theknightswhosay

Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse’

Top 25 after Week 12

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 18, 2018 at 12:52 PM

After relying on my original computer formula for 100% of the list below last week, I just couldn’t do it this week.  I am switching #1 and#2.  Notre Dame has the better schedule for the moment by just a whisker (mostly because the Irish played Michigan),but Southern California (Notre Dame’s next opponent) will have a worse rating than South Carolina (Clemson’s next opponent) next week.  In addition, the Gamecocks (who are already bowl-eligible) will be able to pad their record with a win over Akron on December 1.  The Trojans, assuming they lose, will be done for the season (and ineligible for a bowl).

The Irish looked good, both in uniforms and in playing ability, against Syracuse and became my computer #1. Irish safety Alohi Gilman is pictured intercepting a pass
in Yankee Stadium on Saturday .

One other difference is the last four teams in the list below are the four teams(in order) that appear in the top 20 of my weighted ratings (which better mimic the CFP committee considerations by giving priority to how many of the best teams you play over your average opponent… to the extent the CFP committee is based on wins and losses and an objective evaluation of strength of schedule anyway), but did not appear in the top 20 of my older formulation.  Utah St. was #21 in both, so I thought it made sense to put those teams after the Aggies. If you were curious, the teams omitted as a result of this decision are Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Troy.  It’s three omitted teams instead of four because Missouri would be ranked either way.  The Tigers are just two spots higher this way. 

Syracuse, Auburn, and Northwestern are the three teams in the top 25 of the weighted ratings but not listed below.  Had I followed the weighted ratings exclusively, they would have replaced Texas, Fresno St., and Washington.

A perfectly average SEC team would be ranked #30, so that makes it much easier for the SEC teams to get the extra points awarded in the weighted ratings.  The Big Ten has the second-best average rating, but a perfectly average Big Ten team would only be ranked #48.

Auburn (Alabama’s next opponent) has a very similar rating to South Carolina, so I don’t think the Tide will be able to narrow the gap much if at all.  Alabama may pass up Notre Dame though, another reason not to make the Irish #1 right now.

I normally only use this top 25 blog entry to talk about why the ratings are what they are, but I wanted to make a couple of comments about Alabama.  It’s a coincidence that this demotion comes after their worst first half of the season, but I guess it’s fitting.  I thought LSU should have used the option against Alabama, and I think the Citadel’s performance in the first half supported that idea.  LSU won the 2011 “Game of the Century” by using more option than Alabama expected as well.  Nick Saban said probably none of the Citadel players could play for Alabama (maybe one or two could be decent walk-ons), and it still made them competitive for a while.  That’s not the case with LSU obviously.  Maybe it’s something we can work on in the offseason.  I don’t mean become one of those all-option all-the-time teams that almost never throw the ball (like Georgia Tech and the service academies), but we need ways to spread out defenses like Alabama’s horizontally in order to sustain drives and limit opponents’ possessions.

LSU fell two spots after playing possibly the worst team at the FBS level (they lost to the other candidate, UTEP, but the Owls have faced a stronger schedule).  If Michigan and LSU win next week, the Tigers should move back ahead of the Buckeyes. Washington St. may be ahead for good, although of course the Cougars could lose to Washington or Utah (which clinched the Pac-12 South).  Oklahoma and Georgia could also suffer losses in the next two weeks.  In my weighted ratings, LSU is still #6 behind Michigan. 

RankTeamPrev.
1Clemson2
2Notre Dame3
3Alabama1
4Georgia4
5Michigan5
6Oklahoma6
7Ohio St.8
8Wash St.9
9LSU7
10C. Florida12
11Kentucky18
12Boise St.13
13Texas16
14Penn St.11
15Florida14
16Utah21
17W. Virginia10
18Fresno St.
19Washington20
20Army17
21Utah St.22
22Texas A&M
23Missouri
24S Carolina
25Miss. St.

Out of Top 25: (15) Cincinnati, (19) Buffalo, (23) Duke, (24) UAB, (25) Iowa St.

Advertisements

Top 25 after Week 5

In College Basketball, College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 2, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Before I begin, I know I missed the midweek blog. I had a baseball fantasy team (I won the championship of 10-team league), but that’s obviously over. I had a couple of other obligations last week as well.

I also should mention that I was sad to hear the news about LSU basketball player Wayde Sims. It’s going to hurt the team, but that’s a small consideration compared to a life cut short like that. I’ve lost a couple of other people prematurely who were important in different ways to my sports fandom in other Septembers, so I’m always glad for September for the cooler weather to commence.

Speaking of cooler weather, that’s usually when the Ole Miss game is played, but it was early this year. Here is the updated information about the LSU/Ole Miss series. I don’t have a whole lot to say about the game though. It was sloppy on both sides, but LSU just has a lot more talent. There were a couple of fumbles, but Ole Miss had a lot more penalties than LSU did (one of which negated a fumble), so it balanced out. It was nice for Burrow to do well statistically, although I’m not sure how well the land plankton compare to other SEC defenses. I plan to talk about the upcoming Florida game later this week. I heard an interesting discussion about it today that I’ll talk about as well.

LSU QB Joe Burrow accounted for 388 total yards against Ole Miss.

If you didn’t notice, I did complete my first official computer rankings of the year. I’m obviously not following them exactly in this list, but there were only two teams below whom I moved more than 4 spots. The first was Auburn, which I thought belonged one spot ahead of Washington, which it beat. The Plains Tigers just have low-value wins like Alabama St., Southern Miss, and Arkansas that makes their computer numbers look relatively bad. The second was Central Florida, who has a 17-game winning streak and lost out on potential points due to the hurricane. I will not move either team as much next week or in future weeks though.

There will probably be only a handful of deviations overall from the computer order next week. Some people have been confused about why I change the approach from week to week, but I just think people don’t realize the transition in other mediums. You start with preseason, which is only about how good you think teams will be, maybe with a little bit of consideration for how good they were in prior years. Then when it comes to bowls and the playoff, you want to exclusively base it on how well a team did this season.

You can’t make that transition and approach each week the exact same, but the polls tend to have this arrested development where they try to do that. I imagine them thinking, “I moved team A up 5 spots because they beat team B last week, and team B was in the top 10.” They’ll do that just as much in November as in September. They don’t think back and wonder if team B was only in the top 10 because of what they did this season or not, and then if team B loses to several other teams they don’t take away the extra credit they gave team A. They only reevaluate when it gets right to the end. I don’t understand what they’re waiting for.

I won’t have as much to say about my decision-making process going forward. Where I do make decisions I’m mostly just trying to provide a smooth transition from subjective to objective. It’s going to be more about why the computer formula reacts to input the way it does.

I will talk about the top teams a bit. I didn’t want to move LSU up another spot until they do something more impressive than beating Ole Miss at home. Ohio St. had a better win than Clemson did Saturday, but I’m no longer holding the closeness of the win over Texas A&M against them. The computer had the orange Tigers a good bit higher, so I followed that. Notre Dame is playing well just in time (and I believe Stanford is also better than Syracuse), so I’m now willing to look past the close final scores early on. Those are two examples of how margin of victory won’t really factor in going forward.

I’ve talked about Army and Duke in the last couple of weeks. Duke beat Army, so even though the Blue Devils lost and the Cadets won in big games last week, I decided they were close enough to put the winning team (especially with one fewer loss) ahead.

