One of the things that I like to do with this model is come up with interesting bits of information about the season. Rankings, schedule strength, which teams got better and which got worse, which teams had an especially strong home-field edge and which did relatively better on the road (yes there WERE a few, as there usually are), and more. I hope you enjoy the list and commentary, and if you have some ideas for things you'd like to see in future versions of this, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for good new ideas, either to incorporate into the model itself or into the exhibits I provide based on the model.
Please remember that these ratings are used for the sole purpose of predicting future results. There are no bonus points for being undefeated, or being from a top conference, or playing X number of top 25 teams, or beating a team with a similar ranking head to head, or any single other sort of adjustment that many people use when making their rankings. Schedule strength counts a lot, and margin counts a lot. A close loss against a great team gives a better rating than a close win against a lousy team. Many people object to this, but in terms of predictive value, I consider it the only way to go. These rankings look different than most human polls, and for that matter they look different from most computer polls. That's OK. It's supposed to look different, both because its goals are different, and because it operates differently from other models. The only standard I use to judge it is how accurate its picks are, and so far this year it's been pretty solid, going 111-93 (54.4%) ATS.
Team Rankings - 1 to 120
|1 Oregon||31 Iowa||61 Brigham Young||91 Rutgers|
|2 Stanford||32 Florida||62 Fresno State||92 Texas-El Paso|
|3 Texas Christian||33 Hawaii||63 Mississippi||93 Vanderbilt|
|4 Boise State||34 Air Force||64 Colorado||94 Alabama-Birmingham|
|5 Auburn||35 Georgia||65 South Florida||95 Utah State|
|6 Virginia Tech||36 Clemson||66 Iowa State||96 Arkansas State|
|7 Alabama||37 Maryland||67 Southern Methodist||97 Kansas|
|8 Ohio State||38 California||68 Connecticut||98 Wyoming|
|9 Arkansas||39 Pittsburgh||69 Syracuse||99 Marshall|
|10 Oklahoma||40 North Carolina||70 Houston||100 Central Michigan|
|11 Missouri||41 San Diego State||71 Toledo||101 Louisiana-Monroe|
|12 Nebraska||42 Illinois||72 Temple||102 Colorado State|
|13 Oklahoma State||43 Navy||73 East Carolina||103 Nevada-Las Vegas|
|14 South Carolina||44 Kansas State||74 Northwestern||104 Kent|
|15 Wisconsin||45 Central Florida||75 Army||105 North Texas|
|16 Louisiana State||46 Baylor||76 Louisiana Tech||106 Rice|
|17 Nevada||47 Washington||77 Idaho||107 Tulane|
|18 Florida State||48 Texas Tech||78 Cincinnati||108 Middle Tennessee State|
|19 Arizona||49 Michigan||79 Troy State||109 San Jose State|
|20 Texas A&M||50 Penn State||80 Washington State||110 Florida Atlantic|
|21 Southern California||51 Northern Illinois||81 Minnesota||111 Louisiana-Lafayette|
|22 North Carolina State||52 Texas||82 Ohio||112 Bowling Green State|
|23 Utah||53 Tennessee||83 Western Michigan||113 Western Kentucky|
|24 Arizona State||54 Boston College||84 Purdue||114 Ball State|
|25 Michigan State||55 Southern Mississippi||85 Wake Forest||115 New Mexico|
|26 West Virginia||56 Tulsa||86 Virginia||116 New Mexico State|
|27 Miami (Florida)||57 UCLA||87 Duke||117 Memphis|
|28 Notre Dame||58 Georgia Tech||88 Florida International||118 Eastern Michigan|
|29 Mississippi State||59 Louisville||89 Miami (Ohio)||119 Buffalo|
|30 Oregon State||60 Kentucky||90 Indiana||120 Akron|
Detailed Top 30 Team Ratings
|Rank||BCS Rank||Team||League||Score||Schedule Rank|
|3||3||Texas Christian||Mountain West||0.83||42|
|8||6||Ohio State||Big Ten||0.65||57|
|13||14||Oklahoma State||Big 12||0.53||39|
|20||17||Texas A&M||Big 12||0.44||20|
|22||NR||North Carolina State||ACC||0.38||25|
|25||9||Michigan State||Big Ten||0.35||54|
|26||22||West Virginia||Big East||0.35||67|
Schedule Strength - Top and Bottom 30
|Team||Sagarin SOS Ranking||NCAA SOS Ranking||FEI SOS Ranking||Team|
|1 Oregon State||1||12||12||91 Army|
