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Week Four College Football Ratings (2014)

Last week, I unveiled some ELO-style college football ratings. Next week, with five weeks of data, I plan to run the first edition of the traditional SRS ratings. But for one more week, let’s stick with the current format.

Step 1) Twenty-five FBS teams were off in week 3, leaving 103 teams to analyze.

Step 2) In 25 of those matchups, one team had an SRS rating at least 15 points higher than its opponent. In 22 of those games, the favorite one; as a result, there is no change in either team’s rating following that game, so Oregon does not get downgraded for only beating Washington by 7 points on the road. But the three “upsets” include the big surprise of the week: Indiana going into Columbia and upsetting Missouri, 31-27. For those games, we’ll include them in Step 4.

Step 3) After eliminating the 22 heavy favorites who were victorious, there are 81 teams remaining. While some of those games were against FCS schools, 16 of the heavy underdogs in those games were against FBS schools. Since those teams will not have their ratings change, that leaves 65 teams to analyze.

Step 4) For all other teams, I modified each team’s rating following the result of that game, with 85% of the new rating coming from the old rating, and 15% coming from that single game.

Below are the ratings through four weeks. As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. [click to continue…]


Week Three College Football Ratings (2014)

Mariota and the Ducks look as good as any team in the country

Mariota and the Ducks look as good as any team in the country.

Regular readers know that I publish weekly college football ratings using the Simple Rating System. The catch is that the SRS isn’t a viable option in the first few weeks of the season; until we have more interaction among the top teams, we can’t really generate computer ratings.  Frankly, running an SRS program today would be pretty useless.

Consider that a team like Arizona State has played Weber State, New Mexico, and Colorado. Auburn has played Arkansas (the Razorbacks are not very good) and San Jose State. Oklahoma has played Louisiana Tech, Tulsa, and Tennessee (the Vols are not very good). So what can we do?

One thing we could do is to use the concept of Elo Ratings. But calculating Elo ratings in this context is no simple task, and there’s a good chance my buddy Neil is going to do that, anyway, so I thought I would try simpler process. I’ll give a high-level overview of the process here, then present the rankings, and then provide all the nuts and bolts for those interested at the bottom of the post. [click to continue…]

FSU is a heavy favorite to wind up in the national title game again

FSU is a heavy favorite to wind up in the national title game again.

The Simple Rating System is a set of computer rankings that is focused on only two variables: strength of schedule and margin of victory. I publish weekly college football SRS ratings each season, and you can read more about the SRS there. Last year, I took the Las Vegas point spreads for over 200 college football games to come up with a set of power rankings. By taking every data point, and using Excel to iterate the ratings hundreds of times, I was able to generate a set of implied team ratings.

Well on Friday, the Golden Nugget released the point spreads for 200 games (h/t to RJ Bell). You might not think we can do much with just a couple hundred games, but by using an SRS-style process, those point spreads can help us determine the implied ratings that Las Vegas has assigned to each team.

We don’t have a full slate of games, but we do have at least 1 game for 77 different teams. Theoretically, this is different than using actual game results: one game can be enough to come up with Vegas’ implied rating for the team. Purdue may only have a spread for one game, but that’s enough. Why? Because Purdue is a 21-point underdog at a neutral field (Lucas Oil) against Notre Dame, and we have point spreads for the Fighting Irish in ten other games. Since we can be reasonably confident in Notre Dame’s rating, that makes us able to be pretty confident about Purdue’s rating, too.

The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a marvin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. For example, Alabama is a 6-point home favorite against Auburn. So for that game, we assume Vegas believes the Tide are three points better than the Tigers; if we do this for each of the other 199 games, and then iterate the results hundreds of times, we can come up with a set of power ratings. [click to continue…]


Which Four Teams Would Make a College Playoff in 2013?

We can officially declare the BCS dead (1998-2013). As it turns out, the final edition of the BCS rankings was not controversial. It took awhile, but with the losses by Ohio State and Northern Illinois, Florida State was the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to finish the year without a blemish. The champion of the Pac-12 had two losses, while the one loss champions of the Big 12 (blowout loss) and Big 10 (one win against a team in the SRS top 25) had unimpressive resumes compared to the one-loss SEC Champion (4-1 record against teams in the SRS top 25). No team distinguished itself from the AAC or any other the other conferences, nor did any of the independent teams. That left the voters with two easy choices to fill two slots.

But starting next season, there will be a four-team playoff in college football. In general and on average, a four-team playoff is preferable to a two-team playoff: leaving out the fifth best team is easier to stomach than leaving out the third place team. A four-team playoff may not be ideal, but it’s the system we will have. So which teams would be deserving of the third and fourth golden tickets if the playoffs began in 2013?

There are only four legitimate candidates: Alabama, Stanford (Pac-12 champion), Baylor (Big 12 champion), and Michigan State (Big 10 champion). Any other team could be dismissed quickly: Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Central Florida, and Louisville each lost just one game, but easy schedules make that accomplishment less impressive. Among two-loss teams, Stanford had the most difficult schedule and was the only to win its conference: South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Clemson were good teams, but don’t have elite resumes. The two teams that could make the best case would be Oregon and Ohio State, but both teams can’t make credible arguments after losing their conference to another team in consideration.1 Which team you would pick out of those four would say more about the voter than the team in question. But before we go through the criteria, first, the final college football SRS ratings. [click to continue…]

  1. I will leave the argument as to whether head-to-head is the best tiebreaker, particularly between Ohio State and Michigan State, for another day. []

Week 14 College Football SRS Ratings & The Iron Bowl

We are out of words. You should be dead, Auburn, because we saw you die. And here you are, breathing in the flesh, able to say this: you made the Alabama Crimson Tide kick the winning touchdown for you.

It’s hard to top that recap from EDSBS of one of the greatest games in college football history. Two weeks after pulling off the ending of the season — the Prayer at Jordan-Hare — Auburn gave us the ending of our lives. Entering week 14, Alabama had fielded the best special teams in the nation; on Saturday, all of the Tide’s goals were ripped from them following three missed field goals and a game-winning field goal return touchdown.

Toomer's Corner.

In a second, Alabama lost to its most bitter rival. With that, the Tide lost the SEC West division title, which means the team won’t have a chance to win the SEC Championship or the BCS Championship (barring the unthinkable). In an odd twist, the most dominant team of our era has now won just one division title in the last four years.

Of course, the SRS is not so sensitive to missed field goals that are returned for touchdowns. The Crimson Tide ranked third in last week’s SRS, a ranking which felt one spot too low. Following the Iron Bowl loss, Alabama’s rating dropped from 61.1 to 59.4, moving Nick Saban’s team down to… third. The beauty of a predictive system is that it need not change due to a close road loss to a top team, and that’s what happens here. Auburn jumps from 14 to 11 but no higher, as a 14-point road loss to LSU, a 4-point home win against MSU, and a 7-point home win against Washington State still count.

