Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Top 25 Sure Would Like to See Texas Play TCU

1 Alabama
2 Texas 1
3 TCU 1
4 Florida 2
5 Cincinnati
6 Boise State
7 Oregon
8 Ohio State
9 Virginia Tech
10 Oregon State 2
11 Georgia Tech
12 Nebraska 8
13 Stanford 3
14 Miami (Florida)
15 Iowa 2
16 LSU 3
17 Penn State 2
18 Arizona 4
19 Clemson 4
20 Pittsburgh 3
21 Texas Tech 3
22 California 1
23 Oklahoma State 5
24 West Virginia 1
25 Arkansas
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Southern Cal (#16).

Thoughts on the rankings:
  • I wanted to put TCU at #2 in the country. I really did. I wanted to punish Texas for some of the worst clock management in recorded history. I wanted to reward TCU for dominating their schedule like a true national title contender (as opposed to 2008 Utah). In the end, I couldn't justify doing so when Texas's schedule was so much stronger than TCU's and they have the same record. Sagarin has Texas ahead of TCU, as does the FEI. In the end, I'm left lamenting about a foolish system that forces voters to parse differences between teams with very similar resumes. I'm left lamenting that a Plus One would pit Texas and TCU against one another and then we could have a definitive result as to who should play Alabama after the Tide whack Cincinnati.
  • And while I'm complaining about the BCS, the statistically indefensible decision to forbid computers from taking margin of victory into account is what would have pushed Cincinnati into the title game ahead of TCU. It's bad enough that voters and computers have limited data sets with which to compare teams; the BCS then requires that the computer throw out a source of data that everyone with a brain agrees is relevant.
  • One criticism that I'm not buying: the one that the TCU-Boise State pairing is a terrible idea and designed to protect major conference teams from being embarrassed. My question to people making that criticism is this: who else would you want TCU and Boise State to play? Florida is the only credible option, but they are performing a useful function by playing Cincinnati, another upstart team that went unbeaten against a somewhat questionable schedule. The only other options would be Iowa or Georgia Tech, neither of whom would be described as elite. Sorry, but I don't think that TCU would be getting the test that we all crave against an Iowa team that mastered the narrow win against bad opponents or a Georgia Tech team that has nothing approximating a defense. Iowa and Georgia Tech are both 8-9 win teams masquerading as BCS teams because of clutch/lucky (clutchky?) play. TCU will prove as much or more against Boise State as they would against either of those teams. And really, how embarrassing would it be for the BCS for TCU to mangle two teams that the college football cognoscenti view as good, but not great?

  • Speaking of which, what happens when the Iowa offense (87th in the nation in yards per play) takes the field against the Georgia Tech defense (100th in the nation in yards per play allowed) in a BCS Bowl? As interesting as the Paul Johnson-Norm Parker chess match will be (I'm going with Johnson because I've made the mistake too many times of confusing Big Ten defensive success in conference games with an actual good defense), I suspect that the Iowa offense and Georgia Tech defense will rend the space-time continuum when they oppose one another.
  • I think it's time for someone to do an iPod shuffle on the bowl matchups. We're getting to the point where we have seen everything before. Penn State-LSU should be entertaining, but that's an exception. Arizona-Nebraska? Clemson-Kentucky? West Virginia-Florida State? We've seen this all before. And has there ever been a weaker Outback Bowl than Auburn-Northwestern? I guess that's more a criticism of the Big Ten and SEC for not being especially deep this year as opposed to the bowl match-ups.
  • The final insult for the ACC would be for Virginia Tech, the highest rated team in the conference, to lose to SEC mid-table Tennessee. This might be one of those rare instances in which I root for the Vols. (In the interest of full disclosure, the teams I will not root for except in special circumstances: Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, and Florida State. This might need to be a post of its own.)


Anonymous said...

You do realize that Utah team beat 4 top 25 teams, including 2 top 10 teams and was the only undefeated team in the country. Pretty weak resume, you are right. Throw out your bias. It makes you look dumb.

LD said...

It's only the 25th slot, but Arkansas? Too much Sagarinization, methinks.

I don't think Georgia has an argument to be in anyone's Top 25, but the Dawgs have the same record against a tougher schedule, a better SEC record, a better "best" win, the same record against common opponents (both lost to UF and LSU, both beat Auburn and USC), and Georgia had a head to head win in Fayetteville. In fact, I can't see a single win that is remarkable for Arkansas - they just routed terrible teams, while Georgia inched by mediocre or decent teams.

Neither deserves a poll vote.

chg said...

I'm right there with you on TCU-Boise State and said as much. Playing Iowa or GT gives those teams and the non-BCS conferences much more potential downside than upside.

I don't think the SEC is mediocre this year. The conference only produced a couple of national title contenders, but that is a function of seven teams that played all or most of the season at the level of conference level contenders in the ACC, Big East, big ten, or Big 12 North.

Shocking that Anon is both talking about the wrong year and inaccurate.

Michael said...

Utah was involved in a bevy of close games, they were insanely lucky to beat TCU and Oregon State (both at home), and their own coach voted them #5 in the last pre-bowl poll. TCU beat the shit out of everyone they played, with the exception of Clemson on the road (a team that I hold in relatively high esteem). The test that I have for mid-majors is this: are they beating their opponents in the manner that I would expect a top BCS team to? TCU did and Utah did not.

And what exactly is my bias against Utah? I've said repeatedly that this TCU joins '04 Utah as the two non-BCS teams that have had a credible claim to being truly elite. I just don't see '08 Utah as being in the class of '04 Utah.

