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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.

Below are the SRS ratings through 14 weeks. As always, thanks to Dr. Peter Wolfe for providing the final scores for every college football game.

1Florida StACC11232.833.165.912-0
4Arizona StP1211214.944.15910-2
6Oklahoma StB1221120.236.556.810-1
7Ohio StateB101122333.356.312-0
14South CarolinaSEC4121240.152.110-2
17Texas A&MSEC6129.839.148.98-4
18Michigan StB1031215.333.548.811-1
20Southern CalP126136.242.248.39-4
22Brigham YoungIND1129.537.647.18-4
23Kansas StB123127.838.546.27-5
26Notre DameIND2124.740.344.98-4
30Georgia TechACC3129.134.843.97-5
31Oregon StP129122.441.443.86-6
33Utah StMWC11213.33043.48-4
34Northern IllinoisMAC11218.724.643.312-0
36Central FloridaAAC2111329.842.810-1
37Virginia TechACC4124.937.742.68-4
38Boise StMWC21212.430.242.68-4
39Miami FLACC5127.734.542.29-3
41North CarolinaACC7124.837.1426-6
42Washington StP121012-142.641.56-6
43Bowling GreenMAC2121724.341.39-3
45Mississippi StSEC912-0.140.940.86-6
47Fresno StMWC31114.625.940.510-1
50East CarolinaCUSA21213.52639.59-3
52Texas TechB1271233639.17-5
56Penn StateB109122.135.9387-5
58Ball StMAC31214.323.537.710-2
59Boston CollegeACC912136.537.47-5
63North TexasCUSA31211.524.836.38-4
68Colorado StMWC4135.528.634.17-6
72West VirginiaB12812-6.538.331.84-8
74Iowa StB12912-9.340.3313-9
75Wake ForestACC1212-3.634.6314-8
76San José StMWC512-2.133.1316-6
79Florida AtlanticCUSA512327.230.26-6
80Texas-San AntonioCUSA612-0.330.3307-5
82Middle Tennessee StCUSA7123.725.729.48-4
85San Diego StMWC812-
86Western KentuckySUN2125.523.328.88-4
88North Carolina StACC1312-8.336.327.93-9
90Arkansas StSUN3122.42527.47-5
92South AlabamaSUN4112.324.526.85-6
93Ohio U.MAC6121.524.5267-5
96Kent StMAC712-5.430.525.14-8
102South FloridaAAC911-1335.722.72-9
105Central MichiganMAC912-4.12621.96-6
111New MexicoMWC1112-10.128.818.73-9
112Texas St-San MarcosSUN712-2.720.918.26-6
113Air ForceMWC1212-13.729.415.62-10
114Louisiana TechCUSA1012-6.321.615.34-8
116Western MichiganMAC1012-15.829.613.81-11
119Georgia StSUN812-17.528.310.80-12
120New Mexico StIND512-19.929.49.52-10
122Southern MissCUSA1312-20.628.47.81-11
123Miami OHMAC1212-22.4307.60-12
124Eastern MichiganMAC1312-
125Florida Int'lCUSA1412-22.727.95.21-11

Auburn has the toughest SOS of any one-loss team, and that will only increase if the Tigers can beat Missouri in the SEC Championship Game. Actually, whichever set of Tigers wins in Atlanta will finish the year 12-1 and with the best SOS of any one-loss team. I’m sympathetic to the Auburn argument – is going 4-1 against Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Missouri really worse than going 2-0 against Wisconsin and Michigan State? — but I don’t think we should expect to see a one-loss SEC champ jump over an undefeated Ohio State. And frankly, the Buckeyes are probably the better team, anyway. Most importantly, the Auburn-Ohio State “debate” has lead to the greatest Sportsnation poll result ever.

Of course, the Buckeyes are no sure thing to remain undefeated. Ohio State is 7.5 points better than Michigan State in the SRS and a 6-point favorite to win in Indianapolis on Saturday. What explains the difference? My guess is Vegas doesn’t put any stock in the Spartans scoring one offensive touchdown in a 13-point win at home against 1-11 Western Michigan or a 14-0 home win against 1-11 Purdue. Michigan State played 102nd-ranked South Florida a week after the Bulls lost by 32 to an FBS school and won by 15 points. Against those three teams — all ranked outside of the top 100 — Michigan State won by a combined 42 points. Those three games really drag down MSU’s rating; I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is appropriate.

