theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘Oregon St.’

Week 4 Commentary and Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 24, 2012 at 6:48 PM

Alabama stays #1 and seems to have widened the gap over the competition.

Some may have expected LSU to continue the dominance it had shown in earlier games, the closest of which was the Tigers’ 41-14 win over North Texas in Week 1.

Although a win by a touchdown or so would have been preferable, I didn’t expect it to be an easy win at all. This was an SEC road game for the Tigers of LSU (in a pretty intense series of late at that), and wins at Auburn don’t come easy in these situations. As good of a program as LSU has had the last 12 years or so, it has not won by more than 5 points (which occurred in 2008, the 5-7 year that ended the Tuberville era) at Auburn since 1998 despite going to Auburn every other year since then. The prior instance of an LSU win of more than 5 points at Auburn was 25 years before that.

LSU wasn’t completely inept on offense, it just couldn’t turn field position into points or turn gaining a decent number of yards into first downs very reliably. LSU had 15 first downs to Auburn’s 9 and 351 total yards to Auburn’s 183. Auburn was 2/12 on third downs while LSU was 6/18. LSU was penalized about twice as much and had one fewer turnover, but Auburn’s third turnover was on the last play, so that wasn’t really a determining factor.

Both turnovers by the Bayou Bengals were fumbles by Zach Mettenberger (one of them with an assist from the center) in the first quarter. The first was when LSU had the ball at the Auburn 2. LSU kicked the ball at 4th and 2 or fewer four times, one field goal (which was good) and three punts.

I understand that there are normal fluctuations of a few points in the polls and either LSU will be undefeated and get a bit more support or will have a loss and will have to climb back up anyway, but I’m really annoyed that Oregon has been put ahead of LSU. I can understand if someone wants to say Auburn hasn’t started well, and some teams that clearly aren’t top teams have done better against them (though not at Auburn). That’s if you’re consistent about applying that standard and you’ll punish Stanford, for instance, for only beating San Jose St. by 3. Few are consistent though.

As an aside, that’s one reason I don’t have the Cardinal ahead of USC. USC had the somewhat shaky game against Syracuse, but it was much better than Stanford/SJSU, and at least the Trojans were impressive against somewhat of a lightweight at home. Another reason is the USC/Stanford game was at Stanford. Also, there seems to be something unique about the combination of the two teams that favors Stanford that might not indicate, for example, that Stanford would beat Oregon but USC wouldn’t.

I wonder if many pollsters who moved the Ducks ahead of LSU even bothered to look to find out Oregon scored 21 of its points in the fourth quarter and 36 of its points in the second half. I wonder how many of them realize that Arizona really should have been ahead at halftime after it had the ball at the Oregon 4, the Oregon 18, and the Oregon 2 on consecutive drives in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the Wildcats had the ball at the Oregon 13 on one drive and at the Oregon 30 on another.

I guess we’ll have to hope the Washington Huskies can do more with their opportunities than Arizona did and this will make LSU (who beat Washington, 41-3) look better, but that would require that the pollsters remember. I’m not betting on it.

This is only an anecdotal example of the problem, but I do take some comfort in the notion that pretty soon their opinions will just be advisory. It’s just too bad that there it still really matters this season and next what the pollsters (officially just those in the coaches’ and Harris polls, though both are influenced by the AP) believe.

If LSU wins easily at Florida in a couple of weeks, that might trump the Oregon situation. There is a lot left to play out of course.

I kept Georgia at #3. They beat Vandy pretty easily, and I don’t think Vandy threw away opportunities the way Arizona did. I don’t see any basis to move them down. I realize my top 3 is all SEC, but it’s not my fault Oklahoma and USC lost instead of two SEC teams. The other USC is actually below where they started the season due to struggling against that Vanderbilt team I mentioned. South Carolina is behind Oregon, so it’s not like I’m averse to moving Oregon ahead of an SEC team if warranted.

As for my #5, I had Oklahoma #2 going in, and Kansas St. beat them and also beat the tar out of Miami. They had a somewhat close game against North Texas, but as I mentioned, North Texas had done the best against LSU going into last week, better than a Washington team that was getting serious top-25 consideration did. I put Oklahoma below Stanford and USC because Oklahoma didn’t do very well in its opener against UTEP (which doesn’t seem like a much different team than they usually are) or beat anyone that seems good. But I’m still allowing for some traces of preseason bias to creep in.

#6 Florida St. finally beat someone, so I didn’t feel a need to hold them back as much this time around. I’m still skeptical though.

Everyone else pretty much moved up in order until we get to the bottom. Michigan didn’t move all the way out like their in-state rivals did because they put up a better fight against Notre Dame. I’m still not thinking this is a good year for Boise St., which only beat BYU 7-6, so that home win doesn’t redeem Sparty in my opinion. This is Michigan’s second loss of course, but I think all but about 13 teams (or fewer) would lose to Notre Dame and Alabama.

I’m less comfortable keeping Nebraska in now that UCLA lost (at home, where the Bruins had beaten Nebraska), and Florida seems to be improving, so this helps Tennessee not to look as bad.

I didn’t think Louisville appeared to be a top-25 team going in, and they have not done anything to convince me they should be one, especially not beating North Carolina by 5 (at home) and FIU by 7 (on the road).

Rutgers is undefeated, but I’m still waiting to be impressed there as well. There are FCS teams who can beat Tulane by 12 (Tulane’s other two games thus far are a 35-point loss to Tulsa and a 39-point loss to Ole Miss). ULM also won at Arkansas, and that was after falling behind when Arkansas still had a good quarterback. Rutgers also beat South Florida by 10 (I’m ignoring the FCS win over Howard), but Ball St. beat the Bulls by 4, so that’s not too impressive either.

