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Posts Tagged ‘Tulsa’

2012 SEC Recap

In Bowls, College Football, Conference Reports, General LSU, Post-game, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 8, 2013 at 1:18 PM

I’m not happy about Alabama winning the BCS title (and finishing #1 in my ratings) and I still don’t like the man at all, but Nick Saban has been pretty good about reminding people what it means to be in the SEC rather than pretending this is all about Alabama. He gave Georgia and the SEC credit, saying, “We got here by 5 yards — Georgia was 5 yards from scoring [the winning touchdown in the SEC title game],” Saban said. “It’s a pretty tough league we play in. We’re going to have to improve as a program to have the opportunity to play for a national championship again, because of the quality of our league.”

After, the LSU game, Saban’s opening remarks to the media included the following: “LSU played a great game. They had a great game plan. They did a great job of executing. I think their quarterback played really well. There was a stretch there in the second half where they converted seven straight third down and five or mores…. This was a very physical game. I’m going to tell you that our guys are probably going to be as sore as they’ve ever been after any game.” It was obviously in part to give his team credit for winning despite this, but he acknowledged all during the following week that if anything he needed to keep a lid on his team’s self-congratulatory mood (he was smart enough to worry about what happened in the A&M game before it happened), so I don’t think he was just patting himself or the team on the back with these comments.

I also want to give Gregg Doyel (who gave the Saban quote about Georgia here) credit for pointing out what an idiot he made out of himself earlier in the year.

I believe the Tide would have finished undefeated and possibly without the scares it had against LSU and Georgia had it competed in any other conference, and the same may well have been true had the Tide faced Notre Dame’s schedule. That’s not to say there wouldn’t have been any close games, but I don’t think there would have been the type of game that either the Tigers or the Bulldogs had against the Tide. I don’t think Texas A&M was as outstanding as some think they were, but they beat Alabama because they got out to a 20-0 lead, and I’m almost certain that they’re the only team in the country that could have realistically done that.

I just mentioned the three best teams that Alabama played this season (at least based on the games those teams gave Alabama), and it could have easily been any one of them in their place. I’ll further note that the Tide did not play Florida or South Carolina. So if the schedule and a couple other things had worked out differently, Alabama could have been the fifth or sixth team in the SEC this year. After all, that’s the spot LSU (at least according to the polls) ended up in this year, and we saw how close they were to Alabama on the field.

Speaking of which, LSU and Florida (LSU’s only conference loss besides Alabama) had disappointing bowl results, but they were basically national quarterfinalists. Georgia beat Florida, which eventually got the Bulldogs into the semifinal against Alabama, which had beaten LSU to all-but secure its place in the semifinal. The fact that Florida and LSU (and their fans) didn’t seem enthused by the bowls they ended up in–and the teams suffered losses in those games–doesn’t take that away in my view. I don’t think Florida or LSU would have lost those games had they taken place during the regular season even if both the Gators and Fighting Tigers had played them on the road. If you had put LSU or Florida in the Cotton or Sugar against Oklahoma, you might not have seen the same final score, but you would have still seen strong SEC wins in either case. I think the same can be said with regard to the BCS Championship against Notre Dame.

That being said, there were 14 teams in the SEC and that leaves out 8 of them; but even Missouri, which wasn’t eligible for a bowl, beat Arizona St., and Kentucky, which was winless in the SEC, beat Kent St. Northwestern did beat Mississippi St. and even Vanderbilt earlier in the year, but the Commodores came on strong at the end of the year and those Bulldogs did not. Both Tennessee and Vanderbilt beat North Carolina St., Vanderbilt doing it in a bowl, and Tennessee (which did not win enough games for a bowl berth) doing it to start the year. Also, there was another SEC bowl win when Ole Miss soundly beat Pittsburgh, which was a 33-yard field goal (attempted in the second of three overtimes) away from beating Notre Dame in South Bend.

If you look at inter-conference record, the SEC was second to the Big XII, but I think when you look at the top 2 Big XII teams, that’s an indication that the whole conference was a step behind the SEC. The Pac-12 was probably a better conference than the Big XII, but they were 24-11 out of conference to the SEC’s 43-8 before the bowl games. Both the SEC and Pac-12 were just over .500 in games against the AQ’s (and Notre Dame) before the bowls. The Big XII was 25-2 overall, but I think you’ll find that apart from the record, the conference didn’t do anything that impressive.

I don’t have anything particularly complimentary to say about Arkansas and Auburn, but I think in a lot of conferences both would have made bowl games. I felt like Auburn gave up, but with a few wins rather than losses in September and October, I don’t think that would have happened. I almost forgot that Arkansas beat a pretty good Tulsa team in November though.

