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Posts Tagged ‘Texas Tech’

Week 2 SEC Preview and Other Key Games

In College Football, History, Preview, SEC Wednesdays on September 9, 2016 at 8:38 AM

I added a note to my rankings blog about why this was delayed until today. It’s partly because the playing week hasn’t started yet.

SEC WED

In my first round of SEC predictions, I only got two wrong in each category, with the spread and without. Florida St. and Alabama beat the spread, and obviously LSU and Mississippi St. lost. So the total is 9-2 against the spread and 11-2 overall (I picked the winners for the Thursday games but did not consider the spread).

ESPN doesn’t publish a spread for FCS opponents, and I skip those anyway. Obviously I pick LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M to win.

Florida only beat UMass by 17, and Kentucky usually makes it interesting against the Gators, so I’ll take the Wildcats and the 16.5 points but Florida to win.

I have a feeling Alabama will be high-energy for their home opener, so I would give the 28.5 points there.

Vandy-Middle Tennessee is a good line. I’ll pick Vandy to win but take the 5 points. They may win by a touchdown. They may win by 1 or even lose. I just think the five points roughly reverses the likelihood.

I think South Carolina was lucky to win, while Mississippi St. was very unlucky and has more potential. Another good line, but for this one I’ll give the 6.5 points and pick the home team.

Neither Arkansas nor TCU did very well in their opening games. I’ll give TCU the edge because it’s a home game for the Horned Frogs, but Arkansas could make it very close or win, so I’ll take the 7.5 points. I was tempted to pick the upset, but then I remembered what happened with Texas Tech. The Hogs may be repeating their pattern from last year.

If Auburn can give Clemson trouble the way they did, I see no reason they can’t put Arkansas St. away easily. So I’ll give the 19 points there.

I know Eastern Michigan is bad, but from the game they gave LSU last year and Missouri’s general ineptness the last 11 months, I’ll take the 25 points.

Tennessee will be motivated to redeem itself from Week 1 against Virginia Tech, but I think the setting will motivate both teams and Tennessee has some things to work out. 11.5 is just too many, so I’ll take the points.

Week 2 Preview

It’s sort of a poor man’s rivalry week, but I know it isn’t the most thrilling collection of games. A lot of these teams are not ranked and don’t deserve to be, but some of the teams might treasure obscure- or latent-rivalry wins when we get to bowl season. They are also games that matter with recruiting.

In addition to the Arkansas and Tennessee games, another interesting close interstate game is Washington St. and Boise St. Washington St. lost to Eastern Washington, a very good FCS team, but I wouldn’t count them out. Boise St. is trying to return to being the top Cinderella of the land on the blue field. Had the Cougars gone to Eastern Washington instead of hosting the Eagles, they would have played on a red field last week.

Will the formerly intimidating Smurf Turf return to its past glory?

Will the formerly intimidating Smurf Turf return to its past glory?

There are also some intra-state games to look forward to as well: BYU-Utah took place a couple of playing weeks ago, but it was surprisingly close and may be again. Pitt hasn’t played Penn St. in 16 years. That’s a big inter-conference game as well as a game for bragging rights. I don’t know why some of these games don’t take place more often.

There are some less compelling intrastate games, but they still might have close final scores. Games like New Mexico-New Mexico St. They are both usually terrible, and I have no contrary information, but football games can be like movies. There is a level of badness you get to where the entertainment value starts to improve.

One that may be lopsided is Iowa-Iowa St., but the Cyclones are good for one or two good games a year, and that game is often one of them. I wonder if they’ve given any thought to bringing Gene Chizik back. Speaking of which, North Carolina (where Chizik is an assistant now) travels to Champaign to play the Illini. It wasn’t close last year, but these things can turn on a dime. For instance, you might remember LSU losing in triple-overtime to Kentucky in 2007, but people forget that the year before LSU beat them 49-0.

Another compelling intra-state game is Cal-San Diego St. Sports Illustrated actually picked San Diego St. for the top 25, so that could be a good matchup in hindsight at the end of the year.

Texas Tech and Arizona St. dominated the old Border Conference.

Texas Tech and Arizona St. dominated the old Border Conference.

Finally, lest we forget, old Border Conference rivals Texas Tech and Arizona St. will square off in Tempe. They combined for 16 Border Conference championships. All other members of the Border Conference combined for only 11 championships (3 were shared). That conference disbanded during the Kennedy administration, but there you go. Another fun fact: Les Miles’ first win at LSU was against Arizona St., and as of right now his last win was over Texas Tech.

2015 Pre-Bowl Conference Report

In College Football, Conference Reports on December 18, 2015 at 6:21 PM

1. SEC
2. Pac-12
3. Big Ten
4. Big XII
5. AAC
6. ACC
7. MAC
8. MWC
9. CUSA
10. Sun Belt

If anyone is interested in my blogger top 10 poll on MacApp, click here.

Before I begin, I just wanted to reiterate that I believe the correct way to evaluate conferences is to look at the games between conferences. I don’t think any result within a conference weakens it. So when I talk about wins, assume I mean non-conference.

Also, I will refer a lot to P5 and G5. P5 are the traditional Power 5 conferences: ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12, and SEC. Notre Dame is included in this group since it primarily plays a major-conference schedule and is given special privileges in bowl consideration.

G5 are the other conferences: AAC (American), CUSA, MAC, MWC (Mountain West), and SBC (Sun Belt). Discussion of these will include BYU and Army.

WHY THE SEC REMAINS THE TOP CONFERENCE

I opted just to do one for the season overall rather than trying to evaluate everything that happened since the last conference report separately.

ACC-SEC Rivalry games

The ACC won three games against the SEC on the final week of the regular season; but with the relative weakness of the SEC East in recent years, this wasn’t that surprising. Any negative implications were overcome by earlier games between the two conferences.

South Carolina kept North Carolina's offense wrapped up to open the season, although the two teams went in drastically different directions since.

South Carolina kept North Carolina’s offense wrapped up to open the season, although the two teams went in drastically different directions since.

In hindsight, one of the best non-conference wins was by an SEC team that didn’t even make a bowl game when South Carolina beat eventual ACC Coastal champions North Carolina in the opening week. I don’t hold it against the Gamecocks that they later (in the final week of the regular season) lost to eventual ACC Champions Clemson by 5. The Gamecocks also suffered the worst loss of an SEC team by losing to the Citadel in controversial fashion, but you expect non-bowl teams to lose such games from time to time.

The two bowl teams who were playing non-bowl teams, Louisville and Georgia, both won their rivalry games. Louisville only went 1-1 against the bottom half of the SEC though, as the Cardinals had lost to Auburn early in the season. On the other hand, Georgia had no non-conference losses.