|2 Arizona State||6||50||21||92 Tulsa|
|3 Stanford||10||85||62||93 Marshall|
|4 UCLA||4||74||42||94 Tulane|
|5 Arizona||12||57||28||95 Central Michigan|
|6 Oregon||19||150||73||96 Toledo|
|7 Washington||2||37||24||97 Louisiana-Monroe|
|8 Auburn||15||3||13||98 Alabama-Birmingham|
|9 California||5||35||41||99 Central Florida|
|10 South Carolina||14||3||1||100 Rice|
|11 Southern California||7||71||40||101 Florida Atlantic|
|12 Oklahoma||8||10||25||102 Texas-El Paso|
|13 Washington State||3||28||18||103 Troy State|
|14 Alabama||17||20||8||104 Louisiana-Lafayette|
|15 Arkansas||21||9||2||105 Temple|
|16 Florida State||25||33||11||106 Eastern Michigan|
|17 Louisiana State||24||6||4||107 Miami (Ohio)|
|18 Florida||16||5||23||108 Arkansas State|
|19 Miami (Florida)||32||15||14||109 Bowling Green State|
|20 Texas A&M||11||2||34||110 Florida International|
|21 Mississippi State||29||6||111 Buffalo|
|22 Wake Forest||31||5||112 Northern Illinois|
|23 Missouri||26||58||113 Kent|
|24 Clemson||37||7||114 Akron|
|25 North Carolina State||45||39||115 Western Michigan|
|26 Iowa State||13||46||116 North Texas|
|27 Nebraska||28||48||117 Western Kentucky|
|28 North Carolina||34||17||118 Ohio|
|29 Georgia||35||10||119 Ball State|
|30 Notre Dame||23||47||120 Middle Tennessee State|
|League||Rating||OOC Schedule Rating||Home/Away/Neutral Splits||OOC vs Top 10||OOC vs 11-20||OOC vs 21-40||OOC vs 41-60||OOC vs 61-80||OOC vs 81-100||OOC vs Bottom 20|
|Pac-10||0.35||0.16||10 / 14 / 0||0 - 2||0 - 4||3 - 1||3 - 1||4 - 2||3 - 0||1 - 0|
|SEC||0.30||-0.16||26 / 9 / 2||0 - 1||1 - 1||4 - 0||4 - 0||4 - 3||6 - 1||12 - 0|
|Big 12||0.22||-0.07||26 / 11 / 3||0 - 2||1 - 0||3 - 3||8 - 2||7 - 0||4 - 0||10 - 0|
|ACC||0.16||0.07||18 / 15 / 2||0 - 6||0 - 2||2 - 4||3 - 1||5 - 3||4 - 1||4 - 0|
|Indep||0.12||-0.06||15 / 12 / 1||0 - 1||0 - 0||3 - 5||1 - 2||3 - 1||6 - 2||4 - 0|
|Big Ten||0.12||-0.14||23 / 10 / 1||0 - 1||0 - 2||4 - 2||1 - 1||3 - 2||6 - 0||12 - 0|
|Big East||-0.01||-0.08||16 / 15 / 0||0 - 1||0 - 1||2 - 7||0 - 4||1 - 2||6 - 0||6 - 1|
|WAC||-0.04||0.02||14 / 18 / 0||1 - 2||0 - 3||2 - 2||1 - 4||5 - 2||2 - 2||5 - 1|
|Mountain West||-0.04||0.09||14 / 18 / 1||0 - 3||0 - 6||2 - 3||3 - 2||5 - 2||1 - 3||2 - 1|
|C-USA||-0.24||0.00||20 / 22 / 0||0 - 4||0 - 2||2 - 6||0 - 11||3 - 3||3 - 0||6 - 2|
|MAC||-0.43||0.00||11 / 31 / 0||0 - 4||0 - 2||0 - 4||0 - 10||2 - 9||3 - 6||2 - 0|
|Sun Belt||-0.47||0.04||8 / 26 / 0||0 - 3||0 - 6||0 - 5||0 - 6||0 - 4||1 - 6||1 - 2|
|League||Rating||OOC Schedule Rating||OOC vs AQ's||OOC vs Non-AQ's||OOC vs Pac-10 / SEC||OOC vs Big 12 / ACC / Big Ten||OOC vs Big East||OOC vs MWC / WAC||OOC vs CUSA||OOC vs MAC / Sun Belt|
|Pac-10||0.35||0.16||10 - 5||4 - 5||1 - 0||6 - 4||2 - 0||2 - 4||1 - 1||1 - 0|
|SEC||0.30||-0.16||10 - 6||21 - 0||0 - 1||7 - 4||3 - 1||2 - 0||8 - 0||11 - 0|
|Big 12||0.22||-0.07||8 - 4||25 - 3||4 - 3||3 - 1||1 - 0||10 - 2||6 - 1||9 - 0|
|ACC||0.16||0.07||6 - 13||12 - 4||2 - 7||0 - 3||4 - 2||1 - 1||3 - 1||6 - 0|
|Indep||0.12||-0.06||6 - 6||11 - 5||1 - 1||4 - 4||1 - 1||2 - 3||3 - 1||6 - 1|
|Big Ten||0.12||-0.14||7 - 5||19 - 3||2 - 3||2 - 1||1 - 0||2 - 1||2 - 0||15 - 2|
|Big East||-0.01||-0.08||3 - 12||12 - 4||1 - 5||2 - 6||0 - 0||1 - 2||2 - 1||8 - 1|
|WAC||-0.04||0.02||5 - 9||11 - 7||2 - 3||2 - 6||1 - 0||8 - 4||0 - 2||2 - 0|
|Mountain West||-0.04||0.09||5 - 10||8 - 10||2 - 1||2 - 7||1 - 1||4 - 8||1 - 1||1 - 1|
|C-USA||-0.24||0.00||5 - 22||9 - 6||1 - 9||2 - 11||1 - 2||3 - 1||0 - 0||6 - 2|
|MAC||-0.43||0.00||3 - 25||4 - 10||0 - 4||2 - 17||1 - 3||1 - 3||1 - 3||1 - 1|
|Sun Belt||-0.47||0.04||0 - 26||2 - 6||0 - 8||0 - 13||0 - 5||0 - 0||1 - 3||1 - 1|
Top and Bottom 25 Home-Road Splits
This describes how much better a team played at home vs on the road. It's well worth noting that it's neither good nor bad to be high or low on this list; it's good to have an especially strong home-field edge, with a loud crowd and possibly a weather edge, but it's also good to be able to play well on the road. Consequently, you will tend to see most really good teams around the middle of the list, because they do have a strong home-field edge but also are very capable of playing well on the road.
