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Posts Tagged ‘UCLA’

2015 Full Preseason Top 25

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on August 31, 2015 at 2:00 PM

I’ve already elaborated on these in my top 10 blog, but here they are again, with last year’s final rankings:

  1. Ohio St.           1
  2. Baylor             12
  3. TCU                6
  4. Alabama         4
  5. Michigan St.   8
  6. USC                20
  7. Oregon          3
  8. UCLA             7
  9. Clemson          18
  10. LSU                 (30)

I did want to comment on LSU briefly being that both Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit picked the Tigers to make the NATIONAL championship game (I recognize this may be bad news for the Tigers). Desmond Howard picked Texas A&M to win the SEC. I’ll talk more about the Aggies later, but his basis for that was adding John Chavis as the DC to Sumlin’s offense, so I’ll respond to that briefly. Chavis did a good job overall at LSU, but this past year was one of his poorest performances. Even if he’s not losing his touch, I don’t think he’ll suddenly conjure up a good defense in College Station. The panel was unanimous about someone from outside of the state of Alabama winning the SEC West, so I hope they’re right (but if it comes down to Auburn and A&M, I’ll be for Auburn).

Lee Corso (center) picked LSU as the national championship, and Kirk Herbstreit (to his left) picked LSU as runners-up to Ohio St.

Lee Corso (center) picked LSU as the national champions, and Kirk Herbstreit (to his left) picked LSU as runners-up to Ohio St.

11-25

11. Ole Miss         15 – staying in the SEC with this one. Even if LSU does fine the rest of the season, it’s going to be awfully hard to win the divisional road games at Oxford and Tuscaloosa. The Rebels have never won the SEC West (unless losing the head-to-head tiebreaker in 2003 counts), but with 16 starters back from a contending team last year, this could be the year. It’s also quite conceivable there could be some sort of tie with the Rebels making the SEC title game this time. Bo Wallace does not return, but that could be a blessing as much as a curse.

12. Florida St.       2 – I don’t know if this is too high for the ’Noles given my deep skepticism of both sides of the ball (as noted in the top 10 blog), but a fall in more than 10 spots for a team that’s been near the top of college football for a couple of years seemed like too much. Don’t be surprised if they finish a bit lower though.

13. Georgia Tech  10 – I had the Wreck as a top 10 team at the end of last year.       While they don’t have an overwhelming number of returning starters (13), they were right there with Florida St. last year, so I see no reason to expect otherwise this year.

14.Notre Dame    (33)– The Irish will have to play three teams mentioned above (USC, Ga. Tech, and Clemson) as well as Stanford, but I don’t hold schedules against teams in preseason. I don’t think they were actually better than LSU last year, but they did show significant improvement that made the bowl win possible. Also, almost their whole team (19 returning starters) is coming back. I can easily see the Irish in the top 4 even with a loss, but this may depend on the perceived strength of the Pac-12 and the ACC at the end of the year.

15. Arizona St.      19 – The Sun Devils have nearly as good of a chance to win the Pac-12 South as UCLA and USC do, but they never quite seem to have the consistency to do such things. They did make the Pac-12 championship in 2013, but the highest-ranked team they had to beat to do so was #14 UCLA. I don’t think it will be the same type of thing this year. They haven’t beaten a team ranked higher than that since 2002, and they also can’t do things like lose to Oregon St. (as they did last year). ASU does return 16 starters from a top-20 team, however.

16. Boise St.         5 – I always have to remind people that unlike the human polls, I do not routinely just move teams up for not losing. This makes it less problematic to put a team like this in the top 20. The Broncos return 16 starters from what I had as the #5 team last year.       Teams like this have been ranked in the top four at the end of the year in the BCS era; and now that four is the magic number, it may just be a matter of time. They do have a new quarterback, but that was also the case in 2012 (11-2) and 2008 (12-1).

17. Georgia           13 – The Bulldogs did well enough at the end of last season to earn this spot even though they don’t have a huge number of returning starters (12). I’m still not quite sure how they managed to lose to Georgia Tech, but the Auburn game and the bowl game were very impressive. They couldn’t win the SEC East in the last couple of years, and it won’t exactly be easy considering they play Alabama and Auburn, but I still give them a slight edge over Missouri.

18. Wisconsin       14 – I see the Badgers as a potential spoiler in the Big Ten championship (Ohio St., Michigan St., and Michigan – none of whom they play in the regular season – are all in the other division). They’ll have a new running back or two, but that’s one area they never seem to struggle in finding new talent. The defense should be strong with 8 returning starters on that side. They might not be fun to watch, but 10 wins or more seems probable.

19. Missouri         11 – The Tigers were a better team overall last year (still not sure what happened with Indiana) than the Badgers, but I don’t know if 13 returning starters is enough. I’ll talk about this more below when I discuss teams that didn’t make the cut.       That being said, they could easily go into the season-ending Arkansas game with a chance to make the SEC title game once again.

20. Auburn            21 – Once again with this section of teams, the question is going to be consistency. They had great games (41-7 win over LSU, for instance) and not so great games (34-7 loss to Georgia). I don’t know if that’s suddenly going to turn around with a mediocre number of returning starters, which I mentioned in the top 10 blog.  The Plainsmen do supposedly have a good new quarterback, but he’ll have ample opportunity to prove it.

21. Arkansas         (38) – Staying in the SEC West, the Hogs seemed to turn the corner late last year and had an excellent chance to finish the SEC schedule with a third straight win after shutting out LSU and Ole Miss. Mizzou upended them late, but I certainly expect the Razorbacks to win some similar games this year with 15 returning starters.

22. Stanford          (32) – The Cardinal were supposed to have a great offense line last year, and I didn’t even rank them in the top 30 and the end of the year, so I’m more tepid about them than a lot of the preseason ratings are. They should have a strong offense with 9 returning starters though. I’ve seen some hand-waiving over the lack of experience in the defense, but look at the Pac-12 teams I’ve mentioned above and Notre Dame. I could easily see several games where the defense struggles to keep up.

23. Oklahoma St.  (58) – The Cowboys weren’t very good last year, but they won 10 games two years ago and 12 games two years before that. Maybe they just like odd years. They certainly showed flashes of talent last season, and they do return 16 starters. They could be a sleeper/spoiler team in the Big XII. Don’t forget that TCU’s performance last year was after a 4-win season in 2013.

24. Oklahoma       (36) – While we’re talking about the Sooner state, why not talk about the Sooners? They were a disappointment to the faithful last season, I’m sure, but nearly beat TCU and Kansas St. and had other good games. Again, it’s just another team that struggled with consistency though. A more modest number of returning starters though (13), so they might not be able to hang in so well against TCU and Baylor and so forth.

25. Texas A&M    (31) – The former divisional rivals of those Oklahoma teams will probably struggle to contend in their current division, but they have 15 returning starters evenly distributed on both sides of the ball and apparently some stability at quarterback, so they could be dangerous.

Out of top 25: (9) Marshall, (16) Mississippi St., (17) Arizona, (22) Colorado St., (23) Kansas St., (24) N. Illinois, (25) Memphis

I would understand if people want to stop reading there, but I thought it was worth addressing why certain teams do not appear above.

Despite being a top-10 team most of last season, Mississippi St. only has 9 returning starters, which puts them among the lowest in FBS football. I don’t think they’re a good candidate for the preseason top 25. Just because they had a good year doesn’t mean they had Ohio St. and Alabama level backups standing on the sidelines waiting their turn, but I guess we’ll see against LSU in a couple weeks.

Marshall only had a couple more with 11, and I’m really skeptical they had a great second squad last season.

Another team I wanted to mention who didn’t make the cut is Arizona. I just them as fading at the end of the season, and they don’t have impressive numbers coming back. They could be in the top three of their division with some luck, but I don’t see the upside for them being much better than that. The downside is they could be a low-level bowl team (or worse) who struggles with the likes of Utah.

Kansas St. is pretty much in the same boat. The Wildcats also have 12 returning starters and finished in the top 25 last season, but it’s a similar profile. I don’t think the upside is all that strong even if things go well. The teams I have ranked can win their respective conferences if things fall into place. I just don’t see that with this group.

Colorado St., Northern Illinois, and Memphis were also in my final top 25.  Even if they had a lot of returning starters, I probably would not have ranked them. This is a bit of a tangent, but I’ll explain why below.

I don’t think they were better than many of the 26-40 teams that were in major conferences. It’s more that the philosophy of my rankings focuses on top teams so it is set up to remove those with four or five losses from consideration more than a team with a small number of losses who doesn’t play anyone.

I’ll give an example. Team A is in a major conference and is 7-4.   Team B is in the MAC and is 10-1. There is a good chance Team A is better than Team B. Two slightly worse teams last year demonstrate that. Northern Illinois lost to Arkansas, 52-14. Arkansas finished 7-6, and NIU finished 11-3.

Going back to the hypothetical, what if the following happens? Team A then beats two top ten teams and goes to 9-4. Team B then beats two top ten teams and goes to 12-1. Team B would be ranked higher for sure. Even though the season will almost never end like that, I still don’t want it to penalize easy schedules so harshly that if you do add a couple of really good wins that the team can’t then be in the top 10.

Anyway, the point is that such a team being ranked last year doesn’t mean they actually would have beaten Stanford, Notre Dame, LSU, Oklahoma, etc.

Finally, Tennessee wasn’t ranked last year and barely made the top 50, but they have almost their whole team back with 18 returning starters. I just think you need to have a better team to start out with for that to matter enough. The Vols were very fortunate to play in a bowl game at all.