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Week 9 Top 25 and Commentary

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 30, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Top 25

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

Out of rankings: (20) W Virginia, (24) USC, (25) Wisconsin

Full 124 permalink

Prior rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

I’m going to write separately about LSU-Alabama. For now, I’ll just mention that while I expect LSU won’t win, I had the same feeling the last time a coach I particularly dislike as a person brought a top-5 team to Baton Rouge. LSU may also have benefited from that experience. I certainly hope the Tigers are at a higher level than Mississippi St. is, and that was probably the best team Alabama has played by far. I believe that South Carolina and Florida are both better teams (or at least South Carolina was).

Top 25 comments

As I indicated last week, I have put aside my cynicism about Notre Dame for the purposes of this top 25 listing. From now on, I expect to just paste the top 25 that my computer formula comes up with. This is not about any deficiency of Alabama, who I believe has a shot at becoming #1 again in the next couple of weeks (the Tide faces LSU and Texas A&M), regardless of what Notre Dame does against Pitt and Boston College.

For the most-part, the undefeated teams are ahead of the one-loss teams. Florida is a notable exception. Why are they higher here than in the major polls? LSU and Florida have each beaten Texas A&M and South Carolina. But while the loss to Georgia loses Florida more points than LSU’s loss to Florida loses them, LSU still has to accumulate good enough wins to overcome the points that Florida got for beating LSU. The Tigers have not done so. I think LSU being ahead in the polls is merely a result of when the respective losses happened. If Florida had lost to Georgia before beating LSU and South Carolina, and LSU had beaten South Carolina before losing to Florida, I think you would see the poll rankings more in line with how many rankings are.

Except for a brief mention below, I’m going to talk about Louisville moving ahead of LSU in a comment to my main blog. It would have taken up too much space otherwise.

Ohio St. curiously moved ahead of Kansas St. even though Texas Tech is a better win than Penn St. is. So that was a result of past opponents for the respective teams. Oklahoma counts for much less of a win after losing to Notre Dame than it did before that. Not only was that a negative for Kansas St., but there were also some positives for Ohio St. with how past opponents such as Nebraska, Michigan St., and Miami U. (which beat a previously undefeated Ohio U.) fared on Saturday.

Oregon was close enough to Florida to move ahead, and I think the Gators’ drop was reasonable. There was a big gap between #7 and #8 last week and it showed when neither Florida nor Oregon St. fell out of the top 10.

I would note that in my old ratings, Louisville wouldn’t even be close to LSU, but the idea of this rating is to put the top two teams at the top. More often than not, an undefeated team deserves consideration ahead of a team with a loss. And we’re not talking one loss at the end of the season (in which case a few SEC teams with losses could be ahead of Louisville), we’re talking about one loss if the season were merely (for most teams) the 8 playing weeks that have gone by so far.

Georgia’s jump forward had some similarities to Louisville’s. It wasn’t just the value of the win (which for Georgia was much greater), it was also the improvement of Georgia’s strength of schedule as a result of the game.

Texas Tech slipped 6 spots for losing to Kansas St. but has a chance to move ahead of some teams next week, as Nos. 11, 12, and 14 all have byes, and #13 Stanford plays Colorado.
Clemson is up 6 spots, mostly as a result of other teams’ losses, and also because this was a part of the rankings where teams were statistically very close together. This is also why Oklahoma fell so far.

Nebraska and Northwestern benefited from other teams similarly to the way Clemson did, although they picked up quality wins also.

Texas and Texas A&M, like Boise St., just hardly got any points for their wins on Saturday. Too bad they won’t be playing each other this year, that could have been a good one.

Admittedly, the best team Tulsa has beaten has been Fresno St. (barely in the top 50), but if you win 7 games in a row, you have a shot to sneak into this top 25, especially if the one loss (Iowa St.) is near the top 25 (#34). Maybe one could argue Tulsa should be behind Iowa St. because of the loss to them, but I don’t want to punish so much for a loss to Iowa St. that it counts as worse than Iowa St.’s three losses. After all, one of Iowa St.’s losses is to Oklahoma St., which is about their equal.

Conferences and LSU Update

In College Football, General LSU, Realignment on August 25, 2012 at 9:28 PM

I had a lot of thoughts about what the conferences should do moving forward, but there were a couple of LSU issues I wanted to cover first, this being the last non-game week.