Auburn is a 1.5-point favorite over Missouri, and I don’t think that one is as easy to explain. My guess is betters are riding the Auburn high of a pair of fantastic finishes, but the SRS would set the line at Missouri -2.5 (and, in fact, the line opened with Missouri favored by two points). One could argue that Gus Malzahn’s team is peaking, but let’s not forget that Mizzou has been without James Franklin for several games this season, including the team’s sole loss.

Arizona State has been an SRS darling for weeks, and it seems like the rest of college football is finally catching up. The Sun Devils moved up to 4th this week, and host Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game. ASU should be a 7-point favorite over Stanford based on the SRS, although Vegas has only set the line at 3.5 points so far.

And in the least exciting conference championship game, Florida State is a 29-point favorite over Duke. The Blue Devils are the 40th ranked team in the SRS, and shouldn’t present much of a challenge to FSU. It’s true that the Seminoles are “only” 24 points better in the SRS, but that might be understating things. What if we go by the “eliminate every win of 21+ points that lowered a team’s rating” idea? Well, FSU won every game but one by 27+ points. As a result, doing this would eliminate eight of FSU’s games, including a 56-point win against Syracuse! Looking just at the 37-point win at Clemson, the 63-point win against Maryland, the 56-point win at Wake Forest, and the 14-point win at BC would bump up the team’s rating to 72.0, making them 30 points better than Duke. We can expect FSU to be a touchdown favorite (or more) in the title game, too.

Below are the single-game SRS grades for each FBS team in week fourteen. A pair of Pac-12 South teams show up with blowout wins over local rivals, and Florida State assumes its customary top-three spot here, too. The most shocking event in Alabama football on Saturday outside of the Iron Bowl isn’t a high bar to hurdle, but did you see that Alabama-Birmingham lost? And that UAB lost to Southern Miss — a team on a 23-game losing streak? And that the Blazers allowed 63 points to a team that had not topped 23 points all year? Alabama-Birmingham gets an SRS score of -23.2, a touchdown worse than the production of any other FBS team in any game all year.