The same is technically true of Arkansas; but like I mentioned, Arkansas dominated their last two SEC West opponents and nearly beat the SEC East champions. If Tennessee had played in the West, they probably would have finished last and not made a bowl game. About a month before Arkansas beat Ole Miss 30-0, Tennessee lost to the Rebels 34-3. Also in the last month of the season, the Vols only beat South Carolina by three (in overtime) and Vandy by 7. Tennessee had a respectable performance against Alabama (losing by 14) and dominated Kentucky before beating Iowa in the bowl game, but that’s not enough to change my perception that they’re still an unproven collection of players.

The Week 1 top 25 won’t be until Tuesday, that’s one reason I waited until today; but after that, it should be on Sundays pretty regularly.

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2015 Preseason Football Top 10

In College Football, General LSU, Preview, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on August 21, 2015 at 3:06 PM

There has been some confusion on this in the past, so I wanted to start with my general philosophy on pre-season rankings.

I do use a formula starting around the beginning of October for ratings, but that has nothing to do with pre-season. Everyone starts fresh in that formula when we get around to it.

What I start with is a subjective evaluation of how good the team was last year and how many good players are coming back. If 17 of 22 offensive and defensive starters are coming back from a top-10 team, that’s probably going to be a good team, at least they’ll be well-positioned. It might not be the best team, but to me that’s a preseason #1 candidate. That team would go ahead of a more talented but unproven team.

I wanted to say a couple of things about returning starters. I know how many returning starters you have in August aren’t always great predictors of how well you do in November, December, and January, but I still think they’re a good place to start. A preseason top 25 should be the teams you expect to be strongest based on what the teams have to start the season.

Likewise, when you get to the end of the season, subjective polls will reflect who’s good at the time and might not count those early-season games (such as the one Ohio St. played against Virginia Tech last year) for much.

I guess the best analogy for my preseason approach is seeding or pole position. It’s an earned status to a degree, but it’s not necessarily a prediction of results. An example from the NCAA basketball tournament a few months ago was Villanova. I didn’t really have a problem with them being a #1 seed, but I still thought there was a good chance they’d lose in an early round and they did. The previous year, that’s how I felt about Wichita St.

When I do talk about returning starters below, I am just referring to Phil Steele’s list of returning starters and not counting kickers… not that I don’t respect kickers, but few championships are decided by having an experienced punter or kicker rather than just having a good one.

I wouldn't bet Ohio St. over the field, but if someone wants to finish #1, they might just have to take it from the Buckeyes themselves.

I wouldn’t bet Ohio St. over the field, but if someone wants to finish #1, they might just have to take it from the Buckeyes themselves.

Without further ado, here’s my top 10, and I’ll give my reasoning below:

  1. Ohio St.
  2. Baylor
  3. TCU
  4. Alabama
  5. Michigan St.
  6. USC
  7. Oregon
  8. UCLA
  9. Clemson
  10. LSU

I have a couple of guidelines for preseason #1. One of these guidelines is that it has to be a team that I’ve previously ranked #1 in my 20 years (this is actually year 21) of ranking college football teams. So while either TCU or Baylor could emerge from the Big XII and win it all, I can’t really pick either one.

I do want to say one other thing about the Big XII upfront. I think there will likely only be one of the two in the playoff (same thought about the Big Ten, by the way), and the likely fourth team I would guess will come from the Pac-12, but I obviously don’t think any Pac-12 team looks good enough for the top four just yet.

Unlike some, I don’t necessarily gravitate toward last year’s #1; but I just don’t see any other good choices.  For the record, this is the fourth time I have made the Buckeyes my preseason #1.

ESPN’s #3 is Auburn. I wouldn’t be surprised if Auburn finished #3 (or maybe even #4) in their DIVISION. Alabama, Georgia (who Auburn plays every year despite being in another division), LSU, Arkansas, and Ole Miss are not exactly strolls through the park when you return only 12 starters from a four-loss team.

Alabama has been a safe high pick in recent years, but another new quarterback (and not an experienced veteran new QB like last year) is a concern.

Also, this has happened a few times, but Alabama was lucky it finished with the record it did. Whether you fault LSU or the refs for the outcome, Alabama’s talent did not really win that game. I also felt Auburn played a better game, at least between their own goal line and about the Alabama 10. So I wasn’t shocked when the Tide lost to Ohio St. I didn’t pick Ohio St. to win, but I wasn’t shocked.

The other two teams from the top 4 last year were Oregon and Florida St.

Oregon only returns 12 starters and only 5 on defense. I think defensive returning starters are often underrated in preseason rankings. Offensive returning starters depend a lot more on position and player. A tight end or guard might not be missed, especially if there is someone else there who had significant playing time before; but any weak link in a defense, even if it’s only week for a couple plays in the game, will be noticed.

Florida St.’s offense will be gutted. If the 4 starters were Winston, a couple of linemen and a good wide receiver, that would be one thing, but Winston is gone and the ’Noles replace four linemen. Defensive starters are underrated as I said, but it helps to have a defense less pourous than their was. FSU only had 11 returning starters two years ago, but I think we know enough about Everett Golson at this point to know he’s no Jameis Winston. I haven’t followed the team that closely, but I certainly don’t think the other candidates are clearly better than he is.

There may be a potential top-four team I haven’t mentioned that could surprise and win both games (like Ohio St. did last year), but to go along with what I said earlier I don’t see preseason rankings as the time to make longshot predictions.

ESPN also has USC, Michigan St., and Georgia in the top 10. USC can beat Notre Dame and they can beat Oregon, but I’d be pretty surprised by both, especially given that both are on the road and USC hasn’t won anything major in a while. Also, there is that whole conference championship thing, and UCLA and Arizona St. won’t be cakewalks either.

Michigan St. is interesting. They were a top-4 team a couple of years ago. I don’t think they’ll play anyone overpowering with the possible exceptions of Ohio St. and Oregon; but I don’t know if their QB will have anyone to throw to, and they also fail the #1 test I mentioned above.

Their #10 is Georgia. They play those Alabama and Auburn teams I discussed (pretty tough inter-divisional slate), not to mention that Missouri team that keeps winning their division and an improving Tennessee team (also the man in the visor isn’t a pushover either). They also have 12 returning starters.

Now I think the SEC will have at least five top 25 teams, possibly even two or three more, but I don’t see a team that jumps out much.

If I’m anywhere close to correct about the SEC, it would take the best coaching performance Saban has ever had for Alabama to get through undefeated, so I don’t think that’s going to happen, especially given that game against Georgia. On the other hand, since they found a way to win all but one last year (before the playoff), they can probably do the same this year and end up in the top four. Of course LSU lost two games in 2007 and ended up in the top two, so top four certainly isn’t out of the question with two losses.

Baylor is #2 because look how good they were last year with single-digit returning starters. They have almost twice as many this year. They really are one of the top two teams I wouldn’t want to play, especially early on. The main worry with the Bears is they could get in one too many shootouts, and it could backfire, like that WVU game that got away from them last year. The defense should be improved, but there is a lot of room to improve.

I was going to pick Oregon as my top Pac-12 team again, but Phil Steele convinced me otherwise. I think I jumped the gun by picking USC to do so well last year (#11 was my preseason ranking), but that doesn’t mean they won’t move up this year. They have better pieces in place, it’s just a matter of how quickly the team gels and learns how to be champions. The Trojans may not even beat Oregon (on the road), but even if they don’t, they could get a second chance. Both could easily have out-of-conference losses as well (to Michigan St. and Notre Dame, respectively), so the Pac-12 should be less confident about landing a playoff team than the SEC, Big XII, or Big Ten.

I also don’t think UCLA is far behind. Like with USC, I wonder if they can go from challengers to champions, but I also think the talent and potential are there. The quarterback is a question mark, but he’ll have enough support staff around him that by the time they play the likes of Stanford and especially USC, they could be a very good offense.

Clemson has three tough games: Notre Dame, @Miami, and Florida St. If they win all three and the ACC championship, they should be in the top four. I don’t think they will, but top 10 isn’t too much to ask. The defense (4 returning starters) may have a rough time of things, but I don’t think Florida St. and Miami will have the kind of punishing offenses to take advance of it too badly.

LSU is a good place to end because for one I honestly think they’ll be more competitive in the SEC this year, and because I can finish this blog by talking more about them without detracting from other teams.

I really tried to look for reasons not to put LSU in the top 10, but my main concern with the defense is depth in the secondary, I’m not concerned with the whole unit like I am with Clemson. Clemson may have a more solid offense and a better QB situation, that’s why they’re higher, but I don’t see much distance there. I think LSU is still too young to do something like win the SEC (though to be fair I didn’t see that coming in the preseason in 2001 or 2003), but returning starters are returning starters even if they were freshmen starters last year. As the cliché goes, they weren’t freshmen when last season ended. If they can do something like, I don’t know, beat Alabama, that could be a springboard to something really special in 2016.

I just want to mention something that’s bothering me. People are saying Saban has Les Miles’ number, but two of the past three years, Alabama did not have a good game against LSU. Instead of continuing to run over the defense, LSU played for a field goal in 2012 (which they missed and which started Alabama’s game winning drive).

I touched on last season earlier, but LSU had the ball with goal to go and under two minutes left in a tie game. A little mutual physicality after a play somehow got LSU a personal foul (but not Alabama) and stopped the clock. LSU had little choice but to play for a field goal to take the lead. Then LSU’s squib kick on a kickoff (which they might have kicked deep had there been less time on the clock) was a little too diagonal and bounced out of bounds, eventually setting up the tying field goal. I’m not saying not to give Alabama credit for their respective winning and tying drives, but that’s not Alabama or Nick Saban having LSU’s or Les Miles’ number. Now if by “has his number” they mean he’s been getting the breaks, then absolutely; but that type of thing doesn’t typically last forever. The shoe was on the other foot not too long ago.