Ohio State, in fact, actually drops one slot, as the close win in Ann Arbor dropped the Buckeyes behind idle Oklahoma State. Does that mean the Buckeyes don’t deserve to be in the BCS National Championship Game if they defeat Michigan State? Of course not. Last year, Notre Dame was ranked 6th on December 9th in the SRS, but the Fighting Irish surely deserved a spot in the BCSNCG by virtue of being the lone undefeated (and eligible) team in college football. Ohio State deserves the same treatment this year.
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Oklahoma State won one for the Drinen

Oklahoma State won one for Drinen.

Every year, a few mind-blowing upsets occur this time of year, and every year, we are shocked when it happens. Three of the top five single game performances of the season occurred on Saturday, including the best individual game rating of the year. Oklahoma State’s blowout win against Baylor produced an SRS score of 88.5, topping Florida State’s win at Clemson by three points. Meanwhile, Arizona shocked Oregon, giving the Wildcats (82.9 score) just the third 80+ point SRS rating in a game in 2013. And in less exciting but still noteworthy news: Washington crushed Oregon State (#27 in last week’s SRS ratings) in Corvalis, 69-27.

It looks like we’re headed for a Florida State-Alabama showdown in the BCS National Championship Game. FSU’s last two games should not pose any issues: the Seminoles are rated 27 points higher than Florida, and will be a three-touchdown favorite in the ACC Championship Game. In fact, the difference between the ratings of Florida and Georgia Southern is smaller than the difference between Florida and Florida State (you can view the ratings of FCS teams here). And we’ll get to that Georgia Southern game in a minute.

For Alabama, the schedule is a little more challenging. The Tide are “only” 9 points ahead of Auburn in the SRS, but that’s a little misleading. If we remove Alabama’s games against Colorado State, Georgia State, Chattanooga, Kentucky, and Tennessee — all games the Tide won by over 21 points — their rating would jump to 64.4. For Auburn, the only team they beat by more than three touchdowns that lowered their rating was Western Carolina; do that, and the Tigers are at 52.9. That puts Alabama 11.5 points better than Auburn. The Iron Bowl is in Auburn this year, and the Tigers are 10.5 point underdogs, so perhaps the SRS is still underrating the Tide by a point or two. An SEC Championship Game against Missouri would be another tough test, but first, those Tigers must defeat Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to earn a trip to Atlanta.

Below are the SRS ratings through 13 weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game. [click to continue…]


Non-FBS College Football Ratings Through 13 Weeks

Every week, I publish my college football ratings for FBS teams. To generate those ratings – using this methodology — my program also generates ratings for teams at all other levels.  This week, I will separate out the non-FBS teams based on their levels of play (instead of just lumping all non-FBS teams together). As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.

Let’s start with the FCS schools:
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Week 12 College Football SRS Ratings: Auburn Stays Alive

Entering week 12, there were 7 teams with legitimate paths to the national championship. The four undefeated teams came in with cupcake games, while two of the three one-loss teams had tough challenges. So what happened?

  • Alabama was a 23-point favorite at Mississippi State (53rd in the week 11 SRS ratings). It wasn’t pretty, but the Crimson Tide left Starkville with a 20-7 win.
  • Florida State also simply needs to win out, and the Seminoles hosted Syracuse (69). FSU was a 37.5-point favorite, and the game wasn’t even that close. After one quarter, Jameis Winston was 10 for 10 for 170-yards, and the Seminoles were up 28-0, en route to a 59-3 win. That was the largest win of the week, and gives FSU four of the top nine single-game SRS scores of the season.
  • Behind the undefeated behemoths of the SEC and ACC are undefeated teams in two other major conferences: the Big 10 and Big 12. Ohio State was a 33.5-point favorite in Illinois (#74), while Baylor was a 27.5 point favorite against Texas Tech (#41) in Arlington. Ohio State jumped out to a 28-0 lead against Illinois, and won 60-35, but the game got a little close in the middle. It was only 35-21 in the third quarter, and 44-28 in the 4th, but Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller (combined 40 carries for 430 yards and 5 touchdowns) were too much for the Illini to handle.
  • Baylor fell behind 14-0 early, but still managed to cover the spread after winning 63-34. After the hot start from the Red Raiders, the Bears scored 8 touchdowns in the next 36 minutes of game time. Quarterback Bryce Petty “struggled” in this game, which means he only completed 17 of 31 passes, but still picked up 335 yards and three touchdowns (to go along with two rushing scores). So far, the Bears have been up to the challenge as the meat of the schedule arrived in November, although the toughest test comes next week in Stillwater. The crazy part is that if it wasn’t for West Virginia, this Oklahoma State-Baylor game would be as hyped as any Big 12 game in recent memory: two explosive offenses, two undefeated teams, a B12 title and a possible BCSNCG berth on the line.
  • Three one loss teams were also knocking on the door. Stanford had the hardest SOS through 11 weeks of any team with no more than one loss, and the Cardinal owned the best win (as measured purely by SOS) of any team in the country. Stanford traveled to Los Angeles to face a USC team (#20) that had gone 4-1 since interim head coach Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin. Stanford was a 3.5-point favorite over the Trojans, but a strong fourth quarter gave USC the win. Kevin Hogan threw two late interceptions, and kicker Andre Heidari hit a 47-yarder in the final minute, completing the upset for Coach O and the Trojans. We can officially rule Stanford out of the BCS race, and absent any upsets, pencil in Oregon-Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
  • Two one-loss SEC teams entered week 12 with quasi control-their-own-destiny fates. Missouri and Auburn know that winning out means an SEC championship and a win over Alabama. No one really knows if that would be enough to vault them into the BCS National Championship Game, but for idle MIZZOU, the debate will have to wait another week (the bye week comes at an opportune time, with Ole Miss and Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M coming up the next two weeks).
  • Auburn was a three-point home favorite against Georgia (#25), and got off to a hot start, outgaining Georgia 149 to 4 and grabbing a 10-0 lead after the first quarter. With 10 minutes left, the Tigers led 37-20, but three touchdowns in eight minutes — the last on a run by Aaron Murray on 4th-and-goal that just barely (if at all) got in — gave Georgia a 38-37 lead. All looked lost, until on 4th and 18, Nick Marshall threw a 73-yard touchdown to Ricardo Louis on the play of the year.

It didn’t take the straightest route, but after week 12, the national picture barely changed. The Iron Bowl in two weeks will be the de facto SEC West Championship Game, but more importantly it could be a quarterfinal matchup for the national title. The winner of Alabama/Auburn goes to the SEC Championship Game, which — if Missouri wins out — may be a de facto semifinal game. Whether a one-loss Auburn/Missouri gets in over an undefeated Baylor or Ohio State is tough to say, of course, although both of those teams could have a loss by then. And don’t worry: if either set of Tigers can upset Alabama, we will surely hear about how dominant the SEC is, which is very hard to argue.
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Non-FBS College Football Ratings Through 12 Weeks

Every week, I publish my college football ratings for FBS teams. To generate those ratings – using this methodology — my program also generates ratings for non-FBS team.  So let’s take a look at the ratings through twelve weeks for all non-FBS teams. After posting the ratings, I’m going to dip my toe into the Butler/Marist debate. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game. [click to continue…]


Last week, the top five was Florida State, Baylor, Oregon, Alabama, and Arizona State. Florida State won big (by 56), while Baylor and Alabama won big games (against Oklahoma and LSU) by comfortable margins. Arizona State won by a point at Utah, an underrated team (despite the record, Utah ranks 24th in the SRS). Of course, the big story of the week was Stanford (who lost to Utah earlier in the year) upsetting Oregon. Oregon understandably will drop in the rankings, but this late in the season, one game doesn’t swing the SRS nearly as much. After all, each game is given the same weight. Oregon gets credited with a 50.7 SRS score for losing in Palo Alto, which essentially says for one game, the Ducks were about the 20th best team in the country. Alabama gets 69.9 points for defeating LSU at home by 21. But while the Crimson Tide move up, and moves the Ducks down, Alabama did not pass Oregon in the SRS.