The only game that on paper should have been competitive—Florida St.’s win over Florida—is a credit to the ACC, although the Gators were showing major signs of weakness against such opponents as Vanderbilt (won by 2) and Florida Atlantic (won by 6 in overtime) in prior weeks. The Gators would have likely finished much worse in conference than 7-1 had they not played 6 SEC games by the end of October and had the remaining two games not come against two of the worst SEC teams.

Why the SEC Led before Rivalry Week

Watch-SEC-Football-Online-e1374758489890

To talk a little more about why the SEC had a significant enough lead to remain #1 despite the final week, we can look at another of the worst SEC teams, Missouri. The Tigers beat Connecticut, not a good opponent by any means; but the Huskies were the only team to beat Houston, so they certainly had the talent to beat Mizzou. The Tigers also had a really quality non-conference win over BYU.

I do give credit to the fact that teams like South Carolina and Missouri were even able to compete and in some cases win against good competition out of conference.

Vanderbilt only went 1-2 against FBS opponents out of conference, but they got a road win over a Middle Tennessee team that will finish with a winning record. They also were a late two-point attempt away from tying Western Kentucky in regulation.

This is why SEC teams have such good schedules in my formula. They are guaranteed eight games against tough teams at a minimum. It happens there were three teams in the SEC who went 2-6 in conference and one that went 1-7, but I think the results I discussed indicate they might beat some of the best teams in other conferences and would have a shot at some of the mediocre teams.

If before the season you took the top 14 teams in the preseason poll and had them play 8 games against one another, there may well have been some that finished 2-6 or 1-7. As you might remember, Auburn was in the top 10 in most preseason projections and was actually #3 according to the ESPN power rankings.

The numbers

You can accuse me of trying to spin the results in these arguments, but I really don’t need to.

By my calculations, the SEC won 81.5% of its games out of conference. That’s 3.1% better than the Pac-12, which is second. To show how big of a gap that is, the Pac-12 was only 2.0% better than the #4 Big Ten.

Yet you can turn on ESPN any day of the week and probably listen to someone tell you it’s a down year for the SEC because it didn’t place a bunch of teams in the top 10.

To be fair, all but a couple of the SEC teams played an FCS opponent whereas in the Big Ten (for instance) only half of the teams did.

I would point out though that Big Ten teams played an average of exactly two games per team against either the bottom four conferences (being the MAC, CUSA, Sun Belt, or MWC) or 2-10 independent Army. The SEC played six fewer games against that latter group.

Regardless, the SEC was similarly better than the other conferences when you subtract out FCS opponents. SEC 78.6%, Pac-12 75.9%, Big Ten 72.9%, Big XII 72.7%.

Strength of schedule

You might also quibble about FBS strength of schedule, but further analysis only strengthens these numbers.

Other than the SEC, the only conference to win a majority of its games against the P5 (adding in Notre Dame) is the Big Ten. I think the SEC wins out in FBS strength of schedule because it played five games against the AAC while the Big Ten only played one, which it lost.

I believe Houston, Memphis, Temple, and Navy were the best four teams in the G5 conferences as a whole, so that’s why I treat that conference a little bit differently. The four teams I mentioned only lost two conference games that weren’t against one another (unfortunately for Memphis, they played and lost to all three of the others). Apart from those two, the only non-conference game any of that group lost were Notre Dame’s wins over Navy and Temple.

In that context, I think it’s understandable that Ole Miss and Vanderbilt both lost to teams from that group. Clearly, Ole Miss’s loss to Memphis was a negative for the SEC. It’s a negative for any conference to have one of its top teams lose a non-conference game, but that sure is better than a team like North Carolina losing to South Carolina or even a team like Stanford losing to Northwestern.

The only non-AAC team with a strong argument for being among the top four G5 teams was Bowling Green, which lost to Tennessee, the same Tennessee team that lost late (in overtime actually) to eventual playoff team Oklahoma. Yet the Vols only finished in a four-way tie for fourth in the SEC if you combine the two divisions (so actually a two-way tie for sixth if you give LSU and Arkansas credit for being in the better division).

Speaking of the MAC, I think that Tennessee win helps to balance out Arkansas’s loss to Toledo. The Rockets did not play in the MAC title game, but they were in a four-way tie for the MAC West title and went undefeated against a good non-conference slate.

So losing to Toledo was not as bad as it was made out to be when it happened. I also mentioned here how Arkansas was better statistically in the game. It’s pretty clear that they learned as the season went on to better translate yards into points as Brandon Allen’s passing improved.

I mentioned the other conferences a bit above, but I’ll mention some things I left out below.

OTHER P5 CONFERENCES

big10_logo_detail

The best Big Ten win was when Michigan St. beat Oregon, but to be fair, Michigan St. won its conference and Oregon didn’t win theirs. So that’s much less of a boost in my view than Northwestern’s win over Pac-12 champions Stanford.

pac-12

Utah’s win over Michigan was the best non-conference win by a Pac-12 team, followed closely by Stanford’s win over Notre Dame, but neither one was a lower-ranked team beating a top team of another conference. I think if Notre Dame had played a full ACC schedule, it would have finished second or third, so Stanford should have won that game. The Big Ten East was a good bit better than the Pac-12 South (don’t get me started on why they put Utah in the South), but I don’t know that third in the Big Ten East is much better than tied for first in the Pac-12 South.

big12logo

I haven’t talked much about the Big XII because it didn’t do much. Another part of Arkansas’s early-season struggles was a loss to Texas Tech. That seems to be the best non-conference win for the Big XII. The champion of the conference was supposed to beat Tennessee, so that’s not it. Minnesota is 5-7, and that was the best opponent that Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma St. played out of conference. There were no good wins by the lower half of the conference, although West Virginia had a couple of borderline-decent wins over Maryland (which was had some bad luck in going 3-9 this year but made a bowl last year and is still a major-conference opponent) and Georgia Southern.

ACC

Other than Clemson’s win over Notre Dame and the SEC wins mentioned, I didn’t go into details about the ACC’s other three wins. They were Purdue twice and Illinois. So I that FSU win over Florida was actually the conference’s best win.

G5 DISCUSSION AND BEST WINS

I mentioned the best wins by the MAC, CUSA, and AAC because they came against the SEC. That’s right, the best CUSA win was over Vandy.

The Sun Belt’s best win was San Diego St., which went undefeated in conference after losing to South Alabama.

The MWC’s best win was Boise St. over Washington. The Broncos finished in a four-way tie for second in the Mountain division. The Huskies finished with a losing record in conference, but you still don’t expect a loss in hindsight to a team like Boise.

The winning percentages tell you pretty well who belongs where.

