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Posts Tagged ‘Jacksonville St.’

Post-Game Comments and Week 3 Top 25

In College Football, Conference Reports, General LSU, Post-game on September 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Inter-conference Play and LSU Recap

So there was a lot of critical talk last week about the SEC being that there were a few losses. The conference went 6-6 against strong outside competition while other conferences mostly played slates of FCS or low-level FBS opponents. Now that the SEC had opponents more similar to what the other conference had last week, it didn’t lose any. Not to minimize the wins over TCU and Virginia Tech, but there were a lot of expected wins by the conference as a whole.

The Big Ten did well last week but Northwestern, who won 10 games last year, fell to 0-2 with a loss to Illinois St., an FCS team. I mention how many they won last year because I wouldn’t pick on some team who had finished last in the conference or something of that nature.

The Big Ten will no longer be scheduling FCS opponents, but their non-conference schedules would be pretty empty without MAC opponents, and the MAC has split its six games against the FCS so far. There are good FCS opponents even though there are also very bad ones. The same is true of the MAC.

Speaking of FCS opponents, LSU played a high-quality FCS opponent, Jacksonville St., which was the national runner-up in last year’s FCS playoffs. Their success has been aided over the years by a number of SEC transfers. They were good enough to expose a couple of weaknesses in some of the defensive reads, and they were also good enough to show that starting QB Brandon Harris does not seem to have what it takes to run an effective offense.

When Etling couldn't complete a pass in the second half, he was able to score on the ground.

When Etling couldn’t complete a pass in the second half, he was able to score on the ground.

Danny Etling, a Purdue transfer, came into the game and led the team on three consecutive touchdown drives. With a ridiculous punt return added in, that helped give the Tigers a 27-10 halftime lead. Etling didn’t have a good second half, but he didn’t need to. The running game and defense were able to dictate the rest of the game, and the Gamecocks were never a serious threat again.

LSU has had the other pieces in place; they just need a decent game-managing quarterback of the type that Alabama has seemed to produce on an annual basis the last 9 years.

The Tigers were without star running back Leonard Fournette, who got banged up at the end of the Wisconsin game, but it is reportedly just a soft-tissue injury. Etling could be made even more comfortable by his presence on the field. Derrius Guice played well in Fournette’s absence, but he was tackled in the backfield a few times to force some long-yardage situations in later downs. Fournette is better at turning 1-yard losses (for normal people anyway) into 3-yard gains. He can break off long runs too of course.

It's not always fun to be the first defender to reach Leonard Fournette.

It’s not always fun to be the first defender to reach Leonard Fournette.

Anyway, the SEC is the only Power-5 conference without a loss to an FCS opponent. All conferences but two have now matched or exceeded the SEC’s six inter-conference losses. Those are the ACC and the American Conference (AAC), with 5 apiece. The SEC has now played 9 Power-5 opponents, but the ACC and AAC have only played 7 apiece. The SEC and ACC are one game over .500 in such games, and the AAC is one game under. Also, the SEC has played 18 FBS opponents compared to the ACC’s 14 and the AAC’s 11.

I’d put the Big Ten third, the AAC fourth, the Pac-12 fifth, and the Big XII sixth right now. The Pac-12 may improve, but as of right now their Power-5 wins consist of Virginia (which lost to FCS Richmond, and it wasn’t even very close), Rutgers, Texas Tech, and Kansas St. I guess BYU is a quality win by Utah, but it’s balanced with a loss to BYU by Arizona.

Top 25

I decided that all competitive programs with two FBS wins should be in the rankings somewhere. I tried to do this without moving other teams down for no other reason, but you can see the teams that stayed in the same spot below.

The teams I excluded are Army, Indiana, and Wake Forest. They really haven’t beaten anyone so far, and I just don’t think any of the three have the talent to be ranked, at least not at this stage. Another FBS win or two (depending on the opponent), and maybe it’s a different conversation.

Also, I wasn’t really comfortable with removing any teams apart from the ones that I removed below, so that squeezed them out. Oklahoma St. was dropped substantially, but I didn’t want to take them all the way out, particularly since the game should have ended before the final play.

I thought I caught ESPN making a mistake, but it turns out ESPN was right and the referees were wrong.  Still, you shouldn't report a final score until the refs leave the field.

I thought I caught ESPN making a mistake, but it turns out ESPN was right and the referees were wrong. Still, you shouldn’t report a final score until the refs leave the field.

A fun fact about that. You probably know that Les Miles coached at Oklahoma St. before he went to LSU, but you may not know that his wife went to Central Michigan. He says he doesn’t watch other teams on game day, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he at least checked out the highlights or was told about it.