Mettenberger seems to be dong extremely well. In the final scrimmage, he completed 26 passes on 36 attempts for 336 yards. There was an indeterminate number of TD passes, but I’m not sure how relevant that is anyway. According to the stats given, he didn’t fare nearly as well in the first two scrimmages, with only 15 completions each time.

Kenny Hilliard seems to be at or near the top of the RB depth chart, so I’m excited to see him this year.

There are a couple of linemen who are “a little nicked,” according to Les, but I’m still feeling fairly positive about the offense.

Defense is a little more up in the air. There is only one real returning starter in the secondary, and there has already been an injury. FS Eric Reid is the only returning starter from that unit. The defense as a whole returns 4, although Tharold Simon had a lot of impact in more limited playing time last year. There is a lot of talent, but talent alone doesn’t stop tackles from being broken/evaded and passes from being completed by the other team.

In recruiting news, LSU has two good incoming quarterbacks, Rivals’ #4 pro-style QB and another product of the state of Georgia (as was Mettenberger), Anthony Jennings, whom Rivals ranks as the #12 dual-threat QB. It will be interesting to see how much LSU goes for the dual-threat options in the future. LSU is now ranked #5 in overall recruiting class by Rivals.

Moving from the future to the distant past, I thought this was a nice tribute to a former LSU player turned NFL Hall of Famer: http://bleacherreport.com/tb/d8jlB?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=lsu-football

Onto the conferences, I know I like to talk about this topic a lot, but the regional rivalries and series histories are important to me.

First off, I’m hoping the ACC and SEC stay at 14. The only way I would support a 16-team conference would be if 7 or maybe 8 games counted toward the conference title. With 9 games, you could have one team with two extreme lightweights from the other division as well as an extra home game, and that team could end up ahead (either by a single game or due to a head-to-head tiebreaker) a team who had an extra road game and played two of the best teams in the other division. I can countenance 8 games because there may be a natural rival in the other division anyway, and it could be used to even out the home/away situation mentioned. One game is less likely to be determinative than two. Such an arrangement might work in the ACC if it continues to poach the Big East but I don’t think it would work well in the SEC.

I did have one specific thought about the SEC. I think it would make more sense if West Virginia were in the SEC and Missouri went back to the Big XII. They’re losing a lot of good Big 8 rivalries, and except for Arkansas, I don’t know if anyone is very excited about Missouri joining, particularly not in their division, the East.

I calculated the travel times for the SEC. The benefits for the Big XII are too blatantly obvious to elaborate upon. I think most people aren’t going to drive in a car for 800 miles, so the 300-mile difference in the trip to Baton Rouge, for instance, might not be that significant, but if there are 5 divisional teams less than 600 miles apart, that’s better than the 2 divisional teams (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) that close to Missouri. If you draw the line at 550, it’s 4-2; at 500, it’s still 3-2. (Georgia is between 550 and 600 from WVU, while Vanderbilt is between 500 and 550 from WVU.)

As referenced, Missouri does provide something good in that it’s closer to Arkansas than any other team and as Arkansas had no logical interdivisional rival before (it had been South Carolina), that was a marriage made in heaven. WVU, however, does not have a logical interdivisional rival. Since the two Alabama teams are seemingly off-limits (can’t break up Alabama-Tennessee or Auburn-Georgia), the one that made the most sense was Mississippi St., whose currently “rival” is Kentucky, which in turn could be paired with Arkansas as two of the more Northern teams. This still would add significant travel times to the interdivisional rivalries for the other teams.

With an 8-game schedule, the average travel time is almost exactly the same, around 740 miles (the interdivisional games make almost a negligible difference since only one would be played per year). If a 9-game schedule were adopted, WVU would involve an average travel distance of 877 miles to Missouri’s average travel distance of 851 miles. This was calculated by only counting the non-annual distances for 1/3 since only two of the 6 leftovers would be played every year. But restricting it to permanent rivalries (including divisional rivalries), WVU is only an average of 590 miles to Missouri’s 632. And strictly looking at divisional rivalries, it’s 525 for WVU to 685 for Missouri. There is a thought out there that maybe with 14 teams, not every team should have the permanent interdivisional rival, although you would at least want to keep a few of them. The two involving Alabama teams especially, but Ole Miss-Vandy is a good tradition too, even though it’s not usually two of the better teams of course. LSU has played Florida for 40 years in a row, but this has only really meant a whole lot for the last 15 years. No one (except Lou Holtz) is going to miss Arkansas-South Carolina, and few would miss Miss. St.-Kentucky.