|1 Connecticut||96 Miami (Florida)|
|2 Iowa||97 Temple|
|3 California||98 Nebraska|
|4 Nevada-Las Vegas||99 North Texas|
|5 Colorado||100 Arizona|
|6 Northern Illinois||101 Arkansas|
|7 Rice||102 Vanderbilt|
|8 Colorado State||103 Toledo|
|9 Marshall||104 Utah State|
|10 Georgia||105 Stanford|
|11 Arizona State||106 Louisiana-Lafayette|
|12 Kentucky||107 Southern California|
|13 Louisiana-Monroe||108 Tulane|
|14 Arkansas State||109 Utah|
|15 Wyoming||110 Troy State|
|16 Kent||111 Buffalo|
|17 North Carolina State||112 Virginia Tech|
|18 Middle Tennessee State||113 Washington State|
|19 Brigham Young||114 Florida International|
|20 Southern Methodist||115 Ball State|
|21 Iowa State||116 Central Michigan|
|22 New Mexico State||117 Western Kentucky|
|23 East Carolina||118 Texas|
|24 UCLA||119 Navy|
|25 Oklahoma||120 Syracuse|
Top and Bottom 25 Most / Least Improved
This describes how much better a team played at the end of the year compared to how they played early on. Since the system is rating how good a team is now, it's better to be higher than lower on this list, though of course the best result is to play at a really high level the whole year long.
|1 Connecticut||96 Utah State|
|2 West Virginia||97 Michigan|
|3 Washington State||98 Southern Methodist|
|4 Auburn||99 Illinois|
|5 Brigham Young||100 California|
|6 Louisville||101 East Carolina|
|7 Boston College||102 Nebraska|
|8 Washington||103 Florida|
|9 Notre Dame||104 Kansas|
|10 Maryland||105 Central Michigan|
|11 South Florida||106 Missouri|
|12 Duke||107 Eastern Michigan|
|13 Syracuse||108 Ball State|
|14 Pittsburgh||109 Bowling Green State|
|15 Stanford||110 Northwestern|
|16 Arkansas||111 Temple|
|17 Georgia||112 Colorado|
|18 Navy||113 Baylor|
|19 Hawaii||114 Texas|
|20 Oregon||115 Kansas State|
|21 Texas-El Paso||116 Florida Atlantic|
|22 Southern Mississippi||117 Iowa|
|23 Virginia Tech||118 Iowa State|
|24 Wisconsin||119 Vanderbilt|
|25 New Mexico||120 Buffalo|
Top Forty wins of the Year
|1||Oregon||Stanford||HOME||52 - 31|
|2||Auburn||South Carolina||NEUTRAL||56 - 17|
|3||Texas Christian||Utah||AWAY||47 - 7|
|4||Stanford||California||AWAY||48 - 14|
|5||Arkansas||South Carolina||AWAY||41 - 20|
|6||Missouri||Texas A&M||AWAY||30 - 9|
|7||Stanford||Oregon State||HOME||38 - 0|
|8||Auburn||Arkansas||HOME||65 - 43|
|9||Stanford||Washington||AWAY||41 - 0|
|10||Oklahoma||Florida State||HOME||47 - 17|
|11||Florida State||Miami (Florida)||AWAY||45 - 17|
|12||Nebraska||Kansas State||AWAY||48 - 13|
|13||Boise State||Hawaii||HOME||42 - 7|
|14||Boise State||Fresno State||HOME||51 - 0|
|15||Oregon||Southern California||AWAY||53 - 32|
|16||Stanford||UCLA||AWAY||35 - 0|
|17||Stanford||Arizona||HOME||42 - 17|
|18||Utah||Iowa State||AWAY||68 - 27|
|19||Stanford||Notre Dame||AWAY||37 - 14|
|20||Texas Christian||Air Force||HOME||38 - 7|
|21||Miami (Florida)||Pittsburgh||AWAY||31 - 3|
|22||South Carolina||Clemson||AWAY||29 - 7|
|23||Oregon State||Southern California||HOME||36 - 7|
|24||South Carolina||Florida||AWAY||36 - 14|
|25||California||Arizona State||HOME||50 - 17|
|26||Oregon||Oregon State||AWAY||37 - 20|
|27||Alabama||Tennessee||AWAY||41 - 10|
|28||Oregon||Arizona||HOME||48 - 29|
|29||Boise State||Toledo||HOME||57 - 14|
|30||Notre Dame||Utah||HOME||28 - 3|
|31||Oregon||UCLA||HOME||60 - 13|
|32||Wisconsin||Ohio State||HOME||31 - 18|
|33||Oklahoma||Iowa State||HOME||52 - 0|
|34||Texas Christian||Baylor||HOME||45 - 10|
|35||Oregon||Washington||HOME||53 - 16|
|36||Oregon||Arizona State||AWAY||42 - 31|
|37||Alabama||Florida||HOME||31 - 6|
|38||Iowa||Michigan State||HOME||37 - 6|
|39||West Virginia||Pittsburgh||AWAY||35 - 10|
|40||South Carolina||Alabama||HOME||35 - 21|
Bottom Forty losses of the Year
|1327||Akron||Ohio||AWAY||10 - 38|
|1328||Miami (Ohio)||Ohio||HOME||13 - 34|
|1329||Buffalo||Miami (Ohio)||HOME||9 - 21|
|1330||Western Kentucky||Louisiana-Monroe||HOME||30 - 35|
|1331||Ball State||Kent||AWAY||14 - 33|
|1332||Vanderbilt||Wake Forest||HOME||13 - 34|
|1333||Middle Tennessee State||Memphis||AWAY||17 - 24|
|1334||Louisiana-Lafayette||Florida International||HOME||17 - 38|
|1335||Middle Tennessee State||Troy State||HOME||13 - 42|
|1336||Alabama-Birmingham||Marshall||HOME||17 - 31|
|1337||Wyoming||Nevada-Las Vegas||AWAY||16 - 42|
