[guest post by JVW]
I find the college football polls at this time of the year to be mostly worthless. What are we supposed to be evaluating? Is it which teams have beaten other teams thus far? Is it which teams have consistently played the best so far? Which teams have the best opportunity for success in the remainder of their season due to a favorable schedule? Which teams seem to be playing at a level that suggests they will be strong for the rest of the season? There are plenty of way evaluate the Top 25 teams, and there does not appear to be any consensus as to what criteria are to be used by voter. While the two major polls, one by AP sportswriters and one by college coaches, tend to be similar, there are often some slight differences here and there. Here are the most recent polls, released last night:
Now right away I see some things here that I don’t like. Oklahoma beat Ohio State by two touchdowns in Columbus on September 9, yet somehow the Buckeyes are ranked three slots higher in the AP poll and four slots higher by the coaches. Michigan State beat Michigan in Ann Arbor just two nights ago, yet Sparty is inexplicably four behind the Wolverines in AP and six behind according to the coaches. Teams that are undefeated seem to me to have been given short-shrift in many cases, and too much attention has been paid to a team’s reputation rather than its actual accomplishments.
So I set out to do my own rankings. I have tried to follow one major rule: a team cannot be ranked higher than another team who has already beaten them this season and has the same number of losses. A few other self-imposed rules have come into play, and I’ll explain them as we go through. So without further ado, here is JVW’s Top 25 NCAA BCS Football Teams for the Week of October 9:
1. Clemson (6-0 record)
The Tigers are the defending national champion, having beaten Alabama in last year’s BCS title game, so until they are vanquished I will keep them at the top, even though several key players from last year’s squad have graduated.
2. Alabama (6-0)
3. Washington (6-0)
4. Penn State (6-0)
5. Georgia (6-0)
6. Washington State (6-0)
7. TCU (5-0)
8. Wisconsin (5-0)
9. Miami (4-0)
For the undefeated major conference teams, I am sorting them according to the number of victories, mostly because the more games you have left to play, the more opportunities you have to lose. Going by wins penalizes for now a team like Miami, who had their September 16 game with Florida State postponed by Hurricane Irma. I’m not completely sold on Penn State just yet: they have a bye this weekend then their next three games are home against Michigan and on the road against Ohio State and Michigan State. We’ll see where they stand at the end of this month. Georgia has a very favorable schedule ahead, with Auburn being the only currently-ranked team they will face.
10. Auburn (5-1), lost to #1 Clemson
11. Virginia Tech (5-1), lost to #1 Clemson
12. Notre Dame (5-1), lost to #5 Georgia
13. USC (5-1), lost to #6 Washington State
14. Oklahoma State (4-1), lost to #7 TCU
The one-loss teams who have lost to undefeated Top Ten teams come next, and they are ranked in order of the teams who beat them. Auburn played Clemson closer on the road than Virginia Tech did at home.
15. San Diego State (6-0), biggest win vs. #25 Stanford
16. South Florida (5-0), biggest win at unranked Illinois
17. Navy (5-0), biggest win at unranked Florida Atlantic
18. Central Florida (4-0), biggest win at unranked Maryland
Here I got back to the undefeated teams from the mid-major conferences. As with the major conference, they are ranked mostly by number of victories. Poor UCF has had two games cancelled by Harvey and Irma. UCF, USF, and Navy all play in the American Athletic Conference, so at best only one of them will finish undefeated. Navy plays at Notre Dame on November 18.
19. Michigan State (4-1), lost to #12 Notre Dame
20. Texas Tech (4-1), lost to #14 Oklahoma State
21. Michigan (4-1), lost to #19 Michigan State
22. Oklahoma (4-1), lost to unranked Iowa State
23. Ohio State (5-1), lost to #22 Oklahoma
Now we go back to major conference teams who have lost to someone outside of the Top Ten. So clearly it’s Ohio State who really gets hammered by my rules. The Buckeyes drop from eighth and ninth in the glamor polls all the way down to twenty-third in my poll by virtue of having lost to Oklahoma who then lost to an unranked team. Naturally, if either OSU or OU runs the table from here they will bounce back into the Top 10, probably even the Top 5. But for now, here they sit.
24. West Virginia (3-2), lost to #7 TCU and #11 Virginia Tech
25. Stanford (4-2), lost to #13 USC and #14 San Diego State
Even though the Cardinal have one more win than the Mountaineers, I give WVU the nod because they lost to the better teams.
The teams who just missed out on my Top 25 are Utah (4-1) who lost to #25 Stanford, North Carolina State (5-1) who lost to unranked two-loss South Carolina, Georgia Tech (3-1) who lost to unranked two-loss Tennessee, and Louisville (4-2) who lost to #1 Clemson and unranked NC State.
So that’s where I have it as of today. Let me know where you disagree and make predictions on how you think it will all shake out in the end.