11-30-2013Arizona St_P1258Arizona21HomeWin3729P1247.876.8
11-30-2013UCLA_P1235Southern Cal14RoadWin2124P1248.372.3
11-30-2013Florida St_ACC37Florida7RoadWin3028.5SEC38.867.3
11-29-2013Marshall_CUSA59East Carolina28HomeWin3126CUSA39.565.5
11-30-2013Penn State_B1031Wisconsin24RoadWin710B1053.863.8
11-30-2013South Carolina_SEC31Clemson17HomeWin1411ACC51.962.9
11-28-2013Texas_B1241Texas Tech16HomeWin2522B1239.161.1
11-29-2013Oregon St_P1235Oregon36RoadLoss-10P1258.258.2
11-30-2013Missouri_SEC28Texas A&M21HomeWin77SEC48.955.9
11-29-2013Bowling Green_MAC24Buffalo7RoadWin1720MAC35.355.3
11-30-2013Georgia_SEC41Georgia Tech34RoadWin710ACC43.953.9
11-30-2013Stanford_P1227Notre Dame20HomeWin77IND44.951.9
11-30-2013UNLV_MWC45San Diego St19HomeWin2623MWC28.951.9
11-30-2013Maryland_ACC41North Carolina St21RoadWin2023ACC27.950.9
11-29-2013Miami FL_ACC41Pittsburgh31RoadWin1013ACC37.850.8
11-30-2013Ohio State_B1042Michigan41RoadWin17B1043.750.7
11-28-2013Mississippi St_SEC17Mississippi10HomeWin77SEC42.949.9
11-30-2013North Texas_CUSA42Tulsa10RoadWin3229.5CUSA2049.5
11-30-2013Michigan_B1041Ohio State42HomeLoss-1-7B1056.349.3
11-30-2013Duke_ACC27North Carolina25RoadWin27ACC4249
11-30-2013Texas A&M_SEC21Missouri28RoadLoss-7-7SEC55.748.7
11-30-2013Colorado St_MWC58Air Force13HomeWin4533MWC15.648.6
11-29-2013Washington_P1227Washington St17HomeWin107P1241.548.5
11-30-2013Notre Dame_IND20Stanford27RoadLoss-7-7P1255.148.1
11-30-2013Kansas St_B1231Kansas10RoadWin2124B1223.747.7
11-30-2013Michigan St_B1014Minnesota3HomeWin118B1039.647.6
11-29-2013San José St_MWC62Fresno St52HomeWin107MWC40.547.5
11-30-2013Utah St_MWC35Wyoming7HomeWin2824.5MWC22.246.7
11-29-2013Washington St_P1217Washington27RoadLoss-10-7P1252.445.4
11-30-2013Southern Miss_CUSA62Alabama-Birmingham27RoadWin3531CUSA1445
11-29-2013Oregon_P1236Oregon St35HomeWin10P1243.843.8
11-30-2013Boise St_MWC45New Mexico17HomeWin2824.5MWC18.743.2
11-29-2013South Florida_AAC20Central Florida23RoadLoss-30AAC42.842.8
11-30-2013Iowa St_B1252West Virginia44RoadWin811B1231.842.8
11-30-2013Clemson_ACC17South Carolina31RoadLoss-14-11SEC52.141.1
11-30-2013Minnesota_B103Michigan St14RoadLoss-11-8B1048.840.8
11-30-2013Virginia Tech_ACC16Virginia6RoadWin1013ACC26.839.8
11-30-2013Nevada_MWC23Brigham Young28HomeLoss-5-8IND47.139.1
11-29-2013Ball St_MAC55Miami OH14HomeWin4131MAC7.638.6
11-30-2013Georgia Tech_ACC34Georgia41HomeLoss-7-10SEC48.538.5
11-30-2013Wake Forest_ACC21Vanderbilt23RoadLoss-20SEC38.438.4
11-30-2013Syracuse_ACC34Boston College31HomeWin30ACC37.437.4
11-30-2013Florida_SEC7Florida St37HomeLoss-30-28.5ACC65.937.4
11-30-2013Brigham Young_IND28Nevada23RoadWin58MWC29.237.2
11-30-2013Middle Tennessee St_CUSA48UTEP17HomeWin3126CUSA11.137.1
11-29-2013Ohio U._MAC51Massachusetts23HomeWin2824.5MAC12.236.7
11-30-2013North Carolina_ACC25Duke27HomeLoss-2-7ACC4235
11-30-2013South Alabama_SUN38Georgia St17RoadWin2124SUN10.834.8
11-28-2013Mississippi_SEC10Mississippi St17RoadLoss-7-7SEC40.833.8
11-30-2013Boston College_ACC31Syracuse34RoadLoss-30ACC33.333.3
11-29-2013Central Michigan_MAC42Eastern Michigan10HomeWin3226.5MAC6.332.8
11-30-2013Texas-San Antonio_CUSA30Louisiana Tech10HomeWin2017CUSA15.332.3
11-30-2013Vanderbilt_SEC23Wake Forest21HomeWin20ACC3131
11-30-2013Arizona_P1221Arizona St58RoadLoss-37-29P125930
11-26-2013Northern Illinois_MAC33Western Michigan14HomeWin1916MAC13.829.8
11-30-2013Virginia_ACC6Virginia Tech16HomeLoss-10-13ACC42.629.6
11-29-2013Troy_SUN42Texas St-San Marcos28HomeWin1411SUN18.229.2
11-29-2013Pittsburgh_ACC31Miami FL41HomeLoss-10-13ACC42.229.2
11-30-2013Arkansas St_SUN31Western Kentucky34RoadLoss-30SUN28.828.8
11-30-2013Southern Cal_P1214UCLA35HomeLoss-21-24P1252.728.7
11-30-2013Wisconsin_B1024Penn State31HomeLoss-7-10B103828
11-30-2013Western Kentucky_SUN34Arkansas St31HomeWin30SUN27.427.4
11-26-2013Western Michigan_MAC14Northern Illinois33RoadLoss-19-16MAC43.327.3
11-29-2013Fresno St_MWC52San José St62RoadLoss-10-7MWC3124
11-29-2013Central Florida_AAC23South Florida20HomeWin30AAC22.722.7
11-28-2013Texas Tech_B1216Texas41RoadLoss-25-22B1244.522.5
11-30-2013Kansas_B1210Kansas St31HomeLoss-21-24B1246.222.2
11-29-2013Buffalo_MAC7Bowling Green24HomeLoss-17-20MAC41.321.3
11-30-2013West Virginia_B1244Iowa St52HomeLoss-8-11B123120
11-30-2013Wyoming_MWC7Utah St35RoadLoss-28-24.5MWC43.418.9
11-29-2013Florida Int'l_CUSA6Florida Atlantic21RoadLoss-15-12CUSA30.218.2
11-30-2013New Mexico_MWC17Boise St45RoadLoss-28-24.5MWC42.618.1
11-29-2013Florida Atlantic_CUSA21Florida Int'l6HomeWin1512CUSA5.217.2
11-30-2013New Mexico St_IND24Idaho16HomeWin87IND9.516.5
11-29-2013East Carolina_CUSA28Marshall59RoadLoss-31-26CUSA40.614.6
11-30-2013Louisiana Tech_CUSA10Texas-San Antonio30RoadLoss-20-17CUSA3013
11-30-2013North Carolina St_ACC21Maryland41HomeLoss-20-23ACC35.212.2
11-29-2013Texas St-San Marcos_SUN28Troy42RoadLoss-14-11SUN22.211.2
11-30-2013San Diego St_MWC19UNLV45RoadLoss-26-23MWC29.96.9
11-30-2013Tulsa_CUSA10North Texas42HomeLoss-32-29.5CUSA36.36.8
11-29-2013Miami OH_MAC14Ball St55RoadLoss-41-31MAC37.76.7
11-30-2013UTEP_CUSA17Middle Tennessee St48RoadLoss-31-26CUSA29.43.4
11-30-2013Georgia St_SUN17South Alabama38HomeLoss-21-24SUN26.82.8
11-30-2013Idaho_IND16New Mexico St24RoadLoss-8-7IND9.52.5
11-29-2013Massachusetts_MAC23Ohio U.51RoadLoss-28-24.5MAC261.5
11-30-2013Air Force_MWC13Colorado St58RoadLoss-45-33MWC34.11.1
11-29-2013Eastern Michigan_MAC10Central Michigan42RoadLoss-32-26.5MAC21.9-4.6
11-30-2013Alabama-Birmingham_CUSA27Southern Miss62HomeLoss-35-31CUSA7.8-23.2

