Sunday, November 02, 2008

Number One?

It’s BlogPoll consideration time, and while I will be dropping Georgia from my rankings, who is number one?

Just kidding about Georgia.

From my vantage point three teams merit consideration. The teams, and their resumes –

Alabama –

NCAA Strength of Schedule (SOS) – 68th
Scoring Offense – 33rd
Scoring Defense – 6th

Best Win –

Georgia 41-30 – a dominating first half performance.

Questionable” Wins –

Tulane 20-6. Alabama outgained by Green Wave 318-172 yards.

Kentucky 17-14. Outgains UK rushing 282-35

Mississippi 24-20. At least they won, but Ole Miss had more total (359-326) and rushing (158-107) yards.

Texas Tech –

NCAA SOS - 33rd
Scoring Offense -3rd
Scoring Defense - 45th

Best Win –

Texas 39-33 – gutsy comeback win.

“Questionable” Wins –

Nebraska 37-31 in OT. 5-4 Nebraska outgained Tech 471-421.

Nevada 35-19. 4-4 Nevada outgained Tech 488-421.

Penn State –

NCAA SOS - 69th
Scoring Offense - 8th
Scoring Defense - 4th

Best Win –

Ohio State 13-6. Won at Columbus.

“Questionable Wins”

None really.


The fascinating thing about these three teams is they each have really only a single marquee win – Alabama over Georgia, Texas Tech over Texas and Penn State over Ohio State. Besides those wins, there is no other really impressive victories on any of their resumes.

Nor have any of the three really played an impressive schedule. The best is Tech at 33rd.

Summed up I see –


Strengths – Defense
Weakness – Schedule
Neutral – Offense
Best Victory – 2nd (of these 3)

Texas Tech

Strengths – Offense
Weakness – Defense
Neutral – Schedule
Best Victory – 1st (of these 3)

Penn State

Strengths – Offense, Defense
Weakness – Schedule
Best Victory – 3rd (of these 3)

I don’t think any of these teams is the “best” in college football. Penn State should run the table due to its schedule, Texas Tech and Alabama face challenges. In total they are virtually equal their resumes. I see it –

1. Alabama
2. Texas Tech
3. Penn State

That said, the only one I think is running the table is my number 3.


duodetriginta, shmuodetriginta said...

Having just read your excellent "The 'National Championship'" series, I applaud your willingness to call out the BCS as the sham that it is. I also commend your willingness to extend your skepticism to the laurels that have been conferred upon the Gators by the incumbent travishamockery of a system.

That said, I am confused by your apparent hostility to computer rankings and your simultaneous embrace of deeply flawed stats like scoring offense and scoring defense.

First the computer rankings: in a recent post you dismissed the Sagarin predictor rating as flawed because it didn't beat the spread over a sample of 29 games. 29 games is far too small a sample size to judge any predictive algorithm on.

While I am a big believer in computer rankings, the computer rankings used by the BCS are next to worthless. They have been hand selected by the BCS based on irrelevant criteria: they are the formulas that best track the human polls while ignoring final score. They have no purpose apart from providing a slightly objective sanity check for the human polls.

In contrast to the computer rankings used by the BCS, rankings such as the Sagarin predictor are actually grounded in reality.

The utility of a "predictor" type rating is not just for gamblers: actual game outcomes are the only objective criteria available for evaluating computer rankings systems.

As of November 3, the 2008 Gators have nicely exposed the flaws of the BCS computer rankings.

From Florida at number 5, you have to go all the way down to North Carolina at 19 to find a team that has lost to a team ranked below Mississippi. And North Carolina has 2 such losses!

Now look at the Sagarin rankings: Florida does worse in the Sagarin ELO_CHESS than in any of the other computer polls, finishing 6th. Of course, ELO_CHESS is a bastard Sagarin rating crafted to meet the political needs of the BCS while using the Sagarin name.

The ranking that Jeff Sagarin claims is his most accurate has the Gators as the second best team in the nation and 6.5 point neutral site favorite over #3 Penn State.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

First of all we have several authors here so something I write may not necessarily reflect the other authors way of thinking. The Sagarin vs. Vegas thing is just for fun.

Trader Rick said...

And, just for fun, I think the Gators are the best team in the Nation, and should be ranked #1 in all the polls.

Mhoram said...

I know you are a resume guy, but even so there is always going to be some subjectivity in your voting: You rank wins based on quality - and that ranking is largely subjective.

So, from my POV, it seems that while the big three have very similar resumes, that Penn State is probably the best team. TT still doesn't play much defense, and I can't see them surviving against a dominant defensive team. Alabama likes to play down to the level of competition and still may well crap the bed against LSU or Auburn.

But Penn State looks like a complete team who comes to play for 60 minutes every game. Their schedule is pretty weak, but they did put a beat-down on the team that beat Southern Cal. (Transitive property of college football, ya know)

I see Complete team > Good Defense with avg offense > Good offense with weak defense

Based on equal resumes, I would put it as
1. Penn State
2. Alabama
3. Texas Tech

All that said, your Gators look unstoppable right now.

Anonymous said...

So Texas Tech jumps up to #2 after their win over the "great" Texas team?

And not to flog a dead horse, but once again it was an Arena league shootout, just like ALL of the other "big games" in the Big 12 this year.

To wit:
Aug 30: Missouri came out of the box with a win against then-ranked Ill-noise...but gave up a staggering 42 points in doing so!

Oct.11: In the closest thing to a REAL football game between ranked Big 12 teams this year, Okie State beat an obviously WAAAAAY-overrated #3 Missouri 28-23. But BOTH teams allowed over 400 yards of offense.
Then Texas dropped #1(?) Oklahoma, again BOTH defenses yielded over 400 yards. (do you notice a disturbing pattern here???)

Oct. 18: In a game where the teams combined for almost 900...yes...NINE HUNDRED yards, Texas outlasted Missouri 56-31.

And finally, this past Sat., the latest "Game of the Year, Big 12 Style" became a MIGHTY defensive struggle---BOTH defenses struggled mightily, to the tune of a mind-numbing NINE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THREE YARDS.

Has tackling been banned west of the Mississippi???

I would LOOOOVE to see what ANY of those (ahem!) "great" teams would do against UF...or LSU...or even Jawja (in spite of their no-show this weekend).

You CAN'T just outscore everyone...undoubtedly Texas Tech's lack of defensive presence WILL cost them a game or two.

Now, on to Alabama...
Bammer still has LSU (who just may have a bone to pick with the Tide's head coach) and then a likely match-up with the Gators in Atlanta.
Note to Tide fan: You're NOT going undefeated this year.

And as for Penn State:
have they even beaten a team as good as Mississippi??? Sorry, but their win against our Columbus subsidiary was the antithesis of the pinball games in the Big 12---it was SOOOO slow-moving and plodding, it was all but unwatchable.

Now you want to talk about the most "complete" team in the country?
Even without my O&B glasses, it's pretty easy to see who THAT is.