Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features

KhanSha1.jpg

» Futures: My Expansion Franchise

You've just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build your personnel department. How would you do it? Matt Waldman takes on the exercise.

26 Oct 2012

SDA: Welcome to the 'Ineligi-Bowl'

by Matt Hinton

Officially speaking, the Big Ten champion will be the team that wins the league's designated championship game on December 1 in Indianapolis, where the chances of the triumphant moment on the podium (or a ticket to the Rose Bowl) being handed over to Ohio State or Penn State are roughly zero percent. To anyone paying attention, though, the title of "Best in the B1G" may just as rightly go to the winner of Saturday's Buckeyes-Nittany Lions tilt in Happy Valley, also known as the "Ineligi-Bowl."

Frankly, that says as much about the rest of the conference as it does about the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. Ohio State is off to an 8-0 start, but has legitimately struggled with the likes of California, Alabama-Birmingham, Indiana, and Purdue; aside from a 63-38 wipeout over Nebraska on October 6, OSU's other three conference wins have come by a combined 11 points, and that's including a seven-point margin over Purdue in overtime, following a harrowing fourth-quarter comeback. Penn State has begun to surge in conference play, especially on offense -– the Lions have topped last year's season-high against FBS defenses, 34 points, in all three Big Ten games -– but only after an 0-2 start against Ohio University and Virginia. In a normal year, this might look like just another game for positioning in the "Leaders" Division.

Instead, the power void created in part by NCAA sanctions against the Buckeyes and Lions is still most likely to be filled by the Buckeyes or Lions. The defending conference champ, Wisconsin, was upset early at Oregon State, barely survived an upset bid by Utah State, and opened Big Ten play by blowing a 20-3 lead at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' momentum was stopped dead a week later in Columbus. The only non-sanctioned team without a conference loss, Michigan, has been blown out by Alabama and held without a touchdown by both Notre Dame and Michigan State -– the latter in a Wolverine win, because the Michigan State offense is even worse. Because Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible, only Michigan and Wisconsin appear in the most recent BCS standings, at No. 22 and No. 25, respectively. Which was an improvement on the initial standings, actually, since they didn't feature a Big Ten team anywhere in the top twenty-five.

At the moment, the championship game looks like a collision course between Wisconsin out of the "Leaders" Division and the winner of this weekend's Michigan/Nebraska tilt in Lincoln from the "Legends" Division. A race among three teams whose best win between them to date is a one-point, come-from-behind escape at Northwestern. As much scorn as the Big Ten bore for its terrible non-conference record in September, the fact that its would-be game of the year is essentially meaningless is just icing on a very stale cake.

Tennessee (+14) at No. 13 South Carolina (Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Tennessee
Has the Ball ...
When S. Carolina
Has the Ball ...
Category Tenn.
(3-4)
S.C.
(6-2)
Tenn.
Off
S.C.
Def
Tenn.
Def
S.C.
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 33 23
2012 FEI Rk 54 25
2012 S&P+ Rk 15 12 3 8 48 29
2012 FPA 27 59
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 17 5 60 64
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 1 11 40 12
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 5 6 69 23
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.4% Run
(63)
62.9% Run
(42)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 5 37 16 21
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
26.3% Run
(98)
38.5% Run
(30)

Tennessee is 0-4 in SEC play with South Carolina heavily favored to make it 0-5, and the Derek Dooley Hot Seat Watch officially entered the advanced stages of development this week when local columnists started adding up how much it would cost to fire Dooley and the rest of his staff. (Answer, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel: Somewhere between $5.6 million and $9.3 million over the next four years.) In two-and-a-half seasons, Dooley's teams are 4-16 in conference games, including losses in eleven of the last twelve dating back to last year; against ranked teams, they're 0-14, all but two of those losses coming by double digits.

Unlike last year, the current losing streak can't be written off on account of youth -– after two years of growing pains, the Vols boast one the most veteran lineups in the nation –- or injuries. On the latter front, South Carolina is still dealing with a few reminders of back-to-back trips to LSU and Florida, especially the former, which cost the Gamecocks a handful of starters in their turnover-marred, 44-11 debacle in Gainesville. But the best of that bunch, tailback Marcus Lattimore, is expected to be at something approximating full speed against a defense that ranks dead last in the SEC in both yards and points allowed.