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Georgia 4
4 Oregon 5
5 Kansas St. 6
6 Florida St. 12
7 S Carolina 7
8 W Virginia 9
9 USC 10
10 Stanford 11
11 Oklahoma 3
12 TCU 13
13 Texas 14
14 Florida 15
15 Notre Dame 16
16 Oregon St. 17
17 Cincinnati 18
18 Wisconsin 19
19 Miss. St. 20
20 Clemson 21
21 Baylor 22
22 Ohio St. 23
23 Michigan 8
24 UCLA 24
25 Tennessee —

Out of rankings:
(25) Nebraska

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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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 3 Top 25

In College Football, Rankings on September 22, 2012 at 2:00 AM

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 LSU 2
3 Oklahoma 3
4 Georgia 5
5 Oregon 6
6 Kansas St. 7
7 S Carolina 8
8 Michigan 9
9 W Virginia 10
10 USC 4
11 Stanford —
12 Florida St. 11
13 TCU 12
14 Texas 16
15 Florida 21
16 Notre Dame 19
17 Oregon St. —
18 Cincinnati 20
19 Wisconsin —
20 Miss. St. 14
21 Clemson 15
22 Baylor 22
23 Ohio St. 18
24 UCLA 24
25 Nebraska 25

Out of rankings:
(13) Mich St., (17) Va. Tech, (23) Tennessee

LSU vs. the Pac-12

In College Football, General LSU, History, Rivalry on September 14, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Most of the following is adapted from a blog originally published on TSN on September 13, 2009. When details of a recent LSU season are not mentioned, this is because LSU played multiple Pac-10/current Pac-12 opponents in a season (1976, 1977, 1979, and 1984). In 2013, I discovered box scores and detailed game results for old LSU games, so I added summaries of those for a few select close games.

I’ll start with Washington since that’s the team LSU played last week, then I’ll go in alphabetical order for the Pac-10 teams, followed by the new Pac-12 teams. Washington was the seventh game against a Pac-10/Pac-12 team for LSU in the past 10 seasons (2003 to present). All of them were the first major-conference opponent of the respective seasons for LSU. The game last week was only the third between the Huskies and Tigers.

In the first meeting, LSU’s second home game in 1983, LSU broke a record for attendance at Tiger Stadium and beat the 9th-ranked Huskies, 40-14. LSU would only win 2 subsequent games on the season, finishing 4-7. That season, combined with a 1-3 end to the previous season, cost head coach Jerry Stovall his job. Washington finished 8-4.

Many of you probably remember the second meeting between the two, in 2009. LSU was ranked #11 going in, so many found the final score underwhelming in light of the Huskies’ 0-12 season the year before. Meanwhile, LSU had its most losses since 2002 in the prior year. The Tigers only won by 8, but it was only that close because Washington had scored as time expired. There was also a point earlier in the fourth quarter where the Huskies closed to within 8 with a field goal. Washington’s game-ending touchdown had been the first since its opening drive.

Washington would lose three subsequent games by even fewer points (one of those in OT) and would barely miss bowl-eligibility after a 5-7 campaign. LSU would finish 9-4 (only one game better than 2008) after losing to Penn St. in the CapitalOne Bowl.

Arizona

LSU is 3-0 against Arizona. The first game, in 1984 (see USC for more details on that season) was close, with LSU winning 27-26. Arizona would finish 7-4 but failed to make a bowl game. It wasn’t quite as exciting as the score indicated. LSU scored twice in 1:40 to take the lead 27-20 in the third quarter, the second score by Dalton Hilliard (who rushed for 145 yards in the game) with about 10 minutes left in the quarter. The Wildcats kicked one field goad (a 50-yarder) later in the third quarter and, strangely, another on fourth and five in the fourth quarter with about 3 minutes left. Arizona did get the ball back (after electing NOT to try an on-sides kick), but they went nowhere and turned the ball over on downs. The Tigers easily outpaced the Wildcats in first downs and total yards on the game.

LSU blew out Arizona in both games in the last decade, with LSU winning 59-13 in Tucson in 2003 and 45-3 in Baton Rouge in 2006. The 2003 game was the first time LSU had played a Pac-10 team since 1984, when the Tigers played Arizona and USC in consecutive weeks. LSU would win the BCS national championship in 2003 and the Sugar Bowl in 2006 (finishing 11-2 after 7 straight victories to close out the year). Arizona finished 2-10 in 2003 and 6-6 in 2006.

Arizona St.

The only game against Arizona St. was in 2005. Some call it the Katrina Game. LSU’s original opening-game opponent that year was North Texas, whom the Tigers played on schedule this season after another hurricane passed through Louisiana almost 7 years to the day. In 2005, however, that game was canceled in anticipation. ASU was supposed to have been the first game of a home and home in Baton Rouge, but with the LSU campus playing a large role in shelter and triage in the week after Katrina (the game was less than two weeks afterward), it was moved to Tempe, and Arizona St. donated the profits to hurricane relief, so it didn’t count toward the home and home, which was moved to 2015-16. 2015 is the next game LSU is scheduled to play against a Pac-12 opponent.

LSU (led by JaMarcus Russell and Joseph Addai) won an exciting back-and-forth game, 35-31, after Early Doucet scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 39-yard pass with 1:13 left in the game. Sam Keller of ASU threw 4 touchdowns in the loss. Arizona St. out-gained LSU 560-434, but the Tigers (in the first game with Les Miles at the helm) converted all three fourth-down-conversion attempts and blocked a field goal, returning it for a touchdown. 28 of the Tigers’ points were scored in the fourth quarter.

Oregon

Before the game last year, LSU was 2-1 against Oregon, all in Baton Rouge, but that series was last played in 1977, which LSU won 56-17 (Oregon would finish 2-9). The two teams traded wins in the 1930s.

