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With the conference championship games in the books, it’s time to look at the final regular season results. The 4 playoff teams — Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama — rank in the top 7 of the final ratings. The other 3 teams? They’re all in the Big 10, a conference that sent zero teams. [click to continue…]

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Penn State, at 10-2 and a runner-up in the Big Ten East, is not in the college football playoff discussion. But that doesn’t mean the Nittany Lions haven’t been as good as any team this season. After all, had Penn State had played Ohio State at home and won by 1 point instead of losing on the road the Buckeyes by 1 point, the Nittany Lions wouldn’t be any “better” than they are now, while their record would be much better. An 11-1 Penn State with wins over Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, and Northwestern, and be a lock to make the college football playoff with a win over Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game.

Penn State ranks 7th in points scored and 7th in points allowed among the 130 teams in the FBS. The Nittany Lions are the only team in the top 10 in both categories, and Alabama (1st in points allowed, 12th in points scored) is the only other team in the top 15 in both; Washington (18th in scoring, 6th in points allowed) is the only other team to rank in the top 20 in both. Penn State has outscored opponents by 26.1 points per game, second to only Alabama (27.6) despite a harder schedule. Penn State lost two games on the road by a total of 4 points; but, even though the Nittany Lions rank 1st in the SRS, the loss to Ohio State — which goes down as the best loss of the season (edging Utah’s 3-point road loss in Washington) — is enough to eliminate them from contention.

As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. The full week 13 NCAA SRS ratings below: [click to continue…]

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The SRS ratings this week didn’t change much, with very few meaningful games among top teams.

Penn State, Notre Dame, Washington, and Iowa State fell a bit in close wins over bad teams, while Oklahoma State and Iowa suffered losses. The only other top-25 teams (by the SRS) to lose lost to even better teams: Michigan lost to Wisconsin, and N.C. State losing to Wake Forest.

Right now, three Big 10 teams crack the top four, with Georgia and Auburn combining with #1 Alabama to give the SEC three top-10 teams. The full week 12 SRS ratings are below. As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. [click to continue…]

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A week ago, Iowa beat Ohio State 55-24 and recorded the single-best SRS game score (87.5) of the 2017 season. And after the Buckeyes crushed Michigan State on Saturday, that win looks even better: it now measures a whopping 88.5 in the SRS. And yet, it is no longer the top game of the year, not after what Miami just did.

At home against the then-#1 team in the SRS, Notre Dame, the Hurricanes crushed the Irish 41-8. Because Notre Dame still has an impressive 62.2 SRS rating, the 33-point win — which gets knocked down to 27 due to home field and as part of the compression against blowouts — produced an SRS score of 89.2, the best game of the year. And the Buckeyes win over MSU? That was the third best performance of the season, scoring an SRS score of 81.7. And let’s not forget about what Auburn did to Georgia — the Tigers produced the 7th-best game of the year by SRS standards. The table below shows the single-game SRS scores from this week: [click to continue…]

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Let’s start today’s post in a different direction: with a look at the biggest surprises of the week. And there was no bigger surprise than Iowa’s blowout win over Ohio State.

After week 10 (which, of course, compresses the ratings since the year-long ratings include the week 10 results), Iowa has an SRS of 55.0, while Ohio State is at 61.6. Given that the game was in Iowa, we would have expected Iowa to lose by 3.6 points.  But Iowa won 55-24, for a difference of 31 points, and an adjusted MOV of 26 points.  That means Iowa exceeded SRS expectations by 29.6 points, the most of any FBS team this week.

Army, Bowling Green, Baylor, and Utah round out the top 5 in terms of biggest overachievers in week 10:

[click to continue…]

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You probably weren’t expecting that headline after Penn State lost its first game of the season on Saturday.

A week ago, I wrote that Penn State rose to #2 in the SRS after blowing out Michigan. Now, this week, Penn State is #1 after losing on Saturday? What happened?

#1 Alabama was idle this week, but Penn State had as good a loss as you can get. The Nittany Lions had an SRS rating of 68.2 last week, and only dropped to 67.6 this week. That’s because Penn State lost by 1 point, on the road, to an Ohio State team that ranks 3rd in the SRS. But the real issue is that Alabama dropped significantly, by 3.5 points from week 8 to 9, despite not playing.

How? Alabama is 8-0 with zero of those wins coming against teams that rank in the top 45 in the SRS. Four of those wins have come against terrible SEC teams that rank outside of the top 70 in the SRS in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Vanderbilt. The other four wins came against Florida State, Fresno State, Texas A&M, and Colorado St.

FSU lost 35-3 to Boston College this weekend, causing the Seminoles to drop from 51.1 to 44.5 in the SRS, a -6.6 point drop.

Fresno State lost 26-16 to a terrible UNLV team, causing west coast FSU to drop from 49.5 to 43.4, a -6.1 SRS point drop.

The Aggies lost 35-14 to Mississippi State, dropping Texas A&M by 3.9 points, from 46.2 to 42.3 in the SRS.

And Colorado State lost at home to Air Force by 17 points; that led to a 4.4 point SRS drop, from 43.4 to 39.0.

