Posts Tagged ‘Southern Mississippi’

SEC Wednesday #8

In College Football, Preview, Rankings, SEC Wednesdays on October 19, 2016 at 3:45 PM

Please see here for my blog about the LSU-Ole Miss series, the second-longest football series for LSU.

Last Week

I had almost no luck this week. There is usually one week that just wipes me out, and this might be it this year.

I was glad that Mississippi St. was supposed to lose by more than a touchdown according to most spreads, because I almost got tripped up by the overtime thing again. Of course I’m not so glad I got 0 right on Saturday.

My LSU pick looked good after the first half, but then this happened in the first 13 minutes of the second half (not that as a fan I’m complaining)…


I slept through the game, so I don’t know how Vandy beat Georgia, but I guess it’s just Georgia’s ridiculous habit of playing down to their opponents. On second thought, I shouldn’t have given UGA credit for beating South Carolina by 14 since they only managed to do it by running back an onsides kick.

Florida did the same thing against Missouri and also scored two defensive touchdowns. A 19-14 final score would have been just about right in that one.

I don’t know what it is about Arkansas that gives Ole Miss so much trouble that even a week off doesn’t allow them to prepare for. I just hope it carries over into the next game unlike last season (although the difference last season was Ole Miss had a bye week between Arkansas and LSU, and LSU was the one to play Arkansas the week before).

My records fall to 53-10 and 26-29.


Next Week

The pollsters seem to think last week is a prediction of next week, but I don’t always buy that. For instance, I don’t think it’s likely that Alabama will win by nearly three touchdowns over Texas A&M just because they beat Arkansas and Tennessee more easily than predicted. I think if anything it’s harder to do it again after having that much success two weeks in a row. I think these are both legitimate top 5 teams (I don’t think Tennessee was necessarily, especially given what happened to Georgia), so I’m pretty skeptical of that. I do think it will be awfully tough for A&M to win that one on the road though.

This is how the Alabama season has gone: won by way more than expected, won by slightly more than expected, won by much less than expected, won by more than expected, won by less than expected, won by more than expected, won by more than expected. They haven’t won by more than expected three weeks in a row yet.

UMass hasn’t beaten much of anyone, but they usually make a respectable showing of themselves, as they did against Florida and Mississippi St. I don’t know if South Carolina would beat anyone but the worst FBS teams by 3 touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt by a lot, and I don’t think Vanderbilt is a lot better than Missouri. The Tigers have had a rough few weeks, but they usually find their offense out of conference. If Vandy can score 47 against this team, Missouri can score over 60. Mizzou might allow 40, but they should cover the 6.5.

If two teams are equal, the road team should lose by about a field goal. I’m really unclear on why Auburn is clearly better than Arkansas, so I’ll take Arkansas and the points, which is what I should have done last week.

Apart from the second game and the last few minutes against LSU in the third game, Mississippi St. has not played very well, while Kentucky has played better than I expected. I’m going to take Kentucky to win and with the three extra points too of course.

Tennessee St. is a pretty good FCS team, but I think Vanderbilt will manage to win. ESPN doesn’t show a spread for these, so I skip that part.

LSU is favored by 5.5. Ole Miss fans used to talk about good Bo and bad Bo when Bo Wallace was with the team, but I think that characteristic caught on. As I indicated, I was a little taken aback by the loss to Arkansas after winning the two previous games by an average of 25.5 points. The game before those two wins was the 5-point loss to Alabama.

I honestly don’t know which Ole Miss team shows up, nor do I know if the first-half LSU team from last week shows up. I think LSU can end up winning something like what Arkansas did last week. It could be a 3- or 4-point game and the LSU defense can hold on like they did at the end against Mississippi St. It’s a tough choice though. It could go to overtime and LSU could win by 6 or 7, but I guess if you add in the approximately 1 in 3 chance Ole Miss has of winning, on balance it’s best to take the Rebels with the points.

LSU-Florida Reaction, Previews, & SEC Wed. #7

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on October 14, 2016 at 7:35 PM


So if you haven’t heard, the LSU-Florida game got resolved. The downside is LSU loses a home game next year (and will have FIVE SEC road games) and will play one fewer game this season.