N.C. State (+7.5) at North Carolina (Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN3)

OVERALL When N.C. State
Has the Ball ...
When North Carolina
Has the Ball ...
Category N.C. St.
(5-2)
UNC
(5-3)
N.C. St.
Off
UNC
Def
N.C. St.
Def
UNC
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 50 39
2012 FEI Rk 33 39
2012 S&P+ Rk 55 51 42 61 72 43
2012 FPA 97 38
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 66 70 75 48
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 36 60 76 49
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 39 21 93 25
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
54.8% Run
(89)
60% Run
(57)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 56 98 54 104
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
25.8% Run
(100)
34.2% Run
(49)

The ACC has always been a topsy-turvy league from week to week, and now that perennial frontrunner Virginia Tech is struggling just to keep its head above .500 and perennial doormat Duke is almost certainly headed for a bowl game, there's only one constant left: N.C. State still owns North Carolina. Since Tom O'Brien arrived as head coach in 2007, the Wolfpack have taken five in a row over their rivals from Chapel Hill, the last four with N.C. State entering as the underdog. Last year's 13-0 blanking in Chapel Hill was the first time either side had been shut out in the series since 1970. The last two years, the Tar Heels as a team have been held to minus-4 yards rushing.

Since their opening night loss to Tennessee, the Wolfpack are 6-1 with arguably the biggest upset of the season under their belt against Florida State, and still control their destiny in the ACC's Atlantic Division. On the other side, the Tar Heels are coming in off a deflating loss at Duke and have no championship to play for due to NCAA sanctions. If the streak ends, it's strictly a victory of pride.

TCU (+7.5) at Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN)

OVERALL When TCU
Has the Ball ...
When Oklahoma St.
Has the Ball ...
Category TCU
(5-2)
OSU
(4-2)
TCU
Off
OSU
Def
TCU
Def
OSU
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 28 15
2012 FEI Rk 24 18
2012 S&P+ Rk 48 27 50 35 47 20
2012 FPA 15 90
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 91 12 22 23
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 26 52 77 19
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 69 57 38 17
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
62.3% Run
(44)
55.1% Run
(87)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 22 44 24 15
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
38.9% Run
(28)
41% Run
(20)

If TCU/Oklahoma State was a bigger game, they could make a fairly compelling documentary out of the injury/attrition report alone. TCU's starting quarterback, Casey Pachall, was dismissed from the team earlier this month on the heels of a drunk driving arrest. Oklahoma State's starting quarterback, J.W. Walsh, is likely out for the rest of the season after unwittingly playing almost all of last week's win over Iowa State on a fractured knee. The next quarterback behind Walsh, freshman Wes Lunt, hasn't played since going down with a knee injury in the third game, and remains uncertain for Saturday. TCU's leading rusher in 2011, Waymon James, is out for the season with a knee injury; their second-leading rusher in 2011, Ed Wesley, unexpectedly left the team just before the season. With an injury to freshman C.J. Curry earlier this week, the Cowboys are missing four of their top wide receivers, including reliable vets Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson. Defensively, TCU is likely to be without its best player, end Stansly Maponga, for the second week in a row due to a hobbled foot. Another starter on the defensive line, Ross Forrest, is out for the year with a knee injury. OSU defensive tackle Calvin Barnett may sit out as a result of a car accident. Before the season even began, both teams had parted ways with multiple veterans over offseason legal issues, including TCU's leading tackler in 2011 and returning starters for Oklahoma State on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

As it is, the Frogs and Cowboys are still technically alive in the Big 12 race, and have demonstrated a surplus of firepower on offense despite the key absences: Oklahoma State leads the nation in total offense, and TCU has scored 102 points the past two weeks with talented redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin pulling the trigger in place of Pachall. If only there was some way to tell which of these hot-and-cold defenses to trust from one week to the next.

No. 10 Georgia (+6.5) vs. No. 2 Florida (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

OVERALL When Georgia
Has the Ball ...
When Florida
Has the Ball ...
Category Georgia
(6-1)
Florida
(7-0)
Georgia
Off
Florida
Def
Georgia
Def
Florida
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 38 4
2012 FEI Rk 52 5
2012 S&P+ Rk 34 4 11 7 74 12
2012 FPA 40 4
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 25 4 66 6
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 8 9 83 21
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 5 53 20
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.8% Run
(59)
73% Run
(9)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 52 6 79 9
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
41.5% Run
(19)
48.9% Run
(8)

Half of Georgia's starting defense spent the biggest week of the season feeling "disrespected" after the other half tacitly accused them of being "soft," which makes for a tidy summation of where the Bulldogs stand hitting the stretch run. Through seven games, essentially the same unit that finished fifth nationally in total defense in 2011 ranks eighth in the conference in scoring defense, ninth in total defense, ninth in takeaways, tenth against the run, and twelfth in sacks. Opposing offenses have put up at least 20 points in six-of-seven games, and easily topped 300 yards of total offense in all seven, including visits from Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Vanderbilt, and last week's too-close-for-comfort win at Kentucky. South Carolina pounded out 230 yards on the ground and 162 more on just six completed passes. For a unit that returned a dozen veteran, mostly blue-chip starters from one of the best defenses in the country, and clearly has not lived up to that standard, an identity crisis just ahead of the game that will most define that identity is inevitable.