A week ago, Alabama’s SOS was 42.6 points; that was a little weak, but overwhelmed by the Crimson Tide’s dominance. Now? The average Alabama opponent has a 39.1 SRS rating, and that 3.5-point drop was enough to move Alabama from #1 to #4 in the SRS. It’s weird for sure to see Alabama drop this far, but look at the big picture: the Crimson Tide haven’t faced an opponent in the top 45 of the SRS, and their three best wins are against #48 Florida State, #50 Fresno State, and #58 Texas A&M. [click to continue…]

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Week 8 of the college football season didn’t see any big contenders fall. In fact, none of the top 14 teams in last week’s ratings lost. And the two best teams that lost all fell to better teams: last week’s #15 lost to last week’s #3 Penn State, #16 USC lost to #5 Notre Dame.

Let’s start with the most impressive wins of the week, which go to Notre Dame and Penn State. Beating a strong opponent helps, but both teams blew out top 20 opponents.  And Iowa State — a school that hadn’t won more than 3 games since 2012 — continued their remarkable run.  In week 6, the Cyclones shocked a great Oklahoma team to win 38-31 in Norman. The next week, Iowa State stomped on Kansas 45-0, the second largest margin of victory for Iowa State in a game in the last 15 years.  Then, on Saturday, the Cyclones upset Texas Tech, 31-13.  This marked the third straight game where Iowa State covered the point spread by more than 21 points!

The table below shows the SRS ratings from each game in week 8: [click to continue…]

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Last week, I introduced the first version of the SRS ratings. Well, there were some big upsets this week which have moved the rankings.

Clemson, which ranked 5th last week and 2nd in the polls, was upset by a Syracuse team that ranked 73rd in the SRS.

Washington, which ranked 8th in the SRS, was upset by Arizona State, which ranked 45th last week.

Washington State looked to be soaring this time a week ago: they ranked 14th in the SRS and were 6-0. But the Cougars were obliterated 37-3 by a Cal team that ranked 58th in the SRS a week ago.

Auburn, Texas Tech, Texas, and San Diego State were also SRS top 25 teams that suffered a loss in week seven.

Even Georgia moves down this week by virtue of a sluggish win over a terrible Missouri team. Entering this week, Missouri was 0-4 against FBS opponents (Auburn, Purdue, South Carolina, Kentucky) with an average loss of 23.25 points; therefore, a 25-point home win over Missouri drops 3 to 4. Right now, Ohio State and Penn State joint Alabama in the top 3.

As for the Buckeyes, yes, they rank #2 despite a 15-point home loss to Oklahoma. Why? They beat Rutgers by 56, Maryland by 48, Nebraska by 42, UNLV by 33, and Army by 31 points: those are the worst losses each of those five teams have had this year. They also beat Indiana by 28, and the Hoosiers have only had one loss worse this year (31 points to Penn State). Yes, the Oklahoma loss was bad, but it’s not easy dropping 40-point wins against Big 10 teams. Think of the SRS as a proxy for the Vegas rankings: and right now, I expect Ohio State to be a home favorite against Penn State in two weeks.

As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. Below are the SRS ratings through 7 weeks: [click to continue…]

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For the last few years, I have introduced the first edition of the College Football SRS Ratings after five weeks. I’m a week late this year, so it’s time to release the first college football ratings. And while it’s too early to put too much weight on these ratings, they help to at least begin framing the discussion of which are the most impressive teams in college football. As a reminder, here is the methodology:

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. [click to continue…]

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Week Fourteen NCAA SRS Rankings: Alabama Finishes #1

The college regular season is over, other than Army/Navy this weekend. Let’s start with a review of the final week of the season for the B12, and the conference championship games for the rest of major college football.

Washington’s destruction of Colorado lead the way, while yet another Alabama blowout only comes in second due to the weaker opponent (yes, Florida is nearly ten points worse than Colorado; 2016 is weird). Also, Temple with a huge upset win over Navy comes in third. [click to continue…]

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Week Thirteen NCAA SRS Rankings: Where Do We Stand?

The rankings haven’t changed much from last week. Here’s how the top 15 teams in the SRS last week fared in week 13:

  • #1 Alabama handled Auburn in the Iron Bowl, 30-12. The Crimson Tide is a lock for the playoffs, even if they lose in the SECCG (which they’re not going to do).
  • #2 Ohio State beat Michigan in perhaps the game of the college football season, 30-27 in double overtime. Ohio State seems like a lock for the playoffs; the Buckeyes regular season is over, as Penn State won the Big 10 East.
  • #3 Michigan lost to Ohio State. Michigan’s playoff chances appear dead in the water.
  • #4 Washington had the single best game of the week, according to the SRS, beating Washington State in the Apple Cup, 45-17.  It was the 5th best single game score of the year. Washington looks to be in a “win and they’re in” situation, as the Huskies will face Colorado in the P12CG.
  • #5 Clemson blew the doors off of South Carolina, 56-7, to finish the regular season 11-1.  The Tigers are in a “win and they’re in” scenario against Virginia Tech in the ACCCG.
  • #6 Colorado beat Utah, at home, 27-22, to capture the Pac 12 South.  The Buffaloes may well be in a “win and they’re in” situation in the P12CG against Washington.  More on that in a bit.
  • #7 Wisconsin handled Minnesota, 31-17.  Wisconsin won the Big 10 West, and will face Penn State in the B10CG.
  • #8 Southern Cal beat Notre Dame, 45-27, but USC’s season is over now that Colorado has won the South.
  • #9 Louisville shockingly lost to Kentucky, 41-38. Louisville finished the year 9-3, with two straight bad losses.
  • #10 Washington State lost to Washington, ending WAZZOU’s playoff hopes.
  • #11 Oklahoma was off.  The Sooners can still win the conference at 10-2 with a win in the de facto B12CG this weekend against Oklahoma State.
  • #12 Penn State beat Michigan State, 45-12.  The Nittany Lions will face Wisconsin in the B10CG.