I understand the SEC insurance policy will kick in for the South Alabama buyout. Reportedly South Alabama offered to play on the LSU bye week of 10/29, and LSU was not interested. So far the Texas A&M game is still scheduled for 5 days after the Florida game (the date when LSU was originally going to play South Alabama).

The upside is LSU still keeps the 7 home games for this season, Although the Tigers now finish with five consecutive opponents who are currently ranked, two will be separated by a bye week and only two of those five will be on the road. LSU has not played a ranked team yet this season, although Wisconsin and Auburn are currently ranked.

I doubt it will be two top-10 teams at game time like it was back then, but I think of the 2007 match-up every time Florida @ LSU is brought up.

I doubt it will be two top-10 teams at game time like it was back then, but I think of the 2007 match-up every time Florida @ LSU is brought up.

Also, despite all the road games next season, LSU also avoids having to go on the road in consecutive weeks next season. There will be two potentially brutal stretches though: @Florida/Auburn/@Ole Miss and @Alabama/Arkansas/@Tennessee/Texas A&M. At least that A&M game will be on a Saturday.

Florida loses two home games this year in the process (for a loss of one net, same as LSU), but let that be a lesson to them. When a program used to reacting to hurricanes calls you and tells you that you need a better backup plan than “we’ll delay the game a few hours,” listen.

I thought this was a pretty good take on what happened. It suggests that Florida reacted to LSU with paranoia, and that was part of the problem:

SEC Wednesday #7

Last Week

I mentioned my aggravation with the Tennessee/A&M ATS “loss” in the rankings blog. You shouldn’t ever have to cheer for the team that you didn’t pick to score. If A&M wins in regulation with a field goal, I win. If they win in the first overtime with a touchdown, I win. But since they win in the second overtime with a touchdown, which means Tennessee played even better, I lose.

Kentucky likes to just barely beat the spread, so at least I won that one. I think they beat it by 4, but Vandy was close to sending that game into OT.
I was somewhat reluctant about Auburn, but they’ve been doing quite well on offense. Random stat I noticed: Sean White completed 14 passes for 204 yards with only 4 incompletions.

I was just plain wrong about Alabama. I could have backed into it with another late TD, but it was not to be. Maybe LSU will be able to get the Golden Boot back this year even though the game is in Fayetteville.

Most of the game Georgia was ahead either 14 or 7, but thankfully time expired with them ahead by 14.

I am finally back to a winning record against the spread. I was not hopeful about that happening again a couple of weeks ago. My records are now 49-8 picking winners and 25-24 against the spread.


Next Week

I guess for next week I’ll start out with the non-conference games. Lines were taken from the ESPN site on Wednesday to be consistent with other weeks.

BYU is kind of a tough nut to crack. I don’t understand beating Toledo by 2 at home and then running away with a game at Michigan St. Missouri beat BYU last year despite having an awful season, but the game was in Kansas City. I’ll take the Bulldogs and the points, but I’ll pick the Cougars to win.

I think the line has gotten out of control for LSU/Southern Miss. I think it opened at 21. It’s now 25.5. So 31-7, for instance, wouldn’t be good enough. I’ll take the Golden Eagles. LSU has some serious injuries on offense. If they’re up by between 17 and 21 at halftime, I don’t think they’ll be trying too hard to outscore the opponent in the second half.

USM is coming off an ugly road loss, which may have helped to inflate the line, but they did win by 9 at Kentucky earlier in the year. In the other road game a couple of weeks ago, the Golden Eagles beat UTEP 34-7, so last week may have just been an aberration. It could be a blowout, but I think the unnecessary bye week could have put a damper on LSU’s momentum.

Georgia by 14 hosting Vandy is a good line. Vandy is roughly equivalent to South Carolina and this will be between the hedges. I’ll take the Dawgs, who I think have been improving overall.

Alabama is favored by 12.5. I’m thinking they’ll win by 3 to 10 points, somewhere around there.

Florida has looked shaky and as mentioned is banged up. Despite the manhandling LSU gave them, Missouri should be able to keep it much closer. I’ll take the Tigers +13.5.

