Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Top 25 Doesn't Like the Way you're Looking at it

RankTeamDelta
1LeSmilesU--
2Kansas 1
3Arizona State 4
4Ohio State 4
5Missouri--
6West Virginia--
7Oklahoma 3
8Georgia 1
9Southern Cal 1
10Oregon 8
11Florida 1
12Texas 8
13Boston College 10
14Illinois--
15South Florida 1
16Texas Tech 10
17Virginia Tech--
18Tennessee--
19Cincinnati 8
20Virginia 1
21Boise State--
22Auburn 3
23Clemson 8
24Kentucky 11
25Connecticut 1

Dropped Out: Michigan (#22).
I gave Ohio State a bounce not so much because they beat a good or healthy team on Saturday, but rather because their defense is outstanding and I'm always a sucker for teams that play great defense. Say hello to the pre-season #1 next year, assuming that the Bucks don't lose too many of their juniors. Gholston and Malcolm Jenkins seem to be the most likely departures and that might cause some concern on the defensive side of the ball, but the Buckeye defense has a Hydra thing going on right now and I hate it.
I also gave Arizona State a bounce because they are easily the quietest one-loss team from an excellent conference this year. The Pac Ten is vying with the Big XII for the #2 spot in the conference pecking order this year (I suppose the Big East is in the picture, as well) and Arizona State has run through the conference impressively with the only blemish at Oregon. Why exactly aren't the Sun Devils in the discussion for a shot at New Orleans?
I gave Oklahoma less of a hiding than I did Oregon in part because losing to Texas Tech is more respectable than losing to Arizona (suck it, Klinsi!) and in part because Sam Bradford will return this year, but Dennis Dixon won't. Oregon presents a real "Cincinnati without Kenyon Martin" problem. Their resume is very impressive, but they are dependent on Dennis Dixon and without him, they aren't a top ten team. I basically split the difference between their resume, which would have them at about #6, and their merit as a team without Dixon, which would have them in the mid-teens. Dixon's absence is going to illustrate that they never had a championship-caliber defense. Dixon's absence also illustrates a failing of the spread option: the quarterback is a little more likely to get knocked out when he gets hit a lot and quarterbacks who can properly run and throw as required by the offense are not easy to find, which means that there will often be a major drop-off to the back-up.
I'm probably being a little harsh on Kentucky for losing a competitive game at Georgia, but I'm getting the sense that their lack of depth is coming back to haunt them. The offense has really lost its mojo after the Florida game and the likely culprit is the fact that they can't replace injured starters in the same way that their conference rivals can. I've been selling the meme all year that the Cats would usher Phil Fulmer out of the ranks of the employed by passing the Vols silly, but now that everyone seems to be predicting a victory by the Cats, my suspicions have been raised. On the other hand, Tennessee has been the luckiest team west of Charlottesville this year and that has to end at some point, right? Here's a question for Georgia fans to ponder before Saturday: if a Tennessee victory is the difference between Phil Fulmer keeping or losing his job, is a Kentucky victory really worth a trip to the SEC Title Game? The answer is probably "yes," but it's not at all clear-cut.

6 comments:

Klinsi said...

How is losing to TT more respectable than Arizona when your starting quarterback, the guy solely responsible for over 56% of your offense this season, goes down in the first quarter? Your own next two sentences undermine that previous assertion!

Go Trojans - no Scum Devils in the Rose Bowl!

Michael said...

Oklahoma also lost its quarterback in the first quarter in Lubbock. The QB issue is a push, which leaves the quality of the opponent and the length of the injury as the two factors I used to rank Oklahoma ahead of Oregon.

LD said...

Indulge a little homerism...

Compare OU to Georgia.

Best wins, in order:

OU: 1) Missouri 2) Texas 3) A&M 4) Tulsa 5) Miami (the rest are dregs - Utah State, North Texas, Baylor, Iowa State)

UGA: 1) Florida 2) Auburn 3) Kentucky 4) Troy 5) Oklahoma State 6) Vandy 7) Alabama (Ole Miss and WCU are dregs)

Mizzou is the best win on the list, but Georgia has played a much tougher schedule (half as many gimme weeks). Oklahoma's resume looks better at the top, but Georgia is much better in the middle.

Looking at losses, Texas Tech and Tennessee are pretty much comparable. USC is probably a tad better than Colorado, but Georgia had them at home and both were close games so it's probably a wash.

I think looking at those two teams, based on resume, they're probably very close. And if the edge is given to beating top opponents, I can see OU getting the nod. If overall strength of schedule and week-to-week grind is the edge, Georgia gets it.

Of course, if you consider recent play at all relevant, then it has to be Georgia getting the nod.

I also think Oklahoma State might give OU some trouble this weekend.

Michael said...

1. The Sagarin predictor would have Oklahoma as a 10-point favorite on a neutral field.

2. Oklahoma can attribute one of their losses to their starting quarterback getting hurt on the first series, which is a pretty valid excuse in my book.

3. You call TT and Tennessee equivalent, but overlook the minor fact that Tennessee blew Georgia's doors off. That Tennessee loss acts as a ceiling for Georgia. They got humiliated by a decent, but not outstanding opponent.

All that said, they do have the same record and Georgia has played a tougher schedule, so if you don't do any parsing, there is a case for Georgia to be ahead of Oklahoma.

LD said...

Michael, you have to realize this by now: Sagarin's predictor simply does not account for blowouts over terrible opponents. Teams that play difficult opponents and win closely are not given as much credit by his formula as teams that dominate terrible opponents. It's a massive flaw in his system.

Personally, I think Texas Tech isn't as good as Tennessee - and Colley's rankings support that: they have Texas Tech ranked way down at #46 because of their terrible schedule. Texas Tech has a good win over Oklahoma (with their QB injured - aside: but if OU doesn't get knocked too much for that loss, shouldn't Texas Tech not get that much credit?), but their next best win is a weak A&M team. After A&M and OU, their third best win is... umm... none of them should be in the same sentence as the word "best". Iowa State, Baylor, UTEP, Rice, SMU, 1-AA Northwestern State. Their OOC slate is atrocious (Hawaii-bad). Against teams with a pulse this year, Texas Tech is 2-4, with a net point differential of -21 (I wonder how Sagarin would view them just looking at those games).

Meanwhile, against teams with a pulse this year, Tennessee is 5-3. When one ignores the awful opponents on each's schedule, Tennessee looks a whole lot better than Texas Tech, in my view at least.

But regardless, I was only saying the two were roughly equal because you had the two ranked closely in your ballot.

LD said...

I take a little offense to the "no parsing" comment. If there's anything I do, it's parse.

You don't think there's a chance you're putting too much emphasis on the Tennessee-Georgia game (a wild outlier compared to Georgia's offensive and defensive performance in 9 other games, and a wild outlier compared to Tennessee's offensive and defensive performance in 9 other games)? Tennessee played their best game of the year the same day Georgia played their worst. Don't read too too much into that game, if you ask me.

To read these comments, only one thing keeps popping in my head: you don't care about difficulty of opponent at all, just margin of victory. And, if you don't do any parsing, that can look pretty good if you play a lot of teams like Utah State, North Texas, Iowa State, Baylor, Rice, UTEP, SMU, etc.