Below are the week 13 SRS results: [click to continue…]

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It was a very good week for Oklahoma.

The Sooners were easy to write off early in the 2016 season, after two bad losses in the first three weeks. Oklahoma failed to cover by 23 points against Houston (33-23 loss, as a 13-point favorite) and Ohio State (45-24, as a 2-point favorite), which appeared to knock them out of the national discussion.

But Houston did the Sooners a favor by knocking off Louisville on Thursday night, eliminating (for now) the Cardinals from the playoff picture. Houston recorded a single-game SRS score of 79.5 for that performance, the top game of the week. And the better Houston looks, the more forgivable that loss is from Oklahoma’s perspective.

Oklahoma also doubled-up on West Virginia, 56-28, the third-best game of the week. And the fourth-best game of the week came from Oklahoma State, who destroyed TCU. The Sooners and Cowboys face off in two weeks in a de facto Big 12 playoff game: the teams are 8-0 and 7-1 in conference play, respectively, with every other team having at least two conference losses.

Below are the single-game ratings from week twelve: [click to continue…]

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The story of the college football season had been the lack of any crazy upsets. It felt as though we were on a predetermined path to the college football playoffs, with Alabama, Clemson, Washington, and the Ohio State/Michigan winner taking the four spots.

Then, Saturday happened. The six best teams this year have combined to lose just five games, and *three* of them came in week eleven:

  • Pittsburgh went into Clemson and won, 43-42. This was a shocking upset: the Tigers were favored by 21.5 points.
  • Less of an upset was seeing USC (+10) go in to Seattle and double up the Huskies, 26-13.  This registered as the 2nd most dominant win of the week, behind only Ohio State’s 62-3 thrashing of Maryland.
  • And then the most shocking development of the weekend: Michigan, #1 in the SRS last week, falling to Iowa in Iowa City.  The Wolverines were 24-point favorites, and would have been 22.7-point SRS favorites over a Hawkeyes team that ranked 44th in the SRS a few days ago.

Oh, and in addition to Ohio State taking care of business, Alabama crushed MSU, 51-3, for the 3rd best SRS game of the week.  Below are the single-game SRS ratings from week 11: [click to continue…]

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Week Ten (2016) College Football SRS Ratings

A little late to the party this week, so here are last week’s ratings as a reminder. Given the late publishing date, I am also including the games from Tuesday and Wednesday night, which means Western Michigan is now 10-0 in these rankings.

The big win of week ten was by Ohio State, as the Buckeyes recorded the single biggest SRS win of the season. Playing at home against Nebraska (ranked 31st, SRS of 48.8), the Buckeyes won 62-3. That’s a 56-point HFA-adjusted margin of victory, which gets adjusted down to a 40-point win after the adjustment we use here in the SRS (i.e., the average of 24 and 56). That translates to an 88.8 single-game rating, which trails only Alabama’s 52-6 neutral site win over USC (90.5) for the top rating of the season. [click to continue…]

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The most dominant win of week 9 came from…. Tulsa? Entering the week, Memphis was 5-2, with only road losses against ranked teams in Memphis and Navy. Memphis ranked 38th in the SRS last week, and was a 6-point favorite at home against Tulsa. But the Golden Hurricane broke open the game in the second half, scoring the final 24 points en route to a 59-30 victory. Running back James Flanders had 33 carries for 249 yards and 5 touchdowns, including scores of 52 and 48 yards.

In slightly more relevant week 9 news, there was some B12 on B12 crime this weekend, as the last two remaining teams in the conference went down.  Oklahoma State had the 2nd best SRS performance of the week, winning by 17 against previously unbeaten West Virginia. Texas was a bit less impressive, but still had the third best B12 performance of the week in a 35-34 home victory against Baylor.

But perhaps the most notable performance of the week came from Auburn, as the Tigers went on the road and scored 13 fourth quarter points to beat Ole Miss in Oxford, 40-29.  Auburn now seems like a legitimate candidate to beat Alabama, or at least give the Tide a competitive game in the Iron Bowl.

Below are the single-game SRS results from this weekend. As always, thanks to Peter R. Wolfe for providing the game scores. [click to continue…]

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Week Eight (2016) College Football SRS Ratings

Last week, Michigan, Alabama, and Ohio State were far ahead of the pack according to the SRS. The top 6 remains unchanged this week other than Clemson and Louisville switching spots. That might be surprising given that Ohio State lost in Happy Valley, but Penn State now ranks 22nd in the SRS (they ranked 34th last week) and the Buckeyes had a large lead on #4 Clemson last week. Ohio State gets a 51.0 for losing at Penn State, but Clemson had a 56.1 last week for a home win over N.C. State.

The three big wins of the week came from Auburn, Louisville, and Alabama. At this rate, the Crimson Tide look ridiculous: Alabama’s worst game of the year was a 59.7, scored in a 5-point road win against Ole Miss. Two other games (34-6 over Kentucky, 48-0 over Kent State) had similar scores. But against the three teams Alabama has faced with an SRS of at least 50, the Ride have won by a combined 134-30 (USC, Tennessee, A&M).