I’ll just briefly address the other new teams on this list. West Virginia held on in Lubbock to remain undefeated, which I considered in giving them an extra boost here. Florida had a good win in Starkville. I’m still skeptical of North Carolina St. and Indiana, but as I explained objective numbers are taking more of a role now. Indiana doesn’t get much credit for beating Rutgers, but it has moved up as other teams have lost or are no longer receiving extra subjective credit and did too well in the computer ratings to put lower. North Carolina St. got a numerically helpful win against Virginia and is undefeated. The Wolfpack and the Hoosiers are the only two teams to beat the Cavaliers, but we will see if that means anything soon (when Virginia plays U. Miami and Duke in the next two weeks).

Apart from Michigan, all the teams who fell out lost. The Wolverines are getting a lot of credit in other places for beating winless Nebraska (partly due to margin of victory). That doesn’t count for much here. Northwestern, the team they barely beat on Saturday, is 1-3 and lost to Akron. By the way, that’s an example of margin of victory the other direction. One reason I’m not that far away from many rankings who consider margin of victory is it tends to balance out. Anyway, I just didn’t see the logic in putting Michigan ahead of any team on this list, but they’re still close to the top 25.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 8
3 Clemson 7
4 LSU 4
5 Georgia 2
6 Ohio St. 3
7 Oklahoma 6
8 Kentucky 12
9 Stanford 5
10 NC State —
11 W. Virginia —
12 Auburn 10
13 Washington 21
14 Penn St. 9
15 Duke 11
16 Texas 22
17 Indiana —
18 Army —
19 S Florida —
20 Okie St. 24
21 Wisconsin 15
22 Florida —
23 U. Miami 20
24 Maryland 25
25 C. Florida 16

Out of Top 25: (13) UC-Berkeley, (14) BYU, (17) Michigan, (18) Miss. St., (19) S Carolina, (23) Texas Tech

Top 25 after Week 4

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on September 23, 2018 at 1:21 PM

LSU had a good first 22 minutes and a good fourth quarter against Louisiana Tech, but it’s concerning to give up 21 consecutive points to two opponents in a row.

Apart from the touchdown drive at the end of the first half against Southeastern (SLU), LSU has not played well around halftime and the third quarter in any of its first four games.

The Tigers were way out in front of U. Miami and SLU; but in the case of U. Miami, ending a game with no touchdowns in your last 8 drives (not counting the kneel-down at the end) isn’t desirable in my opinion no matter what the score is. LSU may have been shut out in the second half against SLU if they had not recovered a fumble at the SLU 18 late in the fourth quarter.

The troubles started against Auburn after about a quarter and a half instead of two quarters, and that’s the same thing that happened against the Bulldogs on Saturday. We were up 24 against the Bulldogs instead of the 10-point lead at Auburn, but the play from that point until the fourth quarter was similar with identical results (outscored 21-0 in both instances). So there is a wide range of teams that could blow out LSU if the Tigers were to play like that for a full game. To look on the bright side, LSU could probably beat anyone if they eliminate that mid-game lag.

If the Tigers don’t play better, they may well lose the next game against Ole Miss. See here for more about that rivalry.

That said, I don’t see anyone other than LSU I want to put #4. Clemson’s game against Texas A&M and Oklahoma’s game against Army were more concerning, and no one has the pair of top-10 wins the Tigers have.

I thought about dropping Ohio St. due to not having played anyone except a team that just got beaten soundly by Texas, but I may have gotten some flak if the first three teams were all in the SEC. The Buckeyes’ strength of schedule should improve significantly in the next two weeks though, so I’ll leave them where they are for now.

Army’s ground game and ball control were almost enough to beat Oklahoma in Norman on Saturday.

I know I ranked Army #25 last week, but that’s not really a good excuse for Oklahoma to go into overtime against the Knights/Cadets at home. After an uninspired win at Iowa St. the week before, I’m not really feeling the Sooners right now. I’m phasing out the feeling element of this as I always do in late September, but going solely by the numbers wouldn’t even put OU in the top 10. I haven’t been impressed with other Big XII teams either, but the toughest games may be away from home: TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Texas (in Dallas). The remaining home schedule is Baylor, Kansas St., Oklahoma St., and Kansas.

Auburn didn’t do anything wrong; but even assuming they win next week, 3 of their four wins will be Alabama St. (who has lost by at least 34 to every Division I opponent), Arkansas (who probably still won’t have any FBS wins), and Southern Mississippi (whose only FBS win is over Rice). It’s just time to start factoring in strength of schedule more. Auburn has Georgia and Alabama later of course, but they won’t get credit until they play one of them.

Central Florida, the (AU) Tigers’ opponents in the Peach Bowl, and Michigan were even further from a ranking in my formula, so they dropped more.

Mississippi St. lost to a team I already had ranked, so I thought a 10-spot drop was enough even though the Bulldogs are also not on my computer list.

After that, I knew which teams I wanted to rank (they were all selected from the top 25 of my computer), but when I couldn’t decide the order, I just ranked them by how good the teams who beat them are. For instance, Texas Tech and Maryland (which beat Texas before the Longhorns’ big wins of the past two weeks) had lost to unranked teams. Ole Miss (which beat Texas Tech) has only lost to Alabama, and Temple (which beat Maryland) lost two games, one of which was to Villanova—and it wasn’t in basketball—so that was pretty easy to sort out. I think Oklahoma St. lost to a better team than Texas Tech did, but I couldn’t put the Cowboys ahead of a team who just beat them 41-17 in Stillwater.

The five teams that are in the computer top 25 but not in this one are (in order): Buffalo (beat Temple; see above for discussion about Maryland and Texas), Indiana (lost to Michigan St. but is the only team to beat Virginia), Michigan St. (beat Indiana, although the Spartans lost to Arizona St.), San Diego St. (beat Arizona St., only loss is to Stanford), and North Carolina St. (nothing too special, but they are the only team to have beaten James Madison or Marshall; they play Virginia next).

San Diego St. has a bye week, so they will be staying out; but any of the others could make it in by winning. I know it sounds silly, but this is especially true of Buffalo, which plays Army. Who knew New York could field decent college football teams, not to mention (possibly) three of them? The third is undefeated Syracuse, who fell just a few spots outside of the top 25 and will attempt to beat Clemson for the second year in a row on Saturday.

rank/team/prev.
1 Alabama 1
2 Georgia 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 LSU 5
5 Stanford 6
6 Oklahoma 4
7 Clemson 7
8 Notre Dame 12
9 Penn St. 11
10 Auburn 9
11 Duke 15
12 Kentucky 24
13 UC-Berkeley 18
14 BYU 19
15 Wisconsin 20
16 UCF 13
17 Michigan 14
18 Miss. St. 8
19 S Carolina —
20 U. Miami —
21 Washington —
22 Texas —
23 Texas Tech —
24 Okie St. 10
25 Maryland —

Out of Top 25:
(16) Minnesota, (17) Iowa, (21) Boise St., (22) TCU, (23) Indiana, (25) Army

LSU-Auburn Recap and Notes

In College Football, General LSU, History, Post-game, Preview on September 19, 2018 at 1:50 PM

I wanted to address something before going into detail about the LSU-Auburn game. I saw some Auburn fans were incensed about the pass interference (PI) calls during the game; but honestly, the referees didn’t even call all of them. They also apparently had double standards (in Auburn’s favor) about what constitutes a taunting. The referees missed some holding calls too (probably on both sides), but no officiating staff can call every hold. The ones they did call were obvious, but I’m sure some Auburn fans complained about those too.

