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Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina St.’

Week 7 Top 25 and Recent LSU Thoughts

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on October 13, 2017 at 4:19 PM

I had a long trip out of the country, so I haven’t had much time for blogging and so forth. I only included one picture, so I’m sure this will look like a wall of text in spots.

Troy-LSU

Not that more than a handful of people read what I have to say anyway (I never recovered from losing the free advertising TSN used to provide), but if you’re a regular reader and resorted to listening to mainstream media instead, my condolences.

Why are the most ignorant people who don’t even lift a finger to give themselves the level of knowledge that can be gained by five minutes with a search engine the ones with the biggest voices in national media? A perfect example from the NFL was Skip Bayless pretending Tim Tebow was going to the Hall of Fame, but there are people you can take seriously. I think Skip Bayless is what you get in college if you’re lucky.

Paul Feinbaum never seems to know basic facts. Maybe he’s just feigning ignorance, but if he’s that good of an actor, he should be in Hollywood.

For instance, before last year’s Florida game (the offense had looked good between Les Miles’ last game and Florida), he had no idea who Steve Ensminger was or how he came to be interim OC. He can have good commentary when he does read up on something, but he phones it in when it comes to details and it’s not a big game. Feinbaum also said the chance of Orgeron becoming head coach was infinitesimal. Why is he considered some kind of SEC guru?

Anyway, to get to the point, after Troy, he had on some guy who admitted being preoccupied with college BASKETBALL. Anyone in their right mind would have hung up instead of asking for anything about football. There are probably a million SEC fans who haven’t been distracted one iota by basketball he could have spoken to instead.

So this guy says that Orgeron is responsible for any lack of depth because he was a recruiter (for defensive linemen… for a year and a half) under Les Miles and then proceeds to bash the program in general. Who does that, who says, “I haven’t been paying attention to this sport, but here is my condemnation based on one final score”? A drunk at a bar maybe, and a relatively dumb one at that. I couldn’t keep listening.

We have had good recruiting classes the last couple of years, but that doesn’t magically give you a quality team when the field is loaded with freshmen. Go back to covering basketball, where leaving college early means not playing in college.

So then I listened to Damon Amendolara. At least that’s material I can work with, even though he’s obnoxious. I’ll respond to his points.

>LSU was embarrassed at Mississippi St.

Again, we are talking about a team playing a ton of freshmen, they should have been up 14-7 in the second quarter (but for a bullshit penalty), halftime score ends up 17-7, then the game gets away as offense starts desperation mode during a third quarter that didn’t go well. That’s not being embarrassed. Embarrassing final score maybe, but the performance was not as bad as the score.

>for the first time since 2000, a non-conference team walked into Death Valley…

Gee, who was the head coach then? That guy is probably selling life insurance now if not dead from chronic stupidity. Oh no, that’s one of the best college football coaches in history? Same difference.

You know what else that guy did? Lost his conference opener against a sub-top-20 team. He lost by 17, but it could have been worse had the other team elected to keep up the pressure.

By the way, I made these points to my family after the Troy game. I’m not just saying this because of Florida. By the way, after losing to UAB in 2000, LSU beat a ranked team the next week as well. The Tigers would finish 8-4 on the year, which I would take this year as well. The next season, they won the SEC Championship.

>Troy was up 17-0

They were up more and LSU didn’t quit and nearly came all the way back? That makes it worse if you’re a mainstream media sports guy?

>LSU frankly is a pathetic football team.

They didn’t even lose to a pathetic football team, and it was by 3 points. That’s not rushing to judgment at all. But at least if you say it like you know what you’re talking about…

>[Ed Ogeron] can’t fix the problem.

He clearly improved something being that LSU scored 21 of the last 31 points. I understand if he was arguing that LSU did the same exact things they did against Mississippi St., but this guy’s main gripe was Troy and seemed to be aware of no details of Mississippi St. You don’t see if the problems are fixed until the next game is played.

>Troy is trolling them on twitter (by saying they enjoyed the trip).

What is Orgeron supposed to do? Beat up on whoever controls their twitter? What a nonsensical point to even bring up.

These buffoons count on people to forget their mistakes. Don’t let them get away with it. Be as unforgiving as they are.

LSU struggled against the run, but the Tigers got just enough stops when they needed them.

LSU-Florida

I’m not going to pretend I knew it would work beforehand, but the important thing is players stepped up after the game to have a players meeting, and LSU maintained its normal routine before the Florida win.

You can say they got lucky with the extra point, but I would say they got unlucky with the officiating. There is no way blocking a guy with your hands around his shoulder pads is what any rules committee has ever meant by targeting even though the penalty was upheld. If that’s so dangerous you need to remove someone from the game, they need to ban blocking and tackling altogether.

There was also an LSU first down that was reversed on a spot judgment call, and yet Florida was given a first down when the guy stepped out a full two yards short of the line to gain. There was a personal foul called for bumping into a player while getting up. There was a roughing the punter that was only called running into. There were other examples, such as clear holdings that were not called, but I’m just saying what stood out. All in all, typical SEC officiating for the home team that had better prospects going into the game.

Both Florida touchdowns were set up by 15-yard LSU penalties. The other one was a correct call by the referee, but it was bad luck in a split-second decision. The defender could have gone in front of the receiver on a crossing route and broken up the pass (if not intercepted it) for a third-down stop. Instead, I think he misjudged the timing of the ball and wrapped up the receiver. Only problem was the ball hadn’t gotten there yet. To be fair, he had a perfectly-timed jump to tip a ball way over his head on the play before.

I mentioned Mississippi St. above and how pivotal the go-ahead touchdown would have been. I also think not going down 7-0 to Troy would have made a huge difference.

Of course that wasn’t the whole story. LSU did very well on third down after going 0-8 (I think a conversion or two was called back) the week before. The Tigers committed four turnovers against Troy and none against Florida. There were times they could have just hanged their heads like when Danny Etling missed wide-open receivers, when three offensive linemen had to leave the game, or when the targeting I mentioned was called and another quality offensive player was ejected. These seemed ominous as a fan, but I think the team has really worked on controlling what’s in their power and shrugging off everything else.

This was Ed Orgeron’s first-ever SEC road win as a permanent head coach. It was the third counting Texas A&M and Arkansas last season though, so he’s 3-1 in such games with the Tigers after going 0-12 at Ole Miss.

I didn’t have time before, but this weekend I will update both the Florida and Auburn rivalry blogs. Jim McElwain had previously done pretty well both in close games and in the Swamp, but LSU has won a fair number of games in both categories in recent years as well.

Top 25

I did calculate the official computer ratings for the first time this season. My top 25 for this blog is a little bit different. Summary of differences: Alabama moved from #3 to #1, Michigan put ahead of Florida (they beat Florida after all), Notre Dame ahead of Michigan St. (same reasoning), and Oklahoma St. #25 instead of South Carolina. I don’t like to remove teams from the top 25 just because they had a bye week, and it’s not like South Carolina has done anything special since Week 1. No team was moved more than two spots, and for the vast majority of teams I just let the chips fall where they may.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 2
3 Georgia 3
4 Penn St. 4
5 Wash. St. 9
6 Central Florida 7
7 TCU 6
8 San Diego St. 8
9 USC 11
10 Notre Dame 15
11 Mich. St. 20
12 Ohio St. 16
13 Wisconsin 14
14 U. Miami 18
15 Houston –
16 Iowa –
17 Navy 10
18 Washington 21
19 North Carolina St. –
20 Michigan 5
21 Florida 12
22 Kentucky 22
23 Oregon 19
24 Oklahoma 13
25 Okla St. 17

Out of rankings: (23) UCLA, (24) South Florida, (25) Maryland

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2016 Final Conference Rankings

In Bowls, College Football, Conference Reports on January 14, 2017 at 4:05 PM

Bowls

I know what the television sports media does is look at bowl records as if that’s the end-all and be-all of a conference, rarely even giving credit for a large percentage of teams making bowls.