Last year was a match-up of preseason top-5 teams and neither one was a dud. LSU didn’t show up well in the BCS Championship game, but that was after an impressive 13-0 showing in prior games. After following the LSU game with a 9-game winning streak, Oregon’s only other loss last season was to USC by three points. The Ducks went on to win the Rose Bowl.

As to the actual game action, LSU had the opening score (a field goal) after only a 12-yard drive. The Tigers continued to struggled on offense, but Tyran Matthieu provided the Tigers’ first touchdown to put them on top 9-6. Oregon had taken a 13-9 lead with 5 minutes to go in the first half, but then the Tigers scored 24 consecutive points. LSU led 16-13 at halftime and 30-13 after 3 quarters. 13 points (the final margin) is the closest the Ducks would get in the 4th quarter.

Oregon St.

LSU beat Oregon St. all four times, all in Baton Rouge. Two of the games were close: 1981 and 2004.

In 1981, LSU won 27-24. After 50 minutes or so of a somewhat conventional defensive game where no team scored more than 10 consecutive points, the two teams were tied at 17. Then LSU recovered a Beaver fumble at the OSU 37. This resulted in a short field goal with 6:13 remaining. Oregon St. was undaunted and drove 78 yards in five plays to take a 24-20 lead. As we might say now, they scored too soon. The Tigers were more methodical but did not face a third down until a 3rd and 1 at the OSU 2. LSU scored on that play, leaving the Beavers with just 55 seconds on the clock. After four quick downs, the Tigers got the ball back and ran out the clock. That season, LSU finished 3-7-1, its worst season since 1956. The Tigers would not do so poorly again for another 11 years. Oregon St. had won in Week 1 of that season but would not win again, finishing 1-10.

Winning LSU teams beat similarly bad Oregon St. teams in both 1976 and 1982.

In 2004, Oregon St. was the first team to visit Tiger Stadium after the Tigers won their first national championship since 1958. But the Beavers got the crowd out of it early– shutting out the Tigers in the first half, 9-0–and led by 8 after three quarters. The reason they didn’t lead by 9 after the teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter is the same reason they didn’t lead by 10 to begin with: Alexis Serna missed the extra point. LSU tied the game in the fourth quarter with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. So it went to overtime, when the two teams exchanged touchdowns, and surprise, Serna missed yet another extra point, and LSU won, 22-21. The game wasn’t without blown opportunities for LSU though, which included having the ball at the Oregon St. 2 late in the fourth quarter and failing to score. LSU would finish Nick Saban’s final season at 9-3, and Oregon St. would finish 7-5.

Stanford

LSU played Stanford in 1977, losing the Sun Bowl, 24-14. It was LSU’s first bowl game in four seasons and Stanford’s first bowl game since the 1971 season. The Tigers were shut out in the second half after leading 14-10 at halftime. Both teams had entered the game at 8-3. Stanford had a winning season every year from 1968 to 1978. The game took place during a relative lull in LSU’s successes. Although they had their share of winning seasons, LSU lost at least three games every year from 1973 to 1984, the longest such time period since World War II.

USC

Finally, LSU and USC played a home and home in 1979 and 1984. The road team won both games. LSU would only finish 7-5 in legendary coach Charles McClendon’s (137-59-7 in 18 seasons) last season in 1979. USC entered the game on an 11-game winning streak after sharing the national title with Alabama in 1978 and was still ranked #1. They won 17-12. LSU’s rank actually improved from 20th to 17th the next week despite the loss. USC went 28-0-2 between Oct. 14, 1978 and Nov. 15, 1980. (The tie in 1979 kept USC from repeating, and Alabama would finish undefeated.)

In 1984, LSU beat 15th-ranked USC on the road 23-3. That was the fifth game LSU played against a Pac-10 team in four seasons. LSU lost only one SEC game that year, 16-14 on the road against Mississippi St., but lost to Notre Dame at home and lost to Nebraska in that Sugar Bowl. USC, which did not lose again until 7 weeks later, would beat Ohio St. in the Rose Bowl, finishing 9-3.

Colorado

The first meeting was in the Orange Bowl after the 1961 season. Colorado had finished the Big 8 undefeated but was not in the national-championship race due to a loss to Utah.

LSU had also finished undefeated in the SEC but had a non-conference loss to Rice to open the year. The Tigers went to the Orange Bowl rather than the Sugar Bowl because Alabama also finished undefeated in the SEC. The Tide just didn’t have any other losses. Impressively, Alabama didn’t allow any opponent to score more than 7 points. So LSU likely would not have won a national championship anyway, at least not without going through the Tide to do it.

Even though LSU beat the Buffaloes, 25-7, they lost a spot in the final rankings to Texas (I suppose because the Longhorns beat Rice and Arkansas, who acquitted itself well in losing the Sugar Bowl) and finished 4th.

Unfortunately, the quality of the games in the LSU-CU series went downhill from there.

Both would have respectable teams in 1971 but lost two games apiece outside of the contest instead of 1. Colorado beat AP #9 LSU in the first game of the season, 31-21, in Tiger Stadium. I tried to find more details about this game, but I was unsuccessful.

Colorado would play LSU four more times, between 1973 to 1980, inclusive, but had losing seasons all four times. The most interesting was in 1980 when LSU only prevailed by 3 points. The Tigers roared out to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Buffaloes hung around. After Colorado touchdowns in the second, third, and fourth quarters, the game was tied with under three minutes left. LSU then punted, giving the Buffs a chance to win or tie in the final 80 seconds. They did neither, as on first down the Colorado QB nearly threw a touchdown pass to the wrong team. The Tigers then fumbled on their first down but recovered and eventually kicked a 17-yard field goal. That was no guarantee, as each team had missed an extra point earlier in the game. Colorado would finish 1-10, and LSU would finish 7-4 (when such teams couldn’t count on going to bowl games). The one team Colorado did beat that year was Iowa St., who themselves finished with a winning record.