But after Auburn’s destruction of Arkansas this weekend, there’s at least reason to think the Iron Bowl should be interesting. On Saturday, the Tigers rushed for 544 yards and 7 touchdowns on 56 carries — that is insane. In fact, it’s the most by any SEC team in a regular season game since at least 2000: it’s also one less yard than the famed 2013 Tigers had in the SEC Championship Game against Missouri.

As for Louisville? Well, they obliterated that NC State team that nearly (and should have) beaten Clemson last week. Below are the single-game week 8 SRS ratings:
[click to continue…]

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Week Seven (2016) College Football SRS Ratings

Last week, Michigan jumped to number one in the SRS after demolishing Rutgers. The Wolverines, on bye, stayed at number one this week, but the Crimson Tide are coming after them. The top team of week 7 was Alabama, who destroyed a good conference opponent in Tennessee.  Here’s what you need to know: the Crimson Tide….

  • outgained the Vols, 613-201;
  • outrushed the Vols, 438-32, the most rushing yards by Alabama in 30 years; and
  • scored on both a punt return and an interception return, winning 49-7.

Given that the Volunteers have an SRS rating of 50.4, and that the game was in Tennessee, a 39-point road victory translates to an SRS rating of 83.4; no other team in week 7 cracked 70.

The second best win came from West Virginia; at 5-0 and now #16 in the SRS, it may be time to start watching the Mountaineers more closely.  WVU’s toughest opponents to date have been BYU and Kansas State, and both were close wins.  But the Big 12’s best hope for national relevance is for both West Virginia and Baylor to enter their December 3rd matchup undefeated. Unlikely, of course, but that’s at least a path.

Oh, and the Western Michigan hype machine should keep rolling.  The Broncos destroyed Akron, which may not sound that impressive, but for reference: WMU won 41-0 in Akron, while Wisconsin won 54-10 at home against the Zips. Running back Jarvion Franklin had 33 carries for 281 yards in the win. [click to continue…]

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For the last couple of years, I have introduced the first edition of the College Football SRS Ratings after five weeks.  So with five weeks in the books, it’s time to release the first college football ratings. And while it’s too early to put too much weight on these ratings, they help to at least begin framing the discussion of which are the most impressive teams in college football.  As a reminder, here is the methodology:

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. [click to continue…]

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Coaches of two of the top 3 teams in college football... again.

Coaches of two of the top 3 teams in college football… again.

Meet the new boss, Nick Saban as always.

The Golden Nugget released the point spreads for 100 games this season, and Johnny Detroit was kind enough to pass along that data for purposes of this post.  With only data for 100 games, how am I able to conclude that Vegas views Alabama as the best team (or, at least, one of the top 2 teams)  in college football? Consider:

  • Alabama is a 6-point road favorite at Ole Miss this year. That is the only game this year (of the seven we have lines for) where Mississippi is an underdog, and the Rebels are an 8-point home favorite against Auburn and a 4.5-point home favorite against Georgia.  The Rebels finished 10th in the polls last year and are projected to be the 10th-best team this year, so this line says all you need to know about Alabama.
  • Against Auburn, Alabama is a 15-point home favorite (that’s a touchdown better than Ole Miss is against Auburn).   The Tigers were not great last year, but are still projected at #20 this year.
  • In Arkansas, the Crimson Tide are 8.5-point favorites.  In the other 3 home games for Arkansas, the Razorbacks are 7.5-point dogs to LSU (the #3 team by this methodology), 1-point underdogs to Mississippi, and a 2.5-point favorite against Florida.
  • Alabama is a 15-point favorite at home against Mississippi State and a 14-point home favorite against Texas A&M.  Both of those teams are projected to be, by Vegas, top 30 teams this year.
  • In Tennessee, Alabama is a 1-point dog, but the Vols are projected as the 6th best team this year! Tennessee is a pick’em in Georgia, a 5-point favorite in College Station, an 11-point favorite at home against Florida, and a 13-point favorite in a neutral site game against Virginia Tech.
  • LSU is projected to be the 3rd best team in college football. The Tigers are an 11-point favorite at home against MSU, a 9.5-point home favorite against Ole Miss, 7.5-point road favorites in Florida and Arkansas, a touchdown favorite in Auburn, a 6-point favorite in College Station, and – only – a 2.5-point home favorite against Alabama.

You may be wondering, how do we know how good Alabama’s opponents are? Well, we can imply the ratings of each team in college football based on these points spreads.  I explained how to do this last year, but here is the refresher:

The system is pretty simple: I took the point spread for each game and turned it into a margin of victory, after assigning 3 points to the road team in each game. Do this for every game, iterate the results hundreds of times ala the Simple Rating System, and you end up with a set of power ratings.

Two quick notes about the rankings.

1) These are not intended to be surprise. The methodology may be somewhat complicated, but all these ratings are intended to do is quantify public perception.

2) These are not “my” ratings. These are simply the implied ratings based on the Vegas (or, more specifically, the Golden Nugget) points spreads; nothing more, nothing less.