As mentioned, Arkansas has been a bit flat. Ole Miss was playing very well before the bye week. I think they can win by more than 7.5. I’m sure they want revenge from the last two years. I don’t really understand how in both 2014 and 2015 they lost to Arkansas but beat Alabama, but anyway.

Other Games

I was going to do some kind of preview of other games, but the only thing outside of the SEC that excites me much is Ohio St. @ Wisconsin. So far Ohio St. hasn’t shown any symptoms of having a young, mostly inexperienced team, but the only thing that looked like a major challenge previously was Oklahoma. The Sooners are not nearly as good as they were projected to be though.

Of course Wisconsin beat LSU, although both teams are a lot different now from what they were then. The Badgers had a surprisingly easy victory over Michigan St., another team that has proven not to be very good after making the Playoff last year. The Badgers’ only loss was by 7 @Michigan. The home field may make the difference here as well.

ESPN’s FPI gives the Buckeyes a 71% chance to win. I’d put money on Wisconsin if you gave me 7:3 odds.

The only other non-SEC game I plan to watch is UCLA @ Washington St. Both teams can have fun offenses, although as an SEC fan, I may get frustrated with some of the defensive play. There may be good defensive players, but it’s hard to keep up they barely have time to catch their breath between opponents’ possessions.

Week 1 Preview and SEC Outlook

In College Football, General LSU, History, Preview, Rankings, SEC Wednesdays on September 2, 2016 at 1:23 PM

SEC Wednesdays


Looking back at last year, I did not do a good job at picking against the spread in non-SEC games, so I’m not planning on including those in my totals. If I do really well with them early on, I may change my mind. I was already excluding FCS opponents from my spread games, so I’ll just have more even spread and non-spread categories this way.

I was too busy the last couple of nights to post anything. You’ll have to take my word that I picked South Carolina to win, but I didn’t even look up the point spread before the game, so I’ll score that as a non-spread game. You don’t really have to take my word on Tennessee-Appalachian St., because if I thought they would lose at home to Appalachian St., I certainly would not have ranked them so high.

They can expect to fall a few spots. However, you might remember Michigan’s loss to Appalachian St. in 2007. The Wolverines went on to finish in the top 20 in both polls after beating a very good Florida team in the CapitalOne Bowl. Make the Appalachian St. game a close win rather than a loss, and maybe they finish in the top 10. Also, I suspect Appalachian St. recruiting has improved a bit since that Michigan upset, so this is probably a much better team than the one Michigan faced. Let’s not forget that Appalachian St. won 11 games last season.

Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs fumbles in OT.  The ball was recovered for what turned out to be the winning TD.

Tennessee QB Joshua Dobbs fumbles in OT. The ball was recovered for what turned out to be the winning TD.

Yes, it was a fluke that Tennessee got that winning touchdown, but the Volunteers had some bad luck too. A muffed punt set up the first Mountaineer touchdown, and Tennessee also had a drive deep into Mountaineer territory that ended in an interception. Take out either of those events, and the overtime touchdown probably wouldn’t have been necessary because there wouldn’t have been an overtime. Of course the Vols do need to improve in a hurry (including eliminating those key mistakes) to have a good season, but I don’t think their struggles were due to any talent deficit as compared to expectations.

Obviously today isn’t a Wednesday, but this will be a weird week anyway since all the games won’t be completed until Monday. I will have my rankings on Tuesday, god willing, and I like to have separate them by a day. So next time expect the big SEC post to be on Thursday, and afterward, I’ll plan to transition to Wednesday.

On to the predictions for upcoming games…

Wisconsin should test LSU’s 52-game non-conference regular-season winning streak. I would probably take the Badgers with the points though.

Arkansas to beat Louisiana Tech. Not much to say there, although I would probably take the points there as well.

Mississippi St. might struggle with South Alabama similar to Tennessee’s performance, but again I have to go with the SEC team at home. I would definitely take the 28 points though.

I won’t do that with Missouri-West Virginia though. The Tigers looked pretty bad at the end of last year despite the BYU win (they lost the rest of the final 7 games of the year). West Virginia hasn’t been abundantly consistent under Dana Holgorsen, but inconsistent is better than consistently weak. It’s a good line, but I think the chances are the ‘eers will beat it.

UCLA didn’t end last season particularly well. Neither did Texas A&M, but I’ll give the edge to the home team and pick the Aggies. Might as well give the three points.