The prior year, 1979, LSU was similarly above average, and Colorado was almost as bad (finishing 3-8), but LSU had won, 44-0. The 1979 game ironically was the only one played in Boulder.

The 1973 game was unremarkable all around as LSU won 17-6. LSU would finish 9-3 and Colorado 5-6 (after a 4-game losing streak to end the season). Colorado finished the same in 1974 but lost 42-14 to an LSU team that would finish 5-5-1.

Utah

LSU played Utah during the same decade as the regular-season match-ups that LSU had with Colorado. Utah finished 1-10 in 1974 and lost to LSU, 35-10. Utah finished 3-8 in 1976 and lost to LSU (who would finish 6-4-1), 35-7. The only thing odd was that second game was played after the respective rivalry games as kind of a post-Thanksgiving bowl game. Neither played in an actual bowl game of course. Both of these games were played in Tiger Stadium.

Total

LSU has won 12 consecutive games played against the former Pac-10, dating back to the 1981 win over Oregon St., and is 15-3 overall.

If we add in the new Pac-12 teams, LSU has won 13 straight going back to 1980 (Colorado) and is 22-4 overall. The losses took place in 1932 (Oregon), 1971 (Colorado), 1977 (Stanford), and 1979 (USC).

I mentioned 2003 as the beginning of the recent spate of Pac-10/Pac-12 games. Incidentally, LSU hasn’t lost a regular-season game to any other team outside of the SEC during that time either.

Pac-12 Gets It Wrong

In College Football on June 27, 2011 at 5:44 AM

I somehow missed this back in November—or I was paying too much attention to current games to care—but I’ve been looking at the divisional alignments and schedules, and I disagree with putting Colorado and Utah in the South.

There is a wrinkle to this that makes it more digestible to the California teams, since with Colorado in Utah in the South, Cal and Stanford were placed in the North. That wrinkle is that both USC and UCLA will continue to play Cal and Stanford annually.

By the way, the scheduling format chosen continues the 9-game Pac-10 schedule, so of course every team in a division plays one another (5 divisional games per team), and every team also plays 4 non-divisional opponents. So for the California teams, it will be the divisional opponents, two non-divisional California opponents, and two other non-divisional opponents. I’ll call this the California rule.

To get some grumbling out of the way, I really don’t think this approach is fair because not only does 9 games mean some teams will get an extra home game, but there is greater potential disparity between non-divisional schedules this way. Consider this scenario. Team A and Team B are in the North, which is relatively weak. Team A beats every team in the North, including Team B. But Team A loses twice against the South, possibly against the two best teams in the conference and possibly against teams that Team B does not have to face. Despite the loss to Team A, Team B would still win the division by being undefeated outside of the division. Of course, a similar scenario can take place with an 8-game schedule, but it’s less likely that one team in this scenario would be 1-2 and the other 3-0 against the other division. That’s 33% versus 100% in the 8-game schedule rather than 50% versus 100% in the 9-game schedule.

But apparently the teams want a 9-game schedule. It has served the Pac-10 well with schedule ratings (not always easy to schedule an opponent of a quality conference when they’re all so far away…and now there are two fewer non-conference options in the West), so I can’t say it’s a bad thing for the conference, although the unfairness will continue to bother me. Anyway, my proposal assumes that there will be a 9-game schedule. I don’t think there is much point in talking about what would or should happen under an 8-game schedule.

You might say, “Why bother arguing about it at all? This is the way it is.” The SEC saw after a few years that its initial approach (which was two permanent rivals, meaning 7/8 of the schedule was the same teams every year) didn’t work very well, so it changed the scheduling rules. It did not change the divisional alignment, but in this case, the divisional change if done within a few years would not be that traumatic, since the California teams will all play each other, so that wouldn’t be a problem, and the Mountain teams are new to the conference anyway. There isn’t an alignment that just jumps out as inherently logical here, as there is in the SEC and as there was in the Big XII. The ACC, whose alignment I can’t remember, could still realign, and I don’t think it would upset many people.

I understand the respect for tradition underlying the California rule, but it will cause some problems. This would mean that there would be more games between the Arizona teams (shorthand for Arizona and Arizona St.) and the Northwest teams (shorthand for Oregon, Oregon St., Washington, and Washington St.). One of the benefits of expansion is that there will be fewer such games. Either way there will be fewer Arizona—Northwest games than there were before, but enough travel has necessarily been included due to the selection of Utah and Colorado (I’ll call them the Mountain teams) that the Arizona—Northwest trips should be minimized. I don’t think the Northwest teams even need to play an Arizona team every year, but that was the only way I could see how to get my overall scheme to work, and you have to fill out nine games somehow.

Of course, my suggestion is not that we leave the divisional alignment alone and eliminate the California rule. That would probably expose further weaknesses in the chosen alignment. It’s a choice between having the four California teams play one another as an exception to the rule (causing the adverse consequences mentioned) or as part of the rule.

USC will only play two Northwest teams to go with the two Northern California teams (Cal and Stanford). UCLA will also play two. Since there are four Northwest teams, that means there will be an average of one game per year played by the Northwest teams against an L.A. team (being USC or UCLA). So the Northwest teams will each have to play a combined three games against the Mountain and Arizona teams every year. I can’t see how that could be desirable.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So this is the current format:

Divisions—
North
Washington
Washington St.
Oregon
Oregon St.
Cal
Stanford

South
Colorado
Utah
USC
UCLA
Arizona
Arizona St.