Below are the ratings for 51 college football teams. 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 margin of victory for that team, the “SOS” column shows the average rating of each team’s opponents (for only the number of games for which we have lines), and the “SRS” column shows the school’s implied SRS rating. As you can see, Alabama is projected to be the strongest team in college football, but Oklahoma is just a hair behind: [click to continue…]

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Final 2015 College Football SRS Ratings/Bowl Preview

With the college football regular season now officially over, let’s look at the final SRS ratings from 2015:

RkTeamConfDivConf RkGMOVSOSSRSREC
1OklahomaB12B1211220.34262.311-1
2AlabamaSECSEC-West11317.842.960.712-1
3Ohio StateB10B10-East11218.839.157.911-1
4ClemsonACCACC-Atl11315.941.757.613-0
5Notre DameIndInd11211.843.25510-2
6Florida StACCACC-Atl21214.84054.810-2
7StanfordP12P12-North11312.941.754.711-2
8North CarolinaACCACC-Coas31315.738.454.111-2
9BaylorB12B1221216.337.854.19-3
10TCUB12B1231213.739.45310-2
11Michigan StB10B10-East21310.942.15312-1
12MississippiSECSEC-West21212.84052.89-3
13MichiganB10B10-East31211.940.352.29-3
14TennesseeSECSEC-East31210.740.551.28-4
15IowaB10B10-West41312.238.851.112-1
16Southern CalP12P12-South2136.843.750.58-5
17Oklahoma StB12B1241210.439.750.110-2
18LSUSECSEC-West4116.343.549.88-3
19West VirginiaB12B125127.641.549.17-5
20ArkansasSECSEC-West5126.242.8497-5
21Mississippi StSECSEC-West612939.948.88-4
22Bowling GreenMACMAC-East11314.134.748.810-3
23NavyAmerAmer-West11213.535.148.610-2
24HoustonAmerAmer-West21317.131.448.412-1
25WisconsinB10B10-West51211.636.648.29-3
26WashingtonP12P12-North3128.239.8486-6
27UtahP12P12-South4127.740.3489-3
28MemphisAmerAmer-West31212.735.147.89-3
29FloridaSECSEC-East7137.140.647.610-3
30OregonP12P12-North5126.740.647.39-3
31UCLAP12P12-South6126.540.446.98-4
32ToledoMACMAC-West21113.133.746.89-2
33PittsburghACCACC-Coas4124.342.546.78-4
34CaliforniaP12P12-North7125.141.546.67-5
35Texas A&MSECSEC-West8125.640.4468-4
36North Carolina StACCACC-Atl5128.237.545.77-5
37Western KentuckyCUSACUSA-East11316.32945.311-2
38LouisvilleACCACC-Atl612441.245.17-5
39GeorgiaSECSEC-East912837459-3
40NorthwesternB10B10-West6124.740.344.910-2
41TempleAmerAmer-East4131133.944.910-3
42Texas TechB12B126122.641.844.47-5
43Virginia TechACCACC-Coas7123.840.544.36-6
44South FloridaAmerAmer-East51210.334.144.38-4
45Brigham YoungIndInd21210.13444.19-3
46NebraskaB10B10-West7123.54043.55-7
47Penn StateB10B10-East812240.742.87-5
48Georgia TechACCACC-Coas812-0.142.842.83-9
49Miami FLACCACC-Coas9121.241.342.58-4
50AuburnSECSEC-West1012-0.842.7426-6
51Washington StP12P12-North8123.638.341.98-4
52Arizona StP12P12-South9120.840.941.76-6
53Boise StMWCMWC-Mntn11212.628.841.48-4
54Kansas StB12B127120.540.741.26-6
55DukeACCACC-Coas10124.436.540.97-5
56TexasB12B12812-4.144.540.45-7
57Western MichiganMACMAC-West3125.135.240.37-5
58San Diego StMWCMWC-West21312.327.339.710-3
59Appalachian StSunSun11215.224.339.510-2
60Georgia SouthernSunSun21210.42939.48-4
61Northern IllinoisMACMAC-West4136.932.339.28-5
62IndianaB10B10-East912-1.340.3396-6
63IllinoisB10B10-West1012-241395-7
64Iowa StB12B12912-7.145.738.63-9
65ArizonaP12P12-South10120.537.938.36-6
66CincinnatiAmerAmer-East6124.833.438.27-5
67VirginiaACCACC-Coas1112-5.843.637.84-8
68Central MichiganMACMAC-West5124.733.137.77-5
69Air ForceMWCMWC-Mntn3138.529.137.78-5
70Southern MissCUSACUSA-West21313.224.237.49-4
71MinnesotaB10B10-West1112-4.541.837.35-7
72Boston CollegeACCACC-Atl1212-1.438.236.93-9
73East CarolinaAmerAmer-East7120.436.436.85-7
74MarshallCUSACUSA-East31212.523.936.59-3
75MissouriSECSEC-East1112-3.239.436.25-7
76Arkansas StSunSun31210.425.736.19-3
77SyracuseACCACC-Atl1312-5.541.435.94-8
78Utah StMWCMWC-Mntn4122.133.735.86-6
79MarylandB10B10-East1212-9.845.535.83-9
80South CarolinaSECSEC-East1212-5.841.435.73-9
81Louisiana TechCUSACUSA-West4128.626.835.48-4
82Wake ForestACCACC-Atl1412-7.341.734.33-9
83ConnecticutAmerAmer-East812-1.435.233.86-6
84VanderbiltSECSEC-East1312-5.539.233.74-8
85Middle Tennessee StCUSACUSA-East512627.633.77-5
86Ohio U.MACMAC-East6123.629.232.88-4
87KentuckySECSEC-East1412-4.136.532.35-7
88ColoradoP12P12-South1113-4.235.731.54-9
89AkronMACMAC-East7122.828.431.37-5
90TulsaAmerAmer-West912-2.533.731.36-6
91PurdueB10B10-West1312-11.142.331.22-10
92RutgersB10B10-East1412-7.738.330.64-8
93TroySunSun412-0.830.629.84-8
94San José StMWCMWC-West512-0.529.929.45-7
95BuffaloMACMAC-East812-0.829.328.55-7
96Colorado StMWCMWC-Mntn6122.126.228.27-5
97Georgia StSunSun512-0.226.626.46-6
98Oregon StP12P12-North1212-15.641.926.32-10
99New MexicoMWCMWC-Mntn7120.625.125.77-5
100NevadaMWCMWC-West812-1.627.225.66-6
101UNLVMWCMWC-West912-5.829.723.83-9
102SMUAmerAmer-West1012-15.739.323.62-10
103MassachusettsMACMAC-East912-8.832.223.43-9
104Florida Int'lCUSACUSA-East612-1.925.223.45-7
105ArmyIndInd312-6.529.823.32-10
106Ball StMACMAC-West1012-11.534.222.63-9
107Florida AtlanticCUSACUSA-East712-6.529.122.63-9
108South AlabamaSunSun612-9.630.420.85-7
109TulaneAmerAmer-West1112-1434.420.43-9
110Louisiana-LafayetteSunSun712-5.325.620.34-8
111KansasB12B121012-25.345.420.10-12
112Kent StMACMAC-East1112-10.930.9203-9
113RiceCUSACUSA-West812-6.425.919.55-7
114IdahoSunSun812-10.629.919.44-8
115Miami OHMACMAC-East1212-11.83119.13-9
116Texas-San AntonioCUSACUSA-West912-9.628.118.53-9
117Fresno StMWCMWC-West1012-13.63218.43-9
118Texas St-San MarcosSunSun912-11.128.717.63-9
119WyomingMWCMWC-Mntn1112-1431.317.32-10
120Hawai`iMWCMWC-West1213-15.23115.83-10
121New Mexico StSunSun1012-13.128.815.73-9
122Louisiana-MonroeSunSun1113-13.228.615.42-11
123Old DominionCUSACUSA-East1012-10.62615.45-7
124Eastern MichiganMACMAC-West1312-15.630.514.91-11
125UTEPCUSACUSA-West1112-1024.814.85-7
126Central FloridaAmerAmer-East1212-20.635.414.80-12
127North TexasCUSACUSA-West1212-21.533.111.61-11
128UNC-CharlotteCUSACUSA-East1312-15.326.711.32-10