Before people tune me out, I will say upfront that the SEC did not have the best bowl season, but it was a strong second.

How is 50% (I’m not counting the national championship since I think it’s fairer to give each team exactly one bite at the apple) a strong second?

We need to look at how good the opposition is. For instance, not many conferences have their #9 team play the runner-up (who went 6-2 in conference, the third-best conference record) of a Power-5 (P5) conference. It was frustrating that Arkansas didn’t beat Virginia Tech after the Hogs built up a large lead, but even being in the game was an accomplishment.

I decided to break down the P5 conferences by team standings and bowl game. This is based on regular-season conference records. Ties are broken by head to head and, failing that, overall pre-bowl record.

Then I gave a projection of the approximate record a major conference should have had against that schedule. The first one I list is Alabama/Washington. Since it’s champion vs. champion, that’s a tossup. So the SEC should have expected ½ of a win (or .5). The SEC should have expected 0 from Arkansas/Virginia Tech, so that isn’t listed. If the SEC team had a better conference record in any matchup by more than half a game, that game would have projected 1 win. No such game took place.

So there were 6 approximately 50/50 games, and the SEC won 6 games. An average P5 conference would have only won 3.

watch-sec-football-online-e1374758489890

(2) SEC
Alabama #1 8-0 W, Washington #1 8-1
Florida #2 6-2 W, Iowa #5 6-3
Auburn #3 5-3 L, Oklahoma #1 9-0
LSU #4 5-3 W, Louisville #2 7-1
Texas A&M #5 4-4 L, Kansas St. #4 6-3
Tennessee #6 4-4 W, Nebraska #6 6-3
Georgia #7 4-4 W, TCU #5 4-5
Kentucky #8 4-4 L, Georgia Tech #8 4-4
Arkansas #9 3-5 L, Virginia Tech #3 6-2
South Carolina #10 3-5 L, South Florida #2 7-1
Vanderbilt #11 3-5 L, N.C. State #9 3-5
Mississippi State #12 3-5 W, Miami U. #4 6-2

The AAC had a very good year (before the bowls), and South Florida lost only one game in conference with wins over Navy and Houston. The non-conference team who beat the Bulls just won the Orange Bowl. The 10th SEC team losing to them in overtime is not in any way a black mark on the SEC, and I’d say that if it were any other conference.

The rest were all against power-5 opponents. If the SEC were an average conference, it would have only been expected to win about 3 bowl games. See below for explanation.

I would have liked to have seen Vanderbilt and Kentucky do better, but both overachieved by making bowl games at all. As I’ve mentioned before, even the two non-bowl teams had decent resumes that included multiple wins over eventual bowl teams.

SEC 52-34 (.605) #6.5
All 72-30 (.706) #4.17
P5 59-27 (.686) #4.4

Texas A&M wasn’t nearly as good of a team later in the season as earlier, but I put them first among the 4-4 teams because of their early-season overtime win over Tennessee. But no other team had as big of a swing as Miami U., which started 0-6 and entered the bowl game at 6-6. So when projecting how many the SEC should have won, it’s really hard to know how to treat that one, so
I’ll just say that was 50/50.

Hopefully you get the idea when I do this for other conferences below.

Bowl games SEC should have won:
#12 .5
#11 .5
#8 .5
#7 .5
#2 .5
#1 .5
Projected record: 3-9 = 25%
Actual record 6-6 = 50%
Difference +25

acc

(1) ACC
#1 Clemson #1 7-1 W, Ohio St. #2 8-1
#2 Louisville 7-1 L, LSU #4 5-3
#3 Virginia Tech 6-2 W, Arkansas #9 3-5
#4 North Carolina 5-3 L, Stanford #5 6-3
#5 Florida St. 5-3 W, Michigan #3 7-2
#6 U. Miami 5-3 W, West Virginia #3 7-2
#7 Pitt 5-3 L, Northwestern #8 5-4
#8 Georgia Tech 4-4 W, Kentucky #8 4-4
#9 N.C. State 3-5 W, Vanderbilt #11 3-5
#10 Wake Forest 3-5 W, Temple #1 7-1
#11 Boston College 2-6 W, Maryland #10 3-6

#11 .5
#9 .5
#8 .5
#7 .5
#4 .5
#3 1
#2 1
#1 .5
Projected record: 5-6 = 45%
Actual record 9-2 = 82%
Difference +37

(3) Big Ten
#1 Penn St. 8-1 L, USC #3 7-2
#2 Ohio St. 8-1 L, Clemson #1 7-1
#3 Michigan 7-2 L, Florida St. #5 5-3
#4 Wisconsin 7-2 W, Western Michigan #1 8-0
#5 Iowa 6-3 L, Florida #2 6-2
#6 Nebraska 6-3 L, Tennessee #6 4-4
#7 Minnesota 5-4 W, Washington St. #4 7-2
#8 Northwestern 5-4 W, Pitt #7 5-3
#9 Indiana 4-5 L, Utah #6 5-4
#10 Maryland 3-6 L, Boston College #11 2-6

#10 .5
#8 .5
#6 1
#4 .5
#3 1
#2 .5
#1 1
Projected record: 5-5 = 50%
Actual record 3-7 = 30%
Difference -20

(4) Big XII
#1 Oklahoma 9-0 W, Auburn #3 5-3
#2 Oklahoma St. 7-2 W, Colorado #2 8-1
#3 West Virginia 7-2 L, U. Miami #6 5-3
#4 Kansas St. 6-3 W, Texas A&M #5 4-4
#5 TCU 4-5 L, Georgia #7 4-4

#5 .5
#4 1
#3 1
#1 1
Projected record: 3.5-1.5 = 70%
Actual record 3-2 = 60%
Difference -10

(5)Pac-12
#1 Washington 8-1 L, Alabama #1 8-0
#2 Colorado 8-1 L, Oklahoma St. #2 7-2
#3 USC 7-2 W, #1 Penn St. 8-1
#4 Washington St. 7-2 L, #7 Minnesota 5-4
#5 Stanford 6-3 W, #4 North Carolina 5-3
#6 Utah 5-4 W, #9 Indiana 4-5

#6 1
#5 .5
#4 1
#2 1
#1 .5
Projected record: 4-2 = 67%
Actual record 3-3 = 50%
Difference -17

(6) AAC
#1 Temple 7-1 L, Wake Forest #10 3-5
#2 South Florida 7-1 W, South Carolina #10 3-5
#3 Navy 7-1 L, Louisiana Tech #3 6-2
#4 Tulsa 6-2 W, C. Michigan #7 3-5
#5 Memphis 5-3 L, W. Kentucky #1 7-1
#6 Houston 5-3 L, San Diego St. #1 6-2
#7 Central Florida L, Arkansas St. #2 7-1

#4 1
#3 1
#2 1
#1 1
Projected record: 4-3 = 57%
Actual record 2-5 = 29%
Difference -28

For the record, I put the Big Ten third on that list because at least they qualified a large percentage for bowl games. The Pac-12 and Big XII (which is 10 teams) only had half their teams in bowl games.