One exception of sorts: I give the MWC the nod over the CUSA even though the CUSA had a slightly better FBS record because MWC teams also beat Virginia and Colorado. I know three wins, none of which were won by the conference champion or runner-up, weren’t against great teams. Colorado might not even qualify as mediocre. But I don’t think Vanderbilt by itself is really a comparison. I certainly can’t put Purdue or Central Florida ahead of any of those.

The AAC had a better FBS record than the ACC but not a better overall record. I sided with the AAC because it played only one fewer P5 opponent despite having two fewer teams, and it won more games against P5 opponents. It was very close though. Had Georgia Tech upset Georgia or had Army beaten Navy, for instance, that would have made the difference. This was the only change from the prior Conference Report.

Full blog

Conference Report #3: Midseason

In College Football, Conference Reports on October 9, 2015 at 4:12 PM

Previous Conference Report

I know it’s not really the middle of the season yet, but the majority of inter-conference games have been played, and this will be the only conference report before the end of November.

Once again, the SEC doesn’t win the time period, but one first place and two second places is much better than any other conference.

The Pac-12 comes out first over Weeks 3 to 5 because it hasn’t lost an inter-conference game since Week 2.

Texas A&M ran away from Arizona St. late in the only game between the SEC and Pac-12 this season.

Texas A&M ran away from Arizona St. late in the only game between the SEC and Pac-12 this season.

Arkansas’ loss to Texas Tech was the only loss for the SEC, so that’s good enough for #2.

The Big Ten is third as it was the only other conference to finish with a winning record against the P5 (again, that’s Notre Dame or any member of the ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, or SEC) over the time period.   The BIG also won 84% of its games against other FBS teams in that time.

The Big XII, the best conference of Week 2, achieved a .500 mark against the P5 and won 7 of 10 overall, good enough for fourth.

The records for the AAC and ACC were very similar so I made a list of wins and losses to compare.  The ACC had slightly better wins, but that wasn’t decisive.

The losses were what convinced me the ACC deserves to be higher.  Every team an ACC team lost to over the period has a winning record.  The only ones that were sort of mediocre were East Carolina, Indiana (although the Hoosiers are 4-1 at the moment), and Cincinnati.  The AAC lost to Furman, James Madison, Maryland, and South Carolina, among others.

So finally the P5 actually constitutes the top five conferences in this list.

The ACC went up a spot with Clemson's win over Notre Dame.

The ACC went up a spot with help from Clemson’s win over Notre Dame.

The MAC was 2-9 against the P5 and 6-16 overall, but only one other lower conference even recorded a single win over the P5 (that was the MWC, who went only 1-12 against the P5).  Only the CUSA had more wins over the five other conferences, but the CUSA went 0-9 against the P5.

I looked more into the MWC wins versus the CUSA ones, and the CUSA ones were a joke.  It only beat one team with multiple wins, which was 2-3 Kent St.  One of the Golden Flashes’ wins was over Delaware St. and the other was over Miami U., another of the teams the CUSA beat during the period.

The MWC didn’t have a great list either, but it did beat Virginia and it won the only contest between the MWC and CUSA when beat Colorado St. beat UTSA on the road.

Even though the CUSA beat hardly anyone, it still did better than the Sun Belt, which beat three teams with a total record of 4-11.  Those three teams (San Diego St., Old Dominion, and Wyoming) have gone a combined 2-1 against the FCS.

For the overall records, the Pac-12, Big XII, and Big Ten were close.  But I think looking at the teams they beat and lost to sorted it out pretty easily.  The Pac-12 has no bad losses apart from Washington St.’s loss to Portland St. in Week 1.  Hawaii (which beat Colorado) is the only other loss to a team not currently ranked.  The wins aren’t astounding for either conference (Wake Forest, Kansas, Iowa St., and Oregon St. make up 4 of the Big Ten’s nine P5 victories), but the Pac-12 only has half as many losses as the Big Ten does and almost 2/3 the number of wins against FBS opponents.

The Big XII, on the other hand, comes out behind the Big Ten.  Although it has the same P5 record as the Pac-12, the Big XII has five fewer wins over the FBS overall and has questionable losses such as Rutgers, UC-Berkeley, and South Dakota St.  I know UC-Berkeley is currently ranked, but they haven’t really played a tough opponent yet, with the possible exception of Washington.  Also, it’s not like the Bears beat Iowa St. or Kansas, they beat Texas.  I know the Longhorns aren’t what they were five or six years ago, but they did make a bowl game last year.

The rest of the overall rankings proceed pretty logically from combining the Week 1 and 2 standings with those for the period since then.  The AAC and ACC were extremely close going in, so the ACC winning the period gives it an edge overall.  Those FCS losses made it somewhat easier.

Same thing with MWC and CUSA, but the MWC started off badly enough that this decision deserved a closer look.  The MWC has actually done pretty well after Week 1.  The wins are pretty similar (although I’d argue Washington and Virginia are better than Purdue and Vanderbilt), but I think you can tell more from the losses, since I’m comparing conferences with clearly losing records.

Thirteen of the MWC’s 19 P5 losses have come to the Pac-12 or SEC, and the other six were against the Big Ten.  There are some teams in there that aren’t too good like Colorado, Oregon St., and Washington St., to be fair.  Only five of the CUSA’s 18 P5 losses came against the SEC or Pac-12, and two of those were against Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

The new chart is below.

sec football

Rank Weeks 1&2 Since Total
1 SEC Pac-12 SEC
2 Big XII SEC Pac-12
3 Big Ten Big Ten Big Ten
4 Pac-12 Big XII Big XII
5 AAC ACC ACC
6 ACC AAC AAC
7 MAC MAC MAC
8 CUSA MWC MWC
9 MWC CUSA CUSA
10 Sun Belt Sun Belt Sun Belt

Bowl Projections

In Bowls, Post-game, Rankings on December 7, 2013 at 11:35 PM
The final BCS championship with be decided on  January 7.

The final BCS championship with be decided on January 7.

The BCS Standings have not been released yet, so I’m going to use my own rankings.

BCS Bowls

BCS National Championship Game:
(1) Auburn
(2) Florida St.

Rose Bowl:
(3) Stanford
(4) Michigan St.

Orange Bowl:
(5) Ohio St.
(12) Oklahoma

Fiesta Bowl:
(6) Baylor
(10) Central Florida

Sugar Bowl:
(8) Alabama
(16) Oregon

Other Selected Bowl picks

CapitalOne Bowl:
(7) Missouri
(22) Wisconsin

Alamo Bowl:
(9) Arizona St.
(31) Texas

Outback Bowl:
(11) South Carolina
(39) Nebraska

Cotton Bowl:
(15) Oklahoma St.
(20) LSU

Holiday Bowl:
(19) UCLA
(53) Texas Tech

Chick-fil-A (Peach) Bowl:
(17) Clemson
(28) Texas A&M

Gator Bowl:
(23) Georgia
(31) Iowa

Discussion
Unless I’m misled by reliable sources, BCS bowl selection will proceed as follows. (The italicized section is the way it works. My guesses as to what will happen are in plan fontt.)