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After twelve weeks, there were still about a dozen teams jockeying for the final four spots. And with Notre Dame’s loss in Palo Alto, we no longer have to ask that pesky Oklahoma/Notre Dame question.

This year seems likely to be the perfect one for a four-team playoff, as the gap between the 4th and 5th most deserving teams — assuming results go as planned next weekend — matches the natural divide from the on-field results.

  • The SEC has one dominant team this year, Alabama. Assuming the Crimson Tide defeat Florida in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama will make the playoff. But the SEC did get a little lucky: if not for Arkansas gaining a first down on an absurd lateral, Ole Miss would have won the SEC West this year. What would the committee do with an 11-2 Mississippi team that beat Bama but lost 38-10 to Florida and by 13 points to Memphis, but won the SEC and beat the Gators in the rematch? Tough to say, but I think we’re all better off that we don’t have to ask that question this year. Assuming Alabama wins, the Tide will finish at 12-1 and very deserving of a playoff spot, while every other SEC team will have at least three losses.
  • The Big 10 had four good teams this year, but it happened to have one of them in the Big 10 West, which may as well have been in Mountain West. With 14 teams and just 8 conference games (the same as the SEC), each team plays one game against the other six teams in its division, and only two games against the teams from the other division. This is how a team like Kentucky can finish with a weak schedule despite “playing in the SEC” — the Wildcats faced Auburn and Mississippi State from the West, the weak SEC East, and a soft nonconference schedule. Iowa had a similar setup, getting Maryland and Indiana from the Big 10 East, the underwhelming Big 10 West, and a pretty easy nonconference schedule (other than Pitt). The difference: Kentucky went 5-7, while Iowa rode this schedule to 12-0. Over in the Big 10 East, Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State were the class of the division. They went undefeated against the rest of the East, but Michigan State swept Michigan and Ohio State, albeit in skin-of-teeth fashion: the Spartans never led in either game until the clock hit triple zeroes. Regardless, we now have a great B10 Championship Game, and the winner of Iowa/Michigan State will obviously be a very deserving playoff team. Iowa would be 13-0, and Michigan State would be 12-1 with wins over Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, and Oregon, with the one loss coming in controversial fashion on a bad call against Nebraska.
  • The Big 12, like the Big 10, had four good teams this year. Unlike the Big 10, all four teams played each other in the conference’s round robin schedule. Oklahoma went 3-0 against Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU, which was enough to make up for the Sooners slip against Texas earlier in the year. The Cowboys, Bears, and Horned Frogs all finished 10-2 (assuming TCU beats Texas next weekend), making an 11-1 OU team the clear deserving choice. It doesn’t hurt that Oklahoma also had the most impressive nonconference win of the group, a 31-24 double overtime victory in Tennessee.

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The chaos continues in college football. In week 12, two more undefeated teams lost, with Ohio State losing at the last second to Michigan State, and Oklahoma State losing, 45-35, against Baylor. That leaves just two undefeated teams remaining in the Football Bowl Subdivision: Clemson and Iowa. The Tigers are now #3 in the SRS, mostly because both Oklahoma and Alabama have slightly higher margins of victory and strengths of schedule than Clemson.

