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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.

Rk
Team
Conf
Conf Rk
G
MOV
SOS
SRS
REC
1AlabamaSEC1727.842.570.37-0
2OklahomaB121623.443.767.15-1
3OregonP121725.638.864.47-0
4Kansas StB12272242.364.37-0
5FloridaSEC2716.846.663.47-0
6Texas TechB123717.142.9606-1
7Texas A&MSEC3715.444.559.95-2
8Notre DameIND--713.945.359.27-0
9South CarolinaSEC4813.544.858.36-2
10LSUSEC5813.741.955.67-1
11TexasB1247846.954.95-2
12Oregon StP12269.84554.86-0
13StanfordP12377.147.754.85-2
14Florida StACC1823.930.554.47-1
15Arizona StP124714.63953.65-2
16Southern CalP125715.637.4536-1
17GeorgiaSEC6713.638.652.26-1
18Ohio StateB101813.338.7528-0
19MichiganB102710.341.651.95-2
20ArizonaP12676.145.851.94-3
21Oklahoma StB125614.13751.14-2
22WisconsinB10389.640.650.26-2
23Utah StWAC1814.935.1506-2
24Iowa StB12673.246.649.84-3
25ClemsonACC2713.635.949.56-1
26Mississippi StSEC7718.530.749.27-0
27TCUB127712.436.548.95-2
28Fresno StMWC1812.336.648.95-3
29BaylorB12862.845.648.43-3
30MississippiSEC874.443.848.24-3
31West VirginiaB1297246.248.25-2
32Louisiana TechWAC2715.93247.96-1
33Brigham YoungIND--87.640.247.84-4
34Louisiana-MonroeSun1711.63647.65-2
35North CarolinaACC3814.332.847.15-3
36RutgersBgE1715.631.4477-0
37UCLAP12778.638.346.95-2
38Boise StMWC2711.435.6476-1
39Penn StateB104711.435.346.75-2
40San José StWAC379.835.845.65-2
41NebraskaB105710.235.345.55-2
42Northern IllinoisMAC1816.628.344.97-1
43Michigan StB10682.941.544.44-4
44TulsaCUS1812.23244.27-1
45PurdueB10770.942.743.63-4
46MissouriSEC97-3.947.443.53-4
47NorthwesternB10886.936.743.66-2
48CincinnatiBgE261528.543.55-1
49CaliforniaP1288-1.344.743.43-5
50LouisvilleBgE3710.932.243.17-0
51TennesseeSEC107-0.243.2433-4
52ArkansasSEC117-2.845.642.83-4
53San Diego StMWC388.733.642.35-3
54Western KentuckySun276.935.342.25-2
55Central FloridaCUS279.931.841.75-2
56WashingtonP1297-7.549.241.73-4
57North Carolina StACC476.235.441.65-2
58UtahP12107-4.645.841.22-5
59Miami FLACC58-3.944.740.84-4
60VanderbiltSEC127-1.542.240.73-4
61NevadaMWC488.931.740.66-2
62ToledoMAC288.331.7407-1
63SMUCUS37138.739.73-4
64IowaB1097-0.44039.64-3
65Louisiana-LafayetteSun369.629.639.24-2
66SyracuseBgE47-0.13938.93-4
67DukeACC686.532.338.86-2
68Virginia TechACC78335.638.64-4
69South FloridaBgE57-2.64138.42-5
70IndianaB10107136.337.32-5
71MinnesotaB101170.33737.34-3
72Kent StMAC379.627.637.26-1
73AuburnSEC137-10.647.737.11-6
74TempleBgE66-137.736.73-3
75Georgia TechACC875.431.236.63-4
76East CarolinaCUS481.535.136.65-3
77Ohio U.MAC4713.223.236.47-0
78TroySun47234.236.24-3
79Ball StMAC580.835.336.15-3
80KentuckySEC148-1348.635.61-7
81MarshallCUS571.533.635.13-4
82New MexicoMWC580.93434.94-4
83Air ForceMWC675.629.134.74-3
84KansasB12107-13.24834.81-6
85MarylandACC971.133.634.74-3
86Middle Tennessee StSun570.83333.84-3
87HoustonCUS67-3.136.833.73-4
88NavyIND--7-1.53533.54-3
89Bowling GreenMAC686.826.533.35-3
90PittsburghBgE77231333-4
91Texas St-San MarcosWAC46-3.135.532.43-3
92Washington StP12117-9.841.932.12-5
93Arkansas StSun671.230.8324-3
94North TexasSun77-3.635.431.83-4
95UTEPCUS78-940.731.72-6
96Alabama-BirminghamCUS87-8.639.430.81-6
97ConnecticutBgE88-2.132.930.83-5
98Western MichiganMAC78-0.330.730.43-5
99WyomingMWC77-8.93930.11-6
100Boston CollegeACC107-8.53829.51-6
101VirginiaACC118-9.338.729.42-6
102Wake ForestACC127-5.134.229.14-3
103IllinoisB10127-11.639.928.32-5
104RiceCUS98-7.535.5282-6
105UNLVMWC88-12.34027.71-7
106Colorado StMWC97-15.141.226.11-6
107Florida AtlanticSun87-12.438.4261-6
108Florida Int'lSun98-10.735.925.21-7
109Central MichiganMAC87-12.635.823.22-5
110BuffaloMAC97-11.634.6231-6
111Southern MissCUS107-18.841.622.80-7
112Miami OHMAC107-11.133.822.73-4
113AkronMAC118-9.331.922.61-7
114ColoradoP12127-18.440.121.71-6
115Eastern MichiganMAC127-14.135.721.61-6
116TulaneCUS117-21.142.521.41-6
117Texas-San AntonioWAC578.113.121.25-2
118South AlabamaSun107-9.930.9212-5
119Hawai`iMWC106-1838.420.41-5
120ArmyIND--7-1333.220.21-6
121MemphisCUS127-13.93420.11-6
122New Mexico StWAC67-11.930.118.21-6
123IdahoWAC78-20.437.216.81-7
124MassachusettsMAC137-23.934.710.80-7