(1) #1 plays #2, based on the BCS Standings. There is almost no doubt the two teams will be Florida St. and Auburn. Florida St. is the only unbeaten team in major college football. Auburn has clearly had the best schedule among one-loss teams and won the SEC over Alabama and Missouri, who would both be in the top 5 had their seasons ended before playing Auburn.

(2) If the #1 team would otherwise be designated for a certain bowl game, that bowl gets a replacement pick. I’m pretty sure the #1 team will remain Florida St. since they were #1 going in and won convincingly. So that means the Orange would get to pick first. I think they’ll pick Ohio St. That’s the best team not in the BCS Championship or Rose Bowl, and they bring fans to games pretty well. There is an agreement not to pick the #2 team from another conference, so I don’t think Alabama would be going here.

(3) If the #2 team would otherwise be designated for a certain bowl game, that bowl gets a replacement pick. The second bowl to pick will be the Sugar Bowl. Despite a great season by Missouri, Alabama is a better draw. Most people already regarded Alabama as the better team before Missouri’s loss to Auburn. Unfortunately, there are only two teams allowed per conference.

(4) Remaining slots will be selected based upon the rotation for a given year. In order to pick an “at-large” team, slots must be available for the automatic bids.

(4a) Orange My guess is the Orange will jump at an opportunity to recall the old days of picking Big 8 champions and go with Oklahoma. They could pick Clemson instead, but other than not losing to anyone but South Carolina and Florida St., what has Clemson really done? Also, I know South Carolina is a crazy football state, but they’re just not on the same level.

(4b) Sugar You might remember that a week ago people were saying that for the second selection, the Sugar would have to decide between UCF and Northern Illinois. That would have been true had Northern Illinois won; but since the Huskies lost, that opens up another at-large slot. Clemson might have a good argument here, but I think people would be more excited about Oregon. It wasn’t too long ago that Alabama was #1 and Oregon was #2. I think that would be a more exciting match-up. Ducks fans probably wouldn’t travel as well as Clemson Tiger fans though, so I’m not 100% sold on this.

(4c) Fiesta Unless the Orange or Sugar pick Central Florida, the Fiesta Bowl will have to. Baylor automatically goes as a result of winning the Big XII.

As to the non-BCS Bowls, there is more leeway.

Last year, a very good SEC team that lost the Championship for its second loss went to the CapitalOne Bowl, which is meant to be the top SEC non-BCS bowl. I expect the same this year.

Although conceivably Missouri could lobby to be in the Cotton instead of LSU, usually the Cotton goes to an SEC West team; and I think the Cotton would be happy with LSU, which has been a good draw in Arlington a few times recently, including playing Texas A&M in the Cotton a few years ago and playing Oregon and TCU to start the year in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Les Miles vs. Oklahoma St. would of course add some intrigue to the game.

Although Texas was one win away from the Fiesta Bowl, I think it would only be fair if it is the #4 Big XII team selected with its two non-conference losses. So that slot is the Alamo Bowl, which is of course in Texas and should be happy to have them. Arizona St. is pretty close for a Pac-12 school, so they’ll be a good pick to play the Longhorns. The Pac-12 #2 (or top available after the BCS) has gone to the Holiday Bowl before, but that’s not the way it works now from what I understand.

South Carolina always seems to end up in the Outback Bowl, but it’s a result of being in the SEC East and not one of the top 3 selections when there are two SEC teams in BCS bowls. I don’t see another logical place to put them. There is some talk of LSU going to the Outback Bowl if Missouri goes to the Cotton and frees up the CapitalOne Bowl for South Carolina, but I don’t think that’s fair to either the CapitalOne Bowl or to LSU. LSU was brushed aside for the Cotton last year in favor of A&M despite having beaten the Aggies. But Texas A&M wasn’t given the option of the “better” CapitalOne Bowl, which got Georgia. Iowa beat Nebraska, but they’re both 5-3 and I would think the Outback would go with Nebraska for its well-known supportive fan base.

I mentioned the Holiday Bowl earlier. They may pass on UCLA to vary things up a bit, but I suspect they won’t. It just seems to make too much sense. It’s also possible that the Alamo and Holiday could switch Pac-12 teams, but I don’t think that would be an improvement for either. If Oregon does not get into a BCS bowl, they may bump either UCLA or Arizona St. to the Sun Bowl. The pickings in the Big XII start to get slim, but Texas Tech looks like the best possibility. Kansas St. is another.

Texas A&M has been slotted for the Chick-fil-A bowl for a while, particularly by those prognosticators who didn’t pick them to beat Missouri. Since the time it was the Peach Bowl, this has been known for fun, competitive games, and I don’t think Clemson would disappoint. The Tigers won by a single point last year, but I don’t think the bowl would be enticed by Duke. It’s basketball season at that school.

Georgia has had an up-and-down year and they play in Jacksonville every year anyway, but I still think the Gator makes a lot of sense given its proximity to the state of Georgia. I think enough Georgia fans live far enough away to get hotel rooms and so forth, but they’ll still show up in big numbers. I’ve seen Michigan projected here, and they’re always a good draw too. I’m hoping the politics don’t allow the Wolverines to pass up Iowa and Minnesota, who both finished with better records. It wouldn’t shock me though.

Friday Night Musings

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings Commentary on November 1, 2013 at 9:37 PM
Despite two losses, the LSU Tigers still have not lost at home since the mishap against Alabama last season.  The Tigers of Missouri were not able to stay undefeated at home, however.

Despite two losses, the LSU Tigers still have not lost at home since the mishap against Alabama last season. The Tigers of Missouri were not able to stay undefeated at home, however.

This is later than I like to write blogs, because I know a lot of people (particularly in the more Eastern time zones) are asleep. But if I wait until tomorrow, I’ll be writing while games are on, so I’m writing now.

I’ve talked about this general topic before in reference to Florida St.’s initial BCS ranking, but I’ve also seen Missouri called a fraud, particularly now that they’ve lost a game, albeit in overtime and largely due to a bad day for the kicker.

“Now that they’ve *finally* played a good team, they lost” is one comment that stuck in my craw, whatever that means. Well, let’s look at some records that teams have apart from playing Missouri: Florida 4-2, South Carolina 5-2, Georgia 4-2, Toledo 5-2, Vanderbilt 4-3, Indiana 3-3. If you look at the overall records, it’s true that South Carolina is the only team without at least three losses, but Missouri gave three other teams one of three losses and nearly did that a fourth time. I know Toledo, Vanderbilt, and Indiana aren’t great, but they’re not bad 3rd, 4th, and 5th best wins. Having played 6 teams that are at least semi-decent does give Missouri a good enough schedule to deserve some respect.