Georgia will be playing a “neutral” game in the Georgia Dome, but the SEC team usually wins there even if they’re not from northern Georgia. Give the three points as well.

Kentucky beat ULL by a touchdown and needed overtime to beat Eastern Kentucky last year. USM had a six-game winning streak before they ran into Western Kentucky and Washington last year. Kentucky and USM have similar numbers of returning starters. I’ll pick the Golden Eagles. The bottom of the SEC will likely have a loss or two out of conference to someone, so this looks like one of the more likely ones.

Florida should cruise against UMass, but given their struggles with Florida Atlantic last year, who knows? I would not give that many points (36.5).

Alabama seems like an easy pick against USC, but it could be interesting. I picked the Trojans to do well the past two seasons, so maybe the fact that I didn’t this preseason means they’ll be good. I’d take the points there too.

Although Auburn had a disastrous 2012 campaign, the season-opening win for Clemson was huge.

Although Auburn had a disastrous 2012 campaign, the season-opening win for Clemson was huge.

I’ll predict another SEC loss on the Plains. Auburn has to be so much better than they were last year and Clemson has to be so much worse than they were last year in order for the home team to win this one, I just don’t see it happening.

Ole Miss has a good quarterback but not much returning support. I don’t see them knocking off the ’Noles either. Maybe take the points on those last two games though.

So in my preseason rankings, I didn’t show the ranking changes since last year. I’m going to do the adjusted rankings below as the prior rankings, but you can always check out my official un-adjusted ones here.

1 Alabama 1 – #15 USC (Arlington)
2 LSU 11 – #21 Wisconsin (Green Bay)
3 Florida St. 27 – #23 Ole Miss (Monday, Orlando)
4 Oklahoma 6 – @ #18 Houston
5 Clemson 2 – @Auburn
6 Michigan 13 – Hawaii
7 Okie St. 21 – SE Louisiana
8 Utah 10 – Beat Southern Utah, 24-0
9 Iowa 9 – Miami U.
10 Stanford 4 – Kansas St. (today)
11 Tennessee 26 – Beat Appalachian St., 20-13 in OT
12 Georgia 29 – #13 N. Carolina (Atlanta)
13 N. Carolina 24 – #12 Georgia (Atlanta)
14 Arkansas 25 – La. Tech
15 USC 28 – #1 Alabama (Arlington)
16 Wash. St. 30 -E. Washington
17 Miss. St. 20 – S. Alabama
18 Houston 7 – #4 Oklahoma
19 Florida 15 – UMass
20 Mich. St. 3 – Furman (today)
21 Wisconsin 32 – #2 LSU (Green Bay)
22 Oregon 22 – UC-Davis
23 Ole Miss 8 – #3 Florida St. (Monday, Orlando)
24 Ohio St. 5 – Bowling Green
25 TCU 14 – S. Dakota St.

Out of rankings: (12) W. Kentucky, (16) Northwestern, (17) Notre Dame, (18) Navy, (19) Toledo, (23) Baylor

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

Week 10 Top 25 and BCS Mega-Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on November 8, 2011 at 10:17 PM

(Go to the second bold subtitle if you want to skip all the LSU/Alabama stuff. Every time I try to post this, I lose my internet connection, so as I’ve reviewed, I’ve kept thinking of new things to mention.)

LSU/Alabama For the Record

As you might have expected, I’m not quite done talking about LSU/Alabama (since this is the first blog I’ve written since the actual game).