Say what? Yes, the SRS still has FSU, Baylor, and Oregon ahead of Alabama. I’ll explain more in a minute, but first, the SRS ratings through eleven weeks. As a reminder, you can read about the methodology here. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.
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Non-FBS College Football Ratings Through 11 Weeks

Every week, I publish my college football ratings for FBS teams. To generate those ratings – using this methodology — my program also generates ratings for non-FBS team.  So let’s take a look at the ratings through eleven weeks for all non-FBS teams. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game. [click to continue…]


Jameis Wins a ton

Jameis Wins a ton.

The Florida State Seminoles have done everything a championship team should do. FSU obliterated a 4-0 Maryland team 63-0, the most dominant win of the first five weeks of the season. That performance has only been eclipsed by one game since: the Seminoles 51-14 victory on the road against Clemson, a team that is currently ranked 10th in this week’s version of the SRS. In week 10, FSU was a 21-point favorite against an undefeated but underwhelming Hurricanes team: the Seminoles and Jameis Winston struggled a bit early, but won 41-14. That win gives FSU three of the top nine single game performances of the season.

Of course, FSU is still on the outside looking in when it comes to the BCS. If Oregon and Alabama remain undefeated, that’s your national championship game, a matchup college football fans have been pining for each of the past few seasons. Obviously an undefeated FSU team would deserve to be in the title game, just like an undefeated Alabama and undefeated Oregon would, too. Such is life in (thankfully, the last year of) college football’s two-team playoff system. But if we’re forced to split hairs, is FSU better than Alabama and/or Oregon? And what do we make of an Ohio State team that’s now 21-0 under Urban Meyer?

Let’s start with the SRS ratings through ten weeks. As a reminder, you can read about the methodology here. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.
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Non-FBS College Football Ratings Through 10 Weeks

Every week, I publish my college football ratings for FBS teams. To generate those ratings – using this methodology — my program also generates ratings for non-FBS teams. Since there is less interest in those numbers, I rarely publish them, but here are the ratings through ten weeks for all non-FBS teams.
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Shaw helped USC win the Battle of The Columbias Trophy. Yes, that is a real thing.

Shaw helped USC win the Battle of The Columbias Trophy. Yes, that is a real thing.

Last week, five teams emerged as the upper crust of college football. That number has dropped to four, after Missouri lost to South Carolina in typical heartbreaking style. The Tigers led 17-0 entering the fourth quarter, but that was before USC starting quarterback Connor Shaw — who had been held out due to injury — was inserted into the game. Shaw led the Gamecocks on a furious comeback to force overtime. After MIZZOU scored a touchdown on the first possession, Shaw threw his third touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal from the 16 yard line. On the second possession, USC was up first and kicked a field goal. Missouri looked to match South Carolina, but a 24-yard field goal bounced off the left upright, giving Tigers fans the gut punch loss of the season.

Elsewhere, most things went according to plan. Johnny Manziel played like a Heisman Trophy winner (25/35, 305 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT), while Teddy Bridgewater (25/29, 344, 3, 0), Bryce Petty (20/32, 430, 3/0), and Jameis Winston (16/26, 292, 3/1) continued their dominant seasons. A couple of embattled schools pulled off impressive wins over conference rivals: Michigan State won 42-3 against Illinois, while Texas continued to put September in the rear-view mirror by stomping TCU, 30-7.

Below are the SRS ratings through nine weeks. As a reminder, you can read about the methodology here. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.
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Famous Jameis

Famous Jameis.

Last week, Florida State topped the SRS ratings. And that was before the Seminoles posted the single best performance of the season, winning at Clemson 51-14 on Saturday Night. They scored an 85.5 in the SRS against the Tigers, so FSU now has the top two games of the season (the team’s 63-0 shutout against Maryland had been the previous SRS leader). Freshman phenom Jameis Winston threw for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 34 passes, and is vaulting to the front of Heisman leaderboards. How impressive was the win? Even if you ignore margin of victory, simply winning at Clemson stands as the most impressive road win of the season. The Tigers have an SRS of 53.5, and no team with a higher SRS score has lost at home this season. And it would be a surprise if the Seminoles didn’t finish the season undefeated.

Four of FSU’s final six regular season games come against teams outside of the top 75 in the SRS. FSU is a 29-point favorite this weekend against NC State, and should be similar favorites against Wake Forest, Syracuse, and Idaho (well, that game should be off the board). The only real challenges the rest of the way come from in-state rivals Miami and Florida, but for now, FSU seems like the best team not just in Florida, but in the country.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed in college football, a reality several teams were painfully reminded of this weekend. Louisville and Heisman/2014 No. 1 overall draft pick favorite Teddy Bridgewater lost, at home, to a sneaky good Central Florida team. If UCF can beat Houston in two weeks, the American Athletic Conference is likely theirs, along with an automatic BCS berth. Through eight weeks, the AAC has just three teams in the top half of the 125 FBS teams, so Central Florida’s path to a BCS Bowl won’t feature too many road blocks.

The one loss for the Knights was out of conference to South Carolina, a team who fell on SEC Upset Weekend. Despite a good game (and one monster hit) out of Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks lost on a last-second field goal at Tennessee, 23-21.

That was one of five intraconference upsets in the SEC this weekend. Georgia lost on the road against Vanderbilt 31-27, despite the Bulldogs entering the game as 6.5-point favorites. Missouri had a higher SRS rating than Florida, but was a three-point underdog in Columbia against the Gators. The Tigers outgained Florida 500-151, and Henry Josey led the way with 18 carries for 136 yards and a score. LSU was a 9.5-point favorite in Oxford, but Zach Mettenberger threw three interceptions and Ole Miss jumped out to a 17-0 lead. The Tigers came back to tie the game, but the Rebels hit a 41-yard field goal as time expired to steal the win.

Johnny Manziel went down with an injury against Auburn, but you wouldn’t know it from his stat line: 28/38 for 454 yards, 4 TDs, 18 carries for 48 yards, 1 TD. Manziel also threw two interceptions, and missed one series with an injury, which might have made the difference in a shootout. Aggie wideout Mike Evans, who is a Vincent Jackson clone, caught 11 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns. But Auburn, which entered College Station as 12.5-point underdogs, ultimately scored last, pulling out a 45-41 win. Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall had a great game, too, throwing for 236 passing yards and two touchdowns on 23 pass attempts, while adding 100 yards and two scores on the ground.