|1338||North Texas||Florida International||HOME||10 - 34|
|1339||Central Michigan||Ball State||HOME||17 - 31|
|1340||Kent||Western Michigan||AWAY||3 - 38|
|1341||New Mexico State||Texas-El Paso||AWAY||10 - 42|
|1342||Florida Atlantic||Middle Tennessee State||AWAY||14 - 38|
|1343||Buffalo||Eastern Michigan||HOME||17 - 21|
|1344||Louisiana-Monroe||Middle Tennessee State||AWAY||10 - 38|
|1345||New Mexico State||Kansas||AWAY||16 - 42|
|1346||Buffalo||Akron||AWAY||14 - 22|
|1347||Memphis||Houston||HOME||17 - 56|
|1348||New Mexico||Texas-El Paso||HOME||20 - 38|
|1349||Nevada-Las Vegas||Colorado State||AWAY||10 - 43|
|1350||Marshall||Bowling Green State||AWAY||28 - 44|
|1351||Eastern Michigan||Northern Illinois||HOME||3 - 71|
|1352||New Mexico||Colorado State||AWAY||14 - 38|
|1353||Eastern Michigan||Toledo||HOME||7 - 42|
|1354||Florida Atlantic||Troy State||HOME||7 - 44|
|1355||Akron||Temple||AWAY||0 - 30|
|1356||Louisiana-Lafayette||Middle Tennessee State||HOME||14 - 34|
|1357||New Mexico||Nevada-Las Vegas||AWAY||10 - 45|
|1358||Bowling Green State||Western Michigan||HOME||7 - 41|
|1359||Colorado State||Wyoming||AWAY||0 - 44|
|1360||Eastern Michigan||Central Michigan||HOME||14 - 52|
|1361||Akron||Western Michigan||HOME||10 - 56|
|1362||Buffalo||Temple||HOME||0 - 42|
|1363||Eastern Michigan||Vanderbilt||AWAY||6 - 52|
|1364||Bowling Green State||Kent||HOME||6 - 30|
|1365||Buffalo||Ball State||HOME||3 - 20|
|1366||Western Kentucky||North Texas||HOME||6 - 33|
25 Biggest Head-Scratchers
These were the games that, after all of the games have been played, stick out as especially weird. For instance, if a 20-point underdog wins by 10 early in the year, but then they go 8-4 and the team they upset goes 4-8, well, that's not really so weird. But if a 14-point favorite wins by 35, then ends up 4-8 while the team they beat goes 8-4, then that would stick out as a weird result despite it making sense at the time.
|1||Washington State||Oregon State||AWAY||31 - 14|
|2||Vanderbilt||Mississippi||AWAY||28 - 14|
|3||Texas||Nebraska||AWAY||20 - 13|
|4||Houston||Southern Methodist||AWAY||45 - 20|
|5||Syracuse||Cincinnati||AWAY||31 - 7|
|6||Western Kentucky||Louisiana-Lafayette||AWAY||54 - 21|
|7||Ohio||Miami (Ohio)||AWAY||34 - 13|
|8||Miami (Florida)||Pittsburgh||AWAY||31 - 3|
|9||Navy||Notre Dame||NEUTRAL||35 - 17|
|10||Kent||Bowling Green State||AWAY||30 - 6|
|11||Missouri||Texas A&M||AWAY||30 - 9|
|12||North Texas||Western Kentucky||AWAY||33 - 6|
|13||Utah||Iowa State||AWAY||68 - 27|
|14||Utah State||Brigham Young||HOME||31 - 16|
|15||Arkansas||South Carolina||AWAY||41 - 20|
|16||Syracuse||West Virginia||AWAY||19 - 14|
|17||Tulane||Texas-El Paso||AWAY||34 - 24|
|18||West Virginia||Pittsburgh||AWAY||35 - 10|
|19||Rice||East Carolina||HOME||62 - 38|
|20||Colorado||Hawaii||HOME||31 - 13|
|21||Marshall||Alabama-Birmingham||AWAY||31 - 17|
|22||Florida State||Miami (Florida)||AWAY||45 - 17|
|23||Kent||Ohio||HOME||28 - 6|
|24||California||Arizona State||HOME||50 - 17|
|25||Miami (Ohio)||Temple||HOME||23 - 3|
Some thoughts on the results:
1) As part of my regular season analysis, I'm providing some schedule strength numbers reflecting the top and bottom 30 schedules according to compu-picks, as well as comparisons for the top 30 schedules to some other sources of schedule ranking: Sagarin, NCAA, and FEI (from football outsiders). The numbers from these sites (except Sagarin) are all from before the Army-Navy game, so it is likely that they will be updated by the time you look at them, though I would be surprised to see material differences. One thing about the compu-picks schedule numbers that is important to note is that they do not include 1-AA games (these games are counted as byes, and do not affect schedule, margin, etc; it's as if they never happened). So in that regard, the Sagarin numbers (which do include those games) are probably a bit more accurate in terms of rating how difficult a team's entire year-long schedule actually was. Of course, the Sagarin numbers also correlate pretty closely to the compu-picks numbers, so I'm not really sweating the difference. If you could somehow back out the AA games, my guess is that his numbers would correlate extremely closely to these.
