Monday, January 12, 2009

My Top 25 Signs Off

RankTeamDelta
1Florida --
2Southern Cal 2
3Texas --
4Utah 5
5Oklahoma 3
6Penn State --
7Texas Tech --
8Ohio State --
9Alabama 4
10Mississippi 5
11TCU 2
12Oregon --
13Iowa 3
14Oklahoma State 4
15Virginia Tech 8
16Boise State 5
17California --
18Georgia 1
19Cincinnati 1
20Oregon State 2
21LSU 5
22Missouri 1
23Georgia Tech 9
24Nebraska 2
25Florida State --

Dropped Out: Pittsburgh (#20), Michigan State (#24).
Random Thoughts:
I did not give serious consideration to placing Utah at #1 for several reasons. First, when I was making the case during the season that an unbeaten Penn State would not deserve a spot in the national title game over a one-loss Florida, I said that a large gap in strength of schedule could make up for a one-game difference in the schedule. Per Sagarin, Florida played the #4 schedule nationally and Utah's schedule was #56. Sagarin would also have Florida and USC as two-touchdown favorites over Utah on a neutral field. It's pretty close to impossible to make a case that Utah would be likely to beat Florida on any field in light of the fact that Florida runs a better version of Utah's offense and has better talent at just about every position. Second, I was never that high on Alabama (I had Florida ahead of them throughout the second half of the season), so Utah beating up on the Tide, while impressive, is not the equivalent of Utah beating Florida, USC, or Texas. Alabama was a somewhat limited team on offense and they were playing a third string left tackle in the Sugar Bowl. What Utah does deserve credit for is their offensive explosion in the first quarter, as Alabama had a consistently top-notch defense this year.
I did give serious consideration to dropping Texas to #5 behind Utah and Oklahoma. It's not that I think that the Utes would beat the Horns on a neutral field, but the game would be close. Also, I didn't see anything in the bowl games to change my opinion that Oklahoma is slightly better than Texas, so having the Sooners ahead of the Horns would have been fine with me. At the end of the day, I couldn't put Texas lower than #3 after a season in which they went 12-1 and were a dropped interception from perfection.
Conventional wisdom: bowl games favor great coaches because a great coach can enhance his advantage over an average one with a month to prepare as opposed to a week. Conventional wisdom: Mack Brown and Les Miles are decent coaches who win because of recruiting talent as opposed to strategy or tactics. Brown has won his last five bowl games, including two Rose Bowls and one Fiesta Bowl. Miles has won all four of his bowl games at LSU by a total of 113 points. Which of the two pieces of conventional wisdom are incorrect?
I gave no thought to ranking a Big Ten team other than Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa, which might imply that I'm overrating those three teams. What would the spread be between TCU and Ohio State? Or Ole Miss and Ohio State? Wouldn't a Georgia-Iowa game have been more interesting than Georgia-Michigan State?
The one team that Sagarin was high on that I didn't rank was Arizona. (Sorry, Klinsi.) I went back and forth between Arizona and Florida State before deciding that FSU had a better record against a slightly tougher schedule. If this ranking went to 26, then Mike Stoops would make a cameo.

11 comments:

Jeff said...

I like your rankings. From what we can tell from this mess of a system, Florida and USC appear to be the two best teams and this whole Utah bandwagon is overblown. What people miss about the non-BCS schools is that they have so many cupcakes on their schedule, they avoid the weekly grind that causes the BCS -conference powers to stumble. What makes it so hard to run the table is not just having 3 or 4 big games (rather than 1 or 2) but the 3 or 4 additional games you could lose on an off-day.

Michael said...

Agreed. What Utah could have done to make their case stronger would have been to dominate their lesser opponents. Going unbeaten is not enough; a mid-major needs to put up scores that one would expect from a Florida or a USC playing these opponents. 25-23 against Michigan and 30-23 against Air Force doesn't cut it. Even though they played a crap bowl opponent, '04 Utah had a better resume because they dominated their opponents.

jrsuicide said...

is it just me or did everyone get really stoned and miss Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl? everyone has them #7 in their blogpolls. this is insanity i say.

Michael said...

Look at TT's body of work. They're atwo-loss team that played a reasonably difficult schedule and handed Texas their only loss. Are they supposed to be behind Ohio State, a team with three losses from a weaker conference that lost to Texas?