Only one game went according to script in the SEC, which is a pretty good way of describing just about every Alabama game ever. The Crimson Tide defeated Arkansas 52-0, in typical ruthless fashion. A.J. McCarron was 15/21 for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, Kenyan Drake had 104 yards and two scores on 8 carries, and T.J. Yeldon had 88 yards and a score on 12 carries. Backup Derrick Henry even ran for an 80-yard touchdown in the final minutes, just because.
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Mariota and the Ducks continue to roll

Mariota and the Ducks continue to roll.

After seven weeks, the idle Seminoles remain atop the SRS Ratings. New readers can read the background about the Simple Rating System here, but the SRS simply takes margin of victory for each team (with some minor tweaks to minimize running up the score and to give credit for close wins) and adjusts that differential for strength of schedule. The top three comprises the same teams as last week, but following a big win in Washington, Oregon leapfrogged Baylor into the number two spot. Quarterback Marcus Mariota now has 17 passing touchdowns, eight rushing touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Among players with at least 150 pass attempts, he leads college football in Adjusted Yards per Attempt, with presumptive number one pick in the 2014 Draft — Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater — three tenths of a yard behind him. (If you lower the threshold to 100 attempts, both Bryce Petty (Baylor) and Jameis Winston (Florida State) would vault Mariota.)

The 4-5-6 spots are occupied by SEC teams, with newcomer Missouri sandwiched next to SEC stalwarts Alabama and LSU. Missouri was identified as a sleeper in last week’s ratings — the Tigers actually ranked ahead of Georgia entering that game — and then pulled off one of the weekend’s big upsets by winning in Athens. But with Mizzou, the other shoe never waits very long to drop: quarterback James Franklin was injured against Georgia, and is out at least six weeks with a separated shoulder. The Tigers have averaged 45.7 points per game this year, so Missouri is very much a team built around its dynamic offense. It’s hard to imagine Missouri beating both Florida and South Carolina the next two weeks, even with both games coming at home. On the other hand, if the Tigers can do that, there’s a good chance they’ll enter the final game of the regular season with an undefeated record. That game comes against Johnny Manziel and former Big XII rival Texas A&M. If they get to that game, we’re going to just have to assume that this 2013 is Jason Lisk’s year and we’re all just living in it. His Chiefs and Tigers are a combined 12-0 right now, and none of that makes any sense.

There were two other “big upsets” this week among ranked teams. Number five Stanford lost in Utah, in a game that wasn’t as surprising as you might think. Last week, Stanford was “only” 11th and Utah was 30th in the SRS; in fact, the Cardinal only drop to #13 in the SRS this week, while the Utes jump up to #21. The other big upset was in the Red River Shootout, in a game that was hard to see coming. Texas lost to #36 (in the SRS) Ole Miss by 21 points at home earlier this year, so who saw them winning in Dallas against Oklahoma on Saturday? Right now, Baylor is the only team in the top 20 in the SRS from the Big 12, although the Bears had their own struggles against #40 KSU in week seven.

The #7 team in the SRS is Clemson, and the Tigers host Florida State next week in a matchup of two teams ranked in the top five (albeit not in the SRS). That looks to be one of the best games of the year, and is where College Gameday will be in week eight. That’s an 8PM kickoff, so plan accordingly. And now, the week seven SRS ratings. As always, this is an ever-evolving picture, but after seven weeks, you can begin to feel pretty confident in these ratings. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.
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Last week, the Baylor Bears came in at number one in the first edition of the 2013 SRS Ratings. But the Bears ranked #1 on the strength of blowouts against bad teams; how would Baylor fare against West Virginia, who upset Oklahoma State just one week ago?

Art Briles’ squad raced out to a 56-14 lead, eventually won 73-42, and have cemented themselves as the new cool kids in town. But that doesn’t mean Baylor remained atop the SRS ratings. No, after Florida State and Jameis Winston dismantled Maryland, the Seminoles now rank number one:
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Five weeks in, the first edition of NCAA SRS ratings

Petty and Seastrunk have yet to break a sweat

Petty and Seastrunk have yet to break a sweat.

It’s still too early to put much faith in any computer ratings, but we can at least begin framing the discussion of which are the most impressive teams in college football. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game. As a reminder, here’s the system for producing SRS ratings.

1) For each game not played at a neutral site, 3 points are given to the road team. After that adjustment, all wins and losses of between 7 and 24 points are recorded exactly as such. This means that a 24-10 road win goes down as +17 for the road team, -17 for the home team.

2) With one exception, wins of 7 or fewer points are scored as 7-point wins and losses of 7 or fewer points are scored as 7 point losses. So a 4-point home win goes down as +7 (and not a 1) and a 1-point home loss is a -7 (and not a -4). The one exception is that road losses of 3 or fewer (and home wins of 3 or fewer) are graded as ties. So a 21-20 home victory goes down as a 0 for both teams.

3) Wins/Losses of more than 24 points are scored as the average between the actual number and 24. This is to avoid giving undue credit to teams that run up the score. So a 75-point home win goes down as a 48-point win.

Once we have a rating for each team in each game, we then adjust each result for strength of schedule. This is an iterative process, where we adjust the ratings hundreds of times (to adjust for SOS, you have to adjust for the SOS of each opponent, and the SOS of each opponent’s opponent, and so on.) in Excel. Then we produce final ratings, where the SRS rating is the sum of the Margin of Victory and Strength of Schedule in every week.

After five weeks, what are the results? As usual, the table is fully searchable (type “-0″, for example, to see a list of undefeated teams, or SEC to see all SEC teams.) Right now, the number one team is Baylor, with an average (adjusted) Margin of Victory of 41.5 points per game against an average opponent that is 27.7 points better than average (average includes all football teams at all levels, so all FBS will have a positive grade). Among undefeated teams, no opponent has faced a tougher SOS than Alabama. Below shows all 125 FBS teams.
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Post-Week 3 College Football Ratings: Part II

Earlier today, I explained my methodology for coming up with college football ratings after three weeks. Here are the current ratings. These ratings are not capped for margin of victory (but do include a home field adjustment). That’s why Oregon tops Alabama (for now). These ratings exclude all FCS games except games where FBS teams lost to FCS teams, which are included (and all FCS teams are given a rating of -20). Here’s how to read the Alabama line. The Crimson Tide are ranked #2, and had a preseason rank (based on the Vegas point spreads) of #1. Alabam was considered 20.1 points better than average before the season; now they’re considered 21.4 points better than average, making them the top team in the SEC. Oregon jumped Alabama because the Ducks beat Virginia 59-10 and Tennessee 59-14.