The most obvious thing you can see from looking at the table is how wildly different compu-picks' numbers are from both the NCAA and FEI numbers (especially the NCAA numbers). The NCAA numbers are calculating using simple W/L records as a proxy for schedule strength. This approach is, of course, ridiculous. Anyone who disagrees is simply wrong. There's really no argument here. If you believe the NCAA numbers, then you believe (for starters - there's plenty more dumb numbers here):
Villanova had a tougher schedule than Oregon St, Alabama, and was light-years tougher than UCLA and Tennessee
Appalaichan St had a tougher schedule than UCLA, Tennessee, and was light-years tougher than Virginia, Vandy and Oregon
UNLV had a tougher schedule than Washington, Iowa, Mississippi St, Texas Tech, Clemson, and Colorado
That's completely absurd even without bothering to factor in home-field advantage (which, of course, the NCAA numbers don't bother to do). I refuse to take seriously anyone who cites these numbers are being reasonable, much less correct, and you should too. That's why I didn't bother to fill in the full list; just looking at 20 of them it's obvious enough that the numbers are garbage, so I didn't feel like bothering to do 30 (plus the .pdf format the NCAA puts the numbers in makes pulling the results an annoying manual process, whereas it was much easier for the other two sources).
The most significant difference between the FEI schedule numbers and the compu-picks numbers is that FEI is defining schedule strength not as the average difficulty of a game, but the odds that an elite team would go undefeated against the schedule. The effect here is that higher difficulty games are strongly weighted, while there really isn't much of a difference between, say, playing the 80th rated team and the 120th rated team. That's not an entirely unreasoanble approach, but it's definitely measuring something much different than what compu-picks measures. Since he doesn't publish "average difficulty" numbers, it's impossible for me to say how much of the differences are due to his measuring something different and how much is due to differences in team ratings. My guess is that the bulk majority is due to what he's measuring... but that's just a guess.
Ultimately, I think the compu-picks schedule ratings are very good, for what they're trying to measure. I certainly accept the fact that, by throwing out AA games, it's telling an incomplete story. However, even accounting for that I believe that its numbers are generally accurate, and compare very well to just about everything out there (though again, I'm inclined to think Sagarin's schedule numbers are a bit better, mainly because he does account for the AA games).
2) Speaking of schedule strength, it's worth asking whether it really makes sense to adjust for home-field advantage. Does it really make a difference?
The answer is yes, as shown in the table below. With only a 53% winning percentage overall, it's pretty clear that home-field isn't much of a predictor in aggregate; however, when you throw out the mismatches (loosely defined here as games where one team ended up with 2 or more league wins than the other), the story is much different. When the teams ended up with the same number of league wins, the home team won slightly more than two-thirds of the time (it's a small sample size, of course, but it's still a very compelling number). When you expand the list to minor mismatches (teams ending up within one win of each other), the win rate drops, but is still close to 60%. So in answer to the question, yes I do think that it's a relevant factor that makes a lot of sense to include in this rating system. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any system which fails to account for this is flawed; certainly that includes the NCAA's ridiculous schedule numbers, but it also includes most or all of the BCS computers as well.
|League||Home Team W/L (%) - overall||Home Team W/L (%) - same # wins||Home Team W/L (%) - within 1 win|
|Pac-10||23 - 22 (51%)||1 - 3 (25%)||11 - 5 (69%)|
|SEC||27 - 20 (57%)||3 - 2 (60%)||10 - 7 (59%)|
|Big 12||23 - 21 (52%)||4 - 2 (67%)||11 - 6 (65%)|
|ACC||26 - 22 (54%)||7 - 1 (88%)||12 - 8 (60%)|
|Indep||0 - 1 (0%)||0 - 0 (%)||0 - 1 (0%)|
|Big Ten||22 - 21 (51%)||4 - 1 (80%)||8 - 7 (53%)|
|Big East||12 - 16 (43%)||2 - 2 (50%)||3 - 9 (25%)|
|WAC||20 - 16 (56%)||3 - 0 (100%)||6 - 2 (75%)|
|Mountain West||23 - 13 (64%)||5 - 0 (100%)||9 - 1 (90%)|
|C-USA||29 - 19 (60%)||4 - 1 (80%)||13 - 4 (76%)|
|MAC||25 - 27 (48%)||1 - 2 (33%)||4 - 9 (31%)|
|Sun Belt||17 - 19 (47%)||2 - 3 (40%)||8 - 10 (44%)|
|Total||247 - 217 (53%)||36 - 17 (68%)||95 - 69 (58%)|
3) After five out of the six weeks I've posted comments, at least one teams the model thought that the BCS overrated got exposed (I'm ignoring this past week's results, since there was only one game played):
After week 8: Auburn, Wisconsin, Michigan St - Michigan St loses 37-6 at Iowa
After week 9: Auburn, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan St - Utah loses 47-7 at TCU and Oklahoma loses 33-19 at Texas A&M
After week 10: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Mississippi St - Mississippi St loses 30-10 at Alabama (Bama and MSU were only seven spots apart in the BCS before the game)
After week 11: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Mississippi St - no teams got exposed, though LSU and Michigan St came pretty close
After week 12: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St - LSU loses 31-23 at an Arkansas team rated seven spots below them (and Michigan St nearly got knocked off at a Penn St team that wasn't even close to being ranked)
After week 13: Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan St, Mississippi St, Northern Illinois - NIU loses 26-21 to a pretty bad Miami(OH) team (though Auburn came up with a fantastic win)
Of course, there have been ones going the other way, most notably Oregon St's stunning implosion against Washington St (followed by a great win against USC). But it certainly seems like there have been more noteworthy bad showings by teams the model thought overrated than those it thought underrated.
4) League ratings have been a fairly popular source of comments, so let's talk about them again. The popular perception (as shown by a CBS columnist here), is that the Pac-10 is somehow "down". The basic reasoning is that the overall records aren't outstanding (the league's OOC was close to .500), and that the league is VERY top heavy (Oregon and Stanford have basically dominated the league). It's also been said here that the Pac-10's problem was that the league "fail(ed) to hold any momentum it might have had from the non-conference schedule"... basically, that evne though the non-conference went great, somehow the intra-league games somehow caused the league's rating to decline. This is, of course, silly.