A few notes on the history before I get on my soap box. The last time LSU was in a game where the only scoring was field goal(s), they lost to Alabama, 3-0, in 1979. Alabama won the national championship that year as the only major undefeated and untied team. Going back to 2011, Les Miles moved past Nick Saban in wins against Alabama, 5 to 4 (Miles admittedly leads Saban in losses against Alabama, 2-1). No other coach in LSU history had more than two wins against Alabama, although Bill Arnsparger (1984-86) was an impressive 2-0-1, the tie of course coming in Baton Rouge. If LSU can get past Arkansas, Miles will have a winning record with LSU against every SEC team except for Georgia (1-2). (That would have been true even had LSU lost this game though.) LSU has now won 11 of the last 15 against the Tide in the state of Alabama and 7 of 9 (also 9 of 12) against the Tide overall. Alabama still has leads in the series: 45-25-5 overall, 20-16-2 in Alabama in general, 10-9 in Tuscaloosa, and 25-9-2 in Baton Rouge. The one game missing is a tie in New Orleans. It’s just bizarre that LSU has as many wins in Tuscaloosa in this series as in Baton Rouge despite playing about half as many games in Tuscaloosa. The two teams are tied in their last 31 games (15-15-1), their last 29 games (14-14-1), their last 27 games (13-13-1), and their last 22 games (11-11) against one another. One more thing: LSU now leads in overtimes in the series, 2-1. The Tigers had won in 2005 (in Tuscaloosa, of course) and lost in 2008 (in Baton Rouge, of course).

I’ve seen some criticisms of this year’s LSU/Alabama game that claimed that the defenses weren’t really so great, the offenses were just bad. I guess in that case, in every no-hitter in baseball history, the batting was just bad.

The fact that there were four interceptions thrown is somehow proof that the defense wasn’t that good? Well, the two interceptions thrown by Alabama would have been completions against your average BCS-conference defenders (especially against Oklahoma St. or Kansas St.), and one of them probably would have been a touchdown. Jarrett Lee threw one interception all year, a pass that basically amounted to a punt against Mississippi St. He doesn’t throw two in this game if Alabama doesn’t make him extremely uncomfortable. He was used to being able to resort to his “checkdown” receiver when someone wasn’t open downfield, but the Alabama linebackers were too good to allow that. And the reason Jefferson did better than Lee did is because they couldn’t allow the linebackers to fall back into coverage as easily given Jefferson’s ability to spread out the field and run.

A low-scoring game does not mean there weren’t sustained drives and good scoring opportunities. There were those things. For example, LSU had a 40-yard drive late in the fourth quarter, but that possession had started on the 5. Why did it start on the 5? Alabama punted after a 30-yard drive of their own. So why didn’t that drive put Alabama in better field position? Brad Wing’s 72-yard punt. Why was LSU so backed up before that punt? Eric Reid intercepted a ball at the 1. The offense of one team repeatedly did enough to bury the other team deep in its own territory (although Alabama didn’t do this as often as it perhaps should have due to long field-goal attempts). And how can you call that a boring game when it was tied in the fourth quarter through all these great plays and potential game-winning drives? The defenses basically put up a wall when it came time for the offenses to potentially make a game-changing play. That’s not simply offensive ineptitude.

Of course, there were some stupid penalties, but that takes place in big games all the time, especially in college. The back-of-the-helmet-grabbing penalty (I don’t know if you call that a facecollar or a horsemask or what) actually wasn’t that bad of a penalty, because I don’t know if LSU would have gotten the tackle (at least it may have been many yards downfield) without grabbing at the head and shoulder area. Of course the substitution penalty by Alabama and the pre-punt-return mugging by LSU were inexcusable, but these are young men with the average age of about 20, and it was a very tense, frustrating sort of game, so I don’t think that’s evidence of offensive ineptitude (of course the latter was a special-teams penalty anyway) or an indictment of either team overall. And I think it was tense and frustrating enough that even the coaches lost focus with some of the play-calling and decision-making.

Also, someone on the Alabama sidelines should have been making sure something like the substitution infraction didn’t take place. Alabama also had a similar penalty in the first quarter (which also helped put the Tide out of field-goal range, but don’t forget that in both cases, the LSU defense also helped out with tackles for a loss). LSU had a few pre-snap penalties as well, but a good defense will cause those at times. One of them was an illegal shift, which resulted from an effort to gain an advantage on the defense when those were obviously hard to come by. I think the only thing I didn’t cover was a couple of holding penalties, but every game has those—maybe they’re called, maybe not, but they’re there.

There were 32 first downs in the game. By comparison, there were 37 in the Arkansas-South Carolina game, which the Hogs won, 44-28. Also, there was a good mix of run and pass in this game. In yards gained, there was a total of 290 passing yards and 244 rushing yards. Attempts favored rushing of course, but for Alabama even that was close, 29 passing attempts against 31 rushing attempts. The difference in the game, as expected by commentators and coaches alike, was a few big plays and special teams, but that’s not to say nothing else was going on. As stated earlier, those plays are less meaningful without enough offense to set them up.