Pre Rk
Conf Rk
3Florida St98.117.1ACC1
7Texas A&M411.210SEC4
12South Carolina78.68.2SEC6
13Oklahoma St127.28.1B123
14Ohio State5117.7B101
16Georgia Tech37-1.46.6ACC3
22Miami FL261.63.4ACC4
24Southern Cal155.53.2P126
25Arizona St222.73.2P127
27Texas Tech45-4.21B124
29Notre Dame165.50.8IND1
30Brigham Young41-20.5IND2
31Virginia Tech232.40.2ACC5
33Central Florida51-7.50.2AAC2
35Penn State33-0.6-0.1B105
37West Virginia46-5-0.9B127
39North Carolina32-0.3-1.8ACC6
40Utah St55-7.9-2.7MWC1
44Oregon St251.7-3.4P128
47North Carolina St52-7.6-4ACC7
49Kansas St281.3-4.7B128
50Michigan St241.9-5B109
52Mississippi St44-4.1-5.5SEC13
53Fresno St38-1.7-5.6MWC2
55Washington St84-13.9-6.3P129
57Boise St36-1.3-7MWC3
61East Carolina64-9.4-8.3CUSA1
62Bowling Green63-9.3-8.8MAC1
67Ball St68-11-10.9MAC2
72Boston College70-12-13ACC13
73Northern Illinois60-8.5-13.1MAC4
76San José St86-14.3-14.5MWC4
84Iowa St61-9.2-16.9B129
85Wake Forest73-12.5-17.2ACC14
87Middle Tennessee St87-14.8-17.6CUSA5
88North Texas110-22.5-18CUSA6
89Ohio U.91-15.5-18.1MAC5
90Arkansas St82-13.3-18.4SUN3
91Texas-San Antonio114-22.8-18.5CUSA7
94Colorado St94-18-19.7MWC7
96Texas St-San Marcos115-24.3-19.9SUN5
97San Diego St58-8.1-20.6MWC8
100Western Kentucky104-20.9-20.8SUN6
101Western Michigan112-22.6-20.9MAC7
103Florida Atlantic118-26.9-21.6CUSA10
105Air Force76-12.5-22.2MWC9
106Kent St97-19.3-22.3MAC8
107New Mexico109-22.3-22.4MWC10
111Louisiana Tech93-17.6-23.3CUSA11
113South Florida71-12.2-24.7AAC10
114Eastern Michigan108-21.6-25.2MAC10
115Southern Miss100-19.8-25.4CUSA13
117Central Michigan103-20.4-29.2MAC11
118Florida Int'l116-25-32.4CUSA14
120New Mexico St119-32.1-36.6IND5
121Miami OH120-33.9-40.8MAC13

To come up with the rankings, I placed a 50% weight on the preseason ratings and a 50% weight on the actual results. In a week or two, I’ll completely ignore the preseason ratings and calculate things the way I normally do. At that point, teams like Texas will really drop.


Post-Week 3 College Football Ratings: Part I

With three weeks in the books, it’s time to unveil some college football ratings. This is part one — I plan to post Part II on Sunday afternoon.

It’s still too early to create meaningful SRS ratings, but there’s a workaround solution. You may recall that back in the summer, I created implied college football SRS ratings based on the Las Vegas spreads for 247 games. Those spreads were stale, but thanks to RJ Bell, founder of Pregame.com, I was able to get the final pre-game lines for those 247 games. I used those lines to build implied pre-season SRS ratings for 83 FBS teams, shown below:

4Texas A&M78.62.611.2SEC
5Ohio State1016.7-5.611B10
7South Carolina109.6-18.6SEC
9Florida St913.2-5.18.1ACC
12Oklahoma St99.3-2.17.2B12
15Southern Cal1110-4.55.5P12
16Notre Dame128.3-2.85.5IND
22Arizona St103.7-12.7P12
23Virginia Tech620.42.4ACC
24Michigan St73.9-21.9B10
25Oregon St104.9-3.21.7P12
26Miami FL83.1-1.61.6ACC
28Kansas St82.4-1.11.3B12
32North Carolina5-10.7-0.3ACC
33Penn State81.6-2.2-0.6B10
36Boise St36.2-7.5-1.3MWC
37Georgia Tech6-4.63.1-1.4ACC
40Brigham Young80.1-2.2-2IND
43Mississippi St6-11.37.2-4.1SEC
44Texas Tech3-10.56.3-4.2B12
45West Virginia8-6.31.3-5B12
50Central Florida2-12.55-7.5AAC
51North Carolina St3-12.24.6-7.6ACC
56San Diego St2-14.56.4-8.1MWC
58Iowa St7-11.22.1-9.2B12
63Boston College3-18.56.5-12ACC
64South Florida3-13.81.6-12.2AAC
65Wake Forest2-19.57-12.5ACC
67Air Force1-185.5-12.5MWC
71Washington St8-17.33.4-13.9P12
75Colorado St2-180-18MWC
79Southern Miss1-18.5-1.3-19.8CUSA
82Central Michigan1-1-19.4-20.4MAC

[click to continue…]


Vegas likes Alabama a lot more than it likes LSU

Vegas likes Alabama a lot more than it likes LSU.

The Simple Rating System is a set of computer rankings focused on only two variables: strength of schedule and margin of victory. I published weekly college football SRS ratings each week last season, and you can read more about the SRS there. Last month, Jason Lisk of the Big Lead took the Las Vegas point spread for each NFL game to come up with a set of power rankings; I stole Lisk’s idea and used the same point spreads to create implied SRS ratings for every NFL team. The idea is that if the 49ers are a 10.5-point neutral site favorite over the Jaguars, that’s one data point that implies that Las Vegas views San Francisco as 10.5 points better than Jacksonville. By taking every data point, and using Excel to iterate the ratings hundreds of times, you can create a set of implied team ratings.

Last week, the Golden Nugget released the point spreads for 248 college football games. By using the same process, those point spreads can help us determine the implied ratings that Las Vegas has assigned to each team.

We don’t have a full slate of games, but we do have at least 1 game for 83 different teams. Theoretically, this is different than using actual game results: one game can be enough to come up with Vegas’ implied rating for the team. That’s because once we’re confident in Oklahoma’s rating, Tulsa being 18-point underdogs in Norman gives us a good estimate for how Vegas views Tulsa. I assigned 3 points to the road team in each game in coming up with the implied SRS ratings. For example, Arizona is an 11-point favorite on the road against California. So for that game, we assume Vegas believes the Wildcats are 14 points better than the Golden Bears; if we do this for each of the other 247 games, and then iterate the results hundreds of times, we can come up with a set of power ratings.

Unsurprisingly, Alabama comes out as the highest-rated team. The Crimson Tide are being rated as 19.6 points better than “average,” although average isn’t really a concept with much meaning here. The SRS rating has little meaning in the abstract, but is useful to get a sense of the Crimson Tide’s rating relative to the rest of the teams. If Alabama is 10 points better in the SRS than a team, that means Alabama would be projected as a 10-point favorite on a neutral site. In the table below, I’ve included the number of games for which we have point spreads for each team on the far left. The “MOV” column shows the home field-adjusted average point spread for that team, the “SOS” column shows the average rating of each team’s opponent (for only the number of games for which we have lines), and the “SRS” column shows the school’s SRS rating.
[click to continue…]


Week 15 College Football SRS Ratings

I didn’t publish my college football SRS ratings last week, but with the conclusion of yesterday’s Army-Navy game, the college football regular season is over. But before we turn our attention to the Bowls, here is a look at the final regular season SRS ratings.