Boise St. should forget about the Big East and instead join the Big XII. TCU came to its senses and gave up the Big East for the Big XII before playing a down in the Big East. A coast-to-coast, Canada-to-Mexico-to-Cuba (Tampa isn’t Miami but still isn’t far) league is completely ridiculous. Of course BYU would seemingly want to join the Big XII, and this would actually make sense to give Boise a more natural rival. San Diego St. would be another possibility, but let them and the Big East be stupid together, basically the same sentiment I have regarding WVU and the Big XII.

I know that still isn’t as regional as I typically argue for, but Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas make up 8 teams. So it would still mostly be regional except with teams to the Northwest (2), North, and Northeast–enough to be a presence in those other regions without destroying the natural rivalries. And the schools in question don’t have better offers anyway.

I don’t know how Tulsa doesn’t get involved in all the changes being made, but maybe that’s because it’s not a big school (fewer than 3000 undergrads). Plus, it’s going to be a team within some reasonable distance of Louisiana Tech, which has been a misplaced member of the WAC for years. In 2005, several Texas teams bolted for the CUSA when it expanded, but Louisiana Tech (in Northeastern Louisiana) was left out, with its closest opponent all the way in southern New Mexico. Now this will finally be remedied. Tech will have Tulsa to the Northwest, North Texas to the due West (only requiring one interstate highway really), UTSA and Rice to the Southwest, and Tulane and Southern Mississippi to the Southeast. It would have had Memphis to the Northeast, but that’s another seemingly misplaced future Big East member.

The Big East still has the two NYC-area teams, and it still has the two Ohio Valley teams, but it’s not extending into the rust/coal belt in what used to be the west of the conference, and it’s not going North of the NYC area to Boston or Syracuse. Why not build on that and become a regional conference again as it should be, only this time more Southern? There are a few CUSA teams that could rejoin Cincinnati and Louisville. East Carolina and Central Florida might be good, for instance. Maybe Villanova could be convinced to make the leap to FBS. Temple is already moving back to the Big East.

But instead it’s on a ridiculous quest to become some hybrid of the original Sun Belt conference (which went from Moscow, Idaho, to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Miami) and the 16-team WAC (Hawaii to Wyoming to Fort Worth, Texas). Hopefully, it will be a similarly temporary arrangement. Maybe the Big West can become more of an FBS conference again and they can draw the line of separation at the Mississippi River at least. Or perhaps several members can be the football WAC and perhaps in other conferences in other sports. It does not seem the current WAC will have enough teams for football in 2013.

I wonder if the BCS could have avoided some of this by kicking the Big East sooner and replacing it with the Mountain West. At least the MWC would have stayed together longer.

I’m unclear on why the MAC decided it needed 13 teams and replaced Temple with UMass. I fail to see how 13 is convenient, fair, or logical. Perhaps Youngstown St. can become an FBS team and they can make it an even 14. That’s another thing I wonder. We have 4 new FBS teams this season; will the new and upcoming conference shifts result in increased pressure from FBS conferences to tempt the FCS members?

Week 12 Top 25 and Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 25:

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

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

Top 120 Permalink

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

Week 11 Top 25 and National-Championship Commentary

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Blog note: I plan to post my next two blogs on Thursday morning and Friday evening.

Race for #1

LSU is still #1, but I can almost guarantee they will not be on my ratings site after next week. However, in two weeks and from then on, it should not be a problem for the Tigers if they stay undefeated, as Oklahoma St. will have a bye week on the same weekend that LSU will play Arkansas. A win should give LSU a decent lead that would probably withstand a Cowboys victory in Bedlam.

LSU’s strength of schedule (which does not penalize for FCS/I-AA opponents, which are compensated for elsewhere in my formula) fell to 7th this week, and will probably fall out of the top 10 after they face Ole Miss, which has only one FBS/I-A win this season, over Memphis, and which just lost to Louisiana Tech. Okie St. plays a mediocre Iowa St. team next week, but the Cyclones rate as a much better opponent than the Rebels do.

As far as Oklahoma, if the Sooners were to win Bedlam, I believe they would pass up Alabama (and Oklahoma St.) for #2. A lot of commentators have already been dismissing the Sooners, but I don’t think this is fair.

Now, I’m the last person who wants to give anyone a “pass” for a loss. They lost the game to Texas Tech, that’s why they’re #4 and not #1 or #2 (and they would be lower if everyone else in front of them in recent weeks hadn’t lost), but what about the other 90% of the season thus far? They’ve dominated two teams that, when they played Oklahoma St., came down to the last play. Those teams were Kansas St. and Texas A&M, and Kansas St. played Oklahoma at home and Oklahoma St. on the road. Oklahoma also has had one of the best schedules. The Sooners did not play an FCS/I-AA opponent and did play Florida St. and Tulsa. So I think wins over those two teams plus 8 wins over Big XII teams should be enough to put Oklahoma in the title game.

