Monday, October 26, 2009

TOP 25, WEEK 8

DISCLAIMER: I am going to start with a rant about BYU’s ranking before making a synopsis of the rankings and revealing them, so if you have no interest in BYU you can skip to the next paragraph. Is anyone else as frustrated as I am about BYU right now? Will BYU ever turn the corner and earn a BCS bowl spot? Athletic Director Tom Holmoe needs to make a dominate defense the top priority in Provo. For 30 years we have had an elite offense and done quite well with it, but we never consistently have had good, solid defenses (to say nothing about great or dominate). It is time for the university that wants to help students on their “quest for perfection” to set the example in every endeavor it undertakes. A perfect football team must have both an elite offense and a dominate defense. BYU is on the verge of getting the Ohio State treatment. In 2008: blowout loss to TCU, blowout loss to Utah—the two best teams on the schedule. Now, in 2009, blowout loss to Florida State, blowout loss to TCU, and all the good that was accomplished in 2006 and 2007 has pretty much been eliminated. The Oklahoma win, although very impressive and memorable, is very much overshadowed by the two losses this year. My prediction for 2010 and beyond is that BYU will not be taken seriously by the poll voters and the national media until season’s end and only if they won the big games. A 10-2 or 11-1 record will mean little if BYU lost big or lost, even by a little, to TCU, Utah, or a marquee non-conference opponent. As for my rankings, I am boycotting ranking BYU until my final poll after bowl season. Yes, I think BYU is one of the top 20 teams in the nation, but my ire is so great right now that I am expressing it every civil way that I can.
I was going to wait for the first weekend in November to seriously rethink my rankings and revamp them to correct any pre-season bias and to account for real on the field results from a large sample size. However, with my long injury time out, now is as good a time as any. This week’s results are exactly what make this my favorite time of year in college football. We see one of two things because teams are gelling and hitting full stride: 1) unexpected blowouts as teams separate from the rest of the pack, and 2) unexpected upsets/squeakers as stakes are raised and bulls-eyes get bigger on the teams on top. Alabama has to block two field goals to beat Tennessee, Iowa State beat Nebraska, Penn State blasted Michigan, and Texas A&M went on the road and pasted Texas Tech. This is when we must be ready for the unexpected 100% of the time.
I honestly feel I have not included any bias by moving TCU to the top of the rankings. Based on the performance of every other team in the country, I feel that TCU can and would win in a match up against anyone. This is not based on fancy formulas or sophisticated statistical manipulation. I base it on performance on the field. Alabama struggled against South Carolina and Tennessee the last two weeks. Texas looked bad against Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Florida was vulnerable against Mississippi State, LSU, and Tennessee. Boise State barely escaped with a win against Tulsa and was not impressive against UC Davis. Iowa plays with fire almost every week. Cincinnati is the only team you cannot complain about, and their cause is boosted since they have continued to play well the last two games without their starting quarterback. In the end it was a judgment call between TCU and Cincinnati and my verdict was in favor of TCU.

1. TCU (7-0)

2. Cincinnati (7-0)

3. Alabama (8-0)

4. Texas (7-0)

5. Florida (7-0)

6. Boise State (6-0)

7. Iowa (8-0)

8. USC (6-1)

9. Oregon (6-1)

10. Penn State (7-1)

11. Georgia Tech (7-1)

12. LSU (6-1)

13. Houston (6-1)

14. Pittsburg (7-1)

15. Utah (6-1)

16. Oklahoma State (6-1)

17. West Virginia (6-1)

18. Central Michigan (7-1)

19. Virginia Tech (5-2)

20. Ohio State (6-2)

21. Miami (FL) (5-2)

22. South Carolina (6-2)

23. Navy (6-2)

24. Notre Dame (5-2)

25. Cal (5-2)

OTHERS TO WATCH: Arizona, Kansas, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Ole Miss


  1. Yeah, that TCU game was a huge disappointment. Max Hall was mental messed up. It's not like he didn't have time in the pocket. I saw stand in there for five or six seconds. In BYU's offense that should be plenty of time to find an open receiver. The defense is not the only one at fault. BYU's offense never got it together in that game. BYU needs to figure out how to play their offense against fast opponents.

  2. "This is not based on fancy formulas or sophisticated statistical manipulation. I base it on performance on the field."'re saying that statistical analysis isn't based on "performance on the field," but your analysis is?!

    Those poor, clueless data analysts out there (sigh)...using things like wins and losses, yards per play, interceptions, sacks, and other figures in their analysis...they don't realize that those numbers don't represent "performance on the field"...poor, wayward souls.

  3. Good to have you back McKay. Before my rebuttal, let me give my love to the data analysts out there. I rejoice in stats and numerical analysis as much as anyone else, but as a former football player, I cannot deny how unpredictive they are of the final score in a game.

    The statistics I am referring to most are numbers like 40 yard dash time and the number of stars a player had when he was recruited in high school, which create a perception that a two point win by Alabama over Tennessee is better than a two point win by Iowa over Michigan State. People who fall into this catagory are truly "poor, wayward souls" and part of my crusade (this blog) is to reclaim them.

    However, here are a few quick facts that are not consistent with the "performance on the field" by BYU on Saturday. Before the game BYU was the best team in 3rd down conversions in the nation (about 65 or 70 percent conversion), on Saturday they converted 33% of third downs. BYU had won 13 straight conference home games, yet they lost on Saturday. Before Saturday, BYU was 11-1 when Harvey Unga rushed for over 100 yards. He had 123 yards on Saturday. My point is that all these sophisticated stats that make BYU look good did not help. BYU still lost big.

    Other stats like interceptions and sacks that you specifically mentioned can be misleading. An interception like Mississippi State's on Saturday that was made in the end zone and then ran back over 100 yards for a score is significant--that was a 14 point swing. However, an interception on a 50 yard pass on third down with no return is not as significant. If the pass was just incomplete the team would probably punt on 4th down and the result is the same--change of possession several yards down field. A sack that takes a team out of field goal range or that results in a safety is a significant sack. But a sack that does not take a team out of field goal range, or that puts them in a better position to down a punt inside the 5 yard line is a sack that looks nice on paper for the player, but did not do much to change the outcome of the game.

  4. Very interesting - and bold, for that matter - To throw TCU to the top of the pile. I'm not entirely sure if I agree, but I can't think of a good reason why not. I definately agree that Cincinnati deserves to be up close to the top, and that Florida, Texas, and Alabama are all overrated at this point.

    Though, this makes for an interesting situation. Can you really penelize BYU for getting killed by the team you feel is the best in the Nation? After TCU crushes Utah (and I think they will) does that mean that Utah will completely drop out of the rankings? Just remember that if that is how you treat BYU, then that is how you must treat every other team.

    As far as the BYU-TCU game goes, I personally feel the defense did a solid job, but the offense failed to show up and put the defense in ever increasingly difficult situations. I think it comes down to coaching though. Since I have been home, BYU has failed to prepare for the big games (with exception of the Oklahoma game), and has gotten killed in every single one. I personally feel this is the reslut of Bronco's coaching mentality and how he flat out refuses to treat games like the FSU, TCU, and Utah games as what they are - BIG GAMES!!! I understand why he does what he does and the whole "every game is important" mentality he is trying to instill in his players. But the truth is, some games are bigger. Some games you have prepare harder for, some games you have to play harder for. It's just a fact of life that Bronco needs to acknowledge. Other than that I think Bronco Mendenhall is a great coach and the perfect fit for BYU. He just needs to make that minor adjustment to his coaching philosiphy.

    Anyway, good to see you back in action Scott. I look forward to following the Blog again!