In the less egregious of the two PIs that were called on the final drive, the defender grabbed the receiver’s elbow before the ball arrived. It wasn’t one of those hand-check PI calls: it hindered the receiver’s ability to catch the ball. The receiver wasn’t tackled or anything, and defenders can get away with worse at times; but there are few if any officials who would have seen that play well and not called it. Earlier in the game, there was another PI call that was borderline uncatchable, but it has to be clearly uncatchable to overrule an interference. The interference took place right as the ball was being released, so it was very hard to say where the receiver would have ended up had the interference (it may have even been holding) not occurred.

I know coaches are careful to avoid saying anything that may result in a fine, but both head coach Gus Malzahn and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele (formerly LSU’s defensive coordinator) deserve credit for properly placing the blame on the way the plays were called and executed. I agree with them that the important thing is LSU made plays with the game on the line and Auburn didn’t.

The only thing I would quibble with is Steele blamed the coverage on the 71-yard touchdown play. Someone may have been a yard out of place; but I think it was mostly just a good offensive play, and no one could catch Derrick Dillon. He had four players right near him when he caught the ball, so the coverage couldn’t have been that bad. He and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow just saw and succeeded at hitting the small space on the field the defense left open. The whole field can’t be covered at all times, especially with LSU running or throwing very short passes on first down most of the time.

LSU WR Derrick Dillon catches a touchdown pass (what would be a touchdown pass after a sprint to the end zone anyway) over the outstretched arms of Auburn LB Deshaun Davis in the fourth quarter on Saturday in Auburn.

It’s been since the mid-1990s (that’s before Saban arrived in Baton Rouge) that either LSU or Auburn beat a team that would finish with a winning record in a road game in this series. LSU won such a game in 1995, and Auburn won one in 1997. When Auburn won in 1999 and when LSU won in 2008 and 2012, the wins came against teams that would finish with losing records and fired head coaches. So in all likelihood, this is one of the best teams to lose at home in the history of the series.

Another historical note: this was the first time since 1993 that LSU won on the road with the other team favored by 10 points or more. That was up the road in Tuscaloosa when a Tiger team that would finish with a losing record (one of six consecutive LSU teams to do so) beat the defending national champions, who had not lost a game in almost 26 months.

I know coaches take things one game at a time, but I don’t have to. I’m not going to pretend to take Louisiana Tech just as seriously as Auburn, so before talking about the next opponent in detail, I wanted to talk more about what I’m looking forward to the rest of the season as a whole. As I said in the last blog, I’m not convinced that LSU is all of a sudden a title contender, even for the SEC title, but I’m confident that the Tigers will return to a bowl game with a winning record already secured. Whether that will be 7 wins or 11 wins, I’m not quite sure. ESPN’s FPI gives LSU a 0.1% chance of winning all of its remaining games. I’m not sure it’s that low, but it’s low enough not to worry about right now.

The Tigers are given a 0.7% chance of winning the conference. That’s about 142:1. I’m not rich, but I’d put down $100 right now if you give me those odds.

Anyway, as to the number of wins, I like LSU’s chances at Arkansas and at home against Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, and Rice. That’s how I get to 7. Even if we somehow lose one of those, I don’t think every other team (at Florida, Mississippi St., Georgia, Alabama, at Texas A&M) would beat us, so even falling to 7-5 (which would mean a 4-5 finish) probably won’t happen either.

I believe there is value to using computer systems, but I think descriptive ones (where you just value results so far) are better than predictive ones (where you try to calculate odds of winning). Anyway, I think the FPI I mentioned isn’t giving LSU enough credit.

It puts the Florida game as almost 50/50. I did think Florida was going to win that game going into the season, but I was worried about LSU’s inexperience. As I said in the last blog, the Auburn and U. Miami wins show that being young isn’t a huge problem even if those are the only really good wins away from home for the whole season. Florida’s 27-16 home loss to Kentucky shows their experience isn’t quite as helpful as I thought it might be. I’m not sure how the FPI works, but it doesn’t seem to take new information on board as well as it should.

The FPI also gives Mississippi St. a 57.5% chance of winning at Tiger Stadium. I expect a tough game, but I really don’t see Mississippi St. on the road being tougher than Auburn at home. The Bulldogs did beat LSU easily last year, but I think that was an LSU team that clearly wasn’t ready for SEC play in a tough road environment. They weren’t even ready for a good Sun Belt opponent at home. We will learn more about Mississippi St. after the Bulldogs play Kentucky and Florida though.

If Mississippi St. is being held against LSU because of last year, why isn’t last year being held against Texas A&M? The Aggies haven’t beaten LSU since the 1990s, and they’re given about a 63% chance of winning this year. A&M looked good against Clemson (in a loss); but Syracuse looked just as good against Clemson last year (actually better because they won), and where did that get the Orange? Obviously one game isn’t proof of how the whole season is going to go, or LSU’s two big wins are proof that the Tigers will win at least 10 games.

There isn’t too much to say about Louisiana Tech, but I hope we take them seriously. There isn’t much difference between a team like that and a team like Troy. The Bulldogs don’t have as many key wins (last beating an SEC team, Ole Miss, in 2011, after beating Mississippi St. in 2008), but the Bulldogs have made bowl games for 4 consecutive years and qualified for them in 6 of 8 years. They’ve played the following Power-5 teams within one possession, all on the road: South Carolina (2017), Arkansas (2016), Kansas St. (2015), Kansas (2013), Mississippi St. (2011), and LSU (2009). The Bulldogs have also beaten Illinois twice over that span. In 2011, Tech narrowly lost the Pointsettia Bowl to TCU, which finished 11-2 that year. In 2007, Tech lost to Hawaii at home by a single point. That Hawaii team suffered its only loss for the season in the Sugar Bowl.

Louisiana Tech RB Daniel Porter throws a touchdown pass to give the Bulldogs a 13-10 lead as time expires in the second quarter in Baton Rouge in 2009.

This is the first LSU-Louisiana Tech game since the 24-16 LSU win in 2009, which was only the third game in the series since the start of World War II. LSU is 18-1 all time with the only Tiger loss coming in 1904 (one of only five to be played in Ruston; there was one game on a neutral field). LSU has won by as much as 71, which they did in 1930. Since 1914, every game in the series (including this one) has been in Baton Rouge.

Coach O Makes the Right Decisions, Confuses Media Narrative

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on October 17, 2017 at 3:23 PM

Setting of the Game and Media Commentary

This season the Tigers lost at home to a non-conference opponent for the first time since 2000, Nick Saban’s first season, and lost at Mississippi St. for the first time since 1999. I was bracing for another such loss being that 1999 was the last time they lost at home to Auburn, but somehow they escaped.

That was known as the Cigar Game, by the way. Tommy Tuberville and company smoked cigars after the game even though LSU was pathetic that year. Tuberville beat basically the same LSU team when he was at Ole Miss the year before (and his predecessor Terry Bowden had won in Baton Rouge in 1997), but he wanted to act like he accomplished something special. Maybe we can call it the Cigar Curse if this keeps up. Maybe Auburn can hire Tubs back and he can defeat his own curse. Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, and Terry Bowden can be his assistants.

Auburn players celebrate after the Cigar Game in 1999. LSU has had its longest home winning streak against Auburn in the years since.

Back to the present, I’m annoyed that no matter what LSU does they’re going to be insulted the rest of the year. They could win out, and people like Paul Feinbaum will still say, “same old LSU, win the games they’re not supposed to and lose the games they should have won.”