And the top games of the week:

Rk
Tm
PF
Opp
PA
H/R
W/L
diff
MOV
CON
CON
SOS
SRS
1Florida44South Carolina11HW3327SECSEC58.385.3
2Kansas St55West Virginia14RW4134B12B1248.282.2
3Oregon43Arizona St21RW2224.5P12P1253.678.1
4Alabama44Tennessee13RW3129SECSEC4372
5Arizona52Washington17HW3528P12P1241.769.7
6LSU24Texas A&M19RW58SECSEC59.967.9
7Oklahoma St31Iowa St10HW2118B12B1249.867.8
8Oklahoma52Kansas7HW4533B12B1234.867.8
9Mississippi St45Middle Tennessee St3HW4231.5SECSun33.865.3
10Penn State38Iowa14RW2425.5B10B1039.665.1
11Stanford21California3RW1821P12P1243.464.4
12Rutgers35Temple10RW2526BgEBgE36.762.7
13Wisconsin38Minnesota13HW2522B10B1037.359.3
14SMU72Houston42HW3025.5CUSCUS33.759.2
15Brigham Young14Notre Dame17RL-30INDIND59.159.1
16Florida St33Miami FL20RW1316ACCACC40.756.7
17Clemson38Virginia Tech17HW2118ACCACC38.656.6
18Syracuse40Connecticut10HW3025.5BgEBgE30.856.3
19Texas Tech56TCU53RW37B12B124956
20Texas56Baylor50HW67B12B1248.355.3
21Fresno St42Wyoming14HW2824.5MWCMWC30.154.6
22Southern Cal50Colorado6HW4432.5P12P1221.754.2
23Marshall59Southern Miss24RW3531CUSCUS22.853.8
24TCU53Texas Tech56HL-3-7B12B1260.153.1
25Oregon St21Utah7HW1411P12P1241.152.1
26Michigan St10Michigan12RL-20B10B1051.951.9
27Northern Illinois37Akron7RW3028.5MACMAC22.651.1
28Ohio State29Purdue22HW77B10B1043.750.7
29Nebraska29Northwestern28RW17B10B1043.550.5
30Toledo29Cincinnati23HW67MACBgE43.550.5
31Boise St32UNLV7HW2522MWCMWC27.749.7
32Louisiana-Monroe43Western Kentucky42RW17SunSun42.249.2
33San José St52Texas-San Antonio24RW2827.5WACWAC21.248.7
34Louisiana Tech70Idaho28HW4231.5WACWAC16.948.4
35Baylor50Texas56RL-6-7B12B1254.947.9
36Notre Dame17Brigham Young14HW30INDIND47.847.8
37Texas A&M19LSU24HL-5-8SECSEC55.647.6
38San Diego St39Nevada38RW17MWCMWC40.647.6
39Duke33North Carolina30HW30ACCACC47.147.1
40Georgia Tech37Boston College17HW2017ACCACC29.546.5
41North Texas30Louisiana-Lafayette23HW77SunSun39.246.2
42Utah St41New Mexico St7HW3427.5WACWAC18.345.8
43Purdue22Ohio State29RL-7-7B10B105245
44Michigan12Michigan St10HW20B10B1044.444.4
45Kent St41Western Michigan24HW1714MACMAC30.444.4
46Kentucky24Georgia29HL-5-8SECSEC52.244.2
47Vanderbilt17Auburn13HW47SECSEC37.144.1
48Utah7Oregon St21RL-14-11P12P1254.843.8
49Georgia29Kentucky24RW58SECSEC35.643.6
50South Florida25Louisville27RL-20BgEBgE43.243.2
51Air Force28New Mexico23HW57MWCMWC34.941.9
52North Carolina St20Maryland18RW27ACCACC34.741.7
53Tennessee13Alabama44HL-31-29SECSEC70.341.3
54Central Florida35Memphis17RW1821CUSCUS2041
55East Carolina42Alabama-Birmingham35RW710CUSCUS30.940.9
56Western Kentucky42Louisiana-Monroe43HL-1-7SunSun47.540.5