Overall Conference Rankings

But this doesn’t answer what the best conference is.

Before I talk about my own ratings, I’m going to talk about the consensus of objective ratings. Excluding the three ratings (the two major polls and one computer rating) that only have a fraction of the teams rated, only three out of 92 other ratings have the SEC somewhere outside of the top two.

The ACC got a lot of 2s and 1s as well, but seven were outside of the top 2.

The SEC was on top in 57 ratings to the ACC’s 27 by my count. The other eight systems are nuts, I don’t know what more to say on that.

So in my own rating system, I suppose it comes as no surprise that the SEC is first, but the ACC made it very close, particularly with the national championship game. I don’t give that game any extra weight, but the way my system works is you get extra points for winning an extra game. No other team gets an extra game of that magnitude.

The ACC got some wins over SEC schools to be sure, but some of them were along the lines of Arkansas/Virginia Tech and Florida St./Ole Miss.

One thorn in the side of the ACC was Louisville, which lost both its last regular-season game and its bowl game to SEC teams that on paper the Cardinals should have beaten. The only ACC team to beat Louisville was Clemson, so all the other opponents were weighed down by their loss to the Cardinals, who also lost to Houston out of conference.

On the other hand something that might have given the SEC more of a buffer (at least in my ratings) was the two games that were not played as a result of moving the LSU/Florida game. As I mentioned last week, LSU would have moved up to about #20 with the addition of a win over South Alabama. Beating Presbyterian would have helped Florida in points slightly, but the Gators were too far behind Colorado to move ahead.

I think it’s fair to say this was a relatively weak year for the SEC at the top, but if it’s a weak year and the average team in your conference is better than the average team in any other conference, it’s hard to argue you’re not the best. Here are my averages:
1 SEC 0.441645
2 ACC 0.440546
3 Pac-12 0.314229
4 Big Ten 0.285768
5 Big XII 0.217209
6 AAC (American) 0.106448
7 MWC (Mountain West) 0.029324
8 SBC (Sun Belt) -0.008889
9 Independents -0.038589
10 MAC (Mid-American) -0.095654
11 CUSA -0.131416

Matt Canada, Recruiting, & Other Updates

In College Football, General LSU on December 19, 2016 at 7:28 PM

Canada Should Be Here Longer Than Kiffin Would Have

LSU did not get the most obvious target, Lane Kiffin, for the offensive coordinator position, but I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. Instability at coordinator added to the LSU quarterback problems that existed before Cam Cameron’s arrival, and that’s what we would have gotten. It’s possible LSU could have gotten Kiffin as the next coordinator by presenting an attractive enough offer, but it would have only temporarily postponed his next head coaching job.

Also, one of the arguments for going after Kiffin was that even if he wasn’t with LSU permanently, at least we would have gotten him away from Alabama. He left Alabama anyway. Call it sour grapes if you like – I think LSU was looking more closely at Canada than they were at Kiffin in the first place – but I honestly think this turn of events is in LSU’s favor.

Before I get to the positives and negatives of his past performance, some people might be nervous because Canada has made a series of stops as well. I think that’s less of a concern because he’s never been a head coach, and he’s never coached in the NFL. Offensive coordinator for one of the best programs (not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but only a few have multiple national championships since 2003) is his highest aspiration for the time being. Also, as I’ll get into, I think this is the situation that might fit him best. Canada probably isn’t the type who would fit in the other places.

New LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada at his introductory press conference with Ed Orgeron

New LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada at his introductory press conference with Ed Orgeron

Canada’s Resume

First I wanted to address the concerns that Canada has moved around too much. Canada’s previous moves made sense in pursuing the type of job he has just attained. He did take a bit of a step back when he left Wisconsin for North Carolina State, it wasn’t his fault he got there a year before Bret Bielema decided to go to Arkansas.

I’m not sure why he didn’t follow Bielema to Arkansas, but I doubt it had to do with being unable to coach the offense well enough. ESPN said they “butted heads”, but it may have had more to do with the opportunity to coach with former NIU coach Dave Doeren again. Although they were outmatched in the Rose Bowl, his Badger team had scored 70 points in the 2012 Big Ten championship game and averaged about 30 points per game.

Canada’s departure from North Carolina State was also not his decision. After a rocky first year with the Wolfpack in which Canada couldn’t seem to find a reliable quarterback, the team averaged 30.0 and 32.2, respectively, in the next two seasons.

The only sense anyone could make of the N.C. State firing as far as performance was that there were a few key games with relatively little scoring: 13 against Virginia Tech, 13 against Louisville, and 17 against Florida St. Louisville and Florida St. had reasonably good defenses in 2015, so it seems strange to fire a guy over one questionable game, but that’s apparently what they did. Also, I would note that all three point totals would have been enough for LSU to beat Alabama this season, and the Florida St. point total would have been enough to beat Wisconsin and Florida as well.

I would venture to guess that Canada will benefit from the kind of defense Dave Aranda seems to be running at LSU. Canada said during the press conference that if the pace of the game dictates winning 10-7 he has no problem with that. That reminds me… Canada and Aranda coached against each other in 2012. Final score: Wisconsin 16, Utah St. 14. I guess Aranda and the Aggies did a good enough job in that game that most of the USU coaching staff was hired when Bielema left for Arkansas.

I also liked that Canada doesn’t seem to be a purist in terms of what “system” he’s going to run. He’ll use multiple running backs in the backfield, he’ll throw to tight ends, and he’ll let the quarterback run if that’s in his skill set. Here is some more detailed information about what Canada likes to do.

Canada has been an offensive coordinator for 10 consecutive seasons. Before going to Wisconsin, he also had success at Northern Illinois in 2011, where his offenses averaged 38 points per game. His tenure at Indiana was a mixed bag. Canada helped to coach the Hoosiers to their first bowl game since 1993 in his first year (2007) after the death of head coach Terry Hoeppner in the offseason, but his offenses did not average more than 25 points per game again until his last year there in 2010.

A little bit of additional trivia… Canada was also with the Hoosiers (as an undergraduate assistant) in that previous bowl year of 1993, and the man who brought Canada back to Indiana (as a QB coach) was actually former LSU head coach Gerry DiNardo, who preceded Saban. In his career, Canada has also been a position coach for tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs.

Recruiting

I don’t usually comment on recruiting until the ink is dry and sometimes not even then, but with coaching turmoil, I think it’s an important thing to check on.

Orgeron kept some recruits guessing when he said at one point he wanted a pro-style quarterback and at another he wanted the spread, but it seems Canada can offer the best of both. It’s a good sign that St. Stanislaus (MS) quarterback Myles Brennan is back on board. Brennan is a pro-style quarterback who set state records for passing but also has a decent amount of rushing yards.

Junior College wide receiver Stephen Guidry, who de-committed in the wake of the Miles firing, also recommitted to the Tigers. Guidry attends Hines Community College, also in Mississippi, but went to high school in Louisiana. The LSU depth chart at the position seems to be getting shallower. Travin Dural’s eligibility will expire, Jazz Ferguson will be transferring after being suspended, and Malachi Dupre may declare for the NFL draft. If so, that will mean that only two wide receivers will be returning as upperclassmen.