Teams like North Carolina, USC, and Ole Miss didn’t do anything wrong, but I’d rather rank teams that have two FBS wins ahead of them at this point.

September is always tricky because it’s a transition from expectations to solid results that gets stricter every week. People ask me, “why did you do x when you did y last week?” It’s because we’re not in last week anymore. The rules have to change slightly every week or it would just be an abrupt change the second I bring in the computer formula. That happened with Missouri when they won their first SEC East title. I keep not believing they were actually good and keeping them out of the top 20, and then they jumped 20 spots in one week.

North Carolina was hurt in my opinion when Georgia struggled though. That was the only team that was somewhat securely in the top 25 at #21 last week. This won’t have much impact in my formula when I implement it though. The rest can pretty easily play their way back in. If Ole Miss wins next week, for instance, they’ll be in good shape.

I don’t really think there will be multiple Big Ten teams in the semifinals, but a decent number of them started with two FBS opponents. Next week I’ll be more critical about who those teams are (and it will be easier to assess who the better teams are anyway. The week after that I might be able to make a dry run of my rankings and do some kind of average of subjective and objective ratings.

rank/team/previous
1 Alabama 1
2 Florida St. 2
3 Michigan 4
4 Iowa 7
5 Wisconsin 11
6 Ohio St. 14
7 Tennessee 17
8 Houston 8
9 Stanford 9
10 Clemson 3
11 Utah 6
12 LSU 12
13 Oklahoma 13
14 Arkansas 22
15 Texas 16
16 Texas A&M 15
17 Florida 19
18 Georgia 10
19 Oregon 18
20 Mich. St. 20
21 Boise St. —
22 Washington —
23 Louisville —
24 Nebraska —
25 Okie St. 5

Out of rankings: (21) N. Carolina, (23) Ole Miss, (24) TCU, (25) USC

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Week 2 Conference Report & SEC Detractors

In College Football, Conference Reports, Rankings Commentary on September 17, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Before I begin, I wanted to give the link again to the LSU-Auburn Rivalry Blog.

SEC Less Dominant, But Still Best

Once again, rumors of the demise of the SEC have been greatly exaggerated. The conference has a total of three losses in intereconference play.  This is one fewer than the Big XII, which has four fewer teams.  No other conference has fewer than six losses.

Also, the Big XII has half the number of wins over other Power 5 conferences. The only wins have been TCU’s close win over Minnesota in Week 1 and Oklahoma’s overtime win over Tennessee on Saturday.  The SEC has wins over Wisconsin, Arizona St., Louisville, and North Carolina.   On the other hand, it is a plus for the Big XII that three of the losses were by the apparently two worst teams, Iowa St. and Kansas.

The three SEC losses were by teams with a combined conference record of 5-19 last season though, so that’s not a huge disparity.  The opponents had a 64% combined overall winning percentage.  So I don’t think that even though Western Kentucky and Toledo aren’t in Power 5 conferences that somehow that reflects horribly upon the whole conference when they each beat a team which finished last in an SEC division last season.

I have a couple of comments about the Toledo game below.

The Vols celebrated early, but Tennessee's 4th-quarter collapse gives the Big XII #1 for the week.

The Vols celebrated early, but Tennessee’s 4th-quarter collapse gives the Big XII #1 for the week.

I will give the Big XII credit for having a slightly better week.  The only interconference SEC win of note was East Carolina, and of course Tennessee lost the heart-breaker to Oklahoma.  If that goes the other way, it’s another clear SEC win on the week.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re the best though.  You’re supposed to be clearly superior every week or people are going to try to bring you down.  (See “Conference Report” section at the bottom for more on the conferences.)

Auburn and Notre Dame In the Polls

I didn’t address this in my rankings blog, because I had barely looked at the polls when I wrote it.

This is sort of along the same theme of the SEC detractors being a bit off.  This may just be pro-Notre Dame bias, so the affect upon an SEC team might be incidental, but it’s ridiculous to me to not only have Notre Dame in the top 10 to start with but to move them up after they trailed Virginia in the final two minutes.

Then Auburn, which also won a close game over a team it should have been expected to beat comfortably, fell 12 spots in the AP poll.  How does that make any sense?

Granted, I moved Auburn out of my top 25, but I only had them 17th last week and 20th to start the season, so the game really only made a few small difference in my opinion of the Plainsmen.

Likewise, I moved Notre Dame down slightly.