There were a lot of ups and downs in terms of talent and whatnot between 2005 and 2016, when Les Miles was the head coach. Whatever happens this season, you can’t say this is some kind of permanent condition going forward. Miles had especially difficult years in 2008 and 2014. Whether it was Miles or Orgeron, this would be another year like those two in terms of experience (although there is a bit more experience at the QB position), but we may not end up with five or even four losses. (Technically, finishing with two losses is possible; but that would require not only winning the rest of the games on the schedule but also winning at least the SEC Championship and a bowl game.)

I’m not worried though, keep up the low expectations. I don’t think the 2003 team was nearly as good as the 2007 and 2011 teams, but no one saw the 2003 performance coming. I think that was preferable.

Auburn and Florida Rivalries

I didn’t realize this going in, but this was actually the first competitive LSU-Auburn game in Tiger Stadium since 2007. That was when LSU only needed a field goal to win, but Matt Flynn threw a touchdown to Demetrius Byrd that was caught with about 3 seconds left (although the ensuing kickoff was with 1 second left). Appropriately enough, the 2007 team was in attendance on Saturday. The 2007 game came two years after an overtime win by LSU which resulted from multiple missed field goals by Auburn.

It was nice to get another close win against Auburn in light of the 4-point loss in 1994 (the disaster on the plains), the 1-point loss in 2004 (the extra point game), the 4-point loss in 2006 (Refgate), the 7-point loss in 2010 (I don’t think it had a nickname; it was just a good close game on the way to Auburn’s national championship), and the 5-point loss last season (I guess we can call it the end of an era since it was Les Miles’ last game). The other games mentioned in this paragraph were all at Auburn, where LSU has only won twice since 1998.

This was the first year since 1980 in which LSU beat Auburn and Florida with at least one of those wins coming on the road. Just like this year, there were also wins at Florida and at home against Auburn that season. That year was the last of four consecutive LSU wins against Florida, which has not been repeated since then. LSU has won 6 of 8 against the Gators and 3 of the last 4 in Gainesville though. All three of those wins in Gainesville were decided in the final moments, and this was the ninth LSU-Florida game since (and including) 2004 that was decided by one possession.

Before the loss to LSU, Florida had won 14 of 15 home games and 10 of the last 11 decided by 8 points or fewer (with the previous close loss coming to LSU in 2015). Now both LSU and Texas A&M have won close games in the Swamp (by 1 and 2 points respectively) in consecutive weeks. The Gators’ remaining home games this season are against UAB and Florida St.

For more on these series, see the Auburn and Florida rivalry blogs.

LSU-Auburn Game Recap and Analysis

So I’ve talked about pundits and I’ve talked about historical significance. I’d like to talk a little more about Saturday’s game and what I think brought about the result.

I’ve mentioned this is still a young inexperienced team, but let’s recap a couple of things they have seen in recent weeks. As we have been reminded dozens of times now, yes, they lost to Troy, but let’s look at that.. Troy was up 17-0 in the second half. Had it been 17-0 at halftime, maybe LSU wins. Had the coaching staff not panicked a bit by calling an onsides kick only halfway through the fourth quarter, the Tigers may have completed the comeback. Also, after the Tigers’ initial touchdown, Troy scored again and still led by 17 well into the fourth quarter.

There was another home game where it was the opposite situation. It was LSU who seemed to have the game in control and what was an 18-point LSU lead with 20 minutes left in the game became a 28-26 lead with 5 minutes left in the game. So if Syracuse can reduce a lead by 16 points in 15 minutes on the road and LSU can reduce a lead by 14 points in 6 minutes in a nearly-empty stadium, 42 ½ minutes (especially with a nearly-full stadium) should have seemed like plenty of time to close a 20-point gap. Nine points in 30 minutes? Easy.

Florida isn’t exactly analogous, but there were two things to take from that as well. The first is LSU had the lead and despite an anemic offense, the defense realized (according to Orgeron anyway) that if Florida didn’t score over the last 17 minutes they couldn’t win. The other point was that it only took 6 minutes to close the gap from 17-3 to 17-16.

I think having Syracuse, Troy, and Florida in consecutive weeks was more than enough for this team to know there was no reason to give up hope.

I don’t agree with many commentators that the turning point was the punt return. That is what made it a 2-point game. What about the plays that made it only a 9-point lead before that?

The first important thing was the LSU defense drawing the line at the 20-yardline so Auburn didn’t go ahead 24-0.

I’ve been a critic, including in this blog, of some of Orgeron’s decisions, but like when Les Miles called 5 fourth-down attempts against Florida in the 2007 season, he made (in hindsight anyway) the right call time after time.

Russell Gage’s 70-yard run helped set up the Tigers’ first score.

When LSU got the ball back, some would have said to just take the field goal “to get some points on the board” facing a fourth and goal down 20-0, but he went for it. I doubt he called the play, but he certainly didn’t object when the jet sweep was called even though Auburn had been covering that particular play.

It’s hard to narrow it down to one decision before the half, but the Tigers played for the touchdown (not for a field goal as some recent offensive coordinators would have done), but they did it in such a way that the touchdown (or perhaps short field goal had it been necessary) was scored with less than a minute left. I’m not going to pretend I knew we had a win at that point, but I had resigned myself to being down 13 or 14 at the half (after the first touchdown; I was of course more pessimistic before that). I was honestly excited that we only ended up down 9.

After LSU punted in its first three possessions of the second half and the previous punt couldn’t even be downed before rolling into the end zone, another punt had to be hard to call at the Auburn 36. This was the possession after Malzahn lost his nerve before a 4th and 1 at midfield. LSU didn’t really have a good chance of converting, but some coaches might have tried the long field goal even though it was a likely miss just to say they tried to take the lead. Had LSU lost, that would have been a criticism. Then the special teams came through and downed the ball at the 3.

LSU did have to take the points on the next possession. Despite the field goal woes, 42 yards was close enough that they had to try for the lead even though it was 4th and 1.

Another right decision. Malzahn had to be the one to answer questions about his fourth-down decisions after the game. Why go on 4th and 10 but not on 4th and 1? Did you not believe your defense could stop LSU all the same without giving them the ball in field goal position?

On the final drive though, LSU finally did play for a field goal. It’s like a sacrifice in baseball. They give you an out at first base, throw it to first base. Don’t do anything crazy. Orgeron could have tried for a touchdown Mad-Hatter-style; but even though LSU had been down most of the day, when you have the lead you act like you can keep the lead.

Of course it make it easier to come back without penalties and turnovers that continued to haunt the Tigers in the second half against Troy, but those coaching decisions were key in this game.

The Future

A new pet peeve after the game is that Gus Malzahn said multiple times that Auburn controls its own destiny, and this was accepted without question by the media. Actually, someone at Auburn might have heard it during the game broadcast. If LSU and Auburn each finish with one loss, what happens? Spoiler alert: Auburn doesn’t represent the West. I don’t know how that many people who get paid to do so don’t bother to think for themselves.

I’m not saying LSU is going to beat Alabama, but it would be less strange than losing to Troy or beating Auburn after being down 20 points. It would be less strange than Syracuse beating Clemson.

LSU is given a 65% chance or greater (in ESPN’s FPI formula anyway) to win each of their remaining games except against Alabama. Auburn is given a 52% chance to beat Georgia and a 75% chance to beat A&M, but I’m not buying either one. If I put $100 on A&M to beat Auburn at home, you’re really going to give me $300 back if they do so? I also don’t think Auburn is 5 times as likely to beat Alabama as LSU is.