I’ve heard talk about not wanting to punish teams for having already played LSU (IF LSU is the #1 at the end of this), but what about punishing LSU? Why should the Tigers have to beat a team they already beat on the road (albeit in an extremely close game) at a neutral site? Why should they have to beat a team they already beat easily at a neutral site at yet another neutral site (probably a less-neutral one at that)? If you’re undefeated, you shouldn’t have to worry about a team you’ve already beaten, especially if you didn’t play that team at home.

I’m not saying this because I want LSU to have an easier opponent. As I’ve said, OU will have had a formidable list of accomplishments. They will present their own unique challenges–they have a different kind of offense from Oregon or Alabama, for starters. Plus, along with LSU, Oklahoma would probably be the only relevant team with a win over a top-5 team when we get to the end of the year. I don’t think Stanford will be in the top 5 unless Oregon loses, and I don’t think Arkansas (a loser to Alabama in September) will be in the top 5 unless they beat LSU. I can’t imagine that Oklahoma St. would fall out of the top 5 because of a loss to Oklahoma, unless it’s a complete blowout, which certainly shouldn’t hurt Oklahoma’s argument.

And like LSU’s win over Alabama, Bedlam would be a huge game that everyone knows is a huge game. Also, Oklahoma would be at least mildly disadvantaged by having to play the week before and having to travel to Stillwater, so that would impress me possibly more than what LSU did. I think Bedlam will be the type of game where it’s going to inform us of how good of a game we would get in the BCS national championship game. I don’t think the Texas Tech game would say very much about how Oklahoma would perform in the BCS national championship game.

All things being equal, losing to Texas Tech is worse than losing to LSU (and worse than losing to probably 50 other teams) of course, but all things are not equal. The remainder of Oregon’s schedule would not compare at all. The strongest team in the Pac-12 South is probably USC, who’s not even playing for a championship and who struggled against teams like Minnesota, Arizona, and Utah (and lost to Arizona St.) before coming on more strongly (but if you want to consider that, we should consider that Texas Tech was playing better when they played Oklahoma), and the only real competition in the North was Stanford. That’s not week-in, week-out like the SEC (at least the West and half of the East) and the Big XII.

Alabama of course does play in the SEC West, but hanging their hat on a win in September, regardless of the margin, is more suspect. Obviously if LSU wins out, Alabama would not have had a championship game. Also, the Tide did have an easy non-conference schedule overall. Penn St. was good, perhaps better than Florida St., but there is no respectable #2 out-of-conference opponent, and since Alabama would not be in the championship game, they would have 8 SEC games to Oklahoma’s 9 Big XII games.

The top 10 SEC teams are better than the Big XII, but Alabama played the worst SEC team (Ole Miss) and will have played neither South Carolina nor Georgia, both in the top 5 of the SEC. (I had my doubts about Georgia being that high up there until Saturday.) So the Tide would be a total of 1-1 against the 5 best SEC teams, having played neither of those games on the road. By winning out, Oklahoma would be 4-0 against the 5 best Big XII teams, having played two on the road. LSU, by winning out, would be 3-0 against the top SEC teams (one home, one road, one neutral-site), with a (neutral-site) win over the likely Pac-12 champions and with a (road) win over the possible Big East champions.

As a neutral observer, I would want to see LSU play Oklahoma. As a biased fan, give us Oregon again. Alabama would be the worst of both worlds. I don’t think it’s a compelling game to see a second time. Why do I want to see the same match-ups? I think re-matches just lead to a bunch of over-analyzing and second-guessing rather than either team just playing their game. Those who didn’t like the first game would probably like this even less.

As a fan, I don’t like it because LSU had a little bit of an element of surprise. Many analysts said LSU’s defenders were too small and would allow Alabama room to run. I think Alabama found out otherwise. McCarron threw more than was probably in the game plan, and even though the interceptions were not really McCarron’s fault, with those play-makers on the LSU D, they were playing with fire. Also, I don’t think Alabama suspected LSU would so easily put Jordan Jefferson in there to run the option if Lee struggled.