Inter-divisional Scheduling—

L.A. teams: Both Northern California teams annually, two rotating Northwest teams
Northern California teams: Both L.A. teams annually, one rotating game against Mountain teams, one rotating game against Arizona teams.
Mountain/Arizona teams: three rotating games against Northwest teams, one rotating game against Northern California teams
Northwest teams: three rotating games against Mountain/Arizona teams, one rotating game against L.A. teams
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This is my proposed format:

Divisions—

North
Washington
Washington St.
Oregon
Oregon St.
Colorado
Utah

South

Cal
Stanford
USC
UCLA
Arizona
Arizona St.

Inter-divisional Scheduling—

All California teams: One rotating Mountain team, three rotating Northwest teams
Mountain teams: Both Arizona teams annually, two rotating California teams
Arizona teams: Both Mountain teams annually, two rotating Northwest teams
Northwest teams: three rotating games against California teams, one rotating game against Arizona teams
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Admittedly, moving the Mountain teams to the North would mean that each Northwest team would play both Mountain teams every year, but under my proposal, they would only EVER play one Arizona team per year. That seems more logical than sometimes playing two Arizona teams and one Mountain team. The two Mountain teams aren’t ideal, but someone has to play them.

By the way, Salt Lake City and Boulder are to North of Stanford/Palo Alto and Berkeley. People don’t always realize this, but there is geographically a lot of California between the Bay Area and the Oregon border, and then it’s a decent trip to get to Eugene or Corvallis from there.

Granted, a little bit would be lost from the Northern California—Northwest rivalries, but there would still be three games a year between Northwest teams and California teams. I don’t think it’s a catastrophe if the Northwest teams play the Northern California teams three years out of four (there were also such breaks in series with the L.A. teams before the 9-game schedule began), plus it’s an added bonus that they will also play the Southern California teams three years out of four. I think playing all California teams most of the time (which was same basic frequency before the implementation of the 9-game schedule) is more acceptable than playing the Northern California teams all the time and the L.A. teams rarely. If someone with an understanding of the Northwest disagrees, let me know, but watching the coverage and talking to people around here, it’s certainly the impression I get from this end that there is strong feeling by L.A. teams and their fans about playing the Northwest teams.

The Mountain teams would only play one L.A. team per year instead of two, but my proposal would still ensure they play two Arizona teams per year. I think it makes more sense for the Northwest teams to each L.A. team more routinely than the Mountain teams would.

Also, from the perspective of the Arizona teams, I think they’d rather play two Northwest teams per year than three.

I also prefer the idea of playing a home and home and then taking a break in the series, to playing (for instance) Cal one year, Stanford the next year, and having a return trip against Cal the third year.

Those are my abstract arguments. My more concrete arguments relate to how far the various teams are from one another geographically.

I’ve spent a lot of time crunching the numbers to determine what the average road trip is for a visiting team. Under the current format, it is 740 miles, and under my proposal, it would be 731 miles. But the average isn’t really that important anyway. I think it’s more important to consider what a reasonable trip might be.

Ideally, you would want the trip to be under 400 miles. That’s the kind of game that you can get excited about generally anyway, because if you’re a local fan, you may know someone who has something to do with that team, or it wouldn’t be unusual to live closer to the other team that you live to your team. Teams of that closeness tend to have better rivalries than those significantly farther apart. Also, I personally would generally choose to drive that distance, even if there weren’t a difference in price. That way, I would be comfortable leaving when I wanted, stopping to eat, etc. Same thing with going back.

I also looked at trips of 600 miles and below. That’s too much for one day for sure, but if you want to take a long weekend or something of that nature, even that might be something you would consider driving, and if you did fly, it would be around an hour. Even if you missed your flight, you could probably still get there without great expense or inconvenience on another flight. That’s not too far for a bit of a rivalry to develop either. Of course, Notre Dame and USC is a rivalry, but regional rivalries are more common and seem to develop quickly if they’re not already there. I anticipate that very soon, assuming a couple of competitive games at least, Utah and Colorado will have a rivalry despite being over 500 miles apart.

In divisional series, there would be 4 more trips a year of under 400 miles than there will be under the current format. There would be 1 more trip of under 600 miles.

There aren’t many relevant inter-divisional games, but of course under the current format, there will be the in-state California games (all of under 400 miles). Under my proposal, there will be the games between the Oregon teams and the Northern California teams (the farthest of those trips is Stanford—Oregon St., which is almost exactly 600 miles) but no inter-divisional games of under 400 miles.

Obviously, the way it’s set up, the California teams get the best deal of all because of the “California rule” I mentioned, but that wouldn’t even be the case every year. For instance, USC plays Oregon, Stanford, Cal, and Washington this year. Some years they might play Oregon, Oregon St., Washington, and Utah, and that would actually be less travel in the overall conference schedule. Regardless, I think my proposal is a good arrangement for the California teams and even if it’s USC making an extra trip to Seattle instead of to Salt Lake City, I think a lot of fans would rather have the former series.

Also, I don’t think the Arizona teams really want to play three Northwest teams per year instead of the two that I propose.

Any way I look at it, my proposal seems to make more sense overall.

My only guess as to why it came out this way was they said Washington and Oregon teams had to be in the North, L.A. and Arizona teams had to be in the South (a logical first step of course). Northern California teams are closer to Oregon, and Mountain teams are closer to Arizona. And then they said, “Wait a minute, what about the in-state California rivalries? Let’s fix that.” They should have started with, “Let’s try to keep the California teams together and make the divisions from there.” There may also have been other political considerations to which I am not privy.

This press release (http://www.pac-10.org/portals/7/images/Football/WklyRel/2011Pac-12FootballScheduleRelease3.pdf) details how the Pac-12 will work and includes a chart in case my explanation was too hard to visualize.