The only other recruit (unless I’m misinformed) who de-committed from the Tigers since the Miles firing was Lowell Narcisse, a dual-threat quarterback from St. James (LA), who is also back on board as of this morning. I didn’t think he and Brennan would both want to come to LSU at the same time, but the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. The last few years have shown us that you can’t always count on someone who appears to be the top guy, especially before they start taking snaps in a game.

Canada said he would use multiple-back sets. I’m not sure if that includes quarterbacks, but obviously there are some spread plays (as well as more traditional plays like halfback passes) where you’re not supposed to know whether a back will act like a quarterback or a running back, particularly not with the way Canada likes to change formations before the play.

SEC Country went into more detail about Narcisse and the rest of LSU’s potential key recruits. DandyDon (see the 12/19 update) also covered some of this.

I understand the Tigers have room for at least 5 more players and possibly up to 7.

Other Notes

This speaks for itself about two of my favorite NFL players at the moment.
beckham-landry

I’d like to give credit to fullback JD Moore, who earned the Charles E. Coates Award given to the senior who demonstrated the highest commitment to scholarly work in combination with excellence on the field. You might not notice him during the game as a casual fan, but he’s amazing when someone slows down the film and points him out.

The team MVP award went to senior linebacker Duke Riley. I don’t know how you replace guys like that in isolation, but that’s where teamwork and player development come in.

I know intricate detail about Xs and Os and recruiting aren’t historically my focus on this blog, but I have a renewed interest in how next year’s team is taking shape with the coaching changes.

I don’t see us winning the SEC, especially with 5 conference road games next season, but we were in every game this year. But if we become the type of team to win close games by converting scoring opportunities (we had some close games with late yards but not late points), anything could happen.

Regardless, I believe next season can be the start of something special. The last national championship came under a newish head coach and an innovative offensive coordinator (although Crowton never really found another quarterback to run his system after Matt Flynn left).

Nega-Tiger Time & Head Coach Position

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on November 20, 2016 at 4:14 PM

A few preliminaries:
Computer ratings of all teams after Week 11
Updated Florida Rivalry Blog
Texas A&M Rivalry Blog

I don’t know where this comes from exactly, but somehow on message boards there developed the concept of “nega-Tigers,” the more skeptical and pessimistic LSU fans, and “sunshine pumpers,” those who were more optimistic and stressed the positives. I try to be accurate and have seen the merits of both sides, but people have called me a sunshine pumper in recent seasons for pointing out that Les Miles had the best winning percentage of any coach of a substantial number of games in LSU history. Nega-Tigers tend to stress things like recent losses to teams like Alabama and Arkansas and the issues I’m about to discuss below.

One of the reasons I didn’t want to talk much about the Arkansas game was I didn’t want to get my confidence up too high. It’s just so disheartening that we can’t win a close game to save our lives. I don’t understand how you score one touchdown, you get a few yards away from another touchdown after driving for 75 yards, and then you can only come up with a single field goal for the last 37 ½ minutes of the game.

Technically, the Tigers beat Mississippi St. in a close game, but LSU was ahead by 17 with five minutes left. So let’s look at it another way:

Close game (<17 points) with 5 minutes left … result
Wisconsin 16, LSU 14 … Wisconsin 16, LSU 14
Auburn 18, LSU 13 … Auburn 18, LSU 13
Alabama 7, LSU 0 … Alabama 10, LSU 0
Florida 13, LSU 10 … Florida 16, LSU 10
Total: 0-4, scored 0 points, gave up 6 points

I don’t see a way out either even with a coaching change. We have to know how to win close games somehow. I know we were one positive play from beating Wisconsin, one second away from beating Auburn, and maybe one foot away from beating Florida, but losing all three is almost unforgivable.

Jimbo Fisher (right) with Nick Saban.  Fisher also coached under Les Miles for two seasons as the offensive coordinator.

Jimbo Fisher (right) with Nick Saban. Fisher also coached under Les Miles for two seasons as the offensive coordinator.

Jimbo Fisher is going to fix it (assuming we can get him anyway)? We had one of our best offenses in 2006 when Fisher was the offensive coordinator, and we lost to Auburn 7-3 and Florida 23-10. We also only managed 20 points in regulation against a pretty sorry Ole Miss team (coached by a guy called Ed Orgeron). You can’t tell me we can rest assured about not having games like this again.

Florida State has 3 losses against an ACC schedule and their best out-of-conference opponent was Ole Miss. If they’d played Wisconsin instead, that likely already puts them at 4 losses right now even if we pretend their conference schedule was just as hard as LSU’s.

Had the Seminoles played SEC opponents instead of North Carolina St. (won by 4) and U. Miami (won by a missed extra point), that could have made 5 or 6 losses.

That’s great that they only had two regular-season losses over the previous three seasons, but again, I think that has a lot to do with schedule. In 2014, there were five games that came down to one possession.

Jameis Winston was a great college football player and 2013 was a great season for the Noles; but we’re not talking about Gene Chizik, and he had a great season with Cam Newton as his QB in 2010. This is not a motivated team who plays to the best of its ability every week either. When you have an off game in the SEC, you lose the majority of the time no matter how good of a coach you are.

One big reason Alabama doesn’t have more losses is they don’t really have off games against teams that can beat them. They have sloppy games sometimes, but they seem motivated and ready to play every time, and the sloppiness is rare in big games. So I don’t mean that you can prevent guys in their late teens and early 20 from having an off night in all cases, but you can have a focused team that responds appropriately when things go wrong.

The Guice fumble was an example of sloppiness, but there is no way in the world Alabama would respond to something like that by shutting down on offense and allowing the other team to get ahead like LSU did. Outside of maybe a bowl game or two, I can’t think of an example of Alabama doing that since Saban’s first season.

Houston's Tom Herman

Houston’s Tom Herman

I’m even less impressed with Houston, led by Tom Herman (who actually beat the Seminoles in the Peach Bowl last year). There is no way Navy or SMU has even close to Houston’s level of talent, but the Cougars lost to both within 3 weeks this season. They had a full month of subpar play. In addition to those two games, they needed overtime to beat Tulsa in between, and then after the SMU game (which they lost handily), they struggled against Central Florida. Tulsa and Central Florida were home games. Houston apparently needed a bye week to snap out of it before easily beating Tulane and Louisville.

Maybe if we get a better offensive coordinator or maybe even if Ensminger is allowed to develop his own offense and playbook over an off-season, Orgeron can still be the guy, but how many chances did Les Miles get to figure out the right combination of coordinators to no avail?

Pretty soon recruits aren’t even going to remember the 2011 regular season, and LSU is going to be that team that gets hyped up every so often only to lose the big games.

I hope we give A&M a serious beat-down, and Orgeron somehow figures out a better plan for the offense and keeps his job, but here we are waiting till next year again. I’m not even talking about a national championship. I’m talking about losing fewer than 3 conference games in a season. 2011 was the last time that happened.

Week 4 Rankings and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 28, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Here are the previous rankings blogs:

Preseason

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

I mentioned previously I started doing my preliminary computer calculations.  They account for approximately 50% of the top 25 below.  After the top four (two of which, LSU and Michigan St., were also in the computer top four), what I did was pick the rest of my top 25 and put them in the order I wanted them without looking at the computers.  Then I averaged where I wanted to put them with the ranking the computer gave them.