Now maybe LSU runs the option the whole time (maybe putting in some reverse plays, halfback passes, student bodies, etc.) and wears out the Alabama linebackers and by the fourth quarter, they’re finding the edge routinely (as LSU did on the near-TD in OT), and this possibility would make me feel a little better as a fan, but if that happens, it will be intensely boring as an observer, at least when LSU has the ball. It might be fun for a few moments if you don’t know where the ball is, but mostly it would be like a throwback to Nebraska in the late 1990s. No thanks. I also think Alabama might throw even less, which isn’t fun to imagine either. If they throw more (which they could conceivably try in the hopes that LSU defenders try too hard for big plays and let receivers get behind them), it might be entertaining when Alabama has the ball, but that would still only be half the game…actually less, because then LSU would likely win the time of possession easily. And in that case, I don’t think Alabama would be highlighting their better players.

I’m not telling the voters to pick Oklahoma over Alabama in that scenario because you don’t want to see a re-match, but pick Oklahoma because of the teams they’ve beaten since September and because if they beat Oklahoma St., they deserve a chance to beat another great team for the championship. This is from someone who would be voting Alabama #2 right now, but barring an upset in the next two weeks, I would probably change that vote after Bedlam.

Except for Arkansas (who could possibly beat LSU, propel itself over Alabama in the BCS standings, and then win the SEC championship), I doubt anyone below #5 right now matters. There would have to be a series of upsets that made the last two weeks of 2007 look pedestrian. It’s highly unlikely that the Big XII champion would be anything other than one-loss Oklahoma or undefeated Oklahoma St. It’s doubtful that Oregon would lose again (they play home games against USC and Oregon St., probably followed by another home game for the Pac-12 championship). Auburn (or Georgia Southern) over Alabama would be an incredible upset. All of those need to happen for the ACC champion, Boise St., or Houston to even merit discussion. The Big Ten and Big East can forget it too. I could see Stanford getting an argument from some if Oregon loses again, but they just got smacked around at home. This is mid-November, I don’t think you recover from that by beating Notre Dame, Cal, and UCLA or ASU.

New Top-25 Teams

I’ll just skip the 10-team carousel from #12 to #21. It was nice to see a few teams fall off and give two new teams a chance. Tulsa, still with losses only to Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Boise St., makes its first Top 25 appearance of the year. The fact that it took this long means they haven’t beaten anyone, but they have Houston in two weeks, and if they get past the Coogs, they would likely face Southern Miss in the CUSA championship. So those are a couple chances for decent wins. Arkansas St. makes its first appearance ever. The Red Wolves have losses to only Illinois (in the season opener) and Virginia Tech. Since losing to the Hokies, they have won 7 straight, also over no one special, but on Saturday, they became only the third team (one of them Oklahoma St.) to beat ULL.

So back to the fact that Arkansas St. is in my top 25. I have now ranked at one time or another 93 of the 120 current FBS teams in the 17 seasons I’ve been doing rankings. Of course, the number is considerably lower in my mathematical ratings, which I’ve only done in their current format since 2008. I did a top-40 mathematical rating of sorts from 2004 to 2007, but it was a much different formula. Anyway, I’m counting any team that I ever listed as top 25, even if it was early in the season, before I begin using any mathematical formula.

Notre Dame and Wisconsin have climbed back on, and they deserve it, but they were both over-rated for much of this season. The Domers have won 7 of 8, beating competitive BCS teams Michigan St. and Wake Forest in the process (maybe you can include Pitt, but it would depend on which team showed up).

I can still hear Craig James whining about Wisconsin not getting computer love. (If his son sounds anything like that, I would put him in a closet too.) Wisky is there because other teams lost mostly, but before this week, their LONE quality win over Nebraska didn’t look as good as it does now. I’m not being a jerk; these are their other wins—(2-7) UNLV, (2-8) Oregon St., (6-3) Northern Illinois, (3-4) South Dakota, (0-9) Indiana, (4-5) Purdue, (2-8) Minnesota. I didn’t count wins against lower-division teams. That eliminates one win each from Northern Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue; and it eliminates three wins from South Dakota (an FCS team with three non-DI wins). I did count losses to lower-division teams, of which there were three (one each by UNLV, Oregon St., and Minnesota). Northern Illinois’s opponents have won only 34% of their games, by the way, so even that isn’t as good of a record as it might first appear. I do realize the Badgers played a top-25-caliber game against Michigan St., but computers are banned from considering margin of victory, so don’t blame the computers for just treating that like any other loss. They’re playing the role they’re designed to play, and that role is not to factor in margin of victory (which would also give Wisconsin more credit for beating Nebraska {along with their other large margins of victory}).