I’ve made a chart for my proposal, but I don’t know how to make the fancy Adobe link, so I’ll just post it the best I can here. I’m just doing the inter-divisional games. I included a total of 8 years for USC and showed which ones would be away games, assuming two inter-division road games and two inter-division home games every year (which seems like the fairest approach). The only reason I chose USC was because that was the first real schedule I came across, and I had looked at relative differences in distance, as mentioned above. The rest are by alphabetical order in the respective divisions. The abbreviations shouldn’t be too hard to understand.

South

USC
@OR OSU WA @CO
OR @OSU @WS CO
@OR @WA WS UT
OSU WA @WS @UT
@OSU @WA OR CO
OSU WS @OR @CO
WA @WS OR @UT
@WA WS @OSU UT
(They could also make it “@Colorado, Utah, Colorado, @Utah”; but I’d rather play the same team two years in a row.)

Arizona
CO UT WA OR
CO UT WA OR
CO UT WS OSU
CO UT WS OSU

Arizona St.
CO UT WS OSU
CO UT WS OSU
CO UT WA OR
CO UT WA OR

Cal-Berkeley

WA WS OR CO
WA WS OSU CO
WA OR OSU UT
WS OR OSU UT

Stanford
OSU WA WS UT
OSU WA OR UT
OSU WS OR CO
WA WS OR CO

UCLA
WS OR OSU UT
WS OR WA UT
WS OSU WA CO
OR OSU WA CO

North

Colorado
AZ AS CB USC
AZ AS CB USC
AZ AS SN UCLA
AZ AS SN UCLA

Oregon
USC UCLA CB AZ
USC UCLA SN AZ
USC CB SN AS
UCLA CB SN AS

Oregon St.
SN USC UCLA AS
SN USC CB AS
SN UCLA CB AZ
USC UCLA CB AZ

Utah
AZ AS SN UCLA
AZ AS SN UCLA
AZ AS CB USC
AZ AS CB USC

Washington

CB SN USC AZ
CB SN UCLA AZ
CB USC UCLA AS
SN USC UCLA AS

Washington St.
UCLA CB SN AS
UCLA CB USC AS
UCLA SN USC AZ
CB SN USC AZ

More Conference Changes? + My Bowl Projections

In College Basketball, College Football, Realignment on November 29, 2010 at 6:19 PM

Surprise, surprise, TCU is changing conferences again.

The Horned Frogs will join their fourth conference since the dissolution of the SWC in 1996. First, it joined the WAC superconference. Shortly after the MWC teams left the WAC, it moved to the CUSA. Then it jumped to the MWC. Now it will be in the Big East, starting in 2012.

I understand that football teams must start in a new conference by 2012 in order for its statistics to count in the new conference for BCS purposes. The current evaluation period is between 2008 and 2011.

It has driven me crazy that a team in Fort Worth, TX, belonged to the Mountain West Conference since they joined, but they’re moving to a conference that, at least as compared to the current MWC, makes even less sense geographically.

Plus, TCU has a basketball team, so that will be 17 members of the Big East. That’s beyond ridiculous. I think they should make it two separate conferences for the purposes of other sports. Will there now be a play-in game to reach the 1st round of the basketball tournament, where the four winners then get a chance TO PLAY FOR a spot in the quarterfinals?

The travel times listed below are based on Google Maps driving directions.

TCU will leave a conference whose closest rival was 10 hours, 19 minutes away to join one whose closest rival will be 13 hours, 48 minutes away. (South Florida, in Tampa, may be closer in the air than Louisville, but I’m not sure.)

The longest trip will be 28 hours away (it doesn’t give minutes when you go over 24 hours). In the MWC as currently constituted, the longest trip (San Diego St.) was 21 hours, 19 minutes.

But to be fair, it could have gotten worse had TCU stayed. Boise will be 26 hours away, but Hawaii (if they choose to join the MWC) would have been even farther away, about 2900 miles, almost 1200 more than the distance to Connecticut. There is of course no driving time to Hawaii. Confirmed new additions to the MWC, Nevada and Fresno St., would have also been farther away than any current MWC team.

Obviously, there are other reasons, but it’s interesting that three teams have now left the MWC since it was announced that Boise St. was joining. No one wants to play them, unless it’s another team that wants to go out its way to prove itself (I’m sure Fresno St., for instance, was happy to follow them to the MWC).

As I referenced in the second paragraph, I also read that apparently these moves are all about jockeying for automatic qualifier status. TCU’s BCS appearance last year will count toward the Big East, Boise’s will count toward the Mountain West, and Utah’s in the 2008 season will count toward the Pac-10.

Hawaii’s BCS appearnce in the 2007 season apparently doesn’t matter, so the WAC could really be deprived even if Hawaii stays. The WAC might be the new Sun Belt when all is said and done. Idaho, Utah St., and New Mexico St. were all Sun Belt teams at one point, incidentally. San Jose St. isn’t much better. Louisiana Tech (another severely out-of-place team) actually won the WAC in their first season in the conference, but it’s been pretty much downhill since then. Those five teams are the only ones left if Hawaii also leaves. Maybe they’ll add some California FCS teams, but I think the last thing we need is more FBS teams. The Sun Belt is getting bloated, maybe a some of them will go out West (there are two Louisiana teams and one Texas team who might go well with Louisiana Tech).

The Sun Belt is currently scheduled to have 10 football teams with the addition of South Alabama in 2013. I don’t know if Denver plans to field a football team, but they are moving to the WAC, where BYU will also play in sports other than football.

The Big East is also considering adding Central Florida and Villanova, should the latter choose to move up to FBS. Central Florida would increase the number of basketball teams to 18.