Let’s not forget that last year Alabama had a top-four team and LSU didn’t even have a top-25 team. The game this year is at Alabama, but the road team has a consistent historical edge in the series. LSU last won in Tuscaloosa in 2011 before losing to the Tide in the rematch two months later. So the Alabama win in 2013 was the only win by a home team in the series since 2010. LSU could also easily lose a revenge game to Ole Miss or Texas A&M or possibly lose again to one of the teams who beat the Tigers last year. That type of thing is less likely for Alabama even if they finally do lose one to LSU.

Ranking the Conferences, Part IV: Full Season 2014

In College Football, Conference Reports on January 17, 2015 at 5:29 PM

sec-pinwheel-logo

Part I: Frame of Reference
Part II: King of the Bowls
Part III: Overall Bowl Performance

1. SEC
2. Pac-12

I’m going to start with acknowledging that if you look solely at winning percentages against the P5 or even against the FBS, the Pac-12 has a better winning percentage than the SEC. In overall winning percentages, the SEC and Pac-12 are in a virtual tie (I will discuss that more below).

I’m going to give some records below. Since I’m trying to get this out before it’s too late in the day (I’m on the West Coast), I haven’t checked them with other sources since the bowl games, so if I missed one or two games, I apologize in advance.

I also want to mention that while this is my last entry about the conferences, I do plan at least one more blog about the rankings (comparing my pre-season list to the current list) and something about LSU. Apart from the Notre Dame “Rivalry” blog. I haven’t done an LSU-specific blog since Thanksgiving weekend.

My philosophy for ranking conferences in my “conference report” series is as close as I can get to my philosophy for ranking teams. From watching the playoff games, the overwhelming consensus is that the team who entered those undefeated (Florida St.) was the worst of the four teams. So much so that they finished 6th in the coaches’ poll and in a tie for 5th in the AP poll.

You can’t get better than 100%. A lot of reasonable people had Alabama, who had only won 92.3%, ahead. The committee (and a few individuals) had Oregon (same winning percentage as Alabama) ahead. That winning percentage was also shared by Ohio St.

Oregon, the loser of the title game, won 86.7%, about 6 points below Florida St.’s current winning percentage.

In Part III of this series, I determined that the Pac-12 had a better bowl season than the SEC. The overall records of the conferences also reached a tipping point, as the Pac-12 record against other FBS conferences surpassed the SEC record against other FBS conferences for I believe the first time this season.

There is only a gap of 3.7% though. I think based on the discussion above, when it’s a winning percentage that close, you need to look a bit deeper.
When you go down the line, the SEC’s opponents are consistently better though. Judge for yourself though. I’ll start with how they did against the ACC, Big Ten, and Big XII, respectively. I think the top four teams of each conference are fairly easy to determine, so I’ll separate it there. Unfortunately, there were no games between the SEC and the Pac-12.

After giving the records, I will list the wins over the top four, followed by other losses to teams outside of the top four. “Good” losses don’t prove as much and neither do wins over mediocre teams.

Pac-12 vs. ACC: 1-0 vs. top 4 , 2-1 vs. others
SEC vs. ACC: 2-5 vs. top 4, 1-0 vs. others

Oregon beat Florida St.
Boston College beat USC

Georgia beat Clemson
Georgia beat Louisville.

Pac-12 vs. Big Ten: 1-1 vs. top 4, 5-1 vs. others
SEC vs. Big Ten: 2-2 vs. top 4, 1-1 vs. others

Oregon beat Michigan St.
Rutgers beat Washington St.

LSU beat Wisconsin
Missouri beat Minnesota
Indiana beat Missouri

Pac-12 vs. Big XII: 1-0 vs. top 4 (UCLA), 1-1 vs. others
SEC vs. Big XII: 1-2 vs. top 4 (Auburn), 4-0 vs. others

UCLA beat Kansas St.
Oklahoma St. beat Washington

Auburn beat Kansas St.

So the SEC played 14 games against top-4 opponents of the other power conferences against only 4 for the Pac-12. You can’t tell me that’s not a disproportionate ratio. It happened to be that the team who played two of three was the best team in the Pac-12, and the one who won the other was arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, UCLA. UCLA beat the same team SEC #6 Auburn beat.

The Pac-12 makes up some ground with Notre Dame, but I don’t believe they would have been a top-4 team in any power conference apart from possibly the Big XII (unfortunately, their recent games with Oklahoma didn’t take place this year to let us know more clearly). Arizona St. and USC beat Notre Dame. The Irish beat Stanford of the Pac-12 and LSU of the SEC. LSU and Stanford were similarly ranked in their respective conferences, and Notre Dame beat both by a field goal.

LSU was also denied what could have been a game-changing touchdown right before halftime. I don’t bring that up to say LSU is better than Stanford or their loss is more excusable, but I think we can infer that if Notre Dame played two higher teams in the SEC like they did in the Pac-12 (Arizona St. and USC were higher in the Pac-12 than Stanford), they most likely would have lost both games.

Anyway, the differences in schedules don’t end there. I think CUSA, MAC, and Sun Belt only have two teams worth considering apiece, but I’ll go with the top 4 for the MWC and AAC. Neither of those are very deep, but they’re centered around a few serious teams. The MWC had four teams who each won at least 10 games, so I think they’re all worth considering strongly (though not as strongly as the top 4 of the power conferences of course). The AAC had three teams tie for first. East Carolina was not in that tie, but I think they made up for having a couple more losses (two to teams in that tie) with their wins over North Carolina and Virginia Tech out of conference, so I’ll give them credit for 4 too. I’ll break these down collectively.

Pac-12 vs. G5: 2-3 vs. top teams, 16-1 vs. others
SEC vs. G5: 10-0 vs. top teams (Auburn), 18-1 vs. others

UCLA beat Memphis
Utah beat Colorado St.
Nevada beat Washington St.

South Carolina beat East Carolina
Florida beat East Carolina
Missouri beat Central Florida
Missouri beat Toledo
Ole Miss beat Boise St.
Ole Miss beat Memphis
Ole Miss beat ULL
Auburn beat Louisiana Tech
Arkansas beat Northern Illinois
Tennessee beat Utah St.
Temple beat Vanderbilt

Despite winning 11 games over the Mountain West, the Pac- 12 only won the bowl game against a 10-game winner. The Pac-12 was 0-2 against those teams otherwise and also lost to Nevada, the #6 MWC team. The Pac-12 also suffered a loss to BYU, who I included as one of the good G5 teams even though they’re independent.

The only SEC loss to a non-P5 team was by the worst team in the SEC, Vanderbilt. They lost to Temple.

I mention who won the games because I have no problem with Oregon and UCLA both being in the top 10. You can even put them both ahead of Alabama if you want to, but they got all the major wins for the Pac-12, except for the two over Notre Dame and the one over Colorado St.

I just don’t think the accomplishments of those two teams put the Pac-12 as a whole ahead of the SEC. The fact that teams so far down the SEC won major games, not to mention that 5 teams that weren’t even in the top half of the SEC won bowl games. These are not the games mentioned above, except for the Florida win over East Carolina.

If you evaluate conferences anything like teams are evaluated in the main, you’d have to acknowledge that the SEC was far more tested in terms of opposition, and that how tested they were overcomes the slight deficit in winning percentages.

Some people only want to look at performance among the top teams or don’t care at all (win or lose) what happened against non-P5 opponents, but that’s not how anyone I know of looks at teams. The concepts overlap, but I’ll give analogies.

Regarding the former outlook, West Virginia and LSU looked like two of the best teams when they played top teams. WVU was within a possession of Alabama for 50 minutes (losing by 10), beat Baylor, and lost by a single point to TCU. LSU beat Wisconsin, beat Ole Miss, and lost to Alabama in overtime. No one I know of is going to ignore that LSU lost to Arkansas and Notre Dame or that West Virginia lost to Texas and Texas A&M though.

Regarding the latter outlook, the problem many people had with Ohio St. was that they lost to Virginia Tech, who barely even qualified for a bowl game. Imagine they had lost to Navy instead. That wouldn’t count against them? So when the Pac-12 loses to BYU and Nevada, that should count against them.

Still others might say that you look at the performance at the end. So between the last week of the season and the bowls, the SEC lost nine games to other conferences (even all of those were either the best independent team [Notre Dame] or in the top 4 of P5 conferences).

Anyway, as I indicated at the beginning, I’ll grant that there are ways of looking at this that would not put the SEC first, but not the way I’ve ever approached this discussion.

The demise of the SEC West was also greatly exaggerated. Even counting the bowl losses, the SEC West won 85.7% of its non-conference games. Granted, the Pac-12 South won 86.9%, but refer back to what I said about strength of schedule. Most of those quality SEC wins were by the West. Then take out the Oregon wins when you consider the Pac-12. It’s not even close.

Also, it’s been overlooked that the SEC East went 5-0. They got a lot closer to the SEC West in the process. The SEC East won a total of 78.8% of their non-conference games. The Pac-12 North, on the other hand, won only 73.9% of their non-conference games.

The numbers I just gave count FCS opponents, so that’s where some of the discrepancy is, but I excluded those games initially because strength of schedule matters.

Including the FCS games, the Pac-12 was only 0.4 percentage points ahead, and there wouldn’t even be that difference had the Florida/Idaho game not been canceled. Even if you don’t place a high premium on it, if you don’t think strength of schedule can change the outcome of just one game out of dozens, then I guess this just isn’t for you. Also, I guess Marshall should have been in the top 2 going into Thanksgiving, and Florida St. was the best team going into the playoff games despite how those games turned out.

I think the bowl results are pretty conclusive as to the rest of the Power 5 conferences and many of the others, so rather than trying to fill up another blog with that, I’ll just list the teams and mention any highlights briefly.

3. Big Ten

Like the SEC/Pac-12 discussion, the B1G had a slightly worse record than the ACC against the P5, but the level of competition was higher. For instance, it played six games against the top half of the SEC compared to only four by the ACC. The ACC had a better record against the SEC than the B1G did, but mostly because they played Florida, South Carolina, and Kentucky. Also, the Big Ten had fewer losses overall, meaning they had fewer bad losses. It also helps that the B1G went 5-1 against the ACC, the only loss to Virginia Tech by Ohio St.

