now. Oklahoma has actually had two bye weeks AND an FCS opponent and Cincinnati has played two FCS opponents and has had two bye weeks. Using a weekly average, they would be ranked 10th and 13th, respectively.

It wasn’t even that interesting of a week. LSU/South Carolina and Stanford/Notre Dame were worth watching (although I think Notre Dame was handed much of that final field goal drive in regulation), and there were a couple of blowouts of note in the Big XII (neither game appeared lopsided on paper; if anything, WVU-TTU seemed slanted the other direction), but that’s about it. I am sorry I missed the Louisiana Tech/Texas A&M game (I don’t have ESPNU, another one that came down to the wire, ending when Tech couldn’t convert a two-point play that would have tied and then failed to recover an onside kick. Kansas St. had a bit of trouble with Iowa St., but that one was a bit too early for me.

I’ll be interested to see how much trouble West Virginia can give the Wildcats next week. The week after that, the Wildcats will face Texas Tech, which of course won one of the two major blowouts over that same WVU team. Another key game next week is South Carolina @ Florida, to make a full circle back to Darth Visor.

Week 6 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 9, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 6
3 Ohio St. 15
4 S Carolina 11
5 Oregon 13
6 W Virginia 7
7 Florida 14
8 Oregon St. 4
9 Kansas St. 3
10 Stanford 9
11 La. Tech —
12 Texas 18
13 Iowa St. —
14 TX Tech —
15 Cincinnati 12
16 Georgia 10
17 Rutgers —
18 Miss. St. 19
19 Louisville —
20 LSU 2
21 Boise St. —
22 Florida St. 5
23 TX A&M —
24 Toledo —
25 Duke —

Out of rankings: (8) Washington, (16) UCLA, (17) Nebraska, (20) Clemson,
(21) Mich St., (22) Arizona, (23) Missouri, (24) Wisconsin, (25) Baylor

Full 124 permalink

Comments

Although I do rank Alabama #1 above, I know people aren’t going to be thrilled with the top couple of teams on my ratings site (can also be accessed via the headings above), but I’m happy with the top 10, and I think it will sort itself out as usual. Ohio St. has played 6 FBS opponents in 6 weeks, so that’s a considerable advantage over some other teams. Notre Dame has had one bye week, but it has played 4 BCS-conference opponents. The Irish’s opponents have also won an average of 54% of their games, and that’s factoring in their respective losses to the Irish. Notre Dame’s opponents’ opponents have won an average of 56.5% of their games. (FCS teams do not count toward these calculations.)

Nos. 3-6 include most people’s top two as well as South Carolina and West Virginia, who I feel have legitimately earned the most so far. Then the next three are Florida, Oregon St., and Kansas St. They weren’t preseason headliners, but you can’t say too much critical of their positions just looking at the resumes.

Then Stanford has had one of the best schedules so far with only one loss. Even San Jose St. has done well in other games.

After the top 10, there are too many teams that are only as high as they are because they don’t have any losses. A 1-loss team later in the year is more likely to be ahead of an undefeated Louisiana Tech or Ohio because they’ll have a lot more wins with which to overcome those losses.

I’m just going to throw a simple mathematical example out there if you’re interested. For instance, if you get one point for beating a good team and lose two points for losing to a good team and then get half a point for beating a poor team, this is what it would look like. 5-0 against poor teams = 2.5; 4-1 against good teams = 2. But the same calculation right before the bowls: 12-0 against poor teams = 6; 11-1 against good teams = 9.

The high SEC teams aren’t a result of some bias built into my formula. It’s pretty consistent all around. Kenneth Massey, one of the BCS computer rankers, compiles a list of the major publications as well as just about every unbiased top-to-bottom computer ranking and based on his averages of the rankings, the numbers are as follows: 3 in the top 3, 6 in the top 14, and 7 in the top 19.

That said, I’m willing to admit that the bottom SEC teams aren’t as good as they have been in past seasons. I remember one year Ole Miss was winless in the SEC but undefeated out of conference; but teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and even Arkansas all have non-conference losses already. Eighth in the SEC on the list mentioned above is Tennessee at #45, followed by Missouri at #50. But the lower teams aren’t terrible either, as Kentucky is last in the SEC but #75 in the country. Every other conference has at least one team significantly lower than that, and all except the Big XII (with only Kansas lower, at #105) have multiple teams lower than that. My rankings are actually less generous toward the lower SEC teams than these sort of aggregate rankings are.
With at least the better SEC teams as good as they are, and most of its easy weeks out of the way (having had a bye week and having played Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, and Ole Miss), Alabama will have plenty of chances to move up. Unlike with the human polls, there is no deference to what a team’s ranking was the week before. So if for instance, Alabama were to beat South Carolina this week, they could jump over several other teams who won games against lesser competition.

In actuality, LSU plays South Carolina this week (and I’m more nervous about this than I was about the BCS championship game), and Alabama won’t play South Carolina (if at all this season) until the SEC Championship game. Alabama does still have divisional games against LSU, Texas A&M, and Mississippi St. The Tide’s inter-divisional slate (consisting of Tennessee and Missouri) isn’t exactly impressive, but they are both decent opportunities for points. What could happen is Alabama could be #1 after going through the divisional games mentioned above and then fall behind after playing Western Carolina and Auburn, but as mentioned, the SEC championship game should help out a good bit.