Oklahoma, by contrast, has two pretty good wins in Notre Dame and Texas Tech, but what’s their #3 win? TCU or WVU? They play each other this weekend, and the team that loses will in all likelihood fail to even qualify for a bowl game. If TCU wins especially, it wouldn’t be surprising if neither made a bowl game. Louisiana-Monroe is probably the #5 win. I’m not saying I don’t understand ranking Oklahoma ahead of Missouri; but if you don’t pay special attention to which loss took place more recently and you put more of a premium on playing a number of decent teams rather than a couple of headliners, it also makes sense not to. For argument’s sake, I guess we can treat the respective losses (Texas and South Carolina) as roughly equal, although I personally think Missouri had the “better loss”.

Of course I did expect Missouri to lose a couple of games even before they finally lost one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up with more losses than Oklahoma. But the Tigers still beat Georgia and Florida when I did not expect them to do so. There is nothing wrong with giving them credit for that for the time being.

I only had one small thought about my Tigers, the ones from LSU. Based on how different a team like Georgia is from earlier games and how strong Ole Miss has come on in recent weeks, I just wondered if LSU would be undefeated if they played Ole Miss in September and Georgia in mid-October. If LSU wins out and Alabama wins the SEC West, I’m still going to be annoyed that LSU had to play such an inter-divisional schedule in the first place, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on those results anyway. (I don’t know why I keep using old-time country expressions. I’m in my early 30s and from the suburbs of New Orleans.)

I have some ideas for upcoming blogs. I have one mostly written about potential Pac-12 expansion. For another one, I used to regularly do blogs called Conference Reports (you can see the tab above if you’re viewing this on WordPress), where I look at how the various conferences have fared against outside opponents. I can’t think of any major inter-conference games this week, so that can wait until next week. I also might do a blog about suggested NFL realignment, but that will probably just make people angry. It’s after 1 a.m. on the East Coast, so I decided to just go ahead and publish this and work on those later.

My Top 25 Week 8

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 22, 2013 at 5:30 PM

First, I wanted to mention that Missouri did come first in my computers, but I’m keeping Alabama #1 for now. I don’t like to change #1 on my personal list lightly. However, if after Alabama plays LSU on November 9, Missouri or any other team is ahead, I will list that team as #1. Apart from the switch between 1 and 2, the remainder of my list is solely based upon the results of my formula.

Speaking of LSU, they not only fell because of losing but also because that Georgia loss is hurting them more and more every week. I know the Tigers played a better Georgia team, but there is no way to comb through 126 teams and make adequate adjustments for injuries and so forth, so I don’t do it in any case. Auburn’s win did keep LSU from falling farther, but LSU has a lean couple of weeks coming up with Furman, followed by a bye. A loss to Alabama, followed by another bye, could dig the hole even deeper.

Auburn, which took LSU’s place in the top 7, wasn’t really hurt by the other SEC upsets since they’ve played both LSU and Ole Miss and have not played Georgia or Florida. Auburn probably would have done a little better with LSU winning though. Also, Georgia’s loss will make it harder for the Plainsmen to move up as the season goes on.

Texas Tech also jumped up 8 spots, mostly due to weak opponents or losses by teams ahead of them. The teams are closer together toward the middle of the poll, so small deviations can make a big difference.

Another SEC team fell out of the top 25 and two more nearly did, but the conference as a whole is still pretty dominant when the top teams are compared (see here). With the addition of Ole Miss, there are now nine SEC teams in the top 40 and three more in the top 66. Vanderbilt and Tennessee were not in that latter group last week.

If you think this is too weighted toward the SEC, keep in mind that some SEC strengths of schedule will decline in the next couple of weeks as those of other conferences will improve. Most other major teams do no play FCS opponents at this point, but several SEC teams do. Texas A&M and Auburn will not play FCS (I-AA) opponents (again), but they will play UTEP and FAU, respectively.

I did tweak the formula slightly to make sure the better FCS teams don’t count as horrible losses. Oregon St., for instance, would not be in the top 25 had I not made that change. Kansas St. was also being unduly penalized. Both losses are treated about the same as losing to TCU, just for reference. If I start trying to explain the numbers, almost everyone will get bored, so I’ll just leave it at that. I have more detailed statistical information here if you are interested. If an FCS team has a substantial number of losses (or losing percentage) in its sub-division, the rating decreases fairly quickly, so the change doesn’t benefit all teams who lost such games. FCS team ratings are just more of a bell curve now, which I think more accurately reflects the quality of the FCS. That’s the only part I’ve tinkered with in the last few years.

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Alabama 1
2 Missouri 2
3 Florida St. 5
4 Stanford 7
5 Ohio St. 6
6 Oregon 8
7 Auburn 15
8 Clemson 4
9 Miami 10
10 TX Tech 17
11 Oklahoma 14
12 Baylor 11
13 Va. Tech 9
14 Fresno St. 19
15 Michigan 23
16 LSU 3
17 N. Illinois 22
18 UCF —
19 Arizona St. —
20 Oregon St. —
21 Notre Dame —
22 Louisville 16
23 UCLA 13
24 Georgia 12
25 TX A&M 21

Out of rankings: (18) S Carolina, (20) Houston, (24) Mich. St., (25) Utah

All 126 teams

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7

College Football Top 25 Week 3

In College Football, Rankings on September 15, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Top 25

rank / team / prior

1 Alabama 1
2 Ohio St. 2
3 Oregon 4
4 Stanford 3
5 LSU 5
6 Clemson 6
7 Georgia 7
8 Louisville 8
9 S Carolina 9
10 TX A&M 10
11 Oklahoma 11
12 Washington 12
13 Florida St. 14
14 Miami 15
15 Ole Miss 17
16 Michigan 16
17 N’western 18
18 Okie St. 20
19 UCLA —
20 Auburn 23
21 Texas Tech —
22 Baylor 24
23 Mich. St. 21
24 Wisconsin 19
25 Florida 25

Out of rankings: (13) TCU, (22) Nebraska

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2

Week 8 Top 25 and Commentary

In Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 23, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 2
3 Florida 5
4 Kansas St. 4
5 Ohio St. 3
6 Oregon 7
7 Oregon St. 6
8 LSU 12
9 TX Tech 8
10 Rutgers 11
11 Miss. St. 15
12 Louisville 16
13 Toledo —
14 Oklahoma 13
15 S Carolina 9
16 Florida St. 24
17 Boise St. 18
18 Stanford 19
19 W Virginia 10
20 Texas 23
21 Georgia 25
22 Clemson —
23 USC 21
24 Wisconsin —
25 TX A&M 14

Out of rankings: (17) Cincinnati, (20) N’western, (22) La. Tech

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7

Note about the SEC:

Mississippi St. is interesting at this point, even though they do have the games coming up against Texas A&M, LSU, and Alabama. The SEC has 9 of the top 27 best schedules and 11 of the top 44. The outliers are Alabama (#84), Mississippi St. (#107), and Georgia (#116). The bad ones may be better and the good ones may be worse, because when I factor in the third level (opponents’ opponents’ opponents), it evens out a little bit (or Alabama wouldn’t be in the top 3), but that gives you an idea of why Georgia is so low also.