If you’re not convinced, this is the list of their P5 wins to compare with the others: Pitt, Syracuse, Miami, Boston College, North Carolina, Baylor, Washington St., Oregon, Missouri, Alabama, Auburn.

4. ACC

This is more a symptom of the weakness of the Big XII, who went only 6-11 against P5 conferences compared to the mark I mentioned by the ACC (nearly .500).

P5 wins by the Big XII: Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington, Tennessee, Ole Miss. Two were against top teams of those conferences, but both were wins by TCU. Not a lot of depth.

P5 wins by the ACC: Ohio St., Oklahoma St., Kansas, Oklahoma, USC, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi St.

Also, if you didn’t notice, the ACC went 3-0 against the Big XII.

5. Big XII

Even though 6-11 vs. the P5 isn’t great, it beats the 5-18 mark of the MWC by far enough that we don’t really have to look into the specifics much. The other four conferences went a combined 10-79. I did give the CUSA credit for having a better bowl season, but the bowl win by Louisiana Tech over Illinois was the only win of the season by the CUSA over a P5 opponent. Also, the Big XII only lost two games to a non-P5 opponent compared to the MWC’s nine losses against that group.

6. Independents

Notre Dame, BYU, and Navy were all a bit above average (at least in records) while Army was a bit below. They went just under .500 against P5 opponents, and a few games over .500 against the FBS. Most of the big wins were by Notre Dame, but BYU beat Texas, Cal, and Houston. Navy didn’t do anything spectacular, but they did beat three teams with winning records: Texas St., Georgia Southern, and San Diego St. The only somewhat bad losses were by Army: Yale, Kent St., and Wake Forest.

7. Mountain West (MWC)

The MWC, as usual, was clearly the best of the rest. It was competitive with many P5 opponents and had the best record of the G5 conferences against them. Also, it suffered no embarrassing losses. It went undefeated against FCS opponents (unlike the Big XII, by the way). There were only three losses to non-bowl teams. Colorado and Oregon St. beat Hawaii, and Oregon St. beat San Diego St. Colorado was a bad team, but they didn’t beat one of the MWC’s seven bowl teams. As to the Oregon St. win over San Diego St., it’s not shameful in any way for a low-level G5 bowl team to lose to possibly one of the best P5 non-bowl teams. If there were a losing-record championship game, I probably would have liked to have seen Oregon St. vs. Kentucky.

8. CUSA
9. AAC

The CUSA has to have been happy with how well it fared given the defection of so many teams to the American (AAC), who I believe it just barely edged out. I mentioned the CUSA only had the one win over a P5 conference, and while that was certainly a negative, as were the two FCS losses. The CUSA had better games against everyone in between, however. 21-25 vs. the FBS is a lot better than the 10-31 mark of the AAC. The CUSA went 3-1 against the AAC (losing only to Memphis), it beat three of the MAC bowl teams (compared to only one such win by the AAC), and it beat three MWC teams (compared to only one). The wins over ULL and Navy roughly cancel out the two AAC wins over BYU.

10. Mid-American (MAC)

Like the AAC, the MAC only had 10 wins, but unlike the AAC, the MAC didn’t beat teams like North Carolina and Virginia Tech and did lose to two FCS teams. The MAC only beat three bowl teams: Pitt, South Alabama, and Arkansas St. The last two were wins in bowl games.

11. Sun Belt (SBC)

The Sun Belt won only 5 FBS games, two over bowl teams. ULL beat Nevada, and Arkansas St. beat Utah St. It did get one P5 win, but Wake Forest (who lost to ULM) barely counts.

Ranking the Conferences, Part II: King of the Bowls

In Bowls, College Football, Conference Reports on January 7, 2015 at 4:30 PM
I believe these are all of this season's bowl games.  Apologies if I missed something.

I believe these are all of this season’s bowl games. Apologies if I missed something.

Part I: Frame of Reference

This went long enough just covering the top two conferences, so I plan at least one more blog to finish off the bowl list and another for the overall list.

Before assessing the overall strength of conferences, we should discuss the bowl games, since that’s often the first place people go when talking about conference strength.

I’m skeptical about the bowls being very decisive because all but four teams (until 2014, all but two teams) aren’t really playing for anything but a nice trophy that few people really care about. Not only that, but there is a month layover after the games that really count.

Granted, anyone who lost more than a game or two was out well before the season ended, but there were few teams who didn’t at least have a rivalry game to get excited about in the last couple of weeks of the season. Also, what often happens is a team will be disappointed or disinterested in a bowl game.

There is a lot of talk about let-down games during the season, but a fair percentage of the time the better team ends up winning games like that. It’s a little bit different in bowl games. A relative lack of interest and motivation over a month makes a bigger difference than over a week. Also, you’re pretty much guaranteed an opponent who will beat you if they have a fairly good game by their standards and you have a fairly poor game by your standards.

Nonetheless, if you take the bowl games as one week, that’s still the most important playing week of the season when determining relative conference strength.

The most important consideration for me is how many wins a conference has. I think this is more important than winning percentage, because winning percentage is based more on who your competition is and which teams you have qualify. If only your best five teams are put to the test in a bowl game, what about the other half or more of your conference? They wouldn’t likely have won bowl games. Also, you have to look at who the wins came against.

The SEC, the #1 conference going into the bowl season, had the most wins with 7, 6 of which were against Power 5 conferences. The SEC had 12 teams qualify (and was very close to a 13th). The ACC was second with 11, but the ACC only won a total of 4 bowl games, two of which were not against other Power 5 conferences.

The Pac-12, the #2 conference going into the bowl season, did very well with 6 wins (5 over Power 5 conferences) out of 8 bowl teams. As a result, discussion of the best conference of the bowl season should rightly center in on the SEC and the Pac-12

Where I may part with some is I believe strength of schedule should not only be evaluated in the abstract (how good the opponents are on their own) but also by how difficult the opponent is in light of how highly ranked the conference member.

For instance, the most impressive non-conference win of the season in my opinion was by the ACC when Virginia Tech beat Ohio St. Virginia Tech was about #10 in the ACC, and they beat a team that made the championship game. If Florida St. had beaten Ohio St. instead, it would have been a lot less impressive.

All of the Pac-12 bowl games were fairly even match-ups. I think the combination of Arizona and Utah was a fair match for Boise St. and Colorado St. of the MWC. Each conference won one of the two. The combination of UCLA and Washington was also a fair match for Kansas St. and Oklahoma St., and again each conference won one of the two.

Since there were no other losses, everything else goes in the plus column for the Pac-12. Of course, Oregon beat Florida St. going away. Arizona St. was #4 in the Pac-12 and beat the ACC #5 Duke. Stanford was #7 in the Pac-12 and beat Big Ten #6 Maryland. USC was #5 and beat Big Ten #5 Nebraska.

Returning to the SEC, the results were contrary to what one would have expected. Most of the season, the top five teams of the SEC West beat all the other teams. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that that group lost to ANYONE else. Auburn lost to Texas A&M and Georgia, and Ole Miss and LSU lost to Arkansas. Still, it was interesting that three of those losses were still inside the SEC West. Also, despite the fact that the SEC lost more inter-conference games in rivalry week than it had lost the entire rest of the season combined, not a single one of those losses were by the SEC West.

Those five top SEC West teams were curiously the only teams to lose bowl games though. I think part of it was that disappointment, letdown sort of phenomenon I mentioned, but obviously that wouldn’t apply to Alabama. I think what happened there is the Tide defense got worn down, and then the Tide offense couldn’t keep up with the Buckeyes. That’s not the kind of game Alabama is accustomed to having to win, although they did manage to win a similar game against Auburn.

Also, those teams gave each other a beating. The most notable injury in an inter-SEC West game was to Laquon Treadwell, but I know LSU lost a lineman in the Alabama game, and some other players (such as Kenny Hilliard) were banged up as well.

Out of the five games lost, there was only a game and a half that was bad. Auburn took Wisconsin to overtime, LSU lost in the last second, Alabama was alive in their game until the final minute. The second half by Mississippi St. and the whole game by Ole Miss were pretty ugly though.

I believe I counted accurately that despite those five teams not winning any bowl games of their own, they got a total of 18 wins over teams that won bowl games. That’s more than the top five of any other CONFERENCE. The only one that comes close is, of course, the Pac-12.

I was a bit surprised that with Arkansas playing Texas in Texas (#10 SEC vs. #6 of the Big XII), Texas A&M playing West Virginia (#9 SEC vs. #5 of Big XII), South Carolina playing U. Miami (#12 SEC vs. #10 of the ACC), and Tennessee playing Iowa (#11 SEC vs. #7 of the Big Ten), no other SEC team lost a game. I won’t pretend I was at all surprised by Missouri, Georgia, and Florida winning all of theirs, but that doesn’t make them count for less.

It’s frustrating that there were no games between the SEC and the Pac-12 of course, but there are a few different ways to look at this.

There were four bowl wins by the Pac-12 over teams in the top 5 of power conferences and two losses to other teams. If we limit that to the top 4, the Pac-12 had two wins inside and two losses outside.

The SEC had three bowl wins over teams in the top 5 of power conferences, and Notre Dame was the only loss outside of that group. Notre Dame barely had a winning record against Power 5 opponents (even though they generally played pretty good ones), but we don’t have to count them as of that quality. Of course, if we discount the Irish too much, that devalues the season as a whole for the Pac-12 (three games against them vs. only one by the SEC). If we limit it to the top 4, it’s two wins and one loss. These are both better ratios than the Pac-12 had. I would also note that the Pac-12 didn’t have a sub-top-5 team beat a top-5 team of another conference.