I don’t know if there is any interest in bringing Temple back to the Big East, but that would be a more logical fit than the MAC, especially since the Owls have been improved in the last couple of years. It would also be a good basketball program to add, though its previous membership in the Big East was football-only. Temple would also of course be a natural rival with Villanova. The teams have already played each other multiple times in recent years and have an intense basketball rivalry.

Bowl projections

National championship:
Oregon vs. Auburn

I don’t think either team will have it easy this week, but I expect both to come out on top. I just don’t think the opposition is good enough. On the other hand, just ask Bobby Bowden how tough it is to face a rematch with Steve Spurrier.

A Pac-10 or Big Ten national-championship-game team would automatically send TCU to the Rose Bowl. It’s not right for Stanford, but that’s the breaks. So the Rose Bowl doesn’t really get to pick a team.

So there is the second match-up: Wisconsin (projected Big Ten champion based on BCS standings) vs. TCU.

This would probably leave an automatic #4, probably Stanford, Oklahoma or Nebraska as the Big XII champions, Virginia Tech or Florida St. as the ACC champions, and probably either Connecticut or West Virginia (Pitt would only make it if both lose) as the Big East champions. This leaves open the possibility of two non-automatic at-large teams.

The Sugar Bowl gets the first two real picks, the replacement for Auburn and the regular first pick. I think they’d definitely pick Arkansas (leaving only one other non-automatic slot). They might like to pick the Big XII champion, but they’re contractually obligated to the Fiesta Bowl, so my guess is they knock out that last non-automatic spot and pick Ohio St. The Buckeyes were in a New Orleans bowl game in 2007 (the national championship game), but I still think the team and fan base are the most attractive option. I don’t think there is enough of a gap between Stanford and Ohio St. to ignore all the other positives for Ohio St.

So there is our third match-up: Ohio St. vs. Arkansas

The Orange Bowl will have the ACC champion automatically, and they’ll get to pick a second team. Especially if it’s Connecticut, I don’t think they’d want the Big East team instead, so my guess here would be they’d take Stanford. Even if WVU wins the Big East, I don’t know if you pick a team that’s 20 spots worse because their fans are better.

So the fourth match-up: ACC vs. Stanford

The Fiesta Bowl will automatically get the Big XII champion, and they’d be stuck with the Big East Champion, assuming no one else selects that team.

Fifth match-up: Big XII vs. Big East

Select other bowl projections:
CapitalOne: LSU vs. Michigan St.
Cotton: Oklahoma St. vs. Alabama
Outback: South Carolina vs. Penn St.
Peach: Virginia Tech vs. Florida or Florida St. vs. Mississippi St.
Gator: Florida or Mississippi St. vs. Illinois or Iowa (The Ron Zook Bowl sounds interesting, but if it’s Mississippi St., they might go with Iowa instead)
Alamo: Texas A&M vs. Arizona
Insight Bowl: Nebraska vs. Michigan
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Illinois or Iowa
Holiday Bowl: Missouri vs. Washington
Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame vs. U. Miami (I don’t know why they’d pass that game up, I don’t care how bad Miami looked against South Florida)

I also think it would be interesting if maybe the Sun Bowl (which used to be somewhat important) matched Notre Dame and Boise St., since there aren’t enough Pac-10 teams and Notre Dame can go to the Big East bowls, but Notre Dame would probably prefer not to play Boise St. anyway. It would be a shame for Boise St. to have to play a team that’s even worse than that. Boise St./Utah would be a good out-west game (the Las Vegas Bowl would be a possibility, since that’s another open Pac-10 spot), but Boise might be possessive and the Broncos could be stuck on the blue field for the Humanitarian Bowl.

In Defense of My Top Three

In Rankings Commentary on October 19, 2010 at 9:55 PM

I just posted the conferences & divisions chart for this week. It can also be found on the “ratings site” tab.

For background of where I’m coming from, please see the end of my last post and the comments here. I should not have checked those comments again before bed last night, but what’s done is done.

I remain convinced that if we had a 7-week season followed by bowls, LSU needs to playing Auburn for the national championship. If we had an 8-week season followed by bowls, the winner of LSU-Auburn would deserve a spot against the winner of Oklahoma-Missouri.

To be clear, my formula in no way (except for when home advantage comes into play) factors in margin of victory (MoV), how well a team was playing when a game was played, and the like. It matters who you beat. How good who you beat is depends on that team’s record and their strength of schedule (which is determined by opponents’ and opponents’ opponents records). I think it’s difficult enough to evaluate a group of 120 teams who typically play only 12 games apiece when you look at wins and losses alone to try to claim to be able to fairly consider the context of each game and how that led to the final score (which is the only reasonable way to use MoV)

The outcome I suggest wouldn’t happen if we left it up the pollsters, who would give us Oregon vs. Boise St. (Boise). The BCS might give us one of the two in the second scenario but neither team in the first scenario.

I’ve been pretty harsh on the ESPN crew, but there is one exchange I would like to highlight. Craig James said at one point that it matters “who you play and who you beat.” Kirk Herbstreit’s response was, “Why are Boise and TCU even in the conversation then?”

Craig was missing a qualifying clause: “When comparing undefeated teams….”

In that case, Kirk’s rhetorical point is well taken. They shouldn’t be!

But we consider them in case we’re comparing them down the line to, let’s say, an Ohio St. team who will have only had one impressive win (over Iowa) if they finish the season undefeated, the way things look right now. I’d be hard-pressed to say that Ohio St. team belongs ahead of an undefeated Boise St. team, especially if Virginia Tech continues to do well and Miami continues to struggle in the ACC. I don’t know how good Utah (awful schedule so far) and Air Force (losses to Oklahoma and San Diego St.) really are, but if they’re both undefeated otherwise from now until the end of the season, especially if we add in an improved Oregon St. team (which also might affect Boise St.), maybe they’d be better if they’re undefeated. So I’m not inflexible here, and I won’t say, “no non-AQs, no way, nohow.”