Tennessee is Georgia’s best win, and they lost once again. Also, Georgia lost to South Carolina, which has since lost two in a row.

Not surprisingly, the SEC also has high numbers in the ratings. 4 in the top 11, 5 in the top 15, 6 in the top 22, 7 in the top 26. That’s half the conference in the top 26. There is a bit of a gap before the next SEC team (Ole Miss at #47), and then there is a four-team cluster (Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Arkansas) between #65 and #71. This leaves only Auburn (#97) and Kentucky (#107) as lower teams.

Overall comments:

I was a little unhappy that both Notre Dame and Ohio St. escaped with narrow home wins on Saturday, but as things stand, I still have to explain their positions. Even though Michigan St. (a team the Irish beat) lost, they lost to Michigan (another team the Irish beat), so that didn’t really hurt them. The other opponents went 2-2.

I have ranked Alabama #1 again here even though they’re now down to #3 in my computer ratings. But as of next week, I’m probably just going with the computer rankings. If Florida is a very narrow #1, I may still pick Alabama, but if Notre Dame wins again, I’m making them #1, assuming that’s where they end up in the formula. I’m also excluding Ohio from my top 25 since it’s not really possible to give them a rating according to the same rules as the other teams. I don’t know if playing Miami U. will improve their rating enough to correct this. So I’ll continue to exclude them until this can be done. The rankings on the ratings site are, as always, unaltered.

Ohio St. slipped two spots because South Carolina and West Virginia, respectively, were much better opponents than Purdue was. Oregon moved ahead of Oregon St. due to the relative quality of Arizona St. over Utah.

I don’t particularly like how when teams close in rank play each other, they’re repelled away from one another, but if the teams are close, this will even out over time. Texas A&M was gaining points while LSU played Towson and Auburn, and those don’t count for very much. If LSU loses to Alabama, they’ll be slightly negative over the next two weeks. Texas A&M could be significantly positive by beating both Auburn and Mississippi St. Both Texas A&M and LSU have losses to Florida, so most of the current gap is due to A&M having the additional loss but not LSU. Also, A&M has had a prior bye week.

If Texas Tech beats Kansas St., the Red Raiders will likely be the #1 one-loss team, but of course, a one-loss SEC team would have a chance to pass them up (again?).
Rutgers, Mississippi St., and Louisville mostly just moved up by default.

Toledo had a pretty good win over Cincinnati (a formerly weak undefeated) and also, Arizona (the only team to beat Toledo) finally got another decent win, not that they should have been expected to beat Oregon, Oregon St., and Stanford anyway. (I guess the Pac-12 scheduler was an Arizona St. fan this year. The Wildcats have yet to play a game against the Pac-12 South.) Arizona themselves was also helped by Oklahoma St.’s win over Iowa St. I noticed something odd. Arizona has played three #18 teams this year. Arizona still isn’t ranked, but since there haven’t been all that many losses by ranked teams, a win over a now-top-35 team still helps out a lot. If Arizona does start beating all or almost all the Pac-12 South, you may see Toledo, Oregon, Oregon St., and Stanford tend to move up more than would be indicated by their week-to-week competition.

Oklahoma fell a spot by playing Kansas, little better than a bye week. I think 6 spots was a reasonable fall for South Carolina. Florida St. went up rather dramatically, but U. Miami is buoyed by a good schedule. UNLV (vs. Boise St.) and Cal (vs. Stanford) didn’t count for too much.

I guess Tubbs broke WVU a couple weeks ago, they moved down a lot. The only team above WVU who didn’t win last week is South Carolina and they were too far ahead, so that didn’t help.
Texas improved moderately by beating a struggling now-struggling Baylor team. Clemson (over Virginia Tech) and Wisconsin (over Minnesota) also got moderately helpful wins, but their improvements were more about a team like Texas A&M losing and a team like Louisiana Tech, who had lost to A&M the week before, losing. Northwestern also lost. USC beat Colorado, which barely counts as anything.

So I think that explains most things. All of my top 5 have challenging games this week. Florida should have the easiest time, but I don’t think Georgia is nearly as bad as their game against South Carolina or Florida nearly as good as their game against South Carolina. Lower down the list, Cincinnati @ Louisville and Michigan St. @ Wisconsin could be interesting, although the latter is less important than it seemed a couple weeks ago. (Wisconsin seems to be about to wrap up the Leaders [with Penn St. and Ohio St. ineligible, and no one else with a win], and Michigan St. is already 2 ½ games behind in the Legends.)

Week 7 Top 25 and Commentary (including LSU post-game)

In College Football, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary, Rivalry on October 14, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 2
3 Ohio St. 3
4 Kansas St. 9
5 Florida 7
6 Oregon St. 8
7 Oregon 5
8 TX Tech 14
9 S Carolina 4
10 W Virginia 6
11 Rutgers 17
12 LSU 20
13 Oklahoma —
14 TX A&M 23
15 Miss. St. 18
16 Louisville 19
17 Cincinnati 15
18 Boise St. 21
19 Stanford 10
20 N’western —
21 USC —
22 La. Tech 11
23 Texas 12
24 Florida St. 22
25 Georgia 16

Out of rankings: (13) Iowa St., (24) Toledo, (25) Duke

Full 124 permalink

Comments

LSU

Since losing his first home game against Tennessee (in which the Tigers gave up a 21-point lead before going on to lose in overtime), Les Miles has only lost 5 home games. Three of those losses occurred in the 2008 season (Georgia, Alabama [in overtime], and Ole Miss), with one loss each in 2007 (Arkansas, again in overtime) and 2009 (Florida). From 2005 to 2007 (Arkansas was LSU’s final home game in 2007), the Tigers won 19 straight games at home. Their current streak, however, is the longest in LSU history at 22 games. Nick Saban, who incidentally won his last 10 home games (and 14 of his last 15) as LSU’s head coach, will be the next coach to attempt to put a stop to that streak.