Here’s another way to look at it. The Pac-12 wasn’t really over- or under-matched in any of their games, so they’re 6-2 in games in which they weren’t over-matched or under-matched.

The SEC was 3-2 in games in which they were over-matched. The wins I mentioned were by Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Tennessee; the losses were by Ole Miss (#4 SEC vs. #1 [tie] in the Big XII) and Auburn (#6 SEC vs. #3 in the Big Ten).

You could argue Florida was under-matched by East Carolina (#8 SEC vs. #4 American/AAC), but even though they struggled against the top of their own conference, East Carolina did beat ACC #6 North Carolina 70-41, so I think it’s fair to say that was basically even as well.

If the SEC and Pac-12 had the same number of teams, I would honestly struggle to pick a better conference despite the Pac-12’s 75 winning percentage in bowls vs. the SEC’s 58.3%. But since ½ of each conference won bowl games, I think it’s fair to give the Pac-12 a little slack for not being over-matched in any games and for having a smaller percentage of teams qualify. So they’re my #1 for the bowl “week”.

I do want to note that I don’t blame the Pac-12 for not having better bowl opponents. There aren’t that many great bowls out west that the other major conferences really want to play in. Also, the bowls in the East aren’t particularly disposed to trying to get Pac-12 opponents. Just because they’re good teams doesn’t mean a large group of fans want to travel two or three thousand miles to go to the game. But just like with my team standings, I can only judge on the games that actually take place.

Final Thoughts on CFP Bowls

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings Commentary on December 7, 2014 at 2:11 AM

I know this is early in the day for most of you, but I’m not the one who decided to make the selection show so early for west coasters like me. I’ll just have to find out the final verdict after I get up and have breakfast.

I’ll just do my regular top 25 blog later in the week, but for reference here are my ratings results. I use the numbers there below.

Final Resumes
(Teams in my Top 7 apart from Boise St.; wins are limited to those over the top 60.)

FSU
Florida St. (3-0 vs. top 25, 5-0 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 14, 21, 25, 41, 46, 55, 60
Undefeated

bama
Alabama (3-1 vs. top 25, 8-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 9, 16, 18, 26, 33, 40, 45, 47, 52
Lost to #8

oregon
Oregon (3-1 vs. top 25, 6-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 10, 11, 13, 36, 39, 48
Lost to #10

ohio st
Ohio St. (2-0 vs. top 25, 5-0 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 13, 15, 28, 30, 43, 54
Lost to #74

TCU
TCU (1-1 vs. top 25, 4-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 19, 29, 30, 45, 57, 60
Lost to #7

baylor
Baylor (2-0 vs. top 25, 3-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 5, 19, 29, 57, 60
Lost to #45

There should be no serious doubt about Florida St., Alabama, and Oregon, so I’ll skip to talking about the fourth semifinal team.

Baylor’s win wasn’t really in doubt for the much of the second half, but I don’t think it was anything like the kind of exclamation point Ohio St. had. I had Ohio St. in the top 4 to begin with, so I am still convinced Baylor does not belong. Virginia Tech is a worse team to lose to than WVU, but my feeling is the two additional wins over the top 50 make up for this.

I respect the opinion that TCU belongs ahead of Ohio St., although obviously I don’t agree with the conclusion. I think Ohio St. just showed emphatically they can play like a top 4 team. Admittedly, they showed all those weeks ago they can also lose to a mediocre team at home by two touchdowns, but at some point, the other 12 games taken as a whole should be more important. One top-25 win vs. 2 and 5 top-50 wins vs. 4 make up for that. TCU played the best of any of these teams in their loss, but actually that might have been their best game. I just haven’t seen them look like a top team often enough, particularly in light of their difficulties against West Virginia and Kansas in the month of November.

Transitioning out of the semifinal discussion, I don’t think Marshall and Boise St. are getting the respect that previous “group of five” teams with similar records have gotten in the past. Hawaii in 2007, for instance, was #11 after starting 11-0. Marshall, which has actually had a better schedule this season, was #19 after starting 11-0. I do think Marshall and Boise St. may each be a couple of spots too high in my ratings though.

I mentioned briefly last week why I had Boise St. ahead of Arizona, and now it’s similarly problematic to have Boise St. ahead of Baylor. There is a higher depth to Boise St.’s wins, but ultimately beating top-20 teams should be valued more highly. I want to try to find a way where beating #5 and #19 counts for more points than beating #20, #49, and #69. Those aren’t Boise St.’s three best wins (they beat two others in the top 60), but they just happened to combine for slightly more points than Baylor’s two best wins.

One way I thought of was adding some kind of additional credit for beating teams that end up with positive ratings (which is usually approximately the top 40). I won’t alter the formula at this point this season though. I will tinker with it after the final results of this year to see how it turns out. I will also look to see how it would alter previous ratings.

Something else I want to note is Boise St. actually has more FBS wins than Baylor because they played an extra game and did not play an FCS opponent. So where usually a team with two losses has fewer wins than one with a single loss, the two-loss team in question has more wins.

In an average playing week, Baylor did accumulate more points than Boise St. did in an average week.

One reason I say Marshall may be a spot or two too high is that I think Michigan St. should be in a major bowl. Their only losses are to teams I believe should be in the top 4. Wisconsin was technically the Big Ten runner-up, but they lost an additional game, and they lost to LSU and Northwestern. LSU isn’t a bad loss, but Northwestern is pretty bad. They don’t even qualify for a bowl game. I mention those together because they’re in the same conference.

I also think UCLA should be included in the top 6 bowls, while Georgia Tech should be excluded. The two teams finished with the same number of losses, and there were understandable losses by both and fairly weak losses by both. UCLA’s non-conference slate of Virginia, Memphis, and Texas, combined with the strength of the Pac-12 South relative to the ACC Coastal, should put them ahead.

Florida St. was actually two possessions ahead of Georgia Tech going into the last couple of minutes, which is a gigantic lead for the Seminoles, so the final score being two points doesn’t sway me. Also, I give them credit for the one strong out-of-conference win (albeit an extremely lucky one) against Georgia, but the others were Wofford, Tulane, and Georgia Southern.

I haven’t exactly made the case why UCLA should go ahead of Wisconsin or Michigan St. should go ahead of Georgia Tech, but hopefully you can fill in the blanks there.
The only other thing in the top 25 worth commenting on is a team that hadn’t been there since my (subjective) preseason ranking….

We can also add Northern Illinois to the list of “group of five” teams that may be a spot or two too high. After Arkansas’s games against LSU and Ole Miss made that blowout loss more understandable, that only leaves one other loss for the Huskies against 11 wins. Like Boise St., Northern Illinois goes up an extra spot for playing an extra game. If I averaged by playing week, they would have stayed behind Louisville.

Week 14 College Football Rankings 2014

In Bowls, College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on December 2, 2014 at 9:00 AM
My current top 4

My current top 4

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 2 ) Florida St. 1
2 ( 1 ) Alabama 2
3 ( 5 ) Ohio St. 3
4 ( 3 ) Oregon 4
5 ( 4 ) TCU 8
6 ( 22 ) Boise St. 12
7 ( 7 ) Arizona 10
8 ( 11 ) Ole Miss 14
9 ( 8 ) Miss. St. 5
10 ( 12 ) Ga. Tech 15
11 ( 15 ) UCLA 6
12 ( 9 ) Mich. St. 17
13 ( 13 ) Wisconsin 18
14 ( 6 ) Baylor 13
15 ( 14 ) Missouri 20
16 ( 30 ) Marshall 7
17 ( 10 ) Kansas St. 19
18 ( 16 ) Georgia 9
19 ( 19 ) Auburn 11
20 ( 31 ) Colo. St. 16
21 ( 20 ) Clemson 23
22 ( 24 ) Nebraska 24
23 ( 18 ) Arizona St. 21
24 ( 17 ) Oklahoma 22
25 ( 21 ) Louisville —

(USC and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (25) Minnesota

There are a total of 39* teams that got some level of points in the Mock BCS standings linked to above. (I list 40 teams since Texas A&M was in the top 25 of one of the computer rankings, but they got no points since the highest rating is dropped)

Earlier top-25 blogs:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

Comments
I didn’t do a post-game blog about LSU/A&M, but I updated the Rivalry Series entry, and I will write a bit about the Tigers in my second blog this week. I also plan to write about relative conference strength and lower bowl possibilities. I think the new committee rankings will be relevant to that discussion.

What I’ll discuss below is the current state of my rankings and how I think that SHOULD translate into what the committee does with the major bowls at the end. I can’t speculate with any accuracy what they will do, especially being that I don’t know how the rankings for this week will look.

Because Florida St. has been accumulating a reasonable amount of points while Alabama has recently had a bye and played Western Carolina, the Seminoles are still on top, although I would agree with probably most people in the conclusion that Alabama looks like the better team at the moment.

Georgia has also thrown a wrench into things by beating Auburn, losing to Georgia Tech, and failing to win the East. If Alabama were playing a two-loss Georgia team next week and Florida St. were playing a three-loss team, Alabama would have a good chance to move back into #1, but unless the Yellowjackets beat Florida St., I don’t see that happening now.

By the way, I’ve never experienced such a disappointing day of college football in my life. I watched about 10 games that went down the final couple of minutes, and every last one of them went the way I didn’t want them to. Georgia choking was just the beginning of a long day. Also, I don’t know why on Earth Auburn thought they could win with field goals.

Alabama should have at least three losses, but then how would they torture me? One thing they did was allow LSU to move into first place in the SEC in total defense, so I guess we can say we got first place in something.

Despite the SEC East’s troubles with the ACC (although let’s not forget Georgia beat Clemson earlier this year), I think it’s justified to have three SEC WEST teams in the top 10 and all seven in the top 40. By the way, the Mock BCS agrees with the latter assessment. Texas A&M got no points, but they were ranked in one of the formerly BCS computers, so I think that makes them #40. It merely has three SEC West teams in the top 11 instead of the top 10 though.