In fact, Florida's offense is still much further behind the curve, statistically, and despite the 7-0 record has not come all that far on paper from the attack that failed to score more than one touchdown last year in any of the Gators' six losses. Where it clearly has turned things around is turnover margin: last year, Florida turned it over 26 times, finished in the red in nine-of-13 games, and wound up with the worst turnover margin in the conference. This year: Florida has a league-low four giveaways -– only one via interception –- and has finished in the black in every game. Unless the Bulldogs can turn the game into an improbable shootout against the Gators' first-rate defense, that's going to be a tough streak to break.

USC (-6.5) at Arizona (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)

OVERALL When USC
Has the Ball ...
When Arizona
Has the Ball ...
Category USC
(6-1)
Arizona
(4-3)
USC
Off
Arizona
Def
USC
Def
Arizona
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 19 13
2012 FEI Rk 13 16
2012 S&P+ Rk 24 14 16 37 39 4
2012 FPA 14 23
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 19 49 64 8
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 16 34 31 7
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 21 47 34 19
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
53.2% Run
(98)
52.6% Run
(100)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 25 46 87 8
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
34.8% Run
(47)
23.3% Run
(110)

It's tempting to dismiss USC's hyper-efficient, 50-6 throttling of Colorado last week as the inevitable result of, you know, playing Colorado, but the Trojans couldn't have fared much better against air. Quarterback Matt Barkley lit up the hapless Buffaloes for 298 yards and six touchdowns on 19-of-20 passing, good for the best pass efficiency rating against a I-A/FBS defense (319.2) since 2006. Whether that means the vaunted SC offense is actually beginning to rev up to full speed with the critical, all-or-nothing showdown with Oregon on the horizon is still to be determined.

At any rate, Arizona's secondary is not exactly the ideal litmus test for passing-game competency: the Wildcats have allowed 500-plus yards of total offense with multiple touchdown passes on four different occasions already, including all three of their losses. If USC is looking for a real warmup for the Ducks, it's more likely to come from Zona's very Oregon-like zone running scheme, which the Wildcats have managed (incredibly) to run at a pace that frequently exceeds even Oregon's. If there's anything the Trojans seem really concerned with, it's adjusting to the accelerated tempo.

No. 14 Texas Tech (+7.5) at No. 3 Kansas State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

OVERALL When Texas Tech
Has the Ball ...
When Kansas State
Has the Ball ...
Category Tech
(6-1)
K-State
(7-0)
Tech
Off
K-State
Def
Tech
Def
K-State
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 12 5
2012 FEI Rk 10 1
2012 S&P+ Rk 9 17 7 42 18 6
2012 FPA 69 7
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 32 31 46 18
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 6 50 17 3
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 14 24 10 7
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
43.9% Run
(119)
74.2% Run
(6)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 10 45 21 6
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
32.7% Run
(63)
46.1% Run
(11)

While the punditry falls in love with Bill Snyder all over again for his re-revival of Kansas State, reminders have also been trickling in this week that his counterpart Saturday, Tommy Tuberville, has a pretty good track record as a long shot in his own right. Since 2000, Tuberville's teams at Texas Tech and Auburn are 16-12 against top-ten opponents and 7-4 against the top five, striking most recently in a 49-14 ambush of No. 5 West Virginia on October 13. The Raiders added another ranked victim to their resumé last week in a triple-overtime triumph at TCU, setting up the trip to Manhattan as a potential breakthrough en route to the top of the Big 12 standings.

As surprising as Tech has been, though, and as far removed as Tuberville is now from the "hot seat" chatter simmering just below the surface before the season, the next offense that dents Kansas State's secondary will be the first. Ditto the next defense that thwarts the Wildcats' efficient, Tim Tebow-esque locomotive of a quarterback, Collin Klein. Statistically, the Red Raiders are up to the challenge, ranking fourth nationally in passing offense (11th in total offense) and seventh in total defense, best in the Big 12 by a mile. But Kansas State has demonstrated a certain knack for making reality bend to its will.