Jeff said...

To me, it's hard to decide what to do with Bama and Texas Tech because both backed into bowls they didn't want to be in. This seems to happen every year or two (like when Cal. was ranked in the top 5 but didn't make the BCS, then lost their consolation bowl). Maybe Utah is really better than Bama and maybe Ole Miss is better than TT but it sure seems like Utah and Ole Miss had more to play for and played a whole lot harder as a result.

Anonymous said...

That poll was comical. Ole Miss ahead of TCU? On what basis? Their 4 losses, including Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Alabama, and South Carolina? TCU lost to Utah and Oklahoma. TCU and their #1 ranked defense would blow the doors off of Ole Miss. Texas Tech that high? The author is definitely high. They sure got a lot of mileage out of that win over Texas. Perhaps the drubbings to finish the season should have played more prominently.

The most laughable comments come at the expense of Utah. Utah played and beat 4 top 25 teams, and 2 top 10 teams. That places them with Florida and OU. Granted, their other wins such as Wyoming don't resonate here in the south, but Wyoming did beat Tennessee on the road, on homecoming day. [Insert blabbering excuses now]. The MWC also was 6-1 agains the Pac-10. The Pac-10 was 5-0 in bowl games. Lastly, did you see what Utah did to Alabama. [Insert excuses now]. Alabama did not belogn on the same field with Utah's athletes. They looked like a plodding Big-10 team.

There is no sane argument that places USC over Utah. Not one. You can't say you "think" they are better, because that's not how the system works. The system lays all the facts on the table then takes an objective look at the body of work. Utah's was better. They should be the national champions.

Anonymous said...

One final comment. Who cares about the close scores Utah played against certain teams. That "logic" is flawed for two glaring reasons. First, I understand that ignorance reigns supreme in the south, but look plast the box scores. You will Utah thoroughly dominated Michigan statistically. Michigan was also still playing for something at that point.

Second, those close wins makes the SEC look that much worse. Alabama wasn't competitive. Several other teams were against Utah. Put Alabama in the MWC and they would have finished 3rd behing Utah and TCU. TCU would have crushed Alabama as well.

Finally, Utah was peaking at the end of the season. The way they were playing at the end of the year, I'd put them up against anyone.

Michael said...

Anon, Ole Miss is ahead of TCU because they handed Florida their only loss and Texas Tech one of their two losses. I'll agree that both teams have comparable resumes and one had to be ahead of the other.

Your case for Utah is weak. One of those top 25 wins was over BYU, a colossally overrated team (pre-season) whose in-season accomplishment was a win over a bad UCLA team. The wins over TCU and Oregon State were come-from-behind wins by the slimmest of margins at home. If you're going to claim that Utah really dominated Michigan (despite the fact that Michigan was a two-point conversion from tying the game and then had the ball at the end with a chance to win), then you also have to acknowledge that TCU outplayed Utah and the Utes generated no offense until their final drive.

If you'll look at my posts during the year, I saw Alabama as being a clear step below Florida, USC, Texas, and Oklahoma. Utah did dominate Alabama, but that doesn't impress me in the same way that Florida beating Oklahoma by ten does.

No sane argument that USC is better than Utah? How about Sagarin ranking USC ahead of Utah and concluding that USC would be a 14.5 point favorite? Those rankings are all based on objective data; there is no conjecture involved. Now for my conjecture: with a month to prepare, USC would likely thrash Utah, as would Florida. I'd be interested to know how you would put Utah ahead of Florida, in light of the fact that Florida has better athletes and a better head coach.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on BYU being overrated.

Who cares if they were come from behind wins. Are we now going to created a sub-category of wins. They came from behind and beat Oregon State. USC did not. Reverse the schedules and make USC's loss to OSU the last game of the season and USC isn't even being considered. For some reason, if the loss occurred earlier, it did not happen. Further, Utah's win over Alabama (road win over SEC school) was much more impressive than USC's win over Penn State (home game vs a bad big 10 team).

I know you watched the Utah Michigan game. You, and I, and anyone else that watched that game knows Utah dominated the game. Michigan scored thanks to two turnovers deep in Utah territory. I also recall UM being aided by numerous phantom calls. I believe Utah had 200 more total yards on offense. Anyway, Utah was a completely different team by the end of the season. A hallmark of Whittingham' utah teams. Start slow, finish strong (now 8 straight bowl wins).