Anyway, there are two more slots to fill out in the semifinals, so I’ll now talk about that.

I have no hesitation in supporting Oregon if they beat Arizona. They will have vindicated their one loss of the year. Even though they play in the weaker Pac-12 division, they still beat UCLA, who tied for second in the Pac-12 South. Of course, Michigan St. counts as a decent win as well. So that’s two of the top 3 teams in the Pac-12 South. (Technically, USC tied with ASU and UCLA in the South, but they’re clearly #4 in my view.)

That last spot is going to be tricky. I do have Ohio St. there right now (actually ahead of Oregon at the moment), and I can’t imagine that if the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin, that either the formula or my mind will change. However, I do understand the argument that maybe losing to Virginia Tech at home could be a disqualifying factor.

As I discussed last week, I firmly believe the best alternative to Ohio St. in that instance is TCU, whose only blemish is a 3-point loss to Baylor about 6 weeks ago.

West Virginia is better than Virginia Tech, but they don’t belong anywhere near the top 25. The Mountaineers beat Baylor by a couple of touchdowns.

Even if Oregon loses, I still don’t see Baylor being #4. The committee might pick them ahead of Arizona in that instance, but I don’t think I would.

That might not seem to make sense being that I have Boise St. ahead of Arizona right now, but the Broncos have the better schedule at the moment. I know that’s hard to believe, but Boise St.’s opponents have a winning record overall, and Arizona’s opponents have a losing record overall. The Mountain West simply is not leaps and bounds behind the power conferences, and Boise played a very competitive schedule out of conference (while Arizona didn’t).

However, Fresno St. isn’t going to help the Broncos very much. So with a win, Arizona should easily pass them up as well as TCU and Oregon (whom they would have to beat).

Using my formula’s current rankings, these are the potential resumes of relevant teams for the last spot or two (two if Oregon, Florida St., or Alabama lose):
Team 1: beat #6, 17, 24, 56; lost to #46
Team 2: beat #17, 24, 29, 46, 56; lost to #14
Team 3: beat #12, 13, 29, 32, 44, 45, 55; lost to #76
Team 4: beat #4, 4, 23, 36, 50, 53; lost to #11, 27

I’m going to assume Alabama would be out of the running with a loss despite whatever strength of resume they might have. It might be possible for a team to be #1 going into championship week and hang on with a loss at some point, but this is not the year.

I do want to acknowledge that Baylor may be much better than #14. They would close the gap considerably by beating Kansas St., but obviously Oregon would be a better win than Kansas St. Also, the Bears would not pass up TCU.

So the only teams that should be in the running from my perspective are Nos. 1 to 5 and #7 Arizona.

Arizona/Boise St. has prompted me to consider a slight modification to my system though. I have preliminary ratings of teams between 0 and about 7 (which would be if the team with the best schedule went undefeated, which is nearly impossible). Boise St. has only beaten one team (Colorado St.) with a preliminary rating higher than 4.0, while Arizona has beaten three (Oregon, Arizona St., and Utah). So my idea is to have those higher-rated opponents count for a bit more than they do already.
There are a total of 12 teams that will be in CFP bowls. I don’t see any of the 6 mentioned above falling out, so here are 6 other teams I think should be make up the rest of the spots:
Boise St. (top “group of five” team)
Ole Miss
Mississippi St.

UCLA
Michigan St.
Baylor

This would be assuming that Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas St. all lost. I believe a win by any of those (although Kansas St. might be debatable) should get them in. I have the teams above so they would be eliminated from the bottom right now. If Baylor beats Kansas St., I would want them to be given a safe spot though.

Boise St. should be assured the “group of five” spot with a win, but if they lose and Marshall wins, I would want them replaced with Marshall. If both lose, I guess Colorado St. would take that slot.

Week 12 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM
Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU.

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher when Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator at LSU.

There are 40 teams total that got at least some level of “Mock BCS” points, so you can follow the link below to find them all.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 2 ) Alabama 4
2 ( 1 ) Florida St. 3
3 ( 3 ) Oregon 2
4 ( 7 ) Ohio St. 10
5 ( 4 ) Miss. St. 1
6 ( 8 ) Ole Miss 5
7 ( 5 ) TCU 9
8 ( 10 ) UCLA 6
9 ( 19 ) Marshall 13
10 ( 9 ) Georgia 21
11 ( 14 ) Auburn 7
12 ( 28 ) Boise St. 15
13 ( 17 ) Ga. Tech 22
14 ( 23 ) Colo. St. 11
15 ( 15 ) Arizona 20
16 ( 6 ) Baylor 14
17 ( 11 ) Mich. St. 24
18 ( 13 ) Arizona St. 8
19 ( 22 ) Nebraska 12
Wisconsin head
20 ( 16 ) Wisconsin —
21 ( 12 ) Kansas St. 19
22 ( 18 ) Missouri —
23 ( 21 ) Oklahoma —
24 ( 30 ) Clemson 23
25 ( 24 ) USC —

(Utah and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (16) Notre Dame, (17) Duke, (18) LSU, (25) TX A&M

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Comments

I have serious reservations about both Alabama and Florida St.; but it’s the right thing, at least at this point, for both to be the top 2 teams. Alabama has had major issues with playing on the road (one-point win over Arkansas, virtual loss to LSU, actual loss to Ole Miss), although they don’t have any road games left. Florida St. has too; but it’s been a more general pattern of slow starts on both sides of the ball, followed by quick scores that the opposition offenses can’t keep up with.

Last week, I mentioned that it was possible for both Mississippi St. and Alabama to be in the top 4 with a Tide win over the Bulldogs. This would have happened were it not for another team I didn’t anticipate making the top 4, Ohio St.

A few things came together to help this happen. Even though the Gophers were unranked, that still counts as a good win. The fact that TCU escaped against Kansas on Saturday helped that to continue to count as a good win. (TCU beat Minnesota out of conference.) As I discussed last week in reference to Arizona St./Notre Dame, the effects of those out-of-conference results are huge.

If Minnesota lost to Michigan St., for instance, that would be positive for some Big Ten teams and negative for others, but it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the conference overall. Out-of-conference results have a uniformly positive or negative effect though. If 8 or 9 games you play are made to look better or worse, that makes a big difference.

Ohio St.’s strength of schedule was also assisted by Virginia Tech’s win over Duke. Losses hurt more than wins help, so if another loss had been added to Virginia Tech, that would have continued to weigh Ohio St. down. Instead, the Hokies’ ability to beat another pretty good team makes the loss not hurt so much.

Another factor that helped Ohio St. was Navy’s win over Georgia Southern. I’m not going to pretend Georgia Southern is a great team, but they have 7 FBS wins, so that’s a positive for Navy, which Ohio St. beat earlier in the year.

A big game for the Big Ten in general was Notre Dame/Northwestern. Not only was that a big win for a Big Ten team, but it also damaged what had been a quality opponent for Pac-12 and ACC teams.

Despite Northwestern taking even more of the luster off of Florida St.’s win over Notre Dame, the Seminoles were still able to move into #2 after a quality win that coincided with an Oregon bye week. Ohio St. was a little too far behind to challenge the ’Noles either.

The winner of Ole Miss and Mississippi St. still has a good chance to move into the top 4, particularly if Alabama loses to Auburn. If Ole Miss (@ Arkansas) and Mississippi St. (vs. Vanderbilt) win next week, this would mean that Alabama would be shut out of the SEC championship game.

The way my system operates, it’s a disadvantage not to be in the conference-championship game at the end of the year. This is one reason Alabama did not rate as highly in my system as it did in the BCS in 2011, for instance.

I mentioned TCU earlier. It’s not looking good for the Big XII in my system.

It would take a major group of losses by top teams for the Horned Frogs (currently #7) to move up significantly. They’re idle next week, then they play Texas during Rivalry Week, which is their last chance to get a decent number of points. During championship week, they play Iowa St., so that’s not going to help them out much. Even Marshall would get more points that week with a win. TCU is just a whisker ahead of UCLA, who can get a lot of points by winning out, especially if the Bruins win the Pac-12 South.

Kansas St. plays Baylor during championship week, but Kansas St. has two losses (and Auburn isn’t helping them by losing) and Baylor doesn’t have the prior wins. Their non-conference schedule was just awful.

No one outside of the top 10 has much of a chance of making the top 4, but teams like Georgia Tech, Arizona, and Wisconsin could move up significantly by winning their respective conferences.

As we learned in 2007 though, you never want to say it’s impossible for either a team like TCU or one of those lower teams.

LSU, Notre Dame, and Duke fell out. I think they’re all top-25 teams in ability (although none played like it Saturday), but teams in the 20s are packed pretty closely together, and all have at least one good chance for points coming up.

There were 11 losses or bye weeks in the top 18 last week, so that accounts for a lot of the movement. Any team that went into the week in the top 18 and won a game is now in the top 12. All but two (Marshall and Boise St.) are in the top 7.

Week 11 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 10, 2014 at 3:03 PM
Pac-12 teams are moving up, in part due to Arizona St.'s win over Notre Dame.

Pac-12 teams are moving up, in part due to Arizona St.’s win over Notre Dame.