Iowa is down at #15 in the SRS, mostly because of strength of schedule. the Hawkeyes played a terrible North Texas team and an FCS Illinois State out of conference, while Indiana, Minnesota, and Maryland aren’t doing much for Iowa’s schedule. On the top end, only three opponents — Wisconsin (#26), Pittsburgh (#28), and Northwestern (#47)– rank in the top sixty. Against that backdrop, Iowa’s margin of victory simply isn’t good enough to vault them into the top ten of the simple rating system. (For comparison’s sake, Baylor, North Carolina, and Navy have all faced weaker schedules, but have strong enough MOVs to rank ahead of Iowa.)

But this is mostly an academic discussion. For purposes of the 2015 season, Iowa remains in great position to make the playoff. The Hawkeyes have a sneaky tough matchup in the season finale, as Iowa travels to Lincoln, Nebraska to face a 5-6 Cornhuskers team that will be fighting for its own postseason berth. Yeah, Nebraska has six losses, but those games have come by a combined 23 points, and Nebraska has lost several of those games in the final seconds.

Three teams remain in complete control of their playoff destiny: Clemson, Alabama, and Iowa. If all the favorites win, that will leave the committee with a very interesting decision for the final spot, having to choose between Oklahoma and Notre Dame. And if Iowa loses, but Michigan State finishes 12-1, the Spartans may simply take Iowa’s spot, so that won’t help solve any Sooner/Irish debate. It’s still too early to panic for any of the contenders — I think we are only in the middle of the chaos — but the end of the regular season is shaping up to be very, very interesting.

Last week, I noted that the Big 12 would be fine, unless the winner of Bedlam lost on Saturday. And while Oklahoma did beat TCU, Oklahoma State suffered its first loss of the season, setting up a nightmare scenario for the Big 12. If the Cowboys beat the Sooners, the Big 12 may have Baylor as its only hope of making the playoffs.

And, for what it’s worth, Baylor is now up to #4 in the SRS. Below are the ratings through week 12:
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Last week, I looked at how the Big 12 schedule was backloaded. There are four top teams in the conference, and the six-game round robin among those teams was placed at the back third of each team’s schedule. So far, just two of those six games have been played: Oklahoma State beat TCU last weekend, and Oklahoma beat Baylor last night. That means the winner in Bedlam in two weeks — which takes place in Stillwater — has a leg up on the rest of the conference. The winner in Bedlam will be the Big 12 champion assuming they win next weekend. Of course, that’s no sure thing, given that next week Oklahoma hosts TCU and Oklahoma State hosts Baylor. And yes, for those keeping score at home, that does mean the Cowboys got home draws against TCU, Baylor, and OU this year.

If the Bedlam winner wins next week, too, they are almost certainly going to make the college football playoff. The only way they don’t is if literally everything here happens:

  • Ohio Sate beats Michigan State, Michigan, and wins in the B10 Championship Game
  • Notre Dame wins in Boston against Boston College and in Palo Alto against Stanford
  • Clemson beats Wake Forest and South Carolina and then wins in the ACC Championship Game
  • The winner of the SEC Championship Game wins their in-state rivalry game (UF-FSU and Bama-Auburn)
  • The committee decides that Notre Dame is more deserving than the B12 champ.

The odds of that happening would be, by my back-of-the-envelope calculations, under five percent. So while the Big 12 won’t occupy a top four spot in this week’s playoff standings, and may even fail to place a team in the top five, there’s little reason to think the B12 won’t send a team to the playoffs for the second year in a row. That is, unless the Bedlam winner loses at home next week.

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

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Last week’s ratings can be seen here.

The schedules of Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and TCU are very backloaded. Other than Oklahoma’s game against Tennessee, none of the four teams had much of a threat in the nonconference schedule, and the B12 schedule just so happened to be incredibly backloaded. These four teams are the class of the Big 12, but many of their games were scheduled for later in the year. Below are the SOS ratings of each opponent in each game for these four teams, with weaker games in red and tougher games in blue:

b12 values

Let’s use that same formatting but insert the opponent’s names. For Oklahoma, the three games against the other three teams are the last three games on the Sooners schedule. For the other three schools, the three round robin games are three of their final four games. There is a bit of randomness involved — if Texas or Kansas State or West Virginia was good this year, we wouldn’t have this situation — but it does make for an excellent final month of the season.

b12 teams

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

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As they did last week, the Clemson Tigers top the SRS ratings through nine weeks. Little changed in the top five, this week, or well, anywhere in the top 25. In fact, none of the teams in the top 20 of the SRS last week lost in week nine. The highest ranked teams to lose were West Virginia (#21) and Cal (#22), but both of those teams lost to higher-ranked teams (TCU and USC, respectively).

As a result, the standings will look pretty similar to what we saw last week. Below are the SRS ratings through nine weeks. As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. [click to continue…]

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It’s time to start taking Clemson seriously. The Tigers began the season 6-0, but none of the wins were particularly dominant. Clemson beat up on a pair of non-Power 5 schools (Appalachian State and FCS Wofford), had solid but unspectacular home wins over mediocre ACC teams (Georgia Tech and Boston College), and squeaked by a decent Louisville team and a very good Notre Dame team.