Ratings/Rankings Commentary

To transition to my ratings, I didn’t have Alabama #2 going into this. They had fallen to #3 due to the bye week. But if I had voted this week, I think I would have put them #2. I watched most of the K-State/OSU game, and that just wasn’t at the same level. Oklahoma’s game against K-State might have been at that level, but that’s the only example I can think of. Maybe we’ll see if Stanford can come up with a similar game this weekend. As to the chorus of complaints from commentators too lazy to actually do research about these teams they think are mistreated by the computers, Stanford’s opponents have an overall winning percentage of 36.7. That’s pretty bad. Alabama’s and Oklahoma St.’s opponents average 52.7%. Even Boise St.’s opponents average 47.6% wins. Oklahoma’s average 55.3%. LSU’s opponents (keep in mind they’re about to play Western Kentucky and Ole Miss) average 61.2%. This doesn’t require a mysterious sophistical formula to explain. I don’t think you consider who these teams are going to play until they play them, and the BCS computers do not do this either.

So that’s nice that Stanford plays a decent team next week. If they win, they’ll get credit for that. They’ll also get credit for Notre Dame, which isn’t to Oregon’s level, but it’s better than a bye week, Ole Miss, Western Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Iowa St., or New Mexico. UCLA does count for significantly less than Iowa St. right now, but they won’t if they win their remaining games in order to capture the Pac-12 South and Iowa St. Cal is in a virtual tie with Iowa St., and Arizona St. (the other possibility in the Pac-12 championship game) is significantly ahead of Iowa St. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. have bye weeks in addition to playing the Cyclones anyway, although the winner of that game stands to gain a good bit to make up for it.

As a side note, this is part of the reason why we have a human element and a computer element. I don’t believe there is a good way to input final scores into a computer. The only way to fairly consider that is as part of a human system where you can also see and consider the circumstances in which those points are scored. But obviously human rankings have too much bias, and I think silly unofficial rules about not moving teams down if they win and keeping teams ranked basically according to preseason rankings. There is also an unfair forgiveness phenomenon when teams like USC and Oklahoma lost to the likes of Stanford and Colorado a few years ago. Also, at times, there can be too much focus on a couple of recent games instead of the overall course of the season.

If anything, I believe human ratings carry too much weight, but then an even greater percentage of football coverage would be taken up by whiny commentators who are too self-important and ignorant for basic math, not to mention the kind of formulas we get in the individual BCS computers. They also forget that part of the rules forbids the computers from considering any kind of margin of victory. So if Texas Tech is in the top 50 (where I have them), they might scratch their heads and talk about what Iowa St. did in Lubbock and how lucky the Red Raiders were to beat Oklahoma, but the computers are only allowed to consider loss vs. Iowa St. and win vs. Oklahoma. There also isn’t room for Andrew Luck’s stats in there (by the way, I don’t know what his numbers were, but he didn’t pass the eye test in the last two weeks anyway). There needs to be a hype-free, emotion-free element in there, and I don’t think 1/3 (even lower than the percenage of games won by Stanford’s opponents thus far) is enough.

Anyway, with that in mind, it looks like a one-loss Alabama team (or Arkansas team) that doesn’t make the SEC Championship game isn’t realistically going to pass up a one-loss Oklahoma team. But to give you an idea of how far the teams are separated, #3 Oklahoma is about as close to #1 LSU as they are to #15 Michigan. The Sooners are also about as close to their in-state rivals (who are #2) as they are to #8 Clemson. The gap between Boise St. and Oklahoma is 1/10 that between Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. The gap between Alabama and Oklahoma is 1/3 that between Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. I believe this is the first time in the history of my rankings that the #1 team this late in the season is in the top 5 of my strength of schedule ratings, which are typically dominated by teams with losing records.