For instance, I had UCLA sixth, but the computer had them eighth.  That averages to seventh.  I had TCU fifth, but the computer had them fourth, so that averages to 4.5.  4.5 is a smaller number than 7, so TCU went ahead.

TCU might play better games this season, but right now they get a lot of computer points for Saturday’s win at Texas Tech. (no idea what that white stuff is)

There were some teams in the computer top 25 and not in my top 25, but I didn’t rank any of those teams.  I don’t think teams like Indiana and North Carolina St. have proven they should be ranked yet; but if they’re ranked two weeks from now by the computer, they will be ranked in my top 25 list as well.

So I did not allow the computer to take any teams out of the top 25 I had on my own, but the computer does not have a high opinion of either USC or Wisconsin.  I gave them a reprieve for this week at least though.

I think they’re both in the top 20 toughest teams to beat, it hasn’t really shown on the results (meaning wins and losses) against their respective sets of opponents so far.  I don’t think many people would take Indiana to beat either one on a neutral field.

Again, that won’t matter in a couple of weeks, but I think it should matter at least for now.

I usually don’t take a team from outside the top 25 and put them in the top 10, but I only put Florida 19th.  Three decent wins in four weeks, however, puts them among the best teams in the computers, so that’s just where the average takes them.

Utah was closer to where I had in mind originally.  I had them 12th.  Not only was I considering the win over Oregon, but I was also considering the fact that Michigan just beat a ranked team (BYU) and has not lost since playing the Utes.

I ranked Temple after Week 2 and only wanted to put them back to #25 this week, but Penn St. and Cincinnati still give the Owls a decent amount of points.

I mentioned Wisconsin hasn’t done much to impress the computers, and that was by far Alabama’s best win, so that explains why they’ve fallen so far.  In my formula, every loss is a negative, so some teams without losses are higher even though I understand many of them haven’t played a team as good as Ole Miss.

Northwestern is a bit higher in the computers of course, but they beat Stanford, and Stanford looks good otherwise.  Subjectively, I would move the Wildcats up more gradually, but the best they could have possibly done against their three FBS opponents is beat all of them and for those opponents to be a combined 9-3.  They beat all of them, and those opponents are a combined 8-4.  The only extra loss was by Ball St. to Texas A&M, an undefeated team.

Northwestern doesn’t have any points for their win over winless Eastern Illinois, but the other games are good enough to give them a higher computer rating than anyone else right now.

The only other team that doesn’t match up fairly well to last week’s ranking is Oklahoma St., who falls eight spots.  The Cowboys’ four opponents have only one win combined over FBS opponents (Texas over Rice).  Even though they are undefeated, Oklahoma St. will fall out of the top 25 unless they beat Kansas St. on Saturday.

No one else changed more than five spots, so I think they align pretty well for a transition week.

I reserve the right to make a couple of changes to the computer ratings for next week when I publish this list (the list I publish on the computer rating site is always 100% objective), but after that it will follow the computer ratings almost completely.

After next week, the only team you can expect me to change is the #1 team.  In the first four computer weeks last season, there were four different #1 teams.  I don’t like to change them that often.  The latest playing week where I have ever had a different #1 than the computer was after the last playing week in October in 2009 (I was rightly reluctant to make Iowa #1, and they fell to #6 the following week.)

So basically whoever is the computer #1 after Halloween can expect to be #1 on this list.

Rank Team Previous
1 Ohio St. 1
2 Ole Miss 2
3 Mich. St. 3
4 LSU 4
5 TCU 6
6 UCLA 9
7 N’western 18
8 TX A&M 7
9 Utah

10 Florida

florida_gators_logo

11 Oklahoma 16
12 Clemson 10
13 Baylor 5
14 Georgia 14
15 Notre Dame 12
16 Florida St. 11
17 Temple
18 Stanford 20
19 Alabama 8
20 U. Miami 24
21 Kansas St. 22
22 Michigan

Michigan_Wolverines_Block_M

23 Okie St. 15
24 USC 21
25 Wisconsin 17

Out of rankings (with last week’s rank):

13 Oregon
19 Arizona St.
23 Ga. Tech
25 BYU

Week 4 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 22, 2014 at 2:03 PM

(Logos are posted for teams that are new to the rankings for the year.)

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Oklahoma 3
3 Florida St. 4
4 Oregon 2
5 Alabama 5
6 TX A&M 6
7 BYU 10
8 Ole Miss 9
9 S Carolina 11
miss st
10 Miss. St. —
11 Penn St. 12
12 Notre Dame 8
13 LSU 7
14 E. Carolina 15
15 Georgia 13
16 UCLA 17
Ga Tech
17 Ga. Tech —
rutgers
18 Rutgers —
ark_logo
19 Arkansas —
20 Okie St. 25
21 Washington —
22 Arizona 23
Nebraska Logo 1972
23 Nebraska —
NCSUFootball
24 NC State —
25 Virginia 19

Out of rankings: (14) Pittsburgh, (16) Boston Coll., (18) Va. Tech, (20) USC, (21) Louisville, (22) Ohio St., (24) Missouri

Explanation and future rankings

I’m putting this at the bottom because it’s probably too boring and technical for many of you, but I do get questions about these things often.

Just to get to the point, what I’m going to do is make next week (and possibly the following week) a transitional period. I will compute and publish my computer rankings, but I won’t use those for my official top 25 right away. I’ll try to ease into that. For instance, if I don’t have a team ranked this week, but they’re #10 in the computer ratings after next week, I will put them between #15 and #20, then maybe if they’re still #10 the following week, it won’t be as dramatic to actually rank them #10. Or maybe they’ll lose, and it won’t be a seesaw from unranked to #10 to #20-something.

I’ve already made some changes in anticipation of what may happen in moving toward that system. I gave very little weight to any preseason preconceptions about given teams or their opponents.

I did my best to do the ratings above fairly, but it has gotten difficult, and that’s why I can no longer use a fully subjective system going forward. I continue to second-guess myself and remain unsatisfied.

There are a lot of conflicting motivations at this point. I’m still moving from “Are you going to be a good team?” to “What have you proven?” At the same time, I don’t want to put a team in the top 25 based on an early-season scheduling quirk and have that team get blown out. It will take some time before the teams that look good in games and teams that look good based on objective measures line up.

There is a team like this every year. In 2011, Stanford didn’t really play anyone until October 22, then they played three of the next four against ranked teams and the fourth game was against Oregon St. on the road (which is rarely an easy win). Then the Cardinal still had to play Notre Dame (who was also ranked at the time) later on in November. This was the year they played in the Fiesta Bowl despite losing big to Oregon.

Anyway, getting back to this year, Florida St. is a good example of some of the difficulties. The Seminoles are not even in the top 10 based on wins and losses that have happened so far this season (a loose description of what my computer rankings consider). They beat Clemson, who I really believe is a good team, and Oklahoma St., who might be a good team also, but that doesn’t do it at this point. Clemson doesn’t look any better than Northwestern because the Tigers are winless against FBS competition (but both Clemson and Northwestern have an FCS win). Florida St. doesn’t get credit for beating an unsuccessful (so far against Division I anyway) FCS team, nor do they get credit for a bye week. So that leaves Oklahoma St. The Cowboys have a somewhat respectable win over UTSA, but beating the team who beat UTSA is hardly something to hang your hat on.