57Pittsburgh20Buffalo6RW1417BgEMAC2340
58Arizona St21Oregon43HL-22-24.5P12P1264.439.9
59North Carolina30Duke33RL-30ACCACC38.838.8
60Northwestern28Nebraska29HL-1-7B10B1045.538.5
61Miami FL20Florida St33HL-13-16ACCACC54.538.5
62Louisville27South Florida25HW20BgEBgE38.438.4
63Wake Forest16Virginia10RW69ACCACC29.438.4
64Navy31Indiana30HW10INDB1037.337.3
65Ball St41Central Michigan30RW1114MACMAC23.237.2
66Rice24Tulsa28RL-4-7CUSCUS44.237.2
67South Carolina11Florida44RL-33-27SECSEC63.436.4
68Bowling Green24Massachusetts0RW2425.5MACMAC10.836.3
69Florida Int'l37Troy38RL-10SunSun36.236.2
70Nevada38San Diego St39HL-1-7MWCMWC42.335.3
71Tulsa28Rice24HW47CUSCUS2835
72Maryland18North Carolina St20HL-2-7ACCACC41.634.6
73Kansas7Oklahoma52RL-45-33B12B1267.134.1
74California3Stanford21HL-18-21P12P1254.833.8
75Auburn13Vanderbilt17RL-4-7SECSEC40.733.7
76Indiana30Navy31RL-10B10IND33.533.5
77Iowa St10Oklahoma St31RL-21-18B12B1251.133.1
78Cincinnati23Toledo29RL-6-7BgEMAC39.932.9
79Virginia Tech17Clemson38RL-21-18ACCACC49.531.5
80West Virginia14Kansas St55HL-41-34B12B1264.330.3
81UTEP24Tulane20HW47CUSCUS21.428.4
82Minnesota13Wisconsin38RL-25-22B10B1050.228.2
83New Mexico23Air Force28RL-5-7MWCMWC34.827.8
84Eastern Michigan48Army38HW107MACIND20.227.2
85Alabama-Birmingham35East Carolina42HL-7-10CUSCUS36.626.6
86South Alabama37Florida Atlantic34HW30SunSun2626
87Troy38Florida Int'l37HW10SunSun25.225.2
88UNLV7Boise St32RL-25-22MWCMWC4725
89Louisiana-Lafayette23North Texas30RL-7-7SunSun31.824.8
90Tulane20UTEP24RL-4-7CUSCUS31.724.7
91Wyoming14Fresno St42RL-28-24.5MWCMWC48.924.4
92Washington17Arizona52RL-35-28P12P1251.923.9
93Western Michigan24Kent St41RL-17-14MACMAC37.223.2
94New Mexico St7Utah St41RL-34-27.5WACWAC5022.5
95Central Michigan30Ball St41HL-11-14MACMAC36.122.1
96Iowa14Penn State38HL-24-25.5B10B1046.821.3
97Florida Atlantic34South Alabama37RL-30SunSun21.121.1
98Temple10Rutgers35HL-25-26BgEBgE4721
99Memphis17Central Florida35HL-18-21CUSCUS41.820.8
100Colorado6Southern Cal50RL-44-32.5P12P1253.120.6
101Virginia10Wake Forest16HL-6-9ACCACC29.120.1
102Boston College17Georgia Tech37RL-20-17ACCACC36.719.7
103Texas-San Antonio24San José St52HL-28-27.5WACWAC45.618.1
104Middle Tennessee St3Mississippi St45RL-42-31.5SunSEC49.217.7
105Akron7Northern Illinois37HL-30-28.5MACMAC44.916.4
106Idaho28Louisiana Tech70RL-42-31.5WACWAC47.816.3
107Buffalo6Pittsburgh20HL-14-17MACBgE3316
108Army38Eastern Michigan48RL-10-7INDMAC21.614.6
109Houston42SMU72RL-30-25.5CUSCUS39.714.2
110Connecticut10Syracuse40RL-30-25.5BgEBgE38.913.4
111Massachusetts0Bowling Green24HL-24-25.5MACMAC33.37.8
112Southern Miss24Marshall59HL-35-31CUSCUS35.14.1