Alabama at least has a good chance to pass up Boise St. and may pass up the loser of Bedlam (for BCS purposes, Tide fans should cheer for the Sooners, although that may not help their ranking for me). Although I would have voted Alabama #2 last week, I think that’s a reasonable place for them to be. I have no plans to tinker with my formula to change any of that. Penn St. was a good team out of conference, but Kent St., North Texas, and Georgia Southern are just too weak of a remaining non-conference slate to pick up Alabama’s other games. Don’t forget that the “Big XII” has a 9-game conference schedule now, so that makes it harder to play three weaklings out of conference for those teams even if they wanted to. Also, right now, Tulsa (with losses to only Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Boise St.) doesn’t qualify. It wouldn’t surprise me that if Stanford wins out, they might pass up Alabama too (probably in the BCS as well), since there would be one extra game, and as referenced Stanford’s worst remaining opponent is Cal (or possibly UCLA, but somehow, having watched local games and sports shows from time to time over the past 7 years, I believe UCLA will not make that game).

If LSU wins out, this is probably a moot point for national-championship purposes, but the SEC West teams should probably cheer for Auburn to beat Georgia for a couple of reasons. It would strengthen the value of Auburn, and also it would probably put a better team, South Carolina, in the SEC Championship game. And furthermore, it weakens the argument for Boise St. of course. Another side note: I believe the only prior wire-to-wire #1s in my personal rankings (this is almost impossible in the computer ratings per se…the first few weeks, I’ll keep #1 subjective) was Florida St. in 1999. I had no computer formula of any sort at that time. I didn’t even give them serious thought until 2003.

There MIGHT be a scenario where Alabama can be a #2 to LSU, but it’s remote. Alabama would have to beat Auburn of course. Auburn getting that win over Georgia would be key. If the SEC wins those remaining non-conference games (South Carolina-Clemson, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida St.), that could help. Of course, Oklahoma beating Oklahoma St. might be good (or if Texas Tech could beat Oklahoma St., that might be even better). Oregon (of course a victim to LSU) beating Stanford would help. A Boise St. loss or a loss or losses by Tulsa would probably help too. UCLA making the Pac-12 championship could keep a Pac-12 champion from the North from getting too much credit as well, but might as well cheer for ASU and UCLA both to lose. A late loss by LSU would not have the Tigers #1, but it could put the Tide #1 if enough dominoes fall, and Arkansas (or maybe one-loss LSU) could conceivably be up there too.

This isn’t just for my ratings, but these are things that help tilt the computers in one way or another as well. The computers are only 1/3 of the BCS formula though, so if there is a strong feeling among the voters, generally the voters get what they want.

Other than Oregon, who could at least factor into the top 4 and other BCS thresholds (and who made a good jump of 6 spots, mostly due to others’ losses), I doubt any of the other one-loss potential champions (Clemson, Va. Tech, Penn St., USM) will matter too much in any of this. There wasn’t anything else too surprising about how the ratings came out. Michigan fell a few spots. Nebraska fell many spots. Both are still ranked. Michigan St. fell a spot despite winning, but since they just lost to Nebraska, that’s not a surprise. Arizona St. and North Carolina both lost, so that opened up spots for Cincinnati and TCU. The reason Cincinnati is 22nd instead of 24th is that both Auburn and Georgia Tech had bye weeks. Georgia didn’t really get much credit for beating New Mexico St., but it (combined with other results) was enough to separate them from Georgia Tech as well. It so happens Nebraska’s loss put the Huskers and the Spartans below Georgia. The only other movement of note was Texas, which beat Texas Tech. This was better than the wins by USC (Colorado), Georgia, and Michigan St. (Minnesota).

Full 120

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Okie St. 2
3 Oklahoma 6
4 Boise St. 4
5 Alabama 3
6 Stanford 5
7 Houston 8
8 Clemson 7
9 Oregon 15
10 Va. Tech 9
11 Penn St. 13
12 Arkansas 16
13 S Carolina 12
14 So. Miss. 17
15 Michigan 11
16 Kansas St. 14
17 Texas 23
18 USC 18
19 Georgia 21
20 Mich St. 19
21 Nebraska 10
22 Cincinnati —
23 Ga. Tech 20
24 Auburn 24
25 TCU —

Out of rankings: (22) Arizona St, (25) North Carolina

Prior rankings:

Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Blog note: It might be obscure and/or boring to some, but my series of LSU/Alabama posts led to by far my highest-ever weekend, with 139 views Friday to Sunday (including my highest-ever views for one day, with 68 on Saturday–my previous high was 49). Anyway, thanks for reading.