Top 25:

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

Out of rankings: (17) Texas, (22) Cincinnati, (23) Ga. Tech, (24) Auburn

Top 120 Permalink

Prior rankings:
Week 10
Week 9
Week 8
Week 7
Week 6
Week 5
Week 4
Week 3
Week 2
Week 1
Preseason

Week 10 Top 25 and BCS Mega-Commentary

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

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

LSU/Alabama For the Record

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ratings/Rankings Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full 120

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

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

Prior rankings:

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

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

Final Rankings, 2010 College Football Season

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 12, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Full ratings

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 3
3 Oklahoma 5
4 Ohio St. 5
5 Oregon 2
6 Boise St. 7
7 Stanford 9
8 LSU 10
9 Nevada 14
10 Okie St. 13
11 Mich. St. 6
12 Arkansas 8
13 Alabama 18
14 Wisconsin 12
15 Missouri 11
16 Utah 17
17 Texas A&M 15
18 Florida St. 21
19 Va. Tech 19
20 Nebraska 16
21 Miss St. 24
22 NC State —
23 Tulsa 25
24 S.Carolina 20
25 Notre Dame —

Out of top 25: (22) West Virginia, (23) Hawaii

I’m pretty tired from finishing all this, but I do have a few comments. I’m pleased LSU finished in the top 10, although you always wonder about a play here and there when you get that high, especially playing the teams LSU played. I’m going to post a blog about Les Miles and his accomplishments at LSU so far with more details. Although this is his 4th 11+ win season, this is the first time people can’t really argue that it was because of Saban. It’s good to make that step and also good that things can be even better next year. I’m hoping it’s another 2006-2007 transition (but hopefully with less than two losses this time).

I know, Notre Dame had 5 losses, but Tulsa doesn’t look like such a bad loss now, and I think they were penalized for it too much in the human polls. Michigan and Navy still aren’t good losses, but there were wins over Utah, USC, and Pitt to balance those losses out. The other losses were Michigan St. and Stanford, Big Ten co-champions and Orange Bowl champions, respectively.

I also know people will say Oregon is too low, but there aren’t the quality wins there. Their second-best win is over USC, the same second-best win that Notre Dame has.

I calculated my rankings before the national championship game and even if they had won, Oregon would have been stuck at #2. I don’t think that would have been right, so I plan to make losses count for more next year. But it demonstrates the scheduling deficit I’m talking about.

I also have to talk a bit about the SEC. As you’ve probably heard, this is the fifth BCS title in a row for the conference and sixth in 8 years (to go back to my 2003 LSU Tigers). A less-quoted bit of information is that the top 5 of the SEC West (Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi St.) went 44-2 (almost 96%) against outside competition, the only losses being by Alabama to South Carolina (who happens to be in the other SEC division) and by Arkansas to Ohio St. These were the best wins, excepting the ones against one another, based on my rankings:
(5) Oregon
(11) Michigan St.
(17) Texas A&M, twice
(24) South Carolina, thrice
(27) West Virginia
(32) Florida, thrice
(39) North Carolina

Congratulations to Ohio St. for finally beating an SEC team in a bowl game, by the way. They were my pre-season #1 for a reason, although I did mention at the time that I thought Wisconsin would be a problem, and that turned out to be their only loss. Of course, Arkansas was only arguably #2 in the SEC, and Ohio St. is the only one of the three co-champions of the Big Ten to win, so they have to be the real Big Ten #1. Michigan St., another co-champion, lost to the #4 team in the SEC West, 49-7. So you have to keep these accomplishments in perspective. Ohio St. still hasn’t beaten an SEC champion in a bowl game.

I don’t understand the billboards that went up in Ohio congratulating TCU. For doing what, making sure that the Big Ten still didn’t look that good despite Ohio St.’s bowl win? And if you’re trying to make Wisconsin feel bad, why not put them up in Wisconsin? Of course, were I a Wisconsin fan, I would be reminded of my team’s win over Ohio St., so maybe that wouldn’t make sense either.

Back to the SEC, I was hoping Alabama would pass up Michigan St., but reducing the gap from 12 spots to 2 is pretty much the most one game out of 13 (when between two good teams) is supposed to do, and I should remind you that I don’t factor in margin of victory. If I were a voter, I probably would have put Alabama higher. But these things happen in the computer rankings, and I think it gives a better picture of the whole season than the human polls do.

Anyway, I’m not letting the college football season die just yet. I’m going to post about Les Miles among LSU coaches, and I’m going to do the final conference report. I might even think of something else. I also have some blog housekeeping to do, as well as posting blogs that were lost in cyberspace upon the closing of sites I’d rather not mention.

By the way, in less than 8 months (September 3 to be exact), LSU returns to the House that Jerry Built to face the Oregon Ducks.