Conference Standings

Finally, here are the season-ending conference standing ratings:


Pac-12 teams have the hardest strengths of schedule, courtesy of scheduling 9 conference games, four more against Notre Dame/BYU, and scheduling MWC teams in their “easy” games instead of the MAC, Conference USA, or the Sun Belt.

  • Chase Stuart

    Comparing the OOC schedules for the SEC and Pac-12:

    — the 14 SEC teams played 14 FCS teams (13-1); the 12 Pac-12 teams played 10 FCS teams (9-1)

    — the SEC played 9 games against the terrible Sun conference (8-1); the Pac-12 played 10 games against the respectable MWC (10-0)

    — the SEC played 14 games against the P12/B12/B10/ACC/ND/BYU (9-5); the Pac-12 played 13 such games (8-5)

    That leaves the Pac-12 with four remaining games, which were against patsies (Idaho/NMST/Army/UTSA). The SEC’s other 19 games were against some decent teams, but it pales in comparison to a 4th conference game. The breakdown: 4 games against AAC, 7 against CUSA, 1 against Idaho, 6 against the MAC, one against MWC. The SEC went 2-2 against the AAC, 17-0 against the rest.

    Pretty clear that the Pac-12 had the toughest schedule of any conference, but that’s not new.

    • Chase Stuart

      Basically, the average SEC out-of-conference schedule is. In the case of say, Auburn/MIZZOU, it was:

      — home game against FCS team (Western Carolina/Murray State)
      — home game against Sun Belt team (Arkansas State for both)
      — home game against CUSA/MAC team (Auburn – FAU; Missouri – Toledo)
      — game against BCS school (Auburn – home for Washington State; Missouri – at Indiana)

  • Don

    I don’t think Florida State and Ohio State both losing is that unthinkable, in which case, doesn’t the national championship game become Alabama vs. the SEC winner?

    Also…a question about the ratings themselves: how is the “average” SOS calculated? Some of us like to crunch the numbers for ourselves (I use a simultaneous-equation method rather than a recursive one), and while the team order and differences between the SOS numbers are the same, the SOS numbers I get are 2-4 points higher than what is listed here, depending on whether I use the mean or median SOS as the “average”.

    • Chase Stuart

      In that event, yes, the BCSNCG would be the SEC Champ and likely Alabama, although perhaps Oklahoma State could skate into the picture.

      The average SOS is simply the mean of the SOS of each opponent.

      • Don

        That’s not what I meant. I meant, what’s the “zero point” for the SOS numbers against which every team’s SOS is compared.

        However, I see that when I calculate the numbers recursively instead of with simultaneous equations, I end up with the same numbers you do, so the answer might just be, “That’s just how the numbers come out when I do it.”

        • Chase Stuart

          Oh – remember, I use the FCS, NAIA, DIV2 and DIV3 schedules, along with the FBS data, to come up with the ratings. So if you look at the FCS ratings, there are lots of negative ratings. Essentially the “average” here is like the 400th best football team in college football.