Conf Rk
3Texas A&MSEC21218.242.460.610-2
4Kansas StB1211216.543.259.711-1
6Notre DameIND--1214.742.857.512-0
10South CarolinaSEC51212.541.954.410-2
12Oregon StP123129.64453.69-3
13Oklahoma StB1231211.142.553.67-5
14Southern CalP124127.944.552.47-5
15Florida StACC11319.332.65211-2
16Ohio StateB1011213.738.351.912-0
21Arizona StP125129.241.350.57-5
23Utah StWAC11217.732.149.810-2
25Fresno StMWC1121633.249.29-3
26Brigham YoungIND--1211.736.147.87-5
29Texas TechB126124.442.246.67-5
31Penn StateB105128.737.546.28-4
32San José StWAC21212.733.446.110-2
34West VirginiaB128122.343.545.87-5
35Boise StMWC21213.831.845.710-2
36Northern IllinoisMAC11318.52745.512-1
38Iowa StB129120.844.144.96-6
40Mississippi StSEC912638.344.38-4
41Michigan StB10712341.344.36-6
45Louisiana TechWAC31211.831.343.19-3
46Central FloridaCUS11311.431.542.99-4
47San Diego StMWC3129.832.642.49-3
48North CarolinaACC3121131.342.48-4
52Arkansas StSun1129.731.441.19-3
53Miami FLACC4121.639.340.97-5
57Georgia TechACC5132.936.939.86-7
61Kent StMAC21310.129.239.311-2
64North Carolina StACC6123.234.537.77-5
66Virginia TechACC7120.836.437.26-6
67Ball StMAC3124.931.836.79-3
73Western KentuckySun4122.731.3347-5
77Bowling GreenMAC5127.625.533.18-4
79Middle Tennessee StSun5120.531.832.28-4
81East CarolinaCUS4121.430.531.98-4
82Washington StP121112-11.843.531.73-9
85South FloridaBgE612-737.9313-9
89Ohio U.MAC6125.224.729.98-4
90Air ForceMWC5120.429.429.86-6
93Boston CollegeACC1112-9.438.228.82-10
96Texas St-San MarcosWAC412-431.927.94-8
98Western MichiganMAC712-1.829.227.44-8
99Colorado StMWC712-8.635.526.94-8
101Florida Int'lSun712-6.833.326.53-9
102Florida AtlanticSun812-8.735.126.43-9
103North TexasSun912-6.332.726.44-8
104New MexicoMWC813-4.830.525.64-9
105Wake ForestACC1212-11.537.125.65-7
106Central MichiganMAC812-3.528.625.16-6
110Texas-San AntonioWAC5122.62123.58-4
113Miami OHMAC1012-9.832.322.54-8
117South AlabamaSun1013-10.830.519.62-11
119Eastern MichiganMAC1212-14.63419.42-10
121Southern MissCUS1212-17.834.216.40-12
123New Mexico StWAC712-18.532.513.91-11

I’ve also updated the NCAA Games page, which displays every game in major college football this season.

The table below lists the Bowl matchups along with some SRS data squeezed in: the last four columns show the SRS rating of the favorite and the underdog, along with the difference between the two ratings (i.e., a projected point spread) and the average of the two ratings (essentially a ranking of how good the game is).
[click to continue…]


Week 13 College Football SRS Ratings

We all know the big story of the weekend: Wake up the Echoes, Notre Dame is in the National Championship Game. While it may be trendy to rip the Fighting Irish, they earned their golden ticket to Miami. Notre Dame’s opponent will be the champion of the Southeastern Conference, decided next weekend when Alabama and Georgia meet in Atlanta. Let’s take a closer look at the SEC in 2012, which is looking for its seventh consecutive national championship.

For a long time, the refrain among SEC folks was “there are no off weeks in the SEC.” If no team emerged with a perfect record, that was simply a testament to the depth of the conference. But this year has to go down as one of the most predictable seasons in the history of the SEC — or any other conference. There are six excellent teams representing the First Class of the conference: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and South Carolina.

There are four genuinely terrible teams: Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are the cellar dwellers, or Lower Class members. That leaves a lean, two-tiered middle class. Vanderbilt stands alone as an upper-middle class member, with the three M schools of the conference (Mississippi, Missouri, and Mississippi State) are lower-middle class schools. As it turned out, there are caste systems with more mobility than the SEC had in 2012. With 14 teams playing 8 conference games each, that leaves 56 conference games for the SEC. Here is what happened:

  • The First Class (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and South Carolina) went 30-0 in games against the rest of the conference, with 21 of those wins coming by at least 14 points.
  • The Upper Middle Class (Vanderbilt) was equally predictable, going 0-3 against the First Class and 5-0 against everyone else.
  • The Lower Middle Class (MSU, Mississippi and Missouri) went 0-12 against the First Class, with 9 losses coming by at least 19 points. They also went 0-2 against the Upper Middle Class, but finished 8-0 against the Lower Class, with 6 of those wins coming by double digits.
  • The Bottom Class (Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas) finished 0-26 against the rest of the conference, with 18 of those losses coming by double digits

As a result of how stratified the conference was, it’s hard not to recognize how much the schedule impacts the results. Only two teams in the conference played just two games against First Class teams. It is not a coincidence, in my opinion, that those two teams happen to be the ones that landed in Atlanta.

In the West, Alabama went 1-1 against the First Class, 3-0 against the Lower Middle Class, and 3-0 against the Bottom Class. That’s a really easy schedule for the Crimson Tide — their second-best win this year came against Michigan (or Mississippi or MSU, if you prefer). That’s somewhat laughable for the team that is considered the #2 team in the country. Meanwhile, LSU had four games against the First Class of the SEC, going 2-2 in those games in addition to a 2-0 record against the LMC and a 3-0 mark against the Bottom Class. Texas A&M went 1-2 against the First Class, 3-0 against the LMC, and 2-0 against the BC. Is Alabama the best team in the division, or just lucky that they didn’t face Florida the way LSU and AM did? To put it another way, if Florida wasn’t so good this year, A&M probably finishes 11-1 and wins the division on the tiebreaker.

In the East, Georgia went 1-1 against the First Class, 3-0 against the middle classes and 3-0 against the Bottom Class. Are the Bulldogs in line for a national title game appearance because they’re great, or are they great because they’re in line to play for the title? Georgia’s second-best win this season came against Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, Florida went 3-1 against the First Class, 2-0 against the middle classes and 2-0 against the Bottom Class. Which performance is more impressive?

Since the winner of the SEC Championship Game will end the season going 2-1 against the First Class of the conference, that does improve their resume. They’ll be a worthy participant in the title game, but it’s easy to argue that if the schedule had been arranged differently, so would have Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, or USC.

Here are the week 13 college football SRS Ratings:
[click to continue…]


Week 12 College Football SRS Ratings

Your assumptions are no longer valid.

Kansas State entered the weekend as the most balanced team in college football. Through 11 weeks, Baylor ranked 120th in yards allowed and 118th in points allowed. But last night in Waco, the Wildcats were unable to do much of anything on offense. Collin Klein had never thrown more than one interception in a game in his career; he threw 3 against the Bears. Kansas State was averaging 213 rushing yards per game, but Baylor limited them to just 76 rushing yards. The Wildcats hadn’t allowed more than 30 points in a game this year; Baylor scored 52 points in the first three quarters and ended the game with 580 yards of offense. The most balanced and consistent team in the country was demolished by one of the most one-dimensional teams in college football.