Anyway, another big rivalry game next week. After these last few games, I’m looking forward to the bye week though.

SYR @ LSU & Week 5 Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on September 24, 2017 at 6:29 PM

Sorry for the lack of a midweek blog last week, but I’m planning a trip and have a lot of work responsibilities lately. Everything will be back to normal after Columbus Day.

Syracuse @ LSU

I don’t want to write a separate blog about LSU. It took a little while to get the offense going, and then we seemed to be fine; but I think the quarterback substitution was way too premature. Ed Orgeron said he wanted to give Miles Brennan some experience when the game was on the line, but the decision to put Brennan in PUT the game on the line late. When the game was really on the line in the last drive, Danny Etling was put back into the game.

Etling was originally pulled after completing 5 of his last 6 attempts for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Since it was only 21-10 when Brennan entered (and he returned to the field the last time up only 28-19), I thought LSU needed at least a couple more scores before taking the chance.

It briefly looked like the gamble paid off when Brennan’s first drive resulted in a touchdown, but Brennan only completed two short passes. He ended up getting credit for a bunch of passing yards, but that was because Darrel Williams (the main RB for the game) broke into the secondary after a short pass, not because Brennan showed any proficiency throwing the ball down the field. Brennan also threw a pass that could have been intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but it was thankfully dropped.

After Syracuse was forced to punt, the Tigers were then pinned back on their own 1. I’m not sure if Etling would have avoided the safety (possibly with some kind of audible), but I didn’t feel good when I saw Brennan take the field. So that drive resulted in the safety and the next ended in an interception before Brennan was taken out. Meanwhile, Syracuse scored touchdowns on the two intervening possessions to get within 2. I also do not understand why Brennan was in the game the drive after the safety.

LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark scores the deciding touchdown.

On the last touchdown drive, Etling didn’t even attempt a pass, but he did have a crucial 8-yard run on second down, which allowed Nick Brossette to just barely pass the line to gain on the third down. One of OC Matt Canada’s tricky plays finally worked immediately after that when the ball was handed off to Chark in the backfield instead of to the running back, and D.J. Chark went around the left end for the 20-yard touchdown run.

The defense isn’t completely blameless for allowing Syracuse to get close of course, but they kept being put back on the field too quickly. It was also frustrating that there seemed to be a stop on 3rd and 19 when a personal foul was called for roughing the passer. It was just an unnecessary bump. The only good thing to say about that is it was the only LSU penalty that cost more than 5 yards the whole game. The automatic first down was a bigger problem than the yards.

In all, Syracuse was able to keep drives going 10 times after facing a third down (of which they had 19). The Orange had to get two of those on fourth down though. Also, the Orange ended up with 24 first downs to LSU’s 18. This is why Syracuse had a similar time of possession to LSU even though the Tigers won the rushing battle 151-76.

Also, it’s worth noting that LSU has played probably dozens of freshmen, and Syracuse had the most returning starters of any team going into the season. I think that’s one thing that kept them in the game, particularly when LSU intentionally put in less experienced players like Brennan.

Top 25

This week’s top 25 was easier to draft than last week’s. Some of the teams that seem good (like Alabama) are actually starting to prove it. It would have been difficult to keep Florida St. in if they’d won; but since they lost, I didn’t have to worry about it.

My procedure was to calculate the objective computer rating and to give the teams my own ranking. I averaged the two different rankings to arrive at the final top 25; and with only a couple of exceptions, I only gave myself the latitude to move teams more than two spots.

Alabama only ended up fifth in following this process, but I obviously was not going to remove the Tide from the top spot after they went on the road to beat a previously undefeated team 59-0.

Alabama literally ran away with the game at Vanderbilt.

Washington St. only ended up 29th in this calculation, but they’re playing USC next week. It just makes more sense to let that result determine whether they stay in or fall out. Their average was 25.5, so this wasn’t that big of a departure. Oklahoma St. was even lower, but it was similar logic there as the Pokes play Texas Tech next week.

If you’re curious, the excluded teams who scored higher than WSU are Navy, UC-Berkeley, Iowa, and Notre Dame. Cal and Iowa are both coming off losses even though Iowa looked like the better team for much of the night. Any of these teams could easily find themselves in the to 25 in the near future. Notre Dame’s only loss is to Georgia, and you can see how high they are. Navy has no losses, but their points will be limited until they play Memphis on October 14.

rank/team/prev.

1 Alabama 1
2 Clemson 3
3 Georgia 9
4 USC 8
5 Penn St. 4
6 Oklahoma 2
7 Michigan 7
8 TCU 22
9 Florida 16
10 Ohio St. 10
11 Virginia Tech –
12 Texas Tech –
13 Kentucky 11
14 South Florida 18
15 San Diego St. 15
16 Wake Forest –
17 Central Florida –
18 Wisconsin 5
19 Washington 17
20 Louisville 20
21 Memphis 19
22 Mississippi St. 13
23 Vanderbilt 14
24 Wash. St. 21
25 Okla St. 6

Out of top 25: (12) UC-Berkeley, (23) Oregon, (24) Florida St., (25) Auburn

What Happened: LSU @ Mississippi St.

In College Football, General LSU, History, Post-game on September 16, 2017 at 7:53 PM

Before I begin, I’ve updated my rivalry blog for the LSU-Mississippi St. series. The Bulldogs ended LSU’s run of 8 straight wins in Starkville (the longest such streak by either team if you don’t count LSU’s run at home that ended a few years ago) and also beat the Tigers by the largest margin of victory ever.

Although LSU had not lost in Starkville since 1999, Ed Orgeron is now 0-3 there as a head coach. Ole Miss did beat the Bulldogs the one time he faced them at home.

I wanted to write to explain what happened in the game this evening. I’m not offering excuses (it was a deserved loss) and not trying to take anything away from Mississippi St. for playing well and having a good game plan; but there are reasons this game got away from LSU, and one of those reasons was not that Mississippi St. had more talent.

One thing is the early touchdown that was taken away from LSU for no good reason. The game starting out 14-7 in LSU’s favor is a completely different scenario from Mississippi St. starting the second half with the ball up 17-7.

Of course, LSU’s second touchdown never came.

There were a couple of other Mississippi St. drives in the first half that were either extended by penalties (at least one of which should not have been called) or by an LSU player accidentally knocking down a potential tackler. I don’t remember which one of those led to touchdowns or field goals, but all but a couple of drives ended in one or the other.

LSU had stops when the whistle was blown on other occasions, but they had no one to blame but themselves. A defensive lineman had already been injured in the first half, and when LSU momentarily had a three-and-out to start the second half (which could have been a turning point for the Tigers), a defensive lineman was ejected for a completely stupid targeting penalty.

Within a few minutes of that ejection, LSU got a second ejection for a similar penalty. I don’t think that was an intentional head-to-head hit, but you don’t take the chance of being called for a late hit when it can’t benefit the play. It was a targeting in my opinion because right as the defender approached, the quarterback turned his head toward the defender (after he released the ball), causing a collision between the defender’s helmet and the quarterback’s facemask.

In all, LSU was penalized for 112 yards, but that doesn’t count the 66-yard (If I heard correctly; I didn’t see it) touchdown pass that was taken off of the board. The Tigers also had to score twice on the actual touchdown drive that took place because of a deserved penalty.