As shown in the above tables, the Pac-10 has the BEST record nationwide against other AQ leagues. Moreover, of all the AQ leagues, they're the one which has played by far the toughest slate. They're the only AQ league which has played a majority of its 1-A games on the road; they've played the fewest by far games againt the bottom 40 teams (as rated by compu-picks). They've played precisely ONE game against the Mac and Sun Belt combined; as a contrast, the Big Ten has lost more games to those two leagues (both double-digit HOME losses to the MAC) than the Pac-10 has games against them. In fact, if you break down the OOC records by groupings of 20 (as in the above table), the only leagues that show comparable results to the Pac-10 are the SEC and Big 12, and that's before you factor in home-field advantage. It's also worth noting that the Pac-10 is one of the only leagues without a AA loss; while the model doesn't factor in those games, as humans we can do so, and it's another point in the league's favor.
Focusing on the bottom 40 for a bit, the Pac-10 doesn't have any bottom 40 OOC losses (only the Big 12 and Big Ten can say the same), and had only one game with less than a 7 point win against that group (USC's win over Virginia), as opposed to the SEC's two close calls against UAB; the Big Ten's close calls against Ark St, CMU, and Vandy; the Big 12's close call against Troy; the ACC's close call against Rutgers; and the Big East's close calls against Marshall and FIU.
Basically, the unfortunate truth is that the BCS rewards easy schedules and punishes tough ones. When a league as a whole "gimmicks up" its record (overwhelming number of home games, majority of OOC games against bad competition), it gets rewarded. When the Big Ten schedules a ridiculous 17 games against the MAC/Sun Belt (not to mention the AA games), and actually LOSES two of them, it gets rewarded for it. When the Pac-10 has nine league games, a brutal OOC slate, has an outstanding 10-5 record against other AQ's, and has a near-total lack of "bad losses" (the worst was Wazzu at SMU, hardly a MAC-level loss), it gets punished for it with the silly perception that it's "down". The inescapable conclusion is that there is NOTHING that the league could have done to be perceived as excellent this year given the schedules it had to face.
Besides the bias and laziness of most analysts that attempt to evaluate leagues, what does that mean going forward? Mainly, it means that the Pac-10 needs to gimmick up its schedules too. That means no more paycheck games on the road (see: Colorado at Ohio St coming up, as well as recent games such as Oregon St at TCU, Wazzu at Notre Dame, Auburn, Wisconsin [technically a 2:1 but I've got a bridge to sell you if you think it's likely the Badgers trek to Pullman as scheduled], etc.). That means fewer games against other AQ's (15 of the league's 28 OOC slots were against other AQ's, plus there were Oregon St's games against Boise and TCU). That means getting paycheck, 2:1 or 3:1 deals with the mid-majors (as opposed to ASU's upcoming home and home with New Mexico and insane home and home deal with UTSA, Wazzu's home and home with SMU, Washington's home and home with BYU, Oregon and Oregon St's home and homes with Boise, Arizona's home and home with New Mexico and apparent upcoming home and home with Nevada, Stanford's home and home with Navy and upcoming home and home with Army, etc.). It has to be a priority to get more home games. Home games provide a meaningful edge, and other leagues are taking advantage, while the Pac-10 clearly isn't.
Quite frankly, if Oregon St had cancelled one of the Boise/TCU road games and scheduled a home game creampuff win, they'd have been at six wins with a bowl game, instead of five wins and no bowl game. Would that have made them a better team in any way? Of course not. But in the half-assed world of league ratings analysis and human polls rating teams, it would have made them look like a better team, would have put them in the postseason (which would have helped the Pac-10's bowl partners) and would have given a nice boost to Oregon and Stanford (who came fairly close to not having a top 4 BCS ranking, which probably would have meant the Alamo Bowl for them). That's tangible value to the rest of the league, even if it would have been around a net wash or loss for Oregon St's bottom line.
I'm not sure how the league can move its schedules in this direction: incentives for extra home games, changing the bowl payout for a team from an even 1/12 to something like 2/13 (the bowl team gets a double share, everyone else gets an equal cut), or actual league mandates, but there's no question that it's imperative that the league do this. The incentive structure for gimmicking up schedules couldn't be clearer, and the if Pac-12 refuses to join the party, they're only going to hurt themselves in the process.
5) More on league ratings: I've gotten some comments from SEC people who believe that the model has them too low (although a 0.30 rating is still VERY good). The two biggest things holding back that league's rating are the % of home games and the very large number of games against 1-A cupcakes.
It's also worth noting that the SEC has the worst single OOC game rating of any AQ league by a substantial margin, Vandy's horrific 21-point home loss to a pretty bad Wake Forest team; in fact, that was the only performance by any AQ team to rate in the bottom 40 losses nationwide. It's a somewhat minor point (since it's just one game out of 37), but by itself the game probably dropped the league's rating by somewhere between 0.02 and 0.05, which turned out to be a pretty big chunk of the difference between the SEC and the Pac-10.
Overall, while I certainly believe that the model's outputs are reasonable and defensible, it may be true that it's over-penalizing the SEC for the cupcake games. That's going to be high on the list of things to dig into further over the off-season. My suspicion is that it won't result in a material change (and perhaps not any change at all), but I could very well be wrong.
I've also gotten some comments from Big Ten people who believe the model has them too low. I don't buy it. Multiple MAC losses, few quality wins (the best ones were against Miami, ASU and Notre Dame [twice] ), a gimmick schedule with half of the OOC games against bottom 40 teams and over 2/3 of the games at home, only a 7-5 record vs AQ's... it just wasn't a good year for the league. It's reasonable to argue them over the ACC (again, it's possible that the system is over-penalizing for the cupcake games), but that's it. They were a clear few steps below the top three leagues (Pac-10, SEC, Big 12) in 2010. It's certainly possible that they have a good bowl run, which would change the numbers, but for now, the resume just isn't there.
6) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the BCS: Oregon, Stanford, Boise St, Virginia Tech, Alabama, Nebraska, South Carolina, Florida St, Arizona, USC, NC St, Arizona St.
Oregon has the #1 win, a number of other quality performances, and is undefeated (and generally dominant) against a very tough schedule.
Stanford has a boatload of high-quality performances, consistently blowing teams out even against an extremely tough schedule. They have consistently played at an extremely high level this year, and the model rewards them for that feat.
A few weeks ago, Boise got crushed in the BCS rankings for losing a very close game on the road to a top 20 team. That was simply dumb. They've been a dominant team all year long against a schedule that, while not fantastic, compares reasonably well to at least a few other members of the top ten, including Ohio St (who themselves played plenty of "Sisters of the Poor" opponents while playing only ONE quality team - Wisconsin, who beat them).
Virginia Tech is an interesting case. Part of this difference is that the model doesn't count AA games (which means that the JMU loss doesn't count against them here), but just as important is the fact that they've gone on a tear through the ACC, 9-0 with a boatload of utter ass-kickings. #6 may be a spot or two high, but they're clearly a top 10 team, especially if you weigh recent games more strongly than early-season games (which many people do when thinking about teams). The BCS has them way too low.
Alabama is a great example of how in the BCS, hard schedules get punished, and easy schedules get rewarded. Few teams have had tougher schedules than the Tide, and few have had worse luck in close games (two of their losses were by 3 or less). It hasn't been their year, but that doesn't mean they're not an excellent team; Michigan St got hosed by having to face the Tide in their bowl game.
Nebraska has three losses, which is why they're rated poorly by the BCS. However, other than the awful Texas loss, the other two were all quality performances. 3-point loss in title game to a very good Oklahoma team, 3-point loss at A&M are two losses that are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, which basically means (once again) the BCS is punishing a team for its schedule. Moreover, Nebraska has had a number of very good showings, from the dominant wins at Washington and Kansas St to the double-digit quality wins over Mizzou and Oklahoma St.
South Carolina has four losses... but two are to the BCS #1 team (though the latter was an ugly ass-kicking), one is to a very good Arkansas team (though it was an ugly loss), and the other was an admittedly embarrassing defeat to Kentucky. Of course, they also had a great win over Alabama, dominating wins over Florida and Clemson, and have clearly put together a strong record against an extremely tough schedule.
Florida St beat the crap out of Florida, then lost to an excellent Virginia Tech team and the net effect was to drop a spot in the BCS, which is silly, yet another instance of the BCS actively punishing tough schedules. The 'Noles have had a legitimately tough schedule, they've had close losses (except at Oklahoma), and generally dominant wins (though BC and Clemson were close). They're underrated in the BCS.
Arizona is the same type of story as most other teams that compu-picks thinks is underrated: very tough schedule, tendency towards blowout wins and close losses (except at Stanford and Oregon, compu-picks' #'s 1 and 2). They're better than their record, and despite what the BCS thinks, there simply aren't 25 teams out there better than the Arizona Wildcats.
USC isn't eligible to be ranked by the BCS. If they were eligible, they'd very possibly be ranked. Five losses is never fun, but they've had a tough schedule, they've beaten a top 25 Arizona team and a nearly top 25 Hawaii team (they're top 25 in the BCS though), both on the road, and two of their losses have come to elite Oregon and Stanford teams (the Stanford loss was a nail-biter as well).
I don't really have much to say about NC St. I think the BCS is punishing them a bit because it's generally underrating the ACC; other than that they have the usual formula for an underrated team, tough schedule, generally close losses, a number of dominant wins (though some were pretty close).
Arizona St is the poster child for a team that's been punished for a really tough schedule. They're 4-6 in 1-A games... but they've played six road games, they've played all 10 games against AQ opponents, and two of their home games were against top five teams (and one was a very close loss). They also played a very good Wisconsin team (rated #5 in BCS) on the road and only lost by a single point. They had an admittedly atrocious showing at Cal, but other than that it's been a boatload of quality performances, just against a schedule that was ridiculously hard. It's extremely unfortunate that this team isn't allowed to make a bowl game, especially since SJ St bailed on them late. That said, those are the rules, and they should have found a replacement. In week one, Baylor, Kansas, Miami, Virginia (who ALSO had 2 AA games on the schedule), West Virginia, Rutgers, Air Force, SD St, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, and probably a bunch of others were all playing AA teams; if ASU tried harder, they probably could have gotten one of those teams on the schedule. Presuming a win in such a game (fair assumption against at least half the list, though teams like Nevada, Miami, WV etc. would have been tough), failing to do so cost them a bowl game. In 2010, ASU was a better team than around half of the teams who are going to bowls, which says it all about both how good ASU was and the administrative screw-ups that cost them a bowl game.
7) The following teams are ranked materially lower than the model than the BCS: Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan St, Mississippi St, Hawaii, UCF.
Auburn is playing fantastically right now, but they have had a number of early struggles (most notably against Clemson), which are affecting their numbers. I'm inclined to think that compu-picks is underrating them... but I can see the argument.
Wisconsin is playing very well right now, but, even more than Auburn, had a number of early struggles (the 1-pt ASU win, the 13-pt SJ St win, and worst of all, the 10-point loss to a pretty mediocre Michigan St team). I would say that compu-picks probably underrates them a bit... but unless you choose to totally ignore their early-season issues, the BCS is overrating them.