Who needs Andrew Luck?

At the same time, another surprise was happening in Eugene. If there was one thing we knew in 2012, it was that the Oregon offense was unstoppable. This has been the case for years — since Chip Kelly arrived in 2007, the Ducks had scored at least 24 points in every home game. Against Stanford, the Ducks were held to just 14 points in an overtime loss.

In their first years in the post-Andrew Luck and post-Robert Griffin III, the Stanford and Baylor programs dominated the college football headlines on the most important weekend of the season. For the first time in five years, the #1 and #2 teams in the BCS fell on the same day, rendering all of our national championship game assumptions moot.

This much is clear: if Notre Dame defeats USC at the Coliseum on Saturday, the Fighting Irish are going to the BCS National Championship Game. The winner of the SEC Championship Game is going there as well, barring an upset by Georgia Tech in Athens this weekend.1 I maintain that Georgia is far less deserving of its spot in Atlanta than Florida, who has the most impressive trio of wins this year by defeating LSU, Texas A&M, and South Carolina. Georgia lost to South Carolina but beat Florida, which gave them the tiebreaker and the division crown. But the real key for Bulldogs was that they faced Mississippi and Auburn in the West, not LSU and A&M; as a result, they are the SEC East Champions.

But now is the time for more relevant debates. Assuming an upset — either by USC, or by Georgia Tech coupled with a Georgia upset against Alabama — who is next in line? At that point, four teams will have legitimate claims for the other golden ticket: Florida, Florida State, Oregon, and Kansas State. Fortunately, the Gators and Seminoles play each other on Saturday, which would leaves us with just three promising candidates.

If they defeat Florida State, Florida is the clear “next team up” following a slip-up by Notre Dame or in the event of a two-loss SEC Champ. The computers would love them due to their strength of schedule, and the voters should love them for the same reason and the bump they would get for defeating Florida State.

If FSU wins, their case is much weaker. The computers hate them, and for good reason: they haven’t beaten any good teams. Defeating the Gators would give them a big bump, and they’ll get a chance to beat mediocre team in the ACC Championship Game, but consider: Outside of 10-1 Clemson, each of FSU’s other 9 victories have come against ACC, Big East, or FCS schools that have at least 5 losses. And how good is Clemson? Yes, they have a nice record, but their 10 wins have come against Ball State (#64 in the SRS), and ACC, SEC, or FCS teams with at least five losses.

According to the SRS, North Carolina is the 3rd best team in the conference and they rank 45th. FSU lost to a bad N.C. State team, while while Oregon (in particular) and Kansas State have much more palatable losses. FSU’s argument would be two parts “we lost earliest” and one part “we beat Florida and Clemson, even if Clemson hasn’t beaten anybody.” Florida State’s overall strength of schedule is far inferior to that both Oregon’s and Kansas State’s. In my opinion, even with a win over Florida, the Seminoles likely do not jump both Oregon and Kansas State in the BCS, nor should they.

And consider: if Stanford defeats UCLA this weekend, the Cardinal — and not Oregon — would win the Pac-12 North, which would deal a significant blow to Nike University. Kansas State still needs to get by Texas, but tonight might not end up being a season killer. At this point, they need to root for USC and Florida State, which is historically not a bad position to be in. My guess is Kansas State is next in line after an undefeated Notre Dame, a one-loss SEC Champ, and a one-loss Florida team. It’s possible only one of those three exist by the end of the season.

Let’s take a look at the SRS ratings after 11 weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe. [click to continue…]

  1. No, we’re not getting into hypotheticals that involve Auburn beating Alabama. []

Week 11 College Football SRS Ratings

Johnny Football, with his shirt on (for now).

For the second straight season, the game of the year took place in Tuscaloosa. A week after Alabama eeked out a victory over LSU, and 53 weeks after Alabama loss to LSU in last year’s “Game of the Century”, Johnny Manziel produced one of the performances of the season in leading Texas A&M to an incredible upset victory. I have been a believer in the Aggies — they ranked 4th in my SRS ratings last week and remain there this week — but make no mistake, this was still an incredible upset. For a true freshman, on the road, against a Nick Saban defense, to go 24/31 for 253 yards and 2 TDs and to run 18 times for 92 yards is outstanding.

For now, the upset means we’re likely headed towards an SEC-free national championship game. This will anger some in the South, so I’ll take this time to remind you that the SEC’s record this year against the other BCS conferences is an incredibly dominant 4-5. Yes, the SEC has a losing record against the other top conferences in college football in 2011.

The bottom of the SEC has struggled considerably both in and out of conference — Auburn lost to Clemson, Vanderbilt to Northwestern, Kentucky to Louisville (and also to Western Kentucky), Ole Miss to Texas, and Arkansas to Rutgers (and also Louisiana-Lafayette). The positive side of the ledger isn’t all that impressive, unfortunately. Sure, Tennessee beat N.C. State, which would be impressive if not for the fact that the Wolfpack are 68th in the SRS. Yes, LSU beat Washington at home, but it’s LSU against the 8th best team in the Pac-12. Missouri over Arizona State and Alabama over Michigan are basically the two nonconference games the SEC can hang its hat on.

If Oregon wins out, they seem assured of getting one of the two golden tickets to Miami. Who will get the other? Obviously an undefeated Kansas State or Notre Dame would take one of the other spots. For now, K-State is ahead in the polls and the BCS standings, and gets the benefit of playing a streaking Texas team after the Fighting Irish have hung up their cleats for the year. According to the BCS Guru, Notre Dame is the clear third wheel.

But what if both Kansas State and Notre Dame lose? At that point, a one-loss SEC Champ — presumably Alabama — likely rises to number two. To that end, Alabama’s biggest friend right now is Lane Kiffin, who could knock off both Oregon and Notre Dame if USC wins out, setting up a Kansas State-Alabama title game.

And with that, a look college football’s SRS ratings after 11 weeks:
[click to continue…]


There were close calls in Baton Rouge and in South Bend, but all six undefeated teams escaped week 10 without a blemish. Ohio State is now the first team to win 10 games in 2012, although the Buckeyes are not eligible to participate in postseason play. Louisville ran its record to 9-0 yesterday, with winnable games against Syracuse and Connecticut before a season-defining finale in Piscataway on November 29th.

However, the eyes of the country are now focused on Notre Dame, Kansas State, Oregon, and Alabama. Last weekend, I said there was only a 10% chance that Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame would finish the season undefeated. That was with 13 games left for those teams to win; now those odds are close to 17%. Kansas State has the easiest remaining path, although all three of its remaining opponents have realistic chances of pulling an upset. Oregon has a relatively easy game against Cal this week while Notre Dame shouldn’t have any problem with Boston College.

Alabama has another tough challenge this week in Texas A&M, although it is hard to imagine college football’s most inconsistent team of the last two years winning a close match-up against the country’s most consistent and brutal opponent. If Alabama can defeat the Aggies this weekend, a perfect regular season is all but assured, with the Crimson Tide’s final two games coming against Western Carolina (SRS of 11.6) and Auburn (37.6). The Iron Bowl this year should be more coronation than battle, which leaves just Texas A&M and Georgia — the likely opponent in the SEC Championship Game — as the two remaining hurdles for Alabama to clear.