After the ejections, LSU had almost no chance to win whatsoever. The linebackers and secondary tried to support the defensive line, but you can’t do that without opening up passes over the top of the defense. This was demonstrated by the second-to-last touchdown where the receiver could have walked into the end zone if he wanted to.

DJ Chark scores an apparent touchdown that was called back due to a phantom penalty.

It also didn’t help that multiple LSU passes that could have given them some offensive rhythm (not to mention helping out the run and giving the defense a chance to catch its breath) were dropped.

Both sides of the ball got more and more desperate as the score got worse. The defense over-pursued in the backfield (or got flagged for interference), and the offense had overly ambitious downfield throws.

I ranked LSU #14 in preseason because I thought that’s where they would finish, not because I thought LSU would play that way consistently in September. I still think the talent is there to finish in that area or higher, but when you have 5 returning defensive starters in their first road game and you lose 3 players, it’s awfully tough to defend an offense like Mississippi St.’s.

To give some credit where it’s due, MSU’s Nick Fitzgerald showed good poise in the pocket even before the ejections and injuries.

The ejections come with disqualifications from the first half of the next game against Syracuse (in Baton Rouge). If LSU loses to Syracuse, then I’ll admit I overestimated this team significantly, but I have a feeling the Tigers both upper- and lowerclassmen will play with more consistency and confidence in that game.

There are two very winnable games coming up (also a home game against Troy), and despite the win over Tennessee today, Florida is vulnerable. If LSU gets behind the 8-ball again, that could be another long and miserable road game, but if not it could be pretty competitive. I did pick Florida ahead of LSU in preseason, but we’ll see.

LSU-Syracuse Comments and Notes

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game on September 27, 2015 at 12:29 PM

Historical context

LSU got its first road win over an ACC opponent since North Carolina in the 1985 season.  There were only two attempts against current ACC teams since then.  LSU lost @ Virginia Tech in 2002 and @ Florida State in 1990.  Both games were before the opponent had joined the ACC though.

The Tigers have now won 50 consecutive regular-season non-conference games to increase their own record.  That 2002 Virginia Tech game I mentioned was the last time LSU lost such a game.

In the only regular-season games against ACC opponents since 1985, LSU played Virginia Tech at home (2007) and North Carolina at a neutral site (2010), both wins for the Tigers.  There have also been five contests against ACC teams in bowl games over the last 20 years: Clemson (1996 and 2012), Georgia Tech (2000 and 2008), and U. Miami (2005).  LSU did play home games against Florida St. and U. Miami at home (before either joined the ACC) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

LSU’s last game against Syracuse had been the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl (now known as the Outback Bowl), but the Orangemen were independent at the time.  LSU’s only contest against Syracuse before that had been the Sugar Bowl after the 1964 season.

Leonard Fournette runs for the only touchdown of the fist half in the Carrier Dome.

Leonard Fournette runs for the only touchdown of the fist half in the Carrier Dome.

Game comments

LSU only won by 10 points, but that’s not what bothers me.  The Tigers could have probably scored a touchdown with just a couple more handoffs at the end of the game.  Also, Syracuse only got within 10 by scoring a touchdown in the last two minutes.

I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of when you’re on the road against a major-conference opponent (especially one who hadn’t lost yet).

What bothers me is the way we kept them in the game.  Without penalties, this could have been a shutout or close to it.  I don’t know if we would have scored more necessarily — we might not have tried to score as much in the second half — but there was definitely one touchdown and possibly a field goal or two that didn’t happen because of penalties.

Between two plays — the first one a decent play that was called back by a hold — LSU lost 40 yards of field position.

After going out to a 7-0 lead, the Tigers had a third and three at their own 47.  Fournette runs to just outside the LSU 30 for an apparent first down.  But the tight end is called for a hold.  Not saying it wasn’t  hold, but I don’t believe it was necessary to allow Fournette to evade the tackle.  It would have been at best an attempt at an arm tackle from a weak position.  Instead of a first and 10, it’s a third and 14.  Harris gets sacked and fumbles (recovered by LSU) at the 27.  So it was actually slightly more than 40 yards.

Maybe LSU has to settle for a field goal and misses and there isn’t much difference, but that’s still a huge opportunity wasted, not to mention keeping the defense off the field.  Syracuse would take over around their own 40, so that’s pretty good field position to set up a field goal try, which was successful.

Syracuse should have faced a third and 14 from inside their own 30 before their first touchdown play in the second half, but an LSU player who had lost his helmet helped push the quarterback out of bounds after he was already wrapped up.  Personal foul, first and 10 at the 49 instead.  The 40-yard touchdown came a couple of plays later.  This made the score 17-10 in the third quarter.

In the first 40 minutes of play, LSU had already been penalized 8 times for 69 yards.

At that point LSU had out-gained the Orange 225-150.  That 150 counts the 40-yard Syracuse touchdown I mentioned.

Still in the third quarter, LSU gets the ball back up 24-10.  Fournette runs for 87 yards to the end zone.  If the play stands, the game is essentially over then.  But it doesn’t.  LSU is flagged again, this time for illegal formation.  One of the receivers was a full two yards behind the line and another was about five feet behind the line (some LSU fans contested this, but the angle of the camera made it look like the closer receiver was at the line of scrimmage when he wasn’t).  LSU is eventually forced to punt.

Two more penalties set up the second Syracuse touchdown as well.  The orange earned a first down in LSU territory, but just barely.  Then, there was an unnecessary horse collar penalty, and then right afterward an interference penalty.  The ball was not catchable, but I guess the contact was so early in the play, that didn’t cancel out the interference.  This resulted in a 24-17 score, the last time Syracuse would get within 7.

The third touchdown was a result of LSU playing a sort of  soft zone/prevent mostly (it was 34-17 with just a few minutes left), but this time there was a complete nonsense penalty.  The Syracuse quarterback was running toward the sidelines nowhere near the first-down marker.  The LSU defender made contact as the quarterback approached the hash mark along the sidelines; but I guess because he bumped him to get him out of bounds rather than giving him a big hug or raising his arms up like a basketball player, it was a personal foul.

Then, as I mentioned, LSU got the ball back and ran out the clock even though they were in possible position for a score.

In total, LSU was penalized 14 times for 120 yards.  There were another 120 yards or more that were negated by penalties.

LSU out-gainted Syracuse 425 to 281, so I wasn’t unhappy about that.  Again, could have been a larger margin than that had LSU made it easier for the Syracuse offense to get off the field, but the defense responded pretty well to the pressure it was put under.

Syracuse also had really good field position for most of the game.  This was partly due to a generaly better kicking game.

The Orange had a better night punting than LSU did (5 punts apiece, 228 yards vs. 188 yards), but LSU’s Tre’Davious White ran back a punt for a touchdown, so I guess that helped to even it out.

Syracuse had the advantage in kick returns: 176 yards (7 returns) to 57 (3 returns).

The good news on offense (other than the obvious) was LSU did not turn the ball over, and Brandon Harris had more passing yards in this game (157) than in the previous two games combined.

I mentioned the Tigers got a pretty good amount of yards, but of course Leonard Fournette contributed a good bit to that with 244 rushing yards.  Alley Broussard still holds the LSU record (at 250), but it was put in danger for the second game in a row.  Fournette does now have the LSU road record and is the first Tiger to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games.

For what it’s worth, Broussard seems to be enjoying the renewed interest in his career with the Tigers.  http://www.nola.com/lsu/index.ssf/2015/09/leonard_fournette_lsu_record.html

 

Week Four SEC Preview

In College Football, General LSU, History, Me, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on September 25, 2015 at 11:44 AM

This won’t be the full “SEC Wednesdays” feature I have planned, but I thought I’d start off with comments and predictions of the coming week so I’ll have more to talk about when Wednesday gets here.

