Tuesday, November 02, 2010

John Connor Series: College Football Polling

After discussion last week on rankings I've decided to throw my hat into the ring on rankings. Skynet be damned! Humans can ultimately through intuition, hard work, and the occasional reprogrammed robot. First off there is no objective/perfect way to create a rankings. None. There's simply too little data to say really much of anything definitively when it comes to rankings we care about (top 12). That said I think I, Mighty Mike, of Semi-Sound Body and Mind can give it a try. Here are a few principals that guide my rankings

1) History is Bunk - Previous season outcomes or previous week rankings do not matter. No team is entitled to a spot - each week a team's current season performance is evaluated with no strings attached.

What do You Do in Games That Are Tough - The problem with determining college football rankings is the unbalanced scheduling (differing strength of schedules). For the John Connor Series beating crappy teams is not viewed better than losing to great teams. Who you beat, where you do it (home v. road), how defining is it (blowout?) focused on the big game (top 30ish). In the NFL constantly you get teams from great divisions with worse records than teams from crappy divisions - and you know what, the team with the worse record is often better. If you don't play anyone tough I can not evaluate you and therefore will push you behind teams that have accomplished something via wins over tougher competition (even if they have more losses)

3) Head to Head is Iffy - Fortunately or unfortunately you often get claims where team X beat team Y therefore team X is better. Not so fast. Often teams team Z beat team Y and team Z lost to X (the Iowa-MSU-Wisconsin trio is a good current example). As such head to head doesn't reveal a lot so while I give it some stock I do not give a hard and fast ruling.

As such here is my top 12 with reasons at the bottom (note SOS is sagarin's raw strength of schedule numbers)



Best Wins


1. Auburn


LSU, SoCar, Arkansas, MissState

2. Oregon


Stanford, USC

3. Wisconsin


tOSU, Iowa


4. TCU


Baylor, Oregon State

5. Boise


V-Tech, Oregon State

6. MSU


Wisconsin, Illinois


7. Nebraska


Missouri, Ok State


8. Alabama


Arkansas, Florida

9. Missouri


OU, Illinois


10. Arizona


Iowa, Cal

Oreg St

11. Stanford




12 Ohio State


Illinois, Miami


1. Auburn has the most number of wins over top tier teams while Oregon has had the most decisive victories - hence I've put them in the top slots.

2. After much thinking I placed Wisconsin #3. Their 2 wins are frankly more impressive than anyone else below them and as I've stated above big wins count more than tough losses.

3. I can't really differentiate TCU and Boise other than via SOS. This week Utah will play TCU which should provide differentiation as currently I don't feel comfortable having one above the other.

4. I feel comfortable having Alabama lower than most as frankly Alabama hasn't beaten anybody good yet outside of Arkansas. Florida is their second best win and they have 3 losses. As such despite the hype until Alabama has a big win (this week against LSU) I will keep them lower than most.

5. I also feel comfortable leaving Utah out of the top 12. They're best win is Air Force. If they beat TCU then they can easily leap into the mix - until then they're an unknown.


Gutsy Goldberg said...

1) I dig the name of the rankings as "John Connor" rankings! Nice.
2) Interesting that Wisconsin is #3. I wish you could debate that on ESPN.
3) 'Bama is ranked too high... at least in the human polls anyways.
4) Will you boost TCU for beating Utah? Or because Utah hasn't played anyone, beating Utah doesn't earn anything.
5) I didn't realize TCU beat Baylor... that certainly has to be unexpectedly helping TCU for now.

Mighty Mike said...

TCU absolutely should get a boost from beating Utah. Utah is definitely top 30 material (just not top 12)

MJ said...

I more or less agree with these rankings although I can't really see Arizona at #10, despite their win over Iowa. Arizona's loss to Oregon State is as bad a loss as there is on this board when you consider that every other loss represented (seven total) is to a ranked opponent.

As far as the Boise State-TCU-Utah menage-a-trois, a TCU win over Utah should sort out the mid-major mess very well. TCU will climb into the top three and their strength-of-schedule number will create a stark contrast between themselves and Boise State who, to date, still hasn't played anyone of note.

Mighty Mike said...

@MJ - I have to admit I was uncomfortable with where I placed Arizona. Is beating a good team coupled with a "bad" loss like Arizona better than tOSU's or LSU's decent but not great win(s) coupled with a "good" loss? I'm very torn and I definitely see your point. Fortunately Arizona plays Stanford this week and that should push Arizona up or down and end it's haziness.

MJ said...

@Mighty: I think we're generally in agreement. I won't say Arizona doesn't belong in the top-12, I just had to question their placement at #10 given their one loss being so bad that it probably dilutes the quality of their good wins.

I think Stanford and OSU belong at 10 and 11, respectively, with Arizona at #12.

As you said, we'll know more about Arizona this weekend.

Hitman said...

Obviously, the loser of TCU-Utah is out of the national championship discussion, and almost certainly out of BCS berth discussions as well.

I've got to believe that MJ is right - if TCU wins, it assumes the catbird seat over BSU, poised to land a championship berth if either Oregon or Auburn falter...unless Alabama beats Auburn in the Iron Bowl and then wins the SEC. In that case, will the BCS berths go only to unbeatens - perhaps Oregon and TCU? Or will a one-loss 'Bama vault into the title game to face the Ducks?

Mighty Mike said...

@Hitman - Great question on what if Alabama beats Auburn. I think at the end of the day because a) it's Alabama, b) defending BCS Champs and c) SEC Champs - the voters will leap them to the top. Of course that assumes that Alabama wins the SEC Championship game.. I don't have the first clue if Oregon, Auburn, and Alabama all lose games in the coming weeks....