Here are the week 10 SRS ratings: [click to continue…]


Week 9 SRS Ratings: When Will Oregon Stop Scoring?

Oregon’s offense is ridiculous, and its defense and special teams aren’t far behind. Entering this weekend, Oregon had outscored opponents 234-46 … in the first half. Prior to their game against Colorado, Bill Connelly ranked Oregon as the third best defense in college football. Against the horrible Buffaloes, the Ducks didn’t disappoint.

Oregon jumped out to a 28-0 lead after the first quarter, and led 56-0 by halftime. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett led the team with three touchdowns in the 70-14 rout. De’Anthony Thomas rushed for 97 yards on five carries and scored on a 73-yard punt return. Kenjon Barner had 9 carries for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns, and if not for the one-yard score, would have averaged 12.9 yards per carry; he also caught a 48-yard pass.

For the Ducks, this was a going-through-the-motions victory against a very overmatched opponent. Soon, though, we’ll find out a little more about the Ducks. On Saturday, they go to Los Angeles to face a talented but inconsistent USC team. And while California isn’t a serious threat, the Ducks close with games against Stanford and Oregon State, who may at least be able to slow down the mighty Ducks offense. For now, though, Oregon looks like the one hope to make for an exciting BCS National Championship Game.

We can assume Alabama will take one spot, with Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame battling for the other golden ticket. The odds of another all-SEC title game dropped with the Florida loss to Georgia. That’s because the Bulldogs now have the inside track on winning the SEC East, with a head-to-head victory over Florida. South Carolina beat Georgia, but UGA will essentially win the division due to luck of the draw. South Carolina drew Arkansas and LSU in Baton Rouge from the SEC West this year, while Georgia gets to play Ole Miss and Auburn — their final two conference opponents. Assuming the Bulldogs can take care of business against Ole Miss next week, their ticket to Atlanta should be secure. Considering Florida could have boosted their SOS against Florida State — and also faced and defeated LSU — replacing Florida with Georgia as the SEC East champion lowers the odds of that division sending a team to Miami.

Without further ado, below are the week 9 SRS ratings. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for publishing his game results.
[click to continue…]


I didn’t think this was possible.

In 2009, Alabama had an incredible defense, ranking 1st or 2nd in points allowed, yards allowed, first downs allowed, completion percentage allowed and rushing yards allowed en route to a 14-0 season and a national title. In the 2010 draft, Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson went in the first round, Javier Arenas and Terrence Cody in the second, and Marquis Johnson and Brandon Deaderick in the seventh. In 2010, a young Alabama defense wildly exceeded all expectations — how could they lose so much talent and still dominate? — but the team did regress and finished the year 10-3.

Last year, as the younger defense matured, Alabama had one of the greatest defenses in the history of college football. The Crimson Tide allowed a miniscule 8.2 points per game, by far the fewest in college football. Alabama’s defense also ranked 1st by large margins in rushing yards per game, passing yards per game, and first downs per game. But then Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, and Courtney Upshaw were top 35 picks in the NFL draft this year, while cornerback DeQuan Menzie and defensive tackle Josh Chapman were fifth round picks. With six defensive starters for the Crimson Tide getting drafted in 2012 — including five members of the first- or second-team All-SEC defense from 20111 — 2012 should have represented a significant step backwards for what was a historically dominant defense.

But the Crimson Tide death star is at full throttle now. After winning on the road at Tennessee and sucking the life out of another offense — and the Vols have one of the most explosive offenses in the SEC — Alabama continues to look invincible. While every other team in college football has question marks, Alabama has allowed just 8.3 points per game this year and has a mercilessly efficient offense. Quarterback A.J. McCarron still hasn’t thrown an interception in 2012.

Here’s a look at the SRS ratings after eight weeks. As a technical matter, two 7-0 teams square off in Tuscaloosa next week. But according to the SRS, Alabama should be expected to win by about 24 points.

[click to continue…]

  1. Upshaw and Barron were All-SEC first team selections by the AP, and Chapman, Hightower and Kirkpatrick earned second-team honors. []

Week 7 NCAA SRS Ratings and the B12 lovefest may be back

Hey Bob, did you know the fate of the conference is in your hands?

Last year, the computers loved the Big 12. The first BCS Standings will be released tonight, and I suspect the B12 will again be viewed favorably by the computers. As a whole, B12 teams have just three nonconference losses, and two of them were by Kansas (to Rice and Northern Illinois). As long as the other nine teams in the conference keep crushing the Jayhawks, those losses won’t matter. The other loss came by Oklahoma State in Arizona, which looks bad in retrospect but again the damage may be limited. With the exception of a blowout over Lousiana-Lafayette, OSU simply hasn’t looked good this season, falling short of a single-game SRS score of 50 in every other game. Yesterday, OSU won by just six points in Manhattan. For the purposes of Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and West Virginia, as long as they also beat down on Oklahoma State (and Texas has already handed them one conference loss), I suspect the computers will continue to love them. And for purposes of the BCS computers, a win over the Cowboys is all they will need (as margin of victory is not included).

On the other side, the conference doesn’t really have any landmark victories, either. Mississippi (via Texas), Louisiana-Monroe (Baylor), Tulsa and Iowa (Iowa State), and Miami (Kansas State) are the most impressive heads hanging in the conference’s living room. We might not learn a lot about the Big 12 conference teams as they relate to the rest of college football — the 10 teams have already played 29 of their 30 nonconference games this season. Fortunately for us, that last remaining game is in two weeks, when Notre Dame travels to Oklahoma. If the Sooners win that game, the computers will likely love the Big 12 for the rest of the season.

Below are the SRS Ratings after seven weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe.
[click to continue…]


NCAA SRS Ratings: Week 6

We're 1 spot away from being in Chase's top six!

For the last couple of weeks, I noted that the SEC East was inching its way back towards respectability. In 2009, the West went 12-7 against the East; in 2010, the dominance was much more pronounced, with the West going 16-3, and Ole Miss being responsible for two of the three losses. Last year, the SEC West went 13-6 against the East, with Ole Miss and MSU being responsible for five of the losses. In all three years, the West was the clear dominant division: any uncertainly was eliminated in the SEC Championship Game, as the West won the three games by a combined 130-40.

But with Florida’s victory over LSU this weekend, the plate tectonics in the Southeastern Conference appear to have shifted. The Gators also beat Texas A&M, leaving the East Division 2-1 so far this season against the mighty West, with Mississippi State’s win over Kentucky being the West’s first interdivision win of 2012. But more importantly, according to the SRS, three of the best five teams in the conference reside in the East, along with two of the three highest ranked teams in all the polls. The two worst teams have been Auburn and Arkansas, both West members. Alabama may be the class of the conference, but we may not find out much more until the SEC Championship Game. In 2012, the Crimson Tide only face Tennessee and Missouri from the East, which may make it difficult to judge the conference’s elite until December. Florida already won both of its two interdivision games, leaving South Carolina’s trip to LSU being perhaps the last referendum on the top of the two divisions until the championship game (USC’s other East opponent is Arkansas).

Anyway, here are the SRS Ratings after six weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe.
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