The SRS was extremely impressed with Florida, Kansas State, and Oregon this week. Florida struggled mightily on offense in the first half against South Carolina, but at the end of the day, escaped with a 33-point victory. If not for three critical Gamecock fumbles, USC could have won, but that doesn’t explain the poor second-half effort.

Meanwhile, Collin Klein threw 3 touchdowns and ran for 4 more against West Virginia. Last year, Kansas State seemed to use every ounce of grit, tenacity, luck, spackle, and magic fairy dust to earn a 10-2 regular season record. This year, the Wildcats legitimately look like a top-five team.

Meanwhile, Oregon put to rest any notion that Arizona State was a sleeper in the conference. I noted last week that Arizona State, while ranking 10th in the SRS, didn’t really pass the sniff test, and that we’d find out a lot more about them this week. Well, Oregon went into Tempe and raced out to a 43-7 halftime lead. The Ducks haven’t had the hardest schedule, but look like a worthy #2 team in the polls. Even at 13-0 they’re not a lock for the BCS National Championship Game, but at this point, they seem to be the most likely entrant from the rest of the pack to face Alabama in Miami.

And one non-FBS note. Each week, I rank all the teams — not just the FBS ones — using the SRS. I don’t publish the results from the other leagues, but I eyeball the top teams in the FCS. The past few weeks, Harvard was ranking in the top three or four with teams like North Dakota State, Cal Poly, and Georgia Southern, and would basically have been considered a top-80 team. This week, I noticed they had dropped, so I went to investigate. As it turns out, they led 34-10 entering the 4th quarter against Princeton, but 29 fourth-quarter points by the Tigers lifted them to victory. Because I know you need to know these things.

  1. Upshaw and Barron were All-SEC first team selections by the AP, and Chapman, Hightower and Kirkpatrick earned second-team honors. []
{ 8 comments }
  • Danish October 21, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Suggestions: Isn’t SRS computed by adding -DSRSR to OSRS – I’d then be easy to include in the table. I mean it seems odd to talk about that great defense of ‘bama without including defensive SRS in the table. Are they the best in the league, and if so how far the best?

    Also, for know-nothing-about-college-football guys like me, it’d useful if you had a column with the actual BCS ranking,for comparison.

    Lastly: How is “best game” computed – and how do you reach the the actual scores? The way I read it, the best game seems to be a 44-11 beatdown – that doesn’t seem right?