Just like last week, there are no newly-ranked teams for the season, so there are no team logos. There are 39 teams total that got at least some level of “Mock BCS” points, so you can follow the link below to find them all.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 1 ) Miss. St. 1
2 ( 4 ) Oregon 5
3 ( 2 ) Florida St. 3
4 ( 3 ) Alabama 6
5 ( 10 ) Ole Miss 4
6 ( 12 ) UCLA 7
7 ( 8 ) Auburn 2
8 ( 7 ) Arizona St. 8
9 ( 5 ) TCU 12
10 ( 9 ) Ohio St. 15
11 ( 23 ) Colo. St. 14
12 ( 11 ) Nebraska 9
13 ( 21 ) Marshall 17
14 ( 6 ) Baylor 22
15 ( 29 ) Boise St. 18
16 ( 15 ) Notre Dame 13
17 ( 20 ) Duke 23
18 ( 17 ) LSU 10
19 ( 13 ) Kansas St. 11
20 ( 19 ) Arizona 21
21 ( 16 ) Georgia 25
22 ( 27 ) Ga. Tech —
23 ( 18 ) Clemson 20
24 ( 14 ) Mich. St. 16
25 ( 22 ) TX A&M —

Full Rankings 1-128

Out of top 25: (19) Oklahoma, (24) Missouri

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

Comments

It makes me sick to have to give Alabama credit for a win and to penalize LSU for a loss, just so you know. At least now I don’t have to cheer for the Rammer Jammers in any of their remaining games.

I haven’t forced myself to cheer for Alabama since Thanksgiving Day of 2010 (I was neutral when they played Notre Dame in January 2013); but if LSU had kept winning, I would have had to cheer for them in one or possibly both of their remaining games.

Anyway, Oregon is #2 for the moment, but things will even out when the Ducks have a bye week next week. If I were to account for the extra week now, Oregon would actually be #4.

I was pleased that my rankings gave some credit to the Pac-12. I didn’t make a rankings system to favor one conference (and neither did any of the widely-recognized systems). So while it’s not quite as strong as the SEC West (everyone but Arkansas has no losses outside the division), the Oregon/Arizona St./Arizona/UCLA group of teams has played well enough to help one another out, especially with ASU’s win over Notre Dame. UCLA did lose to Utah, and Arizona did lose to USC, so that’s why it’s not quite the same as the top of the SEC West.

I explained the circumstances, but the fact that Oregon is close enough to Alabama in the first place shows that it’s not impossible to break into the group of SEC teams even if they weren’t beating each other constantly. The best Pac-12 team with two losses isn’t ahead of the best SEC team with two losses (Ole Miss), but they are ahead of the second-best (Auburn).

Arizona St. only has one loss; but unlike UCLA, they won’t play Oregon until the Pac-12 championship (if at all) and they haven’t played Arizona yet. UCLA’s win over Texas is also looking better after the Horns beat WVU.

I skipped Florida St. They should be a somewhat comfortable #2 next week if they win. U. Miami is possibly the best three-loss team (after LSU anyway). One of the Hurricanes’ losses is to Nebraska, and they are the only team to beat Duke.

Auburn/Ole Miss is not a mistake or oversight. Even though Auburn beat Ole Miss, I still think the Rebels belong ahead. Ole Miss is 1-0 against the top two teams in the West, and Auburn is 0-1. Also, the loss at LSU is more forgivable than the loss at home against A&M.

TCU and Ohio St. are where they belong. Basically, the wrong teams won. Either conference’s best chance was for the teams that were undefeated in conference with respectable out-of-conference losses (Michigan St. to Oregon and KSU to Auburn) to win out.

TCU’s best win is the one they just had over Kansas St. The Oklahoma win is looking less impressive now. The Frogs beat Minnesota out of conference, but their games against Samford and still-winless SMU don’t help them out much.

Of course, Ohio St.’s loss to mediocre Virginia Tech is going to be difficult to overcome, but they may have an outside shot if they can beat Nebraska (preferably if they don’t incur any further losses) in the Big Ten championship.

There is then a huge gap before getting to #11, Colorado St. The Rams have a bye week, followed by New Mexico, so there will be plenty of opportunity for teams to pass them. Marshall already had its bye weeks, but the best team on their schedule right now (pending whoever wins the other division) is Rice.

Nebraska is between the two mid-major/group-of-five teams, but as I indicated, they can find their way to move up by winning.

Baylor only has the one loss, but the Bears played SMU, Northwestern St., and Buffalo out of conference. Also, they have yet to play Kansas St. That’s on championship week, so I guess it will be a good chance to make one last statement if the Bears keep winning.

Boise St. is not likely to move up very much. Notre Dame can move up a little bit, but neither of those will be particularly relevant with two losses.

Duke certainly still has some potential for points being that they may earn a rematch in the ACC title game with Florida St., but there isn’t too much before then.
Everyone else is mostly just jockeying for non-CFP bowl consideration.

Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M don’t want to fall too far down the list of SEC bowls (I don’t think the Bulldogs want to see Jacksonville again, for instance). Michigan St. looks like it may be playing an SEC team somewhere in Florida.

I mentioned Kansas St. and Arizona earlier. They look out of their respective conference races for the moment, but there are big games left.

Georgia Tech and Clemson will square off for best two-loss ACC team.

Week 10 College Football Rankings 2014

In College Football, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on November 3, 2014 at 5:05 PM

I’m not waiting for the committee this time. It’s LSU/Alabama week, so I want to give my rankings and move on. I’m going to include the mock BCS standings as I calculate them. They will be the number in parentheses. There are no team logos below because there is only one “new” ranked team (Missouri, which replaces West Virginia), and they were ranked earlier this season.

LSU/Alabama is just one of the big games before the Iron Bowl, but there is a good chance it will be an important game for the national-title race once again.

LSU/Alabama is just one of the big games before the Iron Bowl, but there is a good chance it will be an important game for the national title race once again.

My Top 25
My Rank/BCS/team/prev
1 ( 1 ) Miss. St. 1
2 ( 3 ) Auburn 3
3 ( 2 ) Florida St. 4
4 ( 10 ) Ole Miss 2
5 ( 5 ) Oregon 6
6 ( 4 ) Alabama 5
7 ( 16 ) UCLA 14
8 ( 12 ) Arizona St. 19
9 ( 15 ) Nebraska 8
10 ( 11 ) LSU 7
11 ( 7 ) Kansas St. 18
12 ( 6 ) TCU 17
13 ( 8 ) Notre Dame 11
14 ( 26 ) Colo. St. 16
15 ( 13 ) Ohio St. 13
16 ( 9 ) Mich. St. 10
17 ( 22 ) Marshall 9
18 ( 30 ) Boise St. 21
19 ( 17 ) Oklahoma 23
20 ( 19 ) Clemson 20
21 ( 20 ) Arizona 15
22 ( 14 ) Baylor 22
23 ( 23 ) Duke 24
24 ( 25 ) Missouri —
25 ( 18 ) Georgia 12

Full 128 computer ratings

Other teams who would have at least some BCS points:
42 ( 21 ) Utah —
31 ( 24 ) W. Virginia 25
29 ( 27 ) Wisconsin —
32 ( 28 ) TX A&M —
28 ( 29 ) USC —
26 ( 31 ) Ga. Tech —
33 ( 32 ) Florida —
30 ( 33 ) Minnesota —
35 ( 34 ) Louisville —
43 ( 35 ) Iowa —
49 ( 36 ) Stanford —
48 ( 37 ) E. Carolina —
50 ( 38 ) Cincinnati —
27 ( 39 ) U. Miami —

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

Comments
Once again, I’m going to have to ask for some patience in Ole Miss going down in the rankings. They have Presbyterian next week and a bye the week after that, so they’ll possibly fall several spots in that time. (LSU, for instance, fell three spots after taking off this past weekend alone. Marshall and Michigan St. fell much more.) The following week, the Rebels play Arkansas, so someone else could also pass them after that week as well.

Why are they so high right now? Other than only having had one bye week, Ole Miss has the 4th-best schedule right now.

The Rebels beat Alabama, which rates as the second-best win by any team this season right now. The best win is Mississippi St.’s win over Auburn. As you might guess, apart from Mississippi St., the best (or least-bad) team to lose to is Auburn.

Speaking of Auburn, if you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’d like to watch Gus Malzahn break dance,” today is your lucky day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFvqdQnWu9I

Anyway, if I were just making it up from scratch, Ole Miss would be somewhere around #10, so I’m going to go through the top 10 and explain why Ole Miss is higher than each team in my ratings at the moment.

I’m not going to comment on every team’s prospect for moving ahead of Ole Miss, but the first two are particularly relevant.

LSU isn’t one of the top few teams to lose to, but they’re much better than Arizona, which beat #5 Oregon. Oregon is very close to Ole Miss in points though, so I would expect them to easily pass up the Rebels with a win next week.

#6 Alabama has beaten none of the top 5 teams of the West yet, so that’s why they can’t be ahead of Ole Miss right now. Beating LSU would change that. Not only would it be a decent increase in points, but it would hurt Ole Miss more for losing to LSU. (Losses hurt more than wins help.)

#7 UCLA also has two losses (one of them to Utah), so they certainly don’t have a strong argument to be ahead of Ole Miss.

#8 Arizona St. only has one loss, but when your best win is over USC, you don’t belong ahead of a team with Ole Miss’s résumé.

#9 Nebraska is another one-loss team that just doesn’t have the wins to compete with Ole Miss right now. The Huskers did beat Miami (which is no Alabama), but the quality of wins decreases rapidly from there.

#10 LSU needs another big win. They have Ole Miss (which counts for less than Alabama) and Wisconsin (which counts for less than Boise St.) but really not much after that. Kentucky and Florida don’t rate very highly due to their records, and it’s harder to have the same strength of schedule playing in the East, especially when neither team has played a good out-of-conference opponent yet. Ole Miss beat Texas A&M, for instance, which has a better record than either of LSU’s SEC East opponents and rates a good bit higher. The Aggies wouldn’t necessarily beat the Wildcats or Gators, but it makes sense that they have a higher rating right now.

Ole Miss went from being ahead of Mississippi St. in my ratings to being 0.25 behind the Bulldogs in the last two weeks, it just so happens there weren’t many teams in between ready to move up. Rating-wise, they’re as close to Mississippi St. as they are to Colorado St. now. It’s just not translating from ratings to rankings yet.