I had written a blog about the most-recent coach to try to stop that and his personal series against LSU. I would give the link if that blog hadn’t been wiped out by TheSportingNews. I may post a new version later this week, but for now, I’ll mention that LSU is 17-2-1 against South Carolina all time, which now includes three wins in the Spurrier era. South Carolina won the first game between the two schools in 1930 and didn’t win the second until 1994 (its only win in Baton Rouge), then earning the tie in 1995. If you’ll look at my LSU/Florida rivalry post, I included a list of the larger point totals in that series. In four of the five instances in which the Gators scored over 40 and two of the three instances in which they scored over 50 against the Tigers, Spurrier was their coach. Obviously this game yesterday was a huge game anyway, but it always adds a little extra to the spirit of LSU fans to have Spurrier there.

This was the 9th time in the LSU/South Carolina series that the game was decided by 8 points or fewer, so LSU is 6-2-1 in such games against the Gamecocks. Both losses were by one point apiece.

I have to admit I was mildly surprised about the offense. A team with only one official third-down conversion a week ago went 11/19 on third down. South Carolina was only 3/13, although they were 2/2 on fourth down, the second of which set up the touchdown to bring the score to within 2. The passing yards were even more modest than last week (by 10 yards), but Mettenberger was sacked one time instead of four and threw one fewer incompletion. His stats were also not padded by a 56-yard completion that only really amounted to a punt on third down last week anyway, so he showed a lot more ability to throw it far enough to keep drives going.

I’m still not sure what happened to the running game against Florida, but LSU did a better job of mixing run with pass and approached running plays with a variety of blocking schemes, not to mention directing the ball to different locations along the line. For example, there was a wildcat play that put LSU into what should have been scoring position, and Jeremy Hill (yes, we apparently found another good running back) scored on a delayed pitch to give LSU some breathing room (which they needed every bit of) with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

LSU had 406 yards of total offense to South Carolina’s 211. Going into halftime, the Gamecocks had more yards on an interception (LSU’s only turnover) return than the offense had gained. South Carolina only ran for 34 yards (1.4 yards per rush) compared to the 176 rushing yards by Florida (3.0 yards per rush) last week. LSU improved to 4.9 yards per rush (258 rushing yards) after gaining only 1.7 yards per rush (42 rushing yards) last week.

So before now-#1 Alabama goes to Tiger Stadium, LSU travels to College Station for the first time since 1995 next week and there will be a bye week thereafter. Also feel free to check out the Texas A&M entry to my rivalry series.

I’d like the passing game to continue to progress of course, but my main concern going into next week is finishing drives. The Tigers do have a very good defense, but three field goals of 23 yards or less next week (as was the case yesterday; there was also a miss from 32), and I doubt that’s going to be a win. Texas A&M gave Florida a better game than LSU did (LSU also settled for field goals of 31 and 21 against Florida), and the Aggies only scored 17 points in that one, so despite some less-than-stellar performances (such as giving up 57 to Louisiana Tech yesterday and giving up 27 to Ole Miss the week before, both away from home), they have some players on defense too.

Other teams

I’m going to keep Alabama as the #1 team in my blog and in my voting (I vote on two of the sites where I participate) unless they lose or run into serious trouble in the next two weeks. Regardless of what Alabama does, I will promote Notre Dame to #1 across the board if my formula puts them #1 and they get past Oklahoma.

I’m sure some Ducks fans have their feathers ruffled about being #3 in the BCS (I have them a bit lower of course), but when your best win is Arizona (which isn’t even top-40) and you’ve had a bye week and an FCS opponent, you should be happy with #3. Of course nothing precludes the Ducks moving up if they beat Stanford, USC (possibly twice), and Oregon St. (Arizona St. may not be bad either). The possibilities for significant advancement are there, and Florida and Alabama can’t both finish undefeated anyway.

Although Ohio is a top-25 team in my ratings, I will exclude them from the top 25 above until their schedule ceases to be so bad I have to substitute a number for my formula to work. The Bobcats’ opponents have an average winning percentage of 15.15, 123rd of 124 teams. Texas-San Antonio is 124th, and I would not rank them either, but in the Roadrunners’ defense, they are transitioning into FBS play and still scheduled a couple of non-Division I opponents, which do not factor in.

I’m not sure if I mentioned last week that the middle teams (around 10-20) were all very close together, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Normally, #10 (Stanford, in this case) doesn’t fall 10 spots for losing to #1, for instance. But penalties for losses or relative stagnation are point subtraction or the points staying the same, they’re not for a given number of spots like the way most people seem to do ordinal rankings. Louisiana Tech fell 12 spots for losing to a ranked team (Texas A&M). LSU was able to gain 8 spots partly because they weren’t that far behind numbers 10 and 11 that week even though 9 spots seems far. Oklahoma jumped up 14 spots from #27 for beating Texas, which was #12 last week.

Of course this also involved the cooperation of some losing teams and others who did little to help their point totals. Georgia didn’t even play, but it also lost points (and dropped 9 spots) because South Carolina lost. Florida St. didn’t gain very much for beating Boston College, so they actually stayed behind Texas.

It’s also important to note at this point which teams haven’t had either a bye week or a FCS (I-AA) opponent or have had multiple such weeks. (3) Ohio St. and (9) South Carolina have neither had a bye nor a I-AA opponent. This is one reason why, along with one other ranking system, I have Ohio St. higher than anyone else does. This is also partly why South Carolina is still ahead of LSU. Another reason is that Georgia (South Carolina’s best win) is better than Washington (LSU’s best win, and the Huskies lost over the weekend). Oregon St. would actually be #2 if I ranked the teams in order of best average playing week, since the Beavers have had two bye weeks (one due to a rescheduled game as a result of Hurricane Isaac).

Much more common Is having had a bye week and an FCS opponent already, as is the case with Kansas St., Oregon, Texas Tech, Wes t Virginia, Texas A&M, Mississippi St., and Louisville. Florida St. is basically in the same boat with having played two FCS opponents, one of whom is winless against all competition.

Two teams are really at a disadvantage right now. Oklahoma has actually had two bye weeks AND an FCS opponent and Cincinnati has played two FCS opponents and has had two bye weeks. Using a weekly average, they would be ranked 10th and 13th, respectively.

It wasn’t even that interesting of a week. LSU/South Carolina and Stanford/Notre Dame were worth watching (although I think Notre Dame was handed much of that final field goal drive in regulation), and there were a couple of blowouts of note in the Big XII (neither game appeared lopsided on paper; if anything, WVU-TTU seemed slanted the other direction), but that’s about it. I am sorry I missed the Louisiana Tech/Texas A&M game (I don’t have ESPNU, another one that came down to the wire, ending when Tech couldn’t convert a two-point play that would have tied and then failed to recover an onside kick. Kansas St. had a bit of trouble with Iowa St., but that one was a bit too early for me.