Oddly enough, Florida St. has a good chance to improve its rating by beating North Carolina St., who I do not believe is a good team, but three FBS wins at this point over teams with four combined FBS wins makes them look good for the moment. All three of those teams are probably well below average, but that won’t be clear until later.

There is a preliminary step in the process where I get initial ratings of teams between 0 and about 7. So if right now, North Carolina St. is 6 and Clemson is 1, maybe in a couple weeks, they’ll both be 3.5, and at the end of the season Clemson might be about 5 and North Carolina St. about 2. So Florida St. might get similar credit for the two wins combined for the rest of the season even if neither team ends up anything like what has shown up so far.

It helps Florida St. that Clemson will likely get a wins of some quality by playing North Carolina and North Carolina St. in the next two weeks. Oklahoma St. isn’t playing a great team in Texas Tech, but that will be an opportunity for them to add some substance to their resume.

The other major contenders already rate highly. Alabama, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Oregon all rate in the top 7 of the current computer ratings. Florida St. is still in the top 20 though.

So what I’m going to do is release my first computer ratings next week (a week earlier than originally planned), but I’m still going to do subjective ratings for next week and possibly the week after that. They just won’t be purely subjective. Let’s say the winner of Miss. St. and Texas A&M comes out #1. I might move Miss. St. up to #5 or A&M up to #3 or #4, but I wouldn’t rank either #1, at least not for a couple more weeks.

It’s also possible I’ll do another transition week after October 4. In other words, the subjective ratings may overlap with the computer ratings for a couple of weeks, but what I feature here will be the subjective ratings.

Also, sometimes for the first few weeks of the computer rankings, I change the top 5 of what I post here. I always make clear what those changes are, and I never make any subjective changes on my ratings site. I try to keep any subjective preferences off of that site.

Although that Missouri had a good chance to win the SEC for a while in the championship game last year, I’m still glad I didn’t take the leap and make them #1. They should never have been regarded as the top team to beat in the country last year. I also wouldn’t want to take that step early on for A&M, Miss. St., Arizona, N.C. St., or UCLA. On the other hand, if one of those teams is undefeated and rises to the top a month from now or more, I’m not going to alter anything.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

LSU sets record in regular-season non-conference win streak

In College Football, General LSU, History on September 22, 2012 at 2:23 AM

Intro and more on ASU (2005)

I wanted to write blogs on two separate occasions, but my work week did not allow me that.

If you want to see my top 25, please click here.

I’m not one of those “homer” types who likes to dwell on how great my team is, but I am impressed with the fact that LSU hasn’t lost a regular-season non-conference game since opening the 2002 season with a road loss to Virginia Tech (then ranked #16). The streak of 40 wins in such games broke the mark completed by Kansas St. in 2003.

Although there are certainly more daunting non-conference schedules around, LSU has put forth a serious effort to have at least one non-conference opponent that at appears to be formidable on paper every year.

The other record is more of a “personal best” as LSU has won 20 consecutive home games since the 13-3 loss to Tim Tebow’s #1 Gators in 2009. This is the only time in its history that LSU has won so many consecutive home games.

I wanted to go through them and talk in detail about some of the close calls and big games (some of which were not so close) during the longer streak.

This piece at “Nola.com” covers several of them, but I’ll mention a few more:

Nola.com includes this game, but I had mentioned the win over Arizona St. immediately after Katrina in my (LSU vs.) Pac-10 blog last week. I talked to an Arizona St. fan (I guess) in the comments on a site where I post my blogs. His memory was a bit different from mine, but I’ll just give the hard numbers I posted. I did subsequently realize that the list of scores on ESPN were not completely correct (they indicated a 7-0 LSU lead in the first quarter when in fact the first quarter was scoreless and ASU scored first), so I’ll post the corrected information of course…

other person: I don’t want to sound like sour grapes, but here is the full story of the LSU/ASU game. Yes the game was moved here (I live in the Phoenix area), but only after ASU agreed to let SEC officials call the game. It was not exactly a back and forth game, ASU (I believe) was ahead 31-17 going into the 4th quarter. Then all the phantom calls against ASU started occurring, and I mean a slew of them. Was the game fixed by the refs? I sure believe it was. By the way, I was there…

Me:

LSU was penalized 11 times for 100 yards while ASU was penalized 6 times for 31 yards.

I watched the game. Calls went both ways. Being there in person means you’re less likely to know what the correct calls were.
7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, then two more lead changes as mentioned. I call that back and forth.

Actually I forgot a couple. Let me start over: 7-7 tie in second quarter, 10-7 ASU at halftime, 21-17 LSU with 13 minutes left, 24-21 ASU with 11 minutes left, 28-24 LSU with 8 minutes left, 31-28 ASU with 4 minutes left, then LSU scored the winning touchdown with about a minute left. The largest lead of the game was 10 (ASU 17-7).

2002 to early 2008

The other 2002 non-conference games weren’t anything special as LSU defeated the Citadel, Miami U. (that’s in Ohio), and UL-Lafayette.

Then in 2003, the closest thing to a seemingly tough game was LSU’s trip to Tucson, where many a Pac-10 team has struggled. But LSU, which went on to win the BCS championship, destroyed the Wildcats, 59-13. The Tigers also defeated Western Illinois, UL-Monroe, and Louisiana Tech that season.

In 2004, the highlight of the non-conference schedule was the first game of the season against Oregon St. This one did not disappoint as the Tigers came away with a home win, 22-21 in overtime. This was also mentioned in detail both by Nola.com and in my Pac-10 blog. Also in 2004 was one of two close calls against Troy during the streak, with the Tigers winning this one, 24-20. Troy actually led with two minutes and 18 seconds left, when Marcus Randall threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to David Jones that turned out to be the game-winner. 2004 was only an 11-game regular season, so the only other game was a win over Arkansas St., the only breather of the three, 53-3.

2005 of course started with another Pac-10 team, Arizona St., as mentioned. The other two wins (another 11-game regular season) were Appalachian St. and North Texas. With the postponement of North Texas from Week 1, these two games turned out to be a welcomed breather between overtime wins over Auburn and Alabama on LSU’s way to the SEC title game in Les Miles’ first season. The Mountaineers (who I believe took the place of Virginia Tech when the Hokies delayed the second leg of the home and home) kept the LSU offense in check for a while but it was hard for them to make much of a game of it when the LSU defense shut them out, 24-0. The North Texas game wasn’t remotely interesting, however, 56-3.

In 2006, LSU had already had the second leg of the Arizona home and home scheduled (which they would win easily) and when a 12th game was added, the Tigers arranged this with the Fresno St. squad that had given USC all it could handle in Los Angeles the year before. Fresno St. had a reversal of fortune that season, however, so LSU won what in hindsight should have been an automatic win anyway. LSU also defeated Tulane and UL-Lafayette that season. Except for Fresno St. (a 32-point win), LSU won each of the other non-conference games that regular season by 42 points apiece.

2007 featured the long-awaited second leg of the Virginia Tech home and home, but the Hokies looked much like one of the also-rans in 2006 in a 48-7 loss in the second game of the year. LSU also had wins of 40+ points over Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. The Tigers would have the most trouble in the only non-conference road game of the season, against Tulane in the Superdome. The Green Wave only trailed 10-9 at halftime, but the speed/talent gap was too much in the second half, as LSU would win, 34-9.