Central Florida @ South Carolina

South Carolina’s season hasn’t been pretty so far, but it’s been better than that of Central Florida, who has lost to both FIU and Furman (as well as Stanford) to start the year.  Despite this, the Gamecocks are only favored by 15.  Perhaps it was due to the fact that they didn’t win easily in their only win, only scoring 17 in that contest with a maximum output of 22 points in the loss to Kentucky.

Still, I think this is by far the worst opponent the Gamecocks have faced and expect them to win something like 31-10.

LSU @ Syracuse

This is also a tough one.  Not that I think LSU will be sweating out the fourth quarter like they did in the game in Starkville, but 24 points is a large spread to expect a road team to beat, especially when it will be 11 a.m. Central at kickoff.

I'll have to get up early if I want to see the kickoff live.  I am excited the Tigers will be playing at this venue...

I’ll have to get up early if I want to see the kickoff live. I am excited the Tigers will be playing at this venue…

But these uniforms hurt my eyes already. Imagine how much worse they'll be when I'm just waking up.

But these uniforms hurt my eyes already. Imagine how much worse they’ll be when I’m just waking up.

Even the 2007 LSU team that won the BCS championship struggled at Tulane early, and that was a short trip with a relatively friendly crowd.  Also, Tulane was a losing team of the CUSA that year.  Syracuse isn’t guaranteed a bowl berth out of the ACC this year, but I still think we can assume they’re a good bit better than Tulane was in 2007.  LSU still eventually won that game 34-9, but the Tigers were more pass-oriented with Matt Flynn under center (he threw for 258 despite the slow start).  I’d expect something similar to score I picked for South Carolina above even if things go well, so I would take the points.  I could be wrong though. I would have taken the points for the Auburn game as well.

Southern @ Georgia

ULM @ Alabama

I don’t think it’s even worth discussing whether Georgia will beat Southern or Alabama will beat ULM (despite what happened in 2007).  I don’t have a line for Georgia, but I know Alabama is favored by 38.  The Warhawks lost to Georgia by “only” 37, so I’m not sure I see Alabama beating ULM by 38.  I’d take the points.

Tennessee @ Florida

I usually lean against favored road teams.  The line is only 1.5 though, so it’s essentially a pick ’em. The Gators did a good job to win by 5 at Kentucky, but I have to guess Tennessee would have won by more than that given the Vols defeat of Bowling Green by 29.  Florida also didn’t play great at home against East Carolina, winning by only 7.

Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Arlington, TX)

Texas A&M is favored by 7.5 on a neutral field against Arkansas.  Arky kept it close last year, but I’m not seeing the same fight they had last season.  A&M has done significantly better, including comfortably beating Arizona St. on another neutral field.  I would take the Aggies minus the points.

Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss

Vandy has done well in this series in recent years, but I don’t see them doing so well against this Ole Miss team on the road.  I don’t know that Vandy is much better than the Fresno St. team the Rebels beat by 52, so I’d take Ole Miss minus the 25.

Mississippi St. @ Auburn

LSU just beat both of these teams, and obviously the Bulldogs did better against the Fighting Tigers, but maybe the location (and it being LSU’s first game) had something to do with it.  This is a very good line.  I would pick Auburn by 3.  That puts them just over the line of 2.5.

Missouri @ Kentucky

The Wildcats are favored in this one.  Might have something to do with the Tigers’ underwhelming performances against Arkansas St. and Connecticut, but after the last couple of years I’m not underestimating Missouri in conference play.  As I mentioned, Florida won by five in Lexington, and I don’t see the Gators knocking it out of the ballpark against the likes of East Carolina.  I’ll take Mizzou and the points.  I also think they’re the more likely victor even though they haven’t beaten the Wildcats for 29 straight years like the Gators have.

Twitter

I am not really an expert at Twitter and as you might guess, I’m not a huge fan of the character limit.  If you want to read my tweets, my handle (I also don’t like the whole nomenclature of Twitter) is @TheBayouBlogger.

I had an interesting exchange with Chris Low (@ClowESPN) about Bear Bryant today.  Low mentioned the Bear visited the Mississippi St. locker room to congratulate the Bulldogs after they ended a long Tide winning streak in 1980.  I mentioned a story I liked after another rare Alabama loss.  I guess there was a weekly local football show, and the homer announcer said something like, “Well coach, I guess the Lord just wasn’t on our side in that one.”  Bryant uttered in a low tone: “The Lord expects you to block and tackle.”

Low is probably my favorite writer for ESPN.  He’s certainly better than anyone they typically put on TV to cover college football.

Early Preview of Computer Ratings

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, Rankings Commentary on September 22, 2015 at 3:36 PM

I decided to do my first preliminary computer rankings now that most teams have actually played someone in the FBS who in turn played other teams who have played FBS opponents and it’s possible to get a computer rating on everyone.

Before I reveal more, a couple of disclaimers: I don’t start using a full or almost full computerized system until early October, so my official rankings are still the ones that were posted on Sunday; but I thought it would be interesting to see how the teams shaped up at this point. I like to try to get a smooth transition from subjective to objective. Usually I will still move a couple of teams for the first or second top 25 list (although the ratings on my ratings site are always 100% objective).

The transition is not always easy. I got someone mad at me when my attempted transition backfired with Missouri in 2013. I kept thinking the Tigers would lose (and I also thought the added points they got for beating Vanderbilt would go away, but Vandy had one of their best seasons in recent memory instead), so I kept them down around #20. Then the weekend where I fully moved to the computer rankings, they got another big win (this time over previously unbeaten Georgia, who had already defeated four P5 opponents in the first five weeks) and shot up to #2. So the transition process involves some guessing and gambling, but I still think it’s better than going from 100% subjective to 100% objective in one week.

This was really surprising to me since they usually don’t align early on, but the prelimary #1 is Ohio St., the same as my subjective #1. The prelimary 24th and 25th teams are BYU and U. Miami, the last two teams in my subjective top 25 (but in different order). So to that extent I’m encouraged with my attempts at objectivity.

There many discrepancies in the middle of the two rankings though. One example is Florida St., who is 11th in my rankings but is tied with Arizona, Clemson, and Houston for 48th  in my computer system.  This is because although the Seminoles have beaten three FBS opponents, none of THOSE have beaten an FBS opponent. Boston College did beat a couple of FCS teams, and that would normally result in FSU getting points by extension, but it doesn’t because those FCS teams haven’t beaten ANYONE in FBS or FCS.

In the next month, the Eagles will play Northern Illinois, Duke, and Clemson, so they may turn out to be a strong win for FSU in the near future; they just aren’t now. For its part, FSU only plays Wake Forest in the next two weeks, so they mostly have to rely on teams they’ve already played to win to pick them up or they may fall out of the top 25 when I move to the purely objective system.

Northern Illinois fumbled away a chance at a huge upset in a sloppy game on Saturday, but the Buckeyes still look good on paper.

The top four in total rating are:

Ohio St.

Michigan St.

Texas A&M

Notre Dame

However, it looks a little different when you divide the teams by playing weeks:

Ohio St.

LSU

Michigan St.