          • Don

            I understand that – it’s just that, using a “simultaneous” method, you can set any number as a “baseline” rating and the rest of the ratings will come out the same relative to that value.

            Something to note: apparently the teams in the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference don’t play any non-conference games, so those teams are actually disjoint from the others and their ratings can’t necessarily be compared to those outside of that conference.

    • Don

      I finally figured out how to get my numbers to match yours – and the main problem was that mine were including those ten New England Small College Athletic Conference teams that didn’t play any out-of-conference games. (Your method centers the teams around a rating of zero; mine arbitrarily assigns one team a rating of zero, which equated it with the team in the “main group” that was also assigned zero, causing my numbers for these teams to be something like 40 points lower.)

      Once those teams were removed, the “magic number” (i.e. the difference between my numbers and yours) = the sum of each team’s (rating x # of games played) / the sum of each team’s (# of games played). It has something to do with the recursive method setting each team’s initial rating = its average MOV, while the simultaneous equation method uses the sum of the MOVs.

      • Chase Stuart

        Interesting. Learn something new about the SRS every week.

  • What’s funny is that, despite the loss, Alabama would almost certainly be favored against any other team in the country (save for FSU) if they played at a neutral site tomorrow. Ohio State, who leapfrogged them in the BCS, would be underdog by probably a shade under a touchdown; Auburn was +10 at home on Saturday and there’s no way Vegas would have them within a TD of Alabama in a potential rematch. I’m not sure this is necessarily the best way of judging things (the BCS is very clearly a retrospective attempt to rank accomplishments), but it’s interesting to think about nonetheless.

    • George

      Numbers re: this from Aaron Kessler (Oddsmaker) at the Golden Nugget in Vegas’s Twitter as of 18/11/13 (so our numbers wouldn’t be that far off taking a couple of extra games into account) – and they were booking these numbers;

      Alabama (-5) vs FSU
      Alabama (-8.5) vs Baylor
      Alabama (-10.5) vs Ohio St.
      FSU (-4.5) vs Baylor
      FSU (-6.5) vs Ohio St. (and I thought that this was charitable then and still do….)
      Baylor (-4) vs Ohio St.

      The interesting point, two weeks ago Auburn weren’t even being discussed in this scenario……

  • George

    Just a quick post from me – as I do the SRS uncapped (I’m holding my hands up to the fact that there will be the odd neutral site game, where I have counted it as HFA, so my numbers may not be 100%) I have slightly different numbers;

    Duke vs FSU I have at 32 points, and with their SOS’s being virtually identical, it is just down to the level of beating that FSU have been inflicting on opponents this year. My gut feeling is that they have set the line high enough to still get two-way action on this, where at the 32-35 point range, I think it would be one-way Duke action (and you’d need a brave bookmaker to book the action and pray that FSU incinerates them, like they have incinerated virtually everyone else).

    The Ohio St vs Michigan St line I don’t get that either – I have this at 10, but I had my doubts before the start of the season about Ohio State and still do (I just don’t see them as legit – I don’t know why, in the same way that FSU had the talent but didn’t do it last year).

    I have Auburn and Missouri at the same as you – interestingly there was a lot of opinion online about the Missouri (-4.5) vs A&M line last week (in that it was the wrong way round), I think this line is to offset the public view on this one (e.g. everyone saw the Iron Bowl last week and hence would want to be on Auburn this week so lets have them giving points).

    Arizona State, I have at 5 over Stanford. I expect that the logic on this one is Stanford have a lot more current experience of this kind of game than ASU; ASU will probably win this (both teams have fairly identical ratings in terms of MOV and SOS) but it will be by 3 (possibly – the lack of experience factor meaning they drop points?) so the 3.5, keeps 0.5 a point in the bookmakers favour (? – I could be very wrong on this one). I still have issues with ASU dropping the Notre Dame game (which just still doesn’t make sense and would have been the right play in every sense) and kind of ties in with this weekend as I also favoured UAB at the weekend and was somewhat surprised at the result there.

  • George

    Just a follow-up to this re: the line of the SEC Championship Game on Game Day, the line is now the other way round with Missouri typically -1 and -2 in a lot of places which would virtually match Chase’s SRS prediction. I’d be interested in what kind of money has driven that line move (sharp or square as I personally thought it would go the other way), the only reference I have is the 57/43 split on Wagerminds (which is virtually the same as the Covers Consensus picks). What actually happens in the game though is a completely different matter.