TCU thoroughly outplayed Utah in the 1st quarter. Utah then outplayed them the rest of the way.

If Alabama was a "clear step below Florida," then how do you explain them beating Florida for the majority of the game, on a neutral field. Utah dismantled them on the road.

I'm not sure why UF's win over OU impressed you so much. The Big 12 was exposed during hte bowl season as a collective product of poor defenses. Utah would have beaten OU that night as well.

Alabama was an 11 point favorite. Sagarin can and is often wrong. His numbers are fluid.

UF may be better than Utah, but we can't be certain. The one common opponent points in Utah's favor. The sad thing is we will never know. Better athletes position for position don't always win, especially in college. I can point to numerous instances. The way Utah was playing at the end of the year, I like their chances.

Finally, how do you figure Meyer is a better coach than Whit? Both are amazing coaches.

Anyway, I like the blog. Keep it up.

Jesse said...

I really love this comment, "ignorance reigns supreme in the south", especially when it comes from someone who throughout their own post has more grammatical and spelling errors than an eleven year old. Seriously, just about every program that allows you to type has some form of grammar and spell-check. There are even add-ons and plug-ins for your web browser so you really have less of an excuse. Plus, that whole "ignorant south" argument is old and bland. Please at least try to come up with something slightly more original than that and show us that you can pretend to think for yourself.

And every poll is subjective so long as the output is founded on human thought and only becomes close to being completely objective when its result is based on pure mathematical equations. Even then, the mathematical formulas used will be somewhat biased because each author of a poll will weigh certain criteria more or less than their peers. To jump on the author for expressing his opinion through a poll, regardless of how it was derived, was in and of itself ignorant.

I think Michael has Utah exactly where they should be and that given the circumstances involved with the system currently in place, there is no argument for Utah to be ranked number one. The only argument available to any team not named Oklahoma or Florida before last week, or just Florida now, would be if they deserved a shot at being number one. Unfortunately as stated, that is not the system we find ourselves in and therefore there is no argument for any team other than Florida to be ranked number one.

If you want to debate any ranking after that, then feel free to do so. But I would advise that before you go blog-hopping looking to incite things with irrational logic yourself, that you form your own opinion and put it out there for all to see and judge as you have done here.

-Jesse

Michael said...

1. The issue with Utah's wins isn't so much that they came from behind as it is that Utah won by razor-thin margins. Stat-heads will tell you that, empirically speaking, points are a better indication of a team's merit than yardage. This is true in just about any sport. This is why Sagarin swears that his predictor ranking (which takes MOV into account) is a better measure of team strength than the rankings he uses for the BCS. A team that wins a bunch of close games is not as good as a team that wins every game in a walk. Every win that USC and Florida chalked up was by double digits, if I recall correctly. That, along with their tougher schedules, is why I have them ahead of Utah.

2. Yes, Utah did control the Michigan game for the most part. That said, Whittingham coached the second half like he was Lloyd Carr and I do hold that against the Utes. Also, Michigan was really, really bad this year from start to finish. They had something to play for against Toledo.

3. Alabama trailed at halftime. They had a big third quarter and Florida had a big fourth quarter. At the end of the game, the margin was almost the same as Utah's margin over an Alabama team without its best player (unless you want to argue that missing a top five pick doesn't matter).

4. Oklahoma was a very good team. You have touted TCU in this thread and the Sooners beat them by 25. OU clobbered Cincinnati. They had wins outside of the Big XII that show that they were not simply a product of a conference with limited defense. Also, the Big XII was still a good conference. Losing to Oregon and Ole Miss in bowls isn't a big stain.

5. Sagarin did not have Bama as a big favorite over Alabama. His rankings had the teams much closer than 11 points. Kudos to him.

6. Meyer is a better coach because he basically invented the offense that Utah is running. The developer of an offense will always run it better than a lieutenant or an imitator. Defense is more about athletes than scheme and Florida has better players on defense. It's not impossible that Utah would beat Florida (maybe two times out of ten?), but it's unlikely. We'll never know and I think we both agree that a better system would have given Utah that opportunity (although I still prefer the college system to the NFL system that has a 9-7 and a 9-6-1 team playing for a spot in the Super Bowl).