West Virginia

Anyway, without further ado, here is the full computer top 25 as it would look if I did the fully objective system now:

Team rating rating/week subjective
1 Ohio St. 0.3874 0.1291 1
2 Mich. St. 0.3615 0.1205 3
3 Notre Dame 0.3309 0.1103 12
4 Texas A&M 0.3294 0.1098 7
5 N’western 0.3032 0.1011 18
6 Oklahoma 0.2908 0.0969 16
7 TCU 0.2890 0.0963 6
8 Iowa 0.2797 0.0932
9 Alabama 0.2669 0.0890 8
10 LSU 0.2583 0.1291 4
11 Utah 0.2468 0.0823
12 Indiana 0.2362 0.0787
13 Ole Miss 0.2335 0.0778 2
14 W. Virginia 0.2245 0.1123
15 Florida 0.2237 0.0746
16 Missouri 0.2121 0.0707
17 UCLA 0.2045 0.0682 9
18 Syracuse 0.1980 0.0660
19 Temple 0.1898 0.0633
20 N.C. St. 0.1879 0.0626
21 Texas Tech 0.1738 0.0579
22 Ohio U. 0.1561 0.0520
23 Toledo 0.1437 0.0718
24 BYU 0.1431 0.0477 25
25 U. Miami 0.1333 0.0444 24

Obviously LSU is higher (they’re 10th the other way) because their Week 1 game was cancelled, but the difference between 2 games and 3 games is statistically much larger than the difference between 12 games and 13 games will be. So right now, I think that’s definitely worth considering. Also, just to note, you have to go down five decimal places to separate tOSU and LSU under the average-week calculation. Almost every other pair of consecutive teams is separated in the second or third decimal place.

West Virginia is sort of a statistical fluke at the moment. That’s the short version anyway. They beat Georgia Southern, who beat Western Michigan. I don’t think Ga. Southern or Western Michigan are good teams, but the former looks like a good win for WVU right now. Western Michigan is the only FBS opponent the Eagles (that’s Ga. Southern’s mascot) have played, and the Broncos played Michigan St., one of the best teams, so they seem to have a really good strength of schedule.

I will mostly be discussing the overall score though.

I also mentioned in my last rankings blog that looking at this year’s results alone, not factoring in last season or any personal perceptions, Texas A&M should be in the top five, so I’ve confirmed that as well.

I’ve laid out several reasons I’m skeptical of the Aggies, but they won’t get a ton of points before playing Alabama in about a month, so their computer rating should come closer to aligning with the subjective ranking anyway.

I know I don’t have Notre Dame nearly that high, but as far as my ratings know, the Irish beat Virginia by 70 instead of 7, so that’s one reason I have them a good bit lower. Maybe they’re even better with their third QB in just a handful of games going back to the end of last regular season. Sort of like Ohio St. was in the playoff in January.

Notre Dame-UMass SHOULD be dull, but that Notre Dame-Clemson game in two weeks will be huge in determining who goes where in the first computer ratings.

There is a bit of an issue with certain FCS opponents counting for too many points right now, but I’ll discuss that immediately afterward and then add some further comments.

Something else worth considering is that wins over unbeaten FCS teams (who have actually beaten a Division I opponent anyway) count for a good bit of points right now. The only teams that show up in the top 25 who are influenced by this are West Virginia (so that’s another reason WVU is so high in the weekly average), Iowa, North Carolina St., Ohio U., and U. Miami. This also helps #26 Baylor.

Cal-Berkeley and Missouri also get high points from their FCS opponents that will diminish over time. So if you just want take out those points, the top 25 would conclude thusly:

10 Iowa
11 Utah
12 Indiana
13 Ole Miss
14 Florida
15 UCLA
16 Missouri
17 Syracuse
18 W. Virginia
19 Temple
20 Texas Tech
21 N.C. St.
22 Toledo
23 BYU
24 Ohio U.
25 Penn St.

I swear I didn’t rig the system to make LSU’s upcoming opponent (Syracuse) look good this week. Wake Forest is otherwise undefeated, and Central Michigan has a very strong schedule right now having played Oklahoma St. as well.

As an aside I found amusing, Les Miles made a point of talking up Central Michigan (and the MAC in general) during his Monday press conference because apparently his wife is a graduate of CMU. After Syracuse, who beat the Chippewas in overtime last week, LSU will play MAC opponent Eastern Michigan, so that may have been a secondary motivation of bringing up the MAC’s success.

These things will sort themselves out though. If Wake Forest wins more than a few games, I’ll be surprised, and it’s hard to have a good strength of schedule out of the MAC. This year might be an exception for the MAC though after the way teams like Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green have performed against major programs.

Just to go down the list though, Oklahoma and TCU are about right. Waiting for TCU to do something though. Oklahoma may go down a bit if Tennessee loses to Florida, so we’ll see about that. The Sooners also have a bye this coming week, so that will allow some teams to pass them up so that should help make it a more natural transition.

The Horned Frogs play Texas Tech, which looks good statistically right now due to some early competition.

I’m not a believer in Iowa. They’re getting a lot of points for their FCS win. Iowa St. probably will never count as a good win this year (likely a very weak one since the Cyclones went winless in the Big XII last season), and Pittsburgh will probably be mediocre.

Alabama and LSU are about right, with the proviso I mentioned about the latter having only had two playing weeks.

Utah has a good-looking schedule right now, and Michigan helped them out by beating two FBS opponents. The Wolverines are just out of the top 25 at #29.

Indiana is another fluke. The SIU and FIU wins will lose the lustre, I’d expect. Western Kentucky might be all right though.

Then we get to Ole Miss. It’s not exactly a secret that the Rebels didn’t play anyone before Alabama. Again, the fact that they won 70-7 or whatever doesn’t matter.

Unbeaten Florida knocked off unbeaten Kentucky on Saturday. No guarantee that will mean anything in a couple of weeks, but congrats to the Gators.   It’s something to have a 29-game winning streak over another SEC program regardless.

Missouri, UCLA, and Temple are other teams who got away with getting close wins, although there is a very small adjustment when you win a close game (≤3) at home.

North Carolina St. is another fluke. I don’t think we’ll look back at the end of the season and remark at the greatness of their non-conference wins over Troy and Old Dominion. Same thing with Ohio U.’s wins over Marshall and Idaho. Old Dominion and Marshall may turn out to be all right, but they may lose to a few more teams apiece instead of staying otherwise undefeated.

I think it’s fairly clear why Toledo, BYU, and Miami are there. Arkansas does have two losses now, but they got that FBS win and the Hogs’ losses are to two undefeated teams (I mentioned Texas Tech earlier). Nebraska also has two losses from apparently good teams (BYU and U. Miami).

Upcoming blogs

Finally, I wanted to announce something.  Other than the weekly rankings, this blog hasn’t had too much structure to it.  I believe next week I’m going to start a series called “SEC Wednesdays”.  This will be a time when I will go into more detail about past and upcoming SEC games rather than having it clog up space in more general blogs.  Of course there were a few big games last weekend and I mentioned them already.   But after the games this week, I will keep my comments short when it’s an SEC game until the SEC Wednesday blog.

The basic structure of the week will be Sundays (starting in October) the new ratings will come out, with the top 25 rankings and discussion blog coming out Monday generally.  Then on Thursday or Friday I usually do some kind of preview of the upcoming week for other teams or perhaps I might do something specific to LSU.

The last couple of weeks I did “conference reports”.  I will probably do that one more time next week before that series will go on hiatus.  There aren’t enough inter-conference games to sustain it after the first few playing weeks.  I try to do a final one for the regular season before the conference championship games and then another after the bowl games.