Last season, Alabama was stuck at #3 because it did not have the benefit of a ninth conference game, so it was FCS opponent, followed by Auburn, followed by no one.

SEC champions, on the other hand, have fared quite well in my rankings, both before and after I made a change to the formula, but I’ll mention the results since the change. Florida was #2 going into the BCS championship in 2008, moving into #1 after winning, but that team had a loss (also, this was before I compiled the strength of schedule myself). Alabama was #1 in 2009, Auburn was #1 in 2010, and LSU was #1 last year. LSU was such a strong #1 that even the loss didn’t knock them out of #1, and Auburn may have obtained the same result with a loss in the 2010 championship. Texas would have surpassed Bama with a win over them in 2009, however.

The other two undefeated top-ten SEC teams should be fine as well. Mississippi St. isn’t realistically going to finish undefeated anyway, but if they did, that’s the only SEC team I could see having problems if they did so.

I’ll end with a couple of general comments. Ohio finished in the top 25 published on my ratings site, but since I had to make some numerical adjustments just to give them a good enough schedule to be rated, I thought it best to put the teams that actually earned all their points higher on here.

There was more turnover in teams than I expected. This was partly due to a relatively eventful week (this week looks like a snooze, by the way). But I would note that none of the five teams I took out of the rankings last week moved back in with the introduction of computerized ranking. So my moves in an effort to be more objective were correct in those instances.

I never claimed to be the best prognosticator–I don’t pay as much attention to things like trends, key athletes, X’s and O’s, and margin of victory, since they don’t factor into my computer ratings–but I actually have done all right when tested this season. Of the picks I’ve made so far this year, I’m 41-9.

So while people get grumpy with me, I think I know just a bit of what I’m talking about when I offer other opinions.

By the way, while I’m still mystified by LSU’s lack of a running game and general offensive ineffectiveness after the first drive last week, I still feel I was correct in criticizing those who ranked some non-SEC team from the Sunshine State ahead of LSU after Week 5.

Final Top 25, 2011 Season (w/ Comments)

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on February 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

I guess I’ll just give people a minute to get outraged and then explain.

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

Out of rankings: (23) Ark. St., (24) Notre Dame

Top 120 Permalink

Prior weeks
Week 13
Week 12
Week 11
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

Comments About the Top 3
In prior years of using this ratings system (2008, 2009, and 2010), the top 2 teams advanced to the title game, so naturally the winning team came out #1 in these ratings.

As I discussed here, the BCS #2 was at odds with my #2. If #1 wins, no problem. Few people make a big deal about where the team who loses the championship ends up. To my eternal frustration as someone who happens to be an LSU fan who regards Alabama as the #1 team to beat, the #1 team going in did not win.

Another wrinkle was that not only did the winner of the BCS title game not finish first, it finished third. Like so many big games this year, Oklahoma St.-Stanford went into overtime, and again, the “wrong” team (for the purpose of the rankings being well-received) won.. If that goes the other way, again, fewer people would have a problem with the overall results.

I anticipate an argument in comparing them to both LSU and Oklahoma St., “But Alabama won so easily”.

That’s nice, but that’s not what I’m looking at here, I’m trying to reward teams on the strength of the opponents they beat and punish them according to the strength of the teams that beat them.

I firmly believe that following that process would have put the correct two teams in the title game for each of the past four years. The result doesn’t go back in time and change that, even if Oklahoma St. had also lost by 21.

The next obvious Alabama argument vis-a-vis Oklahoma St. is, “Losing to LSU in OT is much better than losing to ISU in OT.”

That’s certainly true, but remember, the losses are only 1/13 or 7.7% of the games played in each case.

This is a slight re-hash of the blog I linked to above, but I’ll give the updated numbers in light of the final rankings. Before the bowls, Oklahoma St. beat 7 top-40 teams this season. There were a total of 7 top-40 teams in the Big XII, and since the Cowboys didn’t play themselves, they had to pick up one out-of-conference, which they did with Tulsa. The SEC had 6 teams in the top 40, albeit with higher average rankings than the Big XII teams. But Alabama didn’t play Georgia or South Carolina, so that knocks their in-conference total down to 3. The Tide also picks up one in regular season out-of-conference (Penn St.), so that leaves a 7-4 edge for the Cowboys.

Looking at the top 25 instead, that still makes it 5-3 OSU.

So I think a good argument can be made that this disparity makes up for the difference in the losses.

Here’s another way to look at it. I made a list of all the Alabama wins and all the Oklahoma St. wins. I dropped the Georgia Southern game from Alabama’s list, and to make up for the dramatic difference in the quality of the loss, I took away Oklahoma St.’s best win, the Fiesta Bowl against Stanford. Oklahoma St.’s remaining wins are still better than Alabama’s remaining wins.

As for LSU, I think it’s pretty clear why they would rise above both. The Tigers beat THREE eventual winners of BCS bowls. When has that ever happened? They also got to play one of the top-2 SEC East teams when they defeated Georgia in the SEC Championship game. It would have been better had South Carolina made that game, but still it added to an already impressive list which even with bowl wins, no other team can touch.

As a Tiger fan, I’m depressed about this great effort ending the way it did against the team it ended against, but I guess it’s some kind of cosmic justice for losing two games in 2007 and still being awarded the national championship.

By the way, even though my methods have changed a lot over the years, I’ve been doing rankings weekly since the 1995 season, and this is only the second time there has been a wire-to-wire #1. The first was Florida St. in 1999.