One difference between the two for me is that Louisville lost to Houston, which significantly devalues Auburn’s win over Louisville.  That game was also closer than it should have been in hindsight.  The polls typically rely on how good the opponent SEEMED to be at the time and never give any consideration to prior games again.

Another thing is that I value overtime wins less than wins in regulation; but this does not seem to be considered very often, at least not unless it was a controversial game everyone saw like LSU/Alabama last year.

But for one to move up a spot and the other to fall 12 spots in one poll and 8 spots in the other means they’re not playing by the same rules.  Part of it might have been the difference between FBS and FCS, but Jacksonville St. has given a number of good teams close games and even beat Ole Miss in 2010. On the other hand, since 2009, Virginia has as many losses to FCS teams as bowl appearances (1).  I mention prior seasons because last week isn’t much basis to judge; but regardless, there is no reason to assume Virginia must be that much better to justify such different treatment.

Arkansas-Toledo Comments

It might seem like a silly thing to say, but Arkansas was pretty dominant until it came time to score thoughout the game.  They reached the red zone five times and only had three points to show for it.

It won’t happen very often that one team out-gains the other team 515-318 and loses 16-12. The Hogs only turned the ball over once, so that wasn’t the problem either. Arky also had possession for more than 15 minutes more than the Rockets did and had twice as many first downs.

The key was the red zone offense, which I mentioned above.  It’s like if a basketball team can run its offense perfectly fine and get open looks but just has a terrible night of shooting.  As Les Miles would say, Arkansas is still a capable team that has a want to compete, but if you’re playing an opponent that went 7-1 in its conference the season before, they might just take advantage when you’re that incapable of scoring points at key times.

Toledo’s one conference loss last season was to Northern Illinois, which Arkansas destroyed last year… on the scoreboard.  I thought it would be interesting to compare the stats of that game.  The Hogs only out-gained the Huskies 427-303.  Instead of having 15 more first downs, they only had 7 more first downs.  Instead of having a 15-minute edge in time of possession, they had only a 9-minute edge.  Final score: Arkansas 52, Northern Illinois 14.  Amazing how a blowout win can compare statistically to a loss in this way.

Conference Report

I mentioned #1 and #2, but the bottom two were also pretty easy.  The Mountain West went winless this week, and the Sun Belt beat its first FBS opponent of the season when Georgia Southern beat Western Michigan.  So now we just have to rank the remaining 6 conferences.

The Big Ten did well despite not finishing with a good record last week.  The record improved this week, but the conference suffered two losses that don’t look so good.  Maryland made a bowl game last year, so they shouldn’t be losing to Bowling Green even though that’s a MAC team that often makes bowl games (they’re not called “home for the holidays Green”).   Also, Rutgers losing to Washington St. at home is embarrassing.  If a team from the other coast comes to visit after they lose to an FCS opponent, you should win.  Rutgers hardly appears to be a conference bottom-dweller either.  The two Michigan teams beat the two Oregon teams though, so that’s a positive.

Speaking of the teams from Oregon, their conference (the Pac-12) didn’t really do anything to be proud of apart from one of their worst teams getting that win I mentioned in Piscataway.  So I rate the Big Ten slightly better again.

The AAC (American) knocked off Louisville (which lost to Houston) and Kansas, which counts for two more Power 5 wins than the ACC has all season.  Added to the Temple win over Penn St. in Week 1, this brings the total to three.

The MAC also had a good week with the wins over Arkansas and Maryland.  Marshall wasn’t a bad win either.  Even Eastern Michigan, typically one of the worst MAC teams, got a win over Wyoming.  Losing to Colorado and Georgia Southern caused them to lose out to the AAC though.

The ACC didn’t do much to help its cause.  Louisville lost, like I just mentioned.  I’ll still give them the edge for the week over the CUSA since at least none of their teams lost to Indiana and their champion from last season didn’t lose to Ohio U.

Below are the weekly and overall rankings.  The MWC might not seem logical on first blush, but #4 through #9 were not that far apart in week 1, so the MWC was really hurt in week 2.  It was close for overall #8, but the CUSA got the edge basically for not having Wyoming, which has lost to Eastern Michigan and North Dakota.

Rank Week 2 Previous Total
1 Big XII SEC SEC
2 SEC Big XII Big XII
3 Big Ten Big Ten Big Ten
4 Pac-12 MWC Pac-12
5 AAC Pac-12 AAC
6 MAC CUSA ACC
7 ACC ACC MAC
8 CUSA (t) AAC CUSA
9 Sun Belt (t) MAC MWC
10 MWC Sun Belt Sun Belt