Pre-Bowl Top 25 and Other Thoughts

In College Football, Rankings on December 5, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Full rankings

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 Oregon 3
3 Oklahoma 5
4 TCU 2
5 Ohio St. 4
6 Mich. St. 6
7 Boise St. 11
8 Arkansas 7
9 Stanford 9
10 LSU 10
11 Missouri 8
12 Wisconsin 12
13 Okie St. 13
14 Nevada 16
15 Texas A&M 15
16 Nebraska 14
17 Utah 17
18 Alabama 18
19 Va. Tech 21
20 S.Carolina 19
21 Florida St. 20
22 WVU 22
23 Hawaii 24
24 Miss St. 25
25 Tulsa —

Out of top 25: (23) Northern Illinois

No surprises with the BCS bowls. I still don’t think TCU should be in the Rose Bowl. I understand the Rose Bowl should have to have non-AQ-conference teams from time to time, but not when the potential replacement team is #4.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m also annoyed that Connecticut wins the three-way Big East tie-breaker.

LSU is the best non-BCS SEC team, it is beyond annoying to hear suggestions otherwise. It’s a close call between Arkansas and LSU for second in the SEC, looking at the whole season (and fair to put Arkansas ahead based on their winning streak, which of course included the win over LSU), but Alabama has an extra loss and lacks even a moderately impressive out-of-conference win. That said, I understand not sending LSU back to Orlando. I felt that we took a big step forward this season, and even though the CapitalOne is supposedly better and pays more money, it feels like less of a step forward than the Cotton, which had traditionally one of the more high-caliber bowls. But I still think Alabama-Texas A&M and LSU-Michigan St. would have been a more evenly-matched combination of games. Maybe a fourth-best SEC team is better than a tied-for-first Big Ten team; but I think, like LSU-Penn St. last year, it will come down to motivation.

LSU needed to play Texas A&M again though, so that’s not a bad setting for it. Also, Arkansas barely beat Texas A&M (in the same stadium, incidentally), so maybe that will be some motivation. Anyway, I look forward to adding to my rivalry series once again. This will actually be a new one, although I did touch on Texas A&M in other blogs based on coaches who faced LSU there and at another major historical rival (Bear Bryant {actually two rivals for him}, Gene Stallings, and Jackie Sherrill).

The Sugar Bowl will also be an interesting SEC-Big Ten match-up. I think Arkansas is a similar team to Wisconsin, so Ohio St.’s defense will be tested. Of course, Ohio St. would argue that they have a similar quarterback to Auburn’s.

New Year’s Day is remarkably uninteresting. The Rose and CapitalOne should be all right, but these are the other games that day: Northwestern-Texas Tech, Florida-Penn St., Mississippi St.-Michigan, Connecticut-Oklahoma. But since all the non-BCS games are on at basically the same time, I guess it will be easy to avoid the bad ones.

In a way, the Cotton has more prominence now, and not just because of the House that Jerry Built. It’s the only big bowl game between the Sugar Bowl (the last actual BCS bowl) and the National Championship Game. It will be played on the night of Friday, January 7. The ridiculously early New Year’s Day slot would not have been as exciting. Nevada is a good team, but they’re only playing Boston College, and that game will be on the following Sunday. The Cotton will also be one of only three games to be played on network television, the others being the Sun Bowl (Miami-Notre Dame) and the Outback Bowl (Florida-Penn St.). All the other bowl games will be carried by one of the ESPN channels.

I’m glad Boise St. got a somewhat respectable opponent in Utah, even though TCU roughed up the Utes pretty badly. That’s still a 10-2 team. Las Vegas is a good place to play as well. It’s not as traditional of a location, but it’s not a whole lot different in profile from New Orleans or Miami, and it’s also a good time of year to be in such a place. Those aren’t attractive teams for their fans, but I’m sure distance from most bowl locations has at least something to do with that. That’s the first game that really interests me. Being that it will be played in 17 days, I guess that’s not so bad.

I have Hawaii and Tulsa ranked, so I’ll be interested to see that game on Dec. 24. I don’t think either is really one of the 25 best, but this should put it into perspective. These are Tulsa’s three losses: by a Hail Mary @ East Carolina, on the road against Oklahoma St., and by a field goal @ SMU (the last loss, Oct. 9). Hawaii’s only loss since Sept. 18 was to Boise St. Things don’t really get interesting until Dec. 28, but I’m sure you’ll hear from me before then.

My next regularly-planned blog is the final pre-bowl conference report. I’m not sure when that will be, but I’ve been having trouble posting during the week, and I’ll probably won’t know what to do with myself next Saturday, so that will be my guess.