    Reply
    • Chase Stuart October 21, 2012, 12:53 pm

      SRS is computed by adding MOV and SOS. Neil does it a slightly different way than me, although I believe he only calculates O and D SRS for NFL teams, not college football. This is because there is a limit to the number of variables one can enter into Excel, and that limit does not affect the NFL (but I could be slightly off on this).

      Agree on BCS ranking, although at some point — maybe soon — I’ll start doing some actual analysis of the BCS race as things get more interesting. However, the BCS rankings aren’t published until Sunday night each week, so the timing is about 20 hours off.

      As always, all the tables are sortable. If you click on the ‘diff’ column, you can see the team that outscored its opponent by the most (this week, that would be Oklahoma). But the MOV column is the actual input, which adjusts the ‘diff’ column for home field and for blowouts. Oklahoma was at home, so the 45 turns into a 42, and to minimize the impact of blowouts versus bad teams (because some teams simply choose not to run up the score), I take the average of 24 and the number to get my MOV input; in this case, that’s 33.

      That number then gets added to the opponent’s SRS score to give each team an SOS grade. You add the MOV and the SOS to get the individual game SRS score. Florida blew out a team in the SRS top 10, which is why their performance ranks a bit higher than Oklahoma’s.

      Reply
      • George October 21, 2012, 1:11 pm

        Just as an FYI – assuming you are talking about using Solver in Excel to calculate SRS (didn’t know that you could do that, using Solver – will definitely have to look into it now) you’d be right. Standard Solver limits you to approx.200 variables so you’d hit the wall with College Football (I was good up to week 7, doing least squares on just the result not O and D, but doing O and D, you’d exceed the 200 variables easily just on FBS teams assuming they’d only play each other – e.g. 120 teams x 2 variables >200). Out of interest is there a standard deviation of error for the prediction based on SRS of game results against the actual game result?

        Reply
        • Chase Stuart October 21, 2012, 1:14 pm

          Do you mean a true prediction of a backwards testing prediction?

          Reply
          • George October 21, 2012, 3:26 pm

            Sorry my fault for not being clear and I forgot you capped SRS – I meant the error against what the prediction from the SRS would have been e.g.: Florida rating coming into this week was 59.4, plus 3 for being at home 62.4, South Carolina was 62.7 – Florida won by 33 so the straight error without capping was 32.7 – just wondered what the standard deviation of this was? Winston quoted Sargrin as coming up with a Standard Deviation of approx.16 for College Football with respect to it being normally distributed (via. a weighted least squares system – I think), I just wondered how SRS matched up? – but I expect as the capping may skew the SRS ranking this might not be a fair comparison?

            Reply
          • Chase Stuart October 21, 2012, 8:33 pm

            Don’t think capping would cause any problems. And if I’m understanding you correctly, this isn’t that hard.

            The SRS got one game perfect. It had Maryland at 37.3 and NCST at 42.3, so projected the Wolfpack to win by 2 at Maryland, which is exactly what happened.

            It was most off on Kansas State/West Virginia, with the expected rsult being K-State winning by 6.1 points, not 41 points.

            Of the 56 games at the FBS level this weekend, the average margin between the actual difference and the SRS projections was 12.1 points. The standard deviation was 9.1.

            Reply
          • George October 22, 2012, 4:10 pm

            Thanks. This is really helpful to know :-). I haven’t run SRS yet as a system (as I just happen to have got into least squares, and weighted least squares more easily – also my initial go at SRS didn’t have things converging). I’m just keen to try various rating systems (I like putting a number on things – it works for me it’s nice to be able to back up a feeling). I just wondered if you’d done a normal probability or QQ plot against the error from the SRS (e.g. is it normally distributed – you’d need a couple of seasons of data for this).

            I have all the data for the FBS so I’m going to have to give this a go (I’ll probably try capped and uncapped as it will be easy enough to do but I think capping is right for College Football because of the issues with teams like Oregon – taking the first team off in the 2nd Quarter etc. – or some of the complete mismatches such as the Oklahoma State game early in the season). Thanks for the advice.

            Reply
      • Danish October 21, 2012, 3:08 pm

        Thank you for being patient with me :)

        My confusion regarding best game: I, for whatever reason, convinced myself that you were predicting which matchups would be “best” next week (being a noob I didn’t know that the games listed were from this weekend).

        Foolish.

        Reply

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