I’ll be interested to see how much trouble West Virginia can give the Wildcats next week. The week after that, the Wildcats will face Texas Tech, which of course won one of the two major blowouts over that same WVU team. Another key game next week is South Carolina @ Florida, to make a full circle back to Darth Visor.

Week 6 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 9, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Top 25

rank / team / prior
1 Alabama 1
2 Notre Dame 6
3 Ohio St. 15
4 S Carolina 11
5 Oregon 13
6 W Virginia 7
7 Florida 14
8 Oregon St. 4
9 Kansas St. 3
10 Stanford 9
11 La. Tech —
12 Texas 18
13 Iowa St. —
14 TX Tech —
15 Cincinnati 12
16 Georgia 10
17 Rutgers —
18 Miss. St. 19
19 Louisville —
20 LSU 2
21 Boise St. —
22 Florida St. 5
23 TX A&M —
24 Toledo —
25 Duke —

Out of rankings: (8) Washington, (16) UCLA, (17) Nebraska, (20) Clemson,
(21) Mich St., (22) Arizona, (23) Missouri, (24) Wisconsin, (25) Baylor

Full 124 permalink

Comments

Although I do rank Alabama #1 above, I know people aren’t going to be thrilled with the top couple of teams on my ratings site (can also be accessed via the headings above), but I’m happy with the top 10, and I think it will sort itself out as usual. Ohio St. has played 6 FBS opponents in 6 weeks, so that’s a considerable advantage over some other teams. Notre Dame has had one bye week, but it has played 4 BCS-conference opponents. The Irish’s opponents have also won an average of 54% of their games, and that’s factoring in their respective losses to the Irish. Notre Dame’s opponents’ opponents have won an average of 56.5% of their games. (FCS teams do not count toward these calculations.)

Nos. 3-6 include most people’s top two as well as South Carolina and West Virginia, who I feel have legitimately earned the most so far. Then the next three are Florida, Oregon St., and Kansas St. They weren’t preseason headliners, but you can’t say too much critical of their positions just looking at the resumes.

Then Stanford has had one of the best schedules so far with only one loss. Even San Jose St. has done well in other games.

After the top 10, there are too many teams that are only as high as they are because they don’t have any losses. A 1-loss team later in the year is more likely to be ahead of an undefeated Louisiana Tech or Ohio because they’ll have a lot more wins with which to overcome those losses.

I’m just going to throw a simple mathematical example out there if you’re interested. For instance, if you get one point for beating a good team and lose two points for losing to a good team and then get half a point for beating a poor team, this is what it would look like. 5-0 against poor teams = 2.5; 4-1 against good teams = 2. But the same calculation right before the bowls: 12-0 against poor teams = 6; 11-1 against good teams = 9.

The high SEC teams aren’t a result of some bias built into my formula. It’s pretty consistent all around. Kenneth Massey, one of the BCS computer rankers, compiles a list of the major publications as well as just about every unbiased top-to-bottom computer ranking and based on his averages of the rankings, the numbers are as follows: 3 in the top 3, 6 in the top 14, and 7 in the top 19.

That said, I’m willing to admit that the bottom SEC teams aren’t as good as they have been in past seasons. I remember one year Ole Miss was winless in the SEC but undefeated out of conference; but teams like Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and even Arkansas all have non-conference losses already. Eighth in the SEC on the list mentioned above is Tennessee at #45, followed by Missouri at #50. But the lower teams aren’t terrible either, as Kentucky is last in the SEC but #75 in the country. Every other conference has at least one team significantly lower than that, and all except the Big XII (with only Kansas lower, at #105) have multiple teams lower than that. My rankings are actually less generous toward the lower SEC teams than these sort of aggregate rankings are.
With at least the better SEC teams as good as they are, and most of its easy weeks out of the way (having had a bye week and having played Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Florida Atlantic, and Ole Miss), Alabama will have plenty of chances to move up. Unlike with the human polls, there is no deference to what a team’s ranking was the week before. So if for instance, Alabama were to beat South Carolina this week, they could jump over several other teams who won games against lesser competition.

In actuality, LSU plays South Carolina this week (and I’m more nervous about this than I was about the BCS championship game), and Alabama won’t play South Carolina (if at all this season) until the SEC Championship game. Alabama does still have divisional games against LSU, Texas A&M, and Mississippi St. The Tide’s inter-divisional slate (consisting of Tennessee and Missouri) isn’t exactly impressive, but they are both decent opportunities for points. What could happen is Alabama could be #1 after going through the divisional games mentioned above and then fall behind after playing Western Carolina and Auburn, but as mentioned, the SEC championship game should help out a good bit.

Last season, Alabama was stuck at #3 because it did not have the benefit of a ninth conference game, so it was FCS opponent, followed by Auburn, followed by no one.

SEC champions, on the other hand, have fared quite well in my rankings, both before and after I made a change to the formula, but I’ll mention the results since the change. Florida was #2 going into the BCS championship in 2008, moving into #1 after winning, but that team had a loss (also, this was before I compiled the strength of schedule myself). Alabama was #1 in 2009, Auburn was #1 in 2010, and LSU was #1 last year. LSU was such a strong #1 that even the loss didn’t knock them out of #1, and Auburn may have obtained the same result with a loss in the 2010 championship. Texas would have surpassed Bama with a win over them in 2009, however.

The other two undefeated top-ten SEC teams should be fine as well. Mississippi St. isn’t realistically going to finish undefeated anyway, but if they did, that’s the only SEC team I could see having problems if they did so.

I’ll end with a couple of general comments. Ohio finished in the top 25 published on my ratings site, but since I had to make some numerical adjustments just to give them a good enough schedule to be rated, I thought it best to put the teams that actually earned all their points higher on here.

There was more turnover in teams than I expected. This was partly due to a relatively eventful week (this week looks like a snooze, by the way). But I would note that none of the five teams I took out of the rankings last week moved back in with the introduction of computerized ranking. So my moves in an effort to be more objective were correct in those instances.

I never claimed to be the best prognosticator–I don’t pay as much attention to things like trends, key athletes, X’s and O’s, and margin of victory, since they don’t factor into my computer ratings–but I actually have done all right when tested this season. Of the picks I’ve made so far this year, I’m 41-9.

So while people get grumpy with me, I think I know just a bit of what I’m talking about when I offer other opinions.

By the way, while I’m still mystified by LSU’s lack of a running game and general offensive ineffectiveness after the first drive last week, I still feel I was correct in criticizing those who ranked some non-SEC team from the Sunshine State ahead of LSU after Week 5.