But yesterday, Clemson laid waste to Miami, with a 58-0 final score going down as the most lopsided loss in Hurricanes history. At this point, the smart money is on Clemson to finish the regular season undefeated, landing the Tigers one of college football’s four golden tickets.

Clemson still has to face Florida State, and while the Tigers have lost three straight to the Seminoles, that game is in Clemson, and right now, Clemson is 10 points better in the SRS. The other remaining games: N.C. State (36th in the SRS), Syracuse (72nd) and Wake Forest (84th) in the ACC, before a season-ending rivalry game against South Carolina (77th).

The other interesting riser this week: Oklahoma. Given how good Baylor and TCU were last year, and the fact that the Sooners lost to Texas, it’s easy to think of the Big 12 as a two-team race. Not so fast! Oklahoma looks to be outstanding this year, and that 7-point win in Tennessee — the Vols’ worst loss this year — is looking better each week. The Sooners just destroyed a Texas Tech team that nearly (and probably should have) beaten TCU, so circle November 14th, November 21st, and November 27th on your calendars: those are the dates Oklahoma travels to Baylor, TCU travels to Norman, and the Bears head to Fort Worth, respectively. Given that each team hosts one game in this round robin, the ultimate Big 12 disaster scenario is a 1-1 record for each team during these games (well, other than Oklahoma State upsetting one of these teams, too). [click to continue…]

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Last week, Michigan topped the SRS. Following the Gift Six, the Wolverines fall to the fifth spot after one of the craziest games in recent history. Jumping into the top spot is Baylor, after the Bears scored 56+ points for the sixth time in six games this year.

Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman already has 16 touchdowns this year. 16! In six games!  Okay, the Bears have only played two games of note — against Texas Tech two weeks ago and against West Virginia on Saturday — but the Bears also have the track record to show that they’re a top five team.  Are they truly the best team in college football? We won’t find out more until a date with Oklahoma in four weeks, and the showdown with TCU two weeks later still looms as a de facto playoff game.

Without further ado, below are the SRS ratings through seven weeks. As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. [click to continue…]

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Last week, I introduced the first edition of the SRS for the 2015 college football season. This week, we have a new number one: the Michigan Wolverines.

Michigan scored 38 points in a win over Northwestern yesterday; that matches the number of points allowed by the team all season. Michigan has now posted three consecutive shutouts, and all six games have come against FBS competition, allowing just 6.3 points per game in the process. Boston College is second in points allowed versus FBS competition, at 10 per game, but the Eagles are averaging only six points per game in those contests.

Michigan’s averaging a respectable 29.5 points per game this year; as a result, the Wolverines have an average points differential of 23.2 per game. The only teams better than that? Baylor (with a ridiculous 43.75 points per game differential) and Boise State (24), but Michigan’s tougher SOS gives the Wolverines the jump in the SRS.

Without further ado, below are the SRS ratings through six weeks. As always thanks to Dr. Peter R. Wolfe for providing the weekly game logs. [click to continue…]

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Last year, I introduced the first edition of the College Football SRS Ratings after five weeks.  And while it’s too early to put too much weight on these ratings, they help to at least begin framing the discussion of which are the most impressive teams in college football.  As a reminder, here is the methodology:

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, SEC to see all SEC teams, or ACC-Coas if you really want to see how the ACC Coastal is doing). Right now, the number one team is Alabama.  Despite the Crimson Tide already having one loss, Bama has an average (adjusted) Margin of Victory of 17.6 points per game against an average opponent that is 39.9 points better than average (average includes all football teams at all levels, so all FBS teams will have a positive grade). Below are the ratings for all 128 FBS teams. [click to continue…]

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The Golden Nugget has released point spreads for a large number of college football games.  And these spreads can tell us a lot about how Vegas views these teams.  That’s because, for the most part, the spreads are consistent.

Let’s look at Ohio State, the defending national champions and a team the Golden Nugget released lines for four games. The Buckeyes are 14-point home favorites against Michigan State, 16-point road favorites against Michigan, 19-point home favorites against Penn State, and 16-point road favorites against Virginia Tech. So how good is Ohio State? Well, that depends on how good Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, and Virginia Tech are. As it turns out, those teams aren’t half bad, so Ohio State must be really, really good. Let’s ignore the games where two of Michigan State, Michigan, and Penn State play each other (since that won’t tell us much about Ohio State), and look at the rest:

  • Michigan State is a 6-point road favorite in Nebraska and a 1-point home favorite against Oregon. This would imply that Ohio State is about 9 points better than the Ducks1, an annual college football contender.
  • The only non-Big 10 game for Penn State where a line was released was Penn State -28 against Army.
  • Michigan is a 33-point home favorite against UNVL, a 4-point road dog against Utah, a 14-point home favorite against Oregon State, and a 7-point home favorite against BYU. The Wolverines aren’t great, but remember that Ohio State is favored by 16 against them in Ann Arbor.
  • Virginia Tech is a 9-point home favorite against Pittsburgh, a 4-point road favorite against virginia, a 9.5-point road dog against Georgia Tech, and a 6-point road dog against Miami. And, remember, a 16-point home dog against Ohio State.

But we don’t need to strain our brains trying to piece together these ratings. As I showed last year and in 2013, we can take the point spreads from each game to determine what Vegas’ implied ratings are for 70 college football teams. [click to continue…]

  1. Michigan State would be viewed as 2 points worse on a neutral field than Oregon, while being 11 points worse than Ohio State on a neutral field. []
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