Along with the top teams of the Pac-12 (mentioned above), the top teams of the Big XII are moving up. Kansas St. plays TCU next week, so the winner will probably find itself well into the top 10. The Big XII doesn’t have that much depth in my formula though, so if it’s TCU, they’ll probably go down from there (Kansas, bye, Texas, Iowa St.). Kansas St. can still finish undefeated in the Big XII (they lost to Auburn out of conference) and still has WVU and Baylor to play, so I believe they would be the stronger candidate for the top 4 by winning out.

Notre Dame finally has a chance to make a move by beating Arizona St. Louisville and USC (later this month) won’t be bad additions to the resume either.

Everyone lower down lacks a great schedule at this point. I know this because there are no 3-loss teams in my top 25.

Colorado St. has a better rating than Marshall or Boise St., but the Broncos (with two losses overall) hold the tie-breaker in the Mountain West, so picking the “best of the rest” team might be tricky.

Like the TCU/KSU game, Ohio St. and Michigan St. should produce a team that can move up and do well. Unlike that game, both teams have competitive opponents coming up and neither has a bye week. If Nebraska keeps winning, that would help the winner of the Big Ten East even more down the road if they end up winning the Big Ten title game.

Oklahoma would get a big boost by beating Baylor, but there is not much left for the Sooners points-wise after that.

I don’t expect a big move upward by Clemson. Other than Florida St., the ACC Atlantic doesn’t have much to offer as far as potential points. Georgia Tech and a South Carolina team that will probably finish .500 are the best left on the purple and orange Tigers’ schedule. I certainly don’t see Florida St. losing twice, which Clemson would need to happen to make the ACC title game.
Arizona can still influence things with game against Washington, Utah, and Arizona St. Making the Pac-12 title game certainly isn’t out of the question. It seems like apart from Colorado, anyone in the Pac-12 South can easily beat anyone else.

I mentioned Baylor. The Bears still have Oklahoma and Kansas St. left, so they can still win the Big XII.

Duke looks like a good-but-not-great divisional winner again.

Lastly, no one wants to win the SEC East, it seems, but Missouri has a one-game advantage right now. The black and gold Tigers would lose the tie-breaker if it’s a two-way tie with the Bulldogs though. Texas A&M appears to be Missouri’s toughest test left, while Georgia still has to play Kentucky (on the road) and Auburn before closing the regular season with non-conference games.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I get multiple hits every day from some guy who obviously has poor internet searching skills and wants to know about what Texas A&M did in 1965 (something about their only conference win), so I’m just going to paste that whole season. Houston wasn’t in the SWC yet, so I guess it was Rice.
9/18 @ Louisiana State (8-3) L 0 10
9/25 @ Georgia Tech (7-3-1) W 14 10
10/2 @ *Texas Tech (8-3) L 16 20
10/9 vs. Houston (4-5-1) W 10 7
10/16 @ *Texas Christian (6-5) L 9 17
10/23 vs. *Baylor (5-5) L 0 31
10/30 vs. *Arkansas (10-1) L 0 31 @ Little Rock, AR
11/6 vs. *Southern Methodist (4-5-1) L 0 10
11/13 @ *Rice (2-8) W 14 13
11/25 vs. *Texas (6-4) L 17 21

Week 6 College Football Rankings 2014

In General LSU, Preview, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on October 6, 2014 at 1:32 PM

LSU plays Florida this week, so if you’re interested, here is my LSU/Florida Rivalry blog.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year.  I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year. I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Florida St. 2
3 Miss. St. 6
4 Ole Miss 11
5 Arizona 15
6 Notre Dame 12
7 Ga. Tech 13
8 TCU 23
9 UCLA 9
10 Alabama 3
11 Marshall 24
12 Oregon 4
13 Nebraska 10
14 TX A&M 8
15 Oklahoma 5
16 Mich. St. —
17 Baylor 17
18 Missouri 25
19 Penn St. —
minnesota
20 Minnesota —
21 Ohio St. —
22 Arizona St. —
23 Louisville 20
Cal-Football-Golden-Bears
24 UC-Berkeley —
25 Florida —

Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (7) BYU, (14) LSU. (16) E. Carolina, (18) Georgia, (19) S. Carolina, (21) Okie St.. (22) NC State

Explanation and future rankings

I only made two adjustments to my computer ratings to make this top 25. One was to keep Florida St. at #2. They actually were #2 in the computer rating last week, but the big points by undefeated Ole Miss, Miss. St., and Arizona teams them all ahead of the Seminoles. I still think it’s too early to put any of them #2 though.

If the Bulldogs win next week, I may even put them #1. If Ole Miss and Auburn win, they may be 1 and 2, but then Florida St. would have a chance to get back in the top 2 with a win over Notre Dame the following week. In that scenario, I may again keep Florida St. #2 pending the outcome of the game against the Irish.

The other adjustment was to keep UCLA at #9. It just doesn’t look right to lose to an unranked team and move up. They were #1 in the computer ratings last week.

I may make similar minor adjustments next week (I mentioned one possibility), but after the following week, I plan to just follow the computer rating to the letter.

In total, 7 of my top 11 teams lost of the 9 possible. There were three games where top-11 teams were playing one another, so that’s why there were only 9 possible losses. The only survivor against a team ranked below #15 was Florida St. Auburn was also a survivor, but LSU was #14 going into last week. (More on LSU below.)

I’m going to talk about new teams in the top 25 and old teams that fell out. I think it’s pretty obvious why South Carolina (losers to Kentucky) and North Carolina St. (losers to Clemson) fell out. Some teams only moved into the rankings because 12 teams ahead of them lost.

BYU fell all the way out after losing to Utah St. That wasn’t based on past opponents so much (although Texas didn’t help), but Utah St. (#87 going into the week) is a bad loss at this point, so having a bad loss this early makes you sink like a stone. Virginia is still a quality win though.

East Carolina’s loss to South Carolina continues to drag them down. Also, the Pirates essentially have zero points to show for the last two weeks (a bye and a win over SMU). Virginia Tech won, but they beat North Carolina (another prior opponent of East Carolina), so that didn’t help much.

Georgia also lost to South Carolina, so that is hurting them as well. Also, Tennessee’s loss wasn’t helpful either.

Oklahoma St. is having issues with prior opponents, and Saturday’s win over Iowa St. (which only has one win) didn’t help much. Texas-San Antonio has struggled, and Texas Tech lost yet again as well. Florida St. is still a respectable loss, but it’s not really more respectable than it was already.

Michigan St. is back after finally getting a good win over Nebraska, nothing controversial there. Their land grant rivals (Penn St.) might be more of a mystery, but Akron, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Central Florida all won last week, and of course some higher teams suffered losses.

There isn’t much analysis required for Minnesota, Ohio St., and Arizona St. Minnesota was idle, so they didn’t really have points added, but it still helped a lot that TCU (the team they lost to) beat Oklahoma. The other two also had fairly decent wins.

Cal is probably the worst 4-1 team, but their only loss is to undefeated Arizona. Even though the Colorado and Washington St. wins weren’t pretty and the Bears have allowed 144 points in their last 9 quarters, a win is a win. The Pac-12 schedule is a decent boost as well. I’ll mention Florida below.

I don’t factor in margin of victory, so you might wonder why LSU fell so far. The Tigers had two wins over otherwise-unbeaten teams (ULM and Wisconsin) going into the week, but both lost. LSU does still have an extremely good schedule (#12 in FBS average), but it’s very difficult to be in the top 25 with two losses this early, and the ULM and Wisconsin losses made it impossible. Also, an average FBS opponent would have given more points than Sam Houston St.

I’ve already given my thoughts about LSU in the past few blogs, but this was a very good article about what is important in this season at this point. http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/90273/developing-talent-the-key-now-for-lsu?ex_cid=espnapi_public

Forget winning the SEC West. Sure, competitive divisions like that can theoretically have a two-loss champion, but they need to just put it out of their minds completely. It should be a relaxed atmosphere where if you can upset Alabama, Ole Miss, or whoever, that’s great, but just play a good game. We didn’t do that against Auburn, it was like the worse it got the more afraid LSU was of making it even worse. Even though Auburn is in playoff position and could easily be overshadowed with just one slip-up, they played more like a team with nothing to lose than LSU did.

My one disagreement with the author in the piece above is I don’t think you settle on one quarterback. If one of them plays a bad half, take him out. The only decent drives were orchestrated by Jennings in the last game (the touchdown drive was essentially one good play rather than a well-orchestrated drive) and by Harris in the previous game. Neither one should have stayed in. We don’t have to pick next year’s quarterback until next year. If they both get an equal number of snaps this year, then you have even more to go on in picking the quarterback for next year.

I think it’s far worse to wrongly settle on a quarterback and stubbornly refuse to make a change. That’s what happened in the 2012 title game. Maybe they wouldn’t have gotten any points with Lee (who had struggled in the first game against Alabama), but you can’t do worse than 0. Saturday was only one of two times since then (the other being @Alabama last year) that LSU lost by more than one possession.

As mentioned, LSU plays Florida next week. They also have two quarterbacks. Will Muschamp benched one of them to provide an offensive spark, and it worked. I don’t know if he put a better QB in the abstract in, and he probably doesn’t either, but he made a change to see if it would help against a given team in a given situation and it did. I suspect the second quarterback will do better against LSU based on his skill set (at least they might not be shut out for three quarters); but if not, I’m sure Muschamp will put the other guy back in.

The Gators snuck into my top 25 because the Kentucky win was strengthened when the Wildcats beat South Carolina. The one-point win at Tennessee got them some points as well. I think beating a team like that on the road would be something for LSU to be proud of. There will be a lot of unhappy people if they don’t win; but like the ESPN article says, there is a lot of potential for the future either way.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5