Week 8 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 24, 2011 at 7:01 PM

This is a weird point in the season for my mathematical ratings as the top 8 teams are all undefeated, and the best one-loss team is Oklahoma at #9. However, this is probably the only week this will happen. If Oklahoma beats Kansas St., and I think almost anyone would expect them to (despite Oklahoma’s loss last week and Kansas St.’s undefeated status), they would add about .15 to their score. A win by Houston over Rice, however, would only add about .03 to their score. Houston currently leads Oklahoma by .027. Also, don’t forget that these ratings are designed to pick the best teams at the top. An undefeated team in most cases will have a better argument for #1 than a team with a loss. However, with dramatically different schedules (like Oklahoma will have after next week and certainly in two weeks), a team with a loss may be higher. Also, it’s much easier for an 11-1 team to get ahead of a 12-0 team than it is for a 6-1 team to get ahead of a 7-0 team. By the way, in Week 10, Houston will play UAB while Oklahoma will play Texas A&M, so that would be another opportunity for Oklahoma to improve its rating significantly as compared to Houston.

As I mentioned last week, Boise St. does not have a very helpful schedule in the next two weeks either with a bye in Week 9 and UNLV in Week 10. Oklahoma St. will play Baylor and then Kansas St. To round out the undefeateds, I think many of us already know what Alabama and LSU will be doing the next two weeks (bye for both, followed by LSU @ Alabama); Clemson will play Georgia Tech, followed by a bye week; I already mentioned Kansas St., with Oklahoma, followed by Oklahoma St. (unlikely, but if they make it to the end of the season undefeated, they might deserve to play in the title game regardless of what anyone else does); and Stanford (who had a more meaningful jump) will play USC, followed by Oregon St.

The Alabama-LSU winner is almost assured #1 and may have a significant lead over #2, but it is possible that due to the bye, Alabama will fall at least one spot in the next ratings before getting that chance. LSU is probably safely #1 until the Alabama game.

Lower down in the rankings, the SEC can’t quite keep a third team in the top 10, but South Carolina is knocking on the door. The Cocks play the Hogs in two weeks, and the winner of that game might have a chance. Not a bad under-card to LSU-Alabama. Virginia Tech may not have much staying power with Duke and a bye week coming up.

Michigan St. made a big jump up by beating Wisconsin, which made a similar leap backwards. Arkansas has slipped with a bye week and then Ole Miss last week, but the Razorbacks should pick it back up if they keep winning. USC has also gone up because not only did they beat Notre Dame, but also Notre Dame had defeated Michigan St., so the Irish count for even more than they would have otherwise. Nothing else of note from 11-20.

Southern Mississippi and Syracuse have mostly been lucky, but they did get quality wins in convincing fashion over the weekend. Auburn is still hanging in there despite the loss to LSU. Arizona St. and Cincinnati backed into the top 25 mostly due to others’ losses. Cincinnati’s schedule thus far doesn’t inspire much confidence, neither does their loss to Tennessee, but sometimes not losing is better than playing a good team. With a win next week, Georgia would probably bypass idle Cincinnati. Despite the win over Oklahoma, Texas Tech still has to recover from its easy early schedule and two losses before last week.

Full 120

Top 25:
rank / team / prior
1 LSU 1
2 Alabama 2
3 Clemson 5
4 Boise St. 3
5 Okie St. 6
6 Kansas St. 7
7 Stanford 12
8 Houston 11
9 Oklahoma 4
10 Va. Tech 9
11 S Carolina 10
12 Michigan 8
13 USC 21
14 Penn St. 14
15 Oregon 17
16 Mich St. 25
17 Nebraska 15
18 Texas A&M 19
19 Arkansas 16
20 Wisconsin 13
21 So. Miss. —
22 Syracuse —
23 Arizona St. —
24 Auburn 20
25 Cincinnati —

Out of rankings: (18) Illinois, (22) Rutgers, (23) Ga. Tech, (24) W Virginia

Prior rankings:

Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1

Blog note: I have already set another new record for number of views in a month, with 500 as of midnight.