In 2008, LSU would start off with easy wins over Appalachian St. and North Texas in what turned out to be a very difficult transition year in which the Tigers lost 5 games and were only 5-3 at home. It was nearly 4-4 though.

Troy 2008

After LSU suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to then-#1 Alabama, Troy came to town to play a game that had been postponed due to Hurricane Gustav. Troy and LSU both entered the game at 6-3, but Troy apparently had a lot of confidence from being 4-1 in conference and LSU obviously wasn’t doing very well in the SEC.

The end of the first half had really exemplified the first three quarters of the game and much of the Tigers’ season that year. Troy took a manageable 17-3 lead in the early part of the second quarter, but then (in a situation that Tigers fans can hardly avoid recalling upon hearing his name), Jarrett Lee threw a touchdown to the wrong team with just under 7 minutes left in the half. LSU had a chance to get within 18 with a 43-yard field-goal attempt as the half ended, but the snap was dropped, and the score remained 24-3.

The Trojans led, 31-3, late in the third quarter. The already-dispirited crowd had left the stadium nearly empty, but the Tigers wouldn’t go down without a fight.

When LSU finally scored (on a Jordan Jefferson run) with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter, it had been about 35 minutes that the Tigers had been held scoreless. LSU had to know it had a chance just a few minutes later when after beginning at their own 14, the Tigers had a 6-yard run. Then, consecutive completions of 9, 33, 5, and 33 yards brought the Tigers to within 14 with 14 minutes to play. Les Miles would later take the blame for not allowing LSU to air it out more, although that had been problematic in a number of SEC games.

Troy would not manage another first down until its final drive. This gave LSU good field position. In the next possession, the Tigers took over at the 40 and Lee threw four more completions in consecutive plays to give LSU a first-and-goal, and the Tigers would run it into the end zone. Barely a minute later, Chad Jones intercepted a pass by the Troy quarterback to give LSU another short field. This resulted in a field goal, narrowing the deficit to just 4 points.

In its next possession, LSU took over at midfield and couldn’t do a thing on offense. But the Troy return man fumbled a short punt of only 30 yards, and LSU recovered. After a false start, the LSU offense returned to its early-4th-quarter form and finally took its first lead with a touchdown. The extra point was missed, but it wouldn’t matter as Troy once again did nothing on offense, and LSU took over at the Troy 34. Except for one yard, Charles Scott almost ran the ball in himself as LSU went up by 9 to all but seal the game for LSU with 1:40 to go.

2009 to present

I had written in detail about some other major games, but the hours I spent on that were wasted with a computer malfunction. I saved the document several times since an auto-save a few hours ago, but somehow the auto-saved version became the document, so it’s all gone except for what you see above and what’s in my head.

The other major game I wanted to draw attention to was the North Carolina game to begin the 2010 season. This was almost the opposite of the Troy game as LSU led 30-10 at halftime but stopped scoring and (after they should have been able to run out the clock) gave UNC chances to win from the 6-yard-line in the final moments. The play-by-play and game stats can be found here. UNC quarterback T. J. Yates threw for almost 100 more yards than LSU had as a team running and passing, but this is deceptive because of LSU’s special teams play in that game. Also, a passing offense generally has to come up with more yards to just keep pace with a good rushing offense. North Carolina’s only lead was 10-7, and that’s when a couple of key fumbles took place (one of them led directly to a safety), and LSU special teams set up a couple of one-play touchdown drives. Granted, they were good long plays in their own right, but it’s easier to score from the 50 than from your own 10. North Carolina had its own long one-play drive, a 97-yard touchdown pass.

I just don’t have the energy at this point to give a decent game story and highlight the major plays and players all over again. I wanted to get this out before the new playing week began.

There were also close but less-than-thrilling contests against Louisiana Tech in 2009 and West Virginia in 2010.

The Louisiana Tech game wasn’t too special. Derek Dooley’s Bulldogs, despite struggling that season, led LSU 13-10 at the half but could only come with a single field goal in the second half in a 24-16 loss. Tech did win some battles on the stat sheet: total yards (322-246), passing yards (144-105), rushing yards (178-141), first downs (23-15), and time of possession (36:20 to 23:40). LSU had only two third-down conversions (and was 0-1 on fourth down), but faced half as many third downs as Tech had. The Bulldogs were 3-4 on fourth down. Tech was penalized for 30 more yards. Neither team turned the ball over. The game was unspectacular enough on offense to lose Jarrett Lee his job as starting quarterback until the Oregon game last year.

West Virginia (back to 2010) only had one drive on the LSU side of the field in the last 22 minutes of that six-point game, and that one drive resulted in a missed 48-yard field goal attempt. After LSU had taken a 17-0 lead, the Mountaineers did get within 3 in the early third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown drive (resulting from a Jordan Jefferson interception), but WVU didn’t touch the ball the last 7 minutes in the third quarter. In the two drives after the missed field goal (in the third-to-last drive of the game), the Mountaineers netted only 6 yards combined, and in one of those possessions, LSU was penalized 5 yards for an illegal substitution. The ‘eers had 58 rushing yards on the game, about twice as many as UNC had had against the Tigers earlier that season.

Last season, of course, LSU beat West Virginia again (by 26 in Morgantown) after beating Oregon by 13 in Jerry World. The Oregon game wasn’t really that close (LSU led by 20 on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter after leading by 17 after 3 quarters). Oregon only led for about 5 minutes in the whole game, and WVU never led. The best the Mountaineers did was get within 6 late in the third quarter, but 16 seconds later, Mo Claiborne ran back the kickoff to put LSU back up 13. LSU would score 17 total unanswered to end the game. Both the Ducks and the Mountaineers would go on to win BCS bowls, but you wouldn’t have known it by those performances, not that the Tigers didn’t deserve a bit of credit.

Nothing to write home about schedule-wise this year. Washington may turn out to be a decent team. As indicated by some of these results, one can lose to LSU by significant margins and still turn out to be very good later on. Then the Idaho game will only be remembered for setting the record really. Of course, neither game was interesting by any rate. North Texas was the opener, that’s about all I have to say for that.

Future games

I’m not expecting too much drama from the Towson game next week, although another FCS team, McNeese St., gave LSU problems in what turned out to be a 22-point Tiger win in 2010.

The Tigers plan to welcome TCU to Tiger Stadium next season, scheduled for September 7, so that might be the next time the streak is put in serious jeopardy. The only game scheduled for 2014 so far is Georgia Southern, and then in 2015, LSU will play Arizona St. in the home and home that was supposed to start in 2005. It ended up being a single charity game thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Other future regular-season non-conference opponents scheduled are, tentatively (such arrangements of course get canceled with much less than 6 years’ notice), North Carolina St. and Oklahoma.

Week 12 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM

My ratings didn’t join the SEC trifecta trend. By the way, I added another proposal to my SEC realignment blog. It wouldn’t help out the balance of power though. I also updated my LSU-Ole Miss Rivalry blog.