But they don’t just jump to the front of the line because of last year’s team. We’re halfway through the season, even factoring in bowl games and conference championships. Last year is a memory. It deserves no place in the rankings right now.

To get to the nuts and bolts, instead of using my system, which is not biased, but which will be attacked as such, I’ll use Anderson & Hester, which prides itself on rewarding regional dominance. So if anything, it’s an advantage to Oregon and Boise St.

These are Oregon’s opponents:
#12 Stanford
#67 Arizona St.
#75 Tennessee
#96 Washington St.
#109 New Mexico
I-AA/FCS Portland St.

Tennessee, incidentally, is a common opponent with LSU. But Tennessee is LSU’s fifth toughest opponent thus far. I know that’s the one that LSU came closest to losing to, but as I keep reminding people, Alabama beat a mediocre Tennessee team by 2 last year as well.

So Oregon has played one top-66 opponent. Alabama had three in the first five weeks, losing to the fourth. You could make the argument that maybe they shouldn’t even go ahead of Alabama at least until they’ve had two more wins than losses against such teams. My rankings aren’t that harsh toward undefeated teams, but I would have trouble saying that would be wrong.

I just don’t think having one win against a quality team, even if the margin was a big one, qualifies a team to be #1 after 7 weeks. Let’s say a scheduling happenstance has Wisconsin playing Michigan St. later in the year and they go into last week undefeated. You could certainly argue that Ohio St. was better than Stanford, so would the Badgers be a deserving #1 in that case? They also defeated ASU, Oregon’s second-best win right now.

That’s not to say it will be easy for Oregon to defeat Arizona or even some of the more inconsistent Pac-10 teams such as USC, Oregon St., Washington, UCLA, but why don’t we wait until they play some more of those instead of just one?

Boise can’t even look at their schedule in the future and say that. “Now, wait a minute, you’re not giving Oregon credit for it’s future schedule, why do you want to punish Boise.” I don’t, because I’m consistent, unlike the biased or misguided masses who have Oregon and Boise #1 and #2. For Boise, they ignore the future schedule, but it’s justification for Oregon.

Anyway, since I’m fair, unlike those people, let’s look only at Boise St.’s schedule so far.:
#36 Virginia Tech
#37 Oregon St.
#57 Toledo
#73 Wyoming
#100 San Jose St.
#109 New Mexico St.

The best team they beat is #36. That’s OK, especially considering they also beat another team right behind them. But since people want to act like James Rodgers was going to win the Heisman, and that’s why we shouldn’t consider Oregon St. without him, why don’t we look further into Virginia Tech? They started so badly they then went and played James Madison at home and lost (Boise St.-Va. Tech was a neutral crowd, although Boise had a significant traveling disadvantage). Also, let’s further consider the fact that Boise was lucky to escape with a win against Virginia Tech. I can understand putting them near Oregon though. Maybe it’s tougher to beat two top-40 teams that one top-20 team. Maybe it’s better to put someone tested at all against the top 20, on the other hand.

There is a third win just inside the top 60, enough for a decent top-25 resume, but how does that compare to the schedules SO FAR of Oklahoma, Auburn, and LSU?

Oklahoma:
#15 Florida St.
#17 Texas
#31 Air Force

Let’s stop right there. That’s already three opponents better than Boise St.’s best opponent. Iowa St. is also inside the top 50, ahead of Toledo. I don’t think either win is impressive, but even if we cancel out those, that’s still three opponents better than Boise St. best two opponents. And Florida St. and Texas aren’t even close. I don’t see any logical basis for not putting Oklahoma ahead of Boise St.

To go back to Oregon for a second, when we add in Cincinnati, that’s a total of 5 Oklahoma opponents better than Oregon’s second-best opponent.

LSU:
#20 Mississippi St.
#21 North Carolina
#25 West Virginia
#26 Florida

That’s four opponents better than Oregon’s second-best and Boise’s best. Call me crazy, but I think 4 wins against #20 to #30, one at a neutral site, one on the road, is more impressive than 1 win against #10 to #20 at home. As mentioned, Tennessee is in the 70s in A&H, Vanderbilt is #82. Last week, LSU beat a I-AA team.

Auburn:
#20 Mississippi St.
#22 South Carolina
#28 Arkansas
#50 Kentucky

That’s four better than Oregon’s second-best or Boise’s third-best. Also three better than Boise’s best.

I could take either side of the Boise vs. Oregon debate, but either of them vs. LSU, Auburn, or Oklahoma, I’m sorry, I don’t see an argument there. Since we have opinion polls involved (I’d be happy if we didn’t, assuming it’s a transparent, relatively easy-to-follow rating system), I don’t have a problem with pollsters considering margin of victory if it’s a close call, but there should be a close call first, and there just isn’t.

There is also the strategy of attacking the results of teams that are beaten by the big three (in my view and that of many objective sources). Tennessee almost lost to UAB, for instance. Colorado beat Georgia, who easily beat Tennessee. I think this does more harm to Oregon since Tennessee is higher on their list, but just as an example.

So let’s look at Stanford then and see how #12 their worst result looks. Beat USC with a field goal at the end of the game, just like the Washington Huskies did the week before. Washington, by the way, lost to 2-5 BYU. USC at #27 in A&H is Stanford’s best win, by the way, followed by Notre Dame at #34. Auburn and Oklahoma each have three wins higher than that, and LSU has four.

I’m not saying Stanford is a bad team by any stretch, but the point is you can over-analyze pretty much any team, especially as the season continues, to make them look bad. Also, if that’s all you have to hang your hat on, you don’t deserve to be #1 in the country. It’s good, but it’s not enough.

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.,