LSU's schedule may not be at the very top of the list, but it's been strong and absolutely in line with their neighbors in the rankings. Where they're getting hurt is, unsurprisingly, their large number of close to very close wins. 6 points (UNC), 6 points (WV), 2 points (Tenn), 4 points (Florida), 3 points (Bama), and 7 points (Ole Miss) has pretty much defined their resume. They dominated Miss St, which was a very good showing, but other than that it's been the Auburn loss, the Arkansas loss, a bunch of close to very close wins, and comfortable wins against Vandy and ULM, neither of which are going to move the dial much.
In the BCS, Michigan St recently rose two points after barely beating a mediocre Penn St team, one week after they rose two spots after barely beating a bad Purdue team at home. Once again, the BCS punishes tough schedules and rewards easy ones. Moreover, in terms of season-long resumes, Michigan St has not been especially dominant (especially after they got waxed at Iowa), and has not had much of a schedule to date (Notre Dame was the only decent non-conference opponent, and they missed Ohio St, and they had a ridiculous eight home games [one was AA]). Even if you think compu-picks is too low on them, putting them into the top 10 is flat-out ridiculous. They're basically a homeless man's LSU, with the same tendency towards way too close wins, a lack of good performances against teams not named Wisconsin, a crummy schedule, and the massive beating Iowa laid on them.
Mississippi St played four top 25 teams and lost to them all, though two of the four were close losses. They barely held on against an awful UAB team at home, and struggled against mediocre Ole Miss and Kentucky teams. Top 25 is a bit of a reach for them, though to be fair it's not like compu-picks thinks there's a huge difference between them and #25 on the list.
Hawaii is 10-3... but with a really weak schedule, three double-digit losses (including a 35-point bludgeoning by Boise, a 18-point loss at a poor Colorado team, and a 13-point home loss to USC). They also had a couple squeaker wins (Army by just 3, Nevada by 6). They're a good team... but top 25 is too much.
One week after the ridiculous ranking of NIU, they gag in a bad loss and get replaced by another joke, Central Florida. UCF probably doesn't even belong in the top 40, much less the top 25. Their schedule was atrocious, they've played precisely one team that's even arguably top 25 (NC St... though the BCS doesn't have them ranked), and they have three losses anyway. The best two teams they beat were probably Houston and SMU. UCF shouldn't even be within shouting distance of the top 25. Utterly ridiculous.
8) This isn't directly to do with the list, but here's a couple fun lists of results:
Texas 20, @ Nebraska 13
Nebraska 48, @ Kansas St 13
Kansas St 39, @ Texas 14
@ Michigan St 34, Wisconsin 24
Wisconsin 31, @ Iowa 30
@ Iowa 37, Michigan St 6
Alabama 24, @ Arkansas 20
Arkansas 41, @ South Carolina 20
@ South Carolina 35, Alabama 21
USC 24, @ Arizona 21
@ Arizona 44, Washington 14
Washington 32, @ USC 31
@ Air Force 35, BYU 14
@ BYU 24, San Diego St 21
@ San Diego St 27, Air Force 25
If you try to apply "head to head is the only thing that matters" logic to this list, your head will explode. You can tease out certain information from these lists (Wisconsin, Alabama and Washington had both of their games on the road, they get a bonus; Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona and Air Force had losses much closer than their wins, therefore they get a bonus; etc.), but what it really does is highlight that each of these results was JUST ONE GAME. To properly evaluate a team, you need to evaluate the whole resume, not pretend that a single result means everything and the rest almost nothing just because of head to head "logic". That's why Compu-Picks doesn't give ANY special consideration to head to head results. You are what your resume says you are. Period.
Technical notes about the lists:
1) Conference ratings are straight averages of all of the teams in the league. There is no "central averaging" (like Sagarin does), or over-weighting the top teams, or anything like that. Such approaches would yield different numbers, and could potentially change the order of some of the leagues.
2) Games against AA teams are not counted. There are many good arguments both for and against counting such games (see this link for an interesting analysis of the issue). I have elected not to count these results in the Compu-Picks model. As is the case almost every year, this means that one or two especially surprising AA upsets don't make it into the numbers, skewing the results to a fair degree for a couple of teams. I believe that this is a more than acceptable tradeoff given the substantial issues that counting AA games would create, but you are certainly welcome to disagree with my decision on this matter.
3) As mentioned here, the purpose of this system is to make picks, not to create a list used for rankings. As such, I evaluate the system solely on the basis of how good a job it does making picks. I do not evaluate the system on the basis of whether or not it agreed with AP polls, BCS rankings, the BCS computers, or any other such list out there. In fact, the system has a long and established history of being substantially different than those sources. I am fine with these differences. To be honest, I publish these lists because I find them interesting and thought-provoking, and because I believe it is a good thing to introduce an approach that doesn't simply regurgitate the same avenues of thinking as you can find in most places.
4) The system is noisy, especially earlier in the year. This is why I start with only a top 10 / bottom 10 list, and slowly expand it. While I believe that the numbers are reasonable, I certainly accept that they're not perfect. If you believe that a specific team is over- or under-ranked, you may well be right. I bring this up because if you're going to criticize the system for being wrong about a team, I'd appreciate it if you explain why you think the system is substantially wrong, rather than just marginally so (if it's just one or two slots off, especially well before the end of the year, I'd consider that well within a reasonable error range).
5) Some people have expressed curiosity about compu-picks' schedule ratings. Essentially, it's the average difficulty of all 1-A games that a team has played to date, which basically means the average rating of all of a team's 1-A opponents, then adjusted for things like home-field advantage. This, of course, varies enormously from the NCAA's official schedule ratings, which simply look at the opponents' winning percentages and that's it. Needless to say, the NCAA's approach is silly and deeply flawed; it's better than picking numbers out of a hat, but no serious analyst should rely on it at all when trying to evaluate how difficult a team's schedule actually was.
Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at email@example.com