Alabama should surpass Oklahoma St. next week if they beat Auburn. But if the Tide is idle the following week and the Cowboys defeat the Sooners, Oklahoma St. would resume its #2 spot. Remember that late losses are penalized in the polls but not here. As to #3, Texas A&M isn’t as good as Penn St. is, so that’s one reason Arkansas is a bit behind Alabama. Also, of course, Arkansas’s loss to Alabama hurts it more than Alabama’s loss to LSU hurts the Tide. Alabama also gets credit for a high-quality win over Arkansas.

Another conceptual difference from the polls is you aren’t penalized by losing spots but by losing points. Oklahoma St. did lose about .12 for losing to Iowa St., but since there was a big gap and Alabama only played Georgia Southern, that wasn’t enough to move ahead. Oklahoma, who also might have had a chance to move ahead, lost. Next after Oklahoma was Oregon, who also lost. It’s not at all a typical result to lose to an un-ranked team and stay #2, but this wasn’t a typical weekend.

But there was a lot of movement after the top three because the next few teams were really close together, and they still are. It’s hard to predict whether beating LSU followed by beating Georgia would be enough for Arkansas to be #1 or #2, but it certainly seems possible, particularly if Alabama beats Auburn and Georgia beats Georgia Tech. There would also be some benefit with SEC wins over Wake Forest, Florida St., and Clemson. Arkansas did play Vandy (who will be the team to play Wake) and South Carolina (who will be the team to play Clemson).

Boise St. doesn’t have much to add to its total, although of course wins by Georgia would also help the Broncos. But Wyoming is not a great team and a win over New Mexico wouldn’t be much better than a bye week.

Houston can significantly improve its rating with wins at Tulsa and if they win that, likely Southern Miss in the CUSA championship game. USM wouldn’t be as good of a win now that the Golden Eagles have lost to UAB. Both would be would be tougher games than any Houston have had so far, and Houston was fortunate to beat UCLA (win at home by 4) and Louisiana Tech (win at home by 1) in the early going.

Virginia Tech shouldn’t be overlooked either. They only have the loss to Clemson, which they could redeem in the ACC Championship game, if they can beat Virginia for the ACC Coastal division next week. The ’Hoos last defeated the Hokies in 2003.

I’m disappointed in the voters for putting Stanford 4th, , although I am not surprised. I hope whatever happens (apart from the Cardinal winning the Pac-12 and the only other BCS-conference options having two losses apiece), the voters have the good sense not to put a team with a 23-point home loss in mid-November in the BCS title game. That’s just an echo of Nebraska in 2001 if that happens.

I don’t think the lower teams are an option at this point unless we get to a 2007 scenario (which, except for LSU losses in OT, this year is starting to remind me of), and all of the conscionable choices have two losses.

I’ll just cover the larger movements in the rankings for the lower teams. Oklahoma dropped 7 spots by losing to Baylor, which is more because of how close those teams were than it was because Baylor is a terrible loss. The Bears jumped up to #22 after being un-ranked. This helped to push out Arkansas St., who got little credit for beating #113 Middle Tennessee. Rutgers (who joined the top 25 with a win over Cincinnati) and Tulsa also edged ahead of the Red Wolves, who landed at #26. Southern Mississippi (who fell from #16 all the way out of the top 25) was the only team Arkansas St. was able to surpass.

Clemson tumbled 10 spots after losing to North Carolina St. (still only #71), USC went up 6 spots, putting them right behind the aforementioned Sooners. Of course, the Trojans would likely end up in the Pac-12 title game but for the post-season ban. The Ducks fell 9 spots. Clemson and Oregon can rebound a good bit since they will each have two games left. This is especially true of Clemson, who will definitely play South Carolina and could also face Virginia Tech. Teams with two games left generally have a significant advantage over those who do not.

Top 25:

rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Okie St. 2
3 Alabama 3
4 Houston 8
5 Boise St. 6
6 Va. Tech 9
7 Arkansas 10
8 Michigan 12
9 Stanford 11
10 Kansas St. 15
11 Oklahoma 4
12 USC 18
13 S Carolina 13
14 Oregon 5
15 Penn St. 17
16 Georgia 20
17 Clemson 7
18 TCU 19
19 Mich St. 21
20 Nebraska 14
21 Wisconsin 23
22 Baylor —
23 Notre Dame 22
24 Tulsa 25
25 Rutgers —

Out of rankings: (16) Southern Miss., (24) Arkansas St.

Top 120 Permalink

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

Top 25 and SEC Thoughts: Week 6

In Rankings on October 10, 2010 at 11:02 PM

(I’m actually posting this on 10/18, but pre-dating so it goes in the right logical place.)

New ratings

Top 25

1 LSU 2 (1)*
2 Auburn 4
3 Oklahoma 3 (2)*
4 Mich. St. 13
5 Boise St. 12
6 TCU 5
7 Ohio St. 8
8 Missouri 10
9 Oregon 9
10 Nebraska 20
11 Alabama 1 (3)*
12 Okie St. 15
13 Nevada 16
14 Utah 21
15 Michigan 7
16 S.Carolina —
17 Stanford 19
18 NC State —
19 Arizona 14
20 Kansas St. 6
21 Air Force 23
22 Florida St. —
23 Oregon St. —
24 Arkansas —
25 Iowa 17

Out of rankings: (11) Florida, (18) N’western, (22) UCLA, (24) Baylor, (25) Temple

*–The numbers in parentheses represent last week’s computer ranking. I thought LSU should at least have to beat Florida before I recognized them as #1 here, however. I have made no such changes this week.

SEC thoughts

I am going to re-post my rivalry blog later this week with the updated records, as I did after the Tennessee game. I plan to post those for future games the week before rather than the week after.

LSU is now the only team with three wins at Florida in the last 9 seasons, which also include two losses at the Swamp. Strangely, Ole Miss is the only team with 2 such victories.

Although LSU did not beat any currently ranked opponents, it earns the best schedule among undefeated teams with wins over 4 teams in the overall top 31. Also, in the rankings of opponents, there are three teams in the top 25 (#16 WVU, #21 Mississippi St., and #22 Florida), along with #26 (North Carolina).

Oklahoma (I know they’re not in the SEC, but they’re worth mentioning for context), who has the second-best schedule among unbeatens (Auburn is higher due to not having had a bye week), has wins over #15 opponent FSU and #18 opponent Air Force, but the third-best opponent is Texas at #33. Cincinnati, fourth-best on Oklahoma’s schedule, is all the way down at #78.

I told everyone all year that you can’t take just two returning defensive starters from last year’s team and expect Alabama to be as dominant. Also, if they don’t run the ball, it’s not at all surprising that they gave up 35 points. I know Saban isn’t an offensive coach, but he’s knowledgeable enough to know something didn’t add up there. For this week at least, I was glad LSU had its coaching staff instead of Alabama’s. Of course, Nick doesn’t have the best record in keeping coordinators, so there may be an issue with staff turnover that I don’t feel like looking up.

LSU had only had one close game against a relatively weak team, so maybe Auburn is the lucky one. They’ve beaten Mississippi St. (who might not be so bad after all), Clemson, and Kentucky by a field goal each.

In the West, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss still control their respective destinies. If Alabama loses again, Arkansas will control its own destiny as well.

In the East, Florida, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt (!) control their respective destinies.

The only teams that seem out of the running are Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, but teams with three conference losses have made the SEC title game in the past. LSU even won the SEC with three conference losses in 2001. LSU didn’t start 1-3 or 0-3 in conference that year, but they did start 0-2 and 2-3.,