LD, Arkansas: (1) almost beat Florida in Gainesville, whereas Georgia got thumped at a neutral site; (2) played a tougher SEC schedule; and (3) beat Auburn like a drum. And yes, Sagarin has Arkansas well ahead of UGA because of MOV factors.

Anonymous said...

TCU would achieve a whole lot more by playing Tech or Iowa. First, after dismantling those teams, it would once again show that the "little guys" of the MWC deserve to be an AQ conference. Beating another non-aq does not do that. Second, the fans of those teams and conferences (and other bcs conferences) would once again have to face their false perception of superiority. Of course that would not change, as all BCS fans are taught to the mantra, "if we lose to a non-bcs team, it is only because we did not care to be there." Not putting the non-aq teams against the aq teams relieves the BCS from the burden of addressing the fact that there is no gap between the top tier MWC and the other top tier BCS conferences.

Michael said...

Do you really want to have the argument that the top tier of the MWC is equivalent to the top tier of the SEC? Or the Big XII? Do you want to compare TCU/Utah/BYU to Florida/LSU? Good luck with that.

I'm sympathetic to the claim that the MWC is currently in the ballpark of the Big East and ACC. With the Big Ten in its sorry state, it's also not that much better. (Its upside would be much higher if the programs in the conference took their heads out of their asses.)

chg said...

Anon, the problem is not all-BCS teams are equal. Beating Iowa or GT would not gather respect from anyone but GT and Iowa fans.

After watching Clemson and GT get physically manhandled by middle of the pack SEC schools, no one takes this year's ACC seriously. Iowa has manufactured wins out of smoke and mirrors in a down Big Ten. There is much more downside to those games than upside.

LD said...

" Arkansas: (1) almost beat Florida in Gainesville, whereas Georgia got thumped at a neutral site; (2) played a tougher SEC schedule; and (3) beat Auburn like a drum. And yes, Sagarin has Arkansas well ahead of UGA because of MOV factors."

Arkansas' tougher SEC schedule amounts to Alabama, Ole Miss and Miss State instead of Tennessee, Kentucky and Vandy (and Georgia instead of Arkansas). Surely Vandy is the odd man out of that group, so I'll concede the point on Georgia's better SEC record.

Is that still enough to make up for the home head to head defeat you seem to be ignoring completely?

And what about the fact that UGA played 2 of your Top 25 in OOC games (both on the road, winning one), while Arkansas' OOC schedule is really weak? Each team played 12 games, not 8.

As for beating Auburn like a drum, with the implication that Georgia didn't, your analysis doesn't go far enough (and you don't normally rely on comparative scoring, a flawed analysis). Auburn rushed for 200 yards in the 3rd quarter alone of that game. The Tigers lost 3 fumbles, 2 of which led to immediate Arkansas TDs. Auburn didn't fumble against UGA.

The fact that Auburn played worse against Arkansas than they did against UGA doesn't necessarily mean that Arkansas is better than UGA. And similarly, that Florida played better against UGA (their best game all season offensively and defensively, no UF turnovers) than they did against Arkansas (4 UF fumbles - 3 in deep UF territory leading to 10 points and another missed FG) doesn't mean that Arkansas is better than UGA. Comparative scoring can only go so far. The comparison games you choose reveal significant "scoring on the margin" situations - all of which greatly favor Arkansas and add little to whether the Hogs are better than the Dogs.

As for Sagarin, his MOV analysis clearly has some use, but I've never thought he took strength of schedule into account nearly enough as a counterweight to MOV. Arkansas' big margins against FCS Missouri State, mediocre Texas A&M and undertalented Troy, as well as the worst team in FBS - Eastern Michigan inflate the Hogs' worth. On the other hand, Georgia had an equally big margin over their 1-AA opponent, but had to play 3 BCS teams (2 of whom you rank on the road) out of conference. Consider: Arkansas MOV this year was +139, but their MOV in OOC games was +138! Arkansas' MOV against FBS OOC opponents was +100. Georgia's MOV against FBS OOC opponents was -5. There's your massive difference in Sagarin's rankings. The gap likely closes significantly if they played anything close to similar OOC schedules.

Truth is neither team deserves to be ranked. Especially since Ole Miss and Tennessee (both of whom pounded Arkansas and UGA respectively) aren't on your ballot at all.

Anonymous said...

CHG, you dont get it and you make my argument for me. Of course not all BCS teams are created equal, yet teams like Iowa and Tech get automatic bids. Superior non-aq teams get left out. Beating those automatic bid schools is about sticking it to the BCS and showing them that their system is horribly broken and unfair. They didn't want that point made to them for the 4 and 5th times out of 5 and 6 games, so they put the two non-aq teams together. Playing each other, they cannot beat the automatic from the ACC or the Big East, or shove it down the throat of the SEC 2 again.

And Mike, yes, the top tier MWC schools can play with any of the to tier schools in any conference. They have shown it when given the chance. It is too bad they won't get a chance in the BCS this year.

Michael said...

Good luck making an argument based on a sample size of one, anon. And be prepared for a pile of citations to Sagarin's rankings in response.

Jesse said...


What's the reasoning behind Oregon St. jumping two spots after losing?

Michael said...

They lost a very close game on the road against the #7 team in the country. That was impressive to me. I also moved Nebraska up after an impressive loss.

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Anonymous said...

Sample size of one? Just in the past year we have BYU v. Oklahoma, Utah v. Alabama.

2004 Utah would have had close games if they played anybody good. I know this is a foreign concept to an SEC fan, but you shouldn't discount the 2008 Utah team for playing good teams.

Unknown said...

Ok, then how do you explain Florida St. 54 BYU 28?