Ohio State (-1) at Penn State (Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Ohio State
Has the Ball ...
When Penn State
Has the Ball ...
Category Ohio St.
(8-0)
Penn St.
(5-2)
Ohio St.
Off
Penn St.
Def
Ohio St.
Def
Penn St.
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 17 29
2012 FEI Rk 19 20
2012 S&P+ Rk 23 37 22 31 27 47
2012 FPA 60 16
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 14 48 37 37
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 35 26 29 64
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 6 41 33 59
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
68.1% Run
(19)
58.4% Run
(69)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 42 65 23 45
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
45.7% Run
(12)
30.4% Run
(76)

Most of the attention this week, predictably, has fallen on the status of Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller, who is expected to play Saturday after being knocked out of last week's win over Purdue with an apparent head injury. But what about the status of the Buckeye defense? In the last three games, OSU has yielded 109 points to Nebraska, Indiana, and Purdue, and found itself running so thin at linebacker at one point it was forced to plug in the starting fullback, Zach Boren, as an emergency starter on defense. (Boren led the team in tackles against Indiana, but couldn't stop the Hoosiers from racking up 481 yards and 49 points in a near-upset.) Last week, Purdue went 83 yards on the first play from scrimmage, the eleventh play that's gone for at least 40 yards against Ohio State in the first eight games –- most in the Big Ten, and one more than the 2011 Buckeyes, easily the most generous OSU defense in years, gave up in all 13 games.

Then again, is Penn State good enough to exploit it? Although the Nittany Lions are vastly improved on the scoreboard under O'Brien, the offense as a whole remains the least explosive attack in the conference. The Lions are more interested in long marches than quick strikes, which has the dual benefit of keeping the ball out of Miller's hands for as long as possible.

No. 22 Michigan (+2.5) at Nebraska (Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When Michigan
Has the Ball ...
When Nebraska
Has the Ball ...
Category Michigan
(5-2)
Nebraska
(5-2)
Michigan
Off
Nebraska
Def
Michigan
Def
Nebraska
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 14 27
2012 FEI Rk 36 38
2012 S&P+ Rk 11 22 5 40 29 14
2012 FPA 55 121
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 7 33 47 3
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 5 61 15 23
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 8 37 20 11
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
73.2% Run
(8)
69% Run
(16)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 1 15 28 62
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
36.8% Run
(40)
33.6% Run
(54)

Last week, Michigan stuck fire-starting quarterback Denard Robinson deep on a kickoff return against Michigan State, and though he didn't touch the ball there, coach Brady Hoke suggested this week that opponents may have to face the terrifying prospect of containing "Shoelace" in the return game on a regular basis. Which is something, at least, because they certainly haven't been terrorized by the offense. In their three biggest games to date, the Wolverines have failed to score a touchdown in the last two, settling for field goals against Michigan State (a 12-10 win) and Notre Dame (a 13-6 loss), and only cracked the scoreboard in the season-opening loss to Alabama on a pair of long, fluky completions after the game was well out of hand. In those games, especially, Robinson has looked like an increasingly poor fit for offensive coordinator Al Borges, whose experience is mainly with stand-and-deliver pocket passers, and no one in the surrounding cast is picking up much slack.

The good news for Michigan is two-fold. One, the defense is picking up some of that slack: opposing offenses have managed just three touchdowns in the last five games, two of them coming on short fields following a turnover. And two, Nebraska's defense is not in the class of the smothering units that have given the Wolverines so much trouble. Already this season, we've seen the Cornhuskers give up well over 300 yards rushing in losses to UCLA and Ohio State, two offenses featuring athletic "dual threat" quarterbacks who gave the Huskers fits. Both of those games were on the road, but if Robinson can find any room at all in Lincoln against a defense that's offered plenty of it to date, Michigan will leave in firm control of the "Legends" Division.

No. 5 Notre Dame (+11) at No. 8 Oklahoma (Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET, ABC)

OVERALL When Notre Dame
Has the Ball ...
When Oklahoma
Has the Ball ...
Category Irish
(7-0)
Oklahoma
(5-1)
Irish
Off
Oklahoma
Def
Irish
Def
Oklahoma
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 6 2
2012 FEI Rk 6 2
2012 S&P+ Rk 5 3 13 2 11 25
2012 FPA 78 45
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 5 7 11 22
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 17 2 10 34
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 2 2 7 33
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
64.2% Run
(35)
56.6% Run
(81)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 17 13 26 4
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
42.5% Run
(16)
17.9% Run
(123)

Notre Dame has been far too successful against far too many actual opponents to plausibly qualify as "unproven" on defense: when you rank sixth nationally in total defense and second in scoring after playing Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, and BYU in consecutive games, well, you've earned those stripes. You're good. Whatever else there is to say about the pedestrian Irish offense or the actual strength of schedule relative to the perceived strength or the officiating in the Stanford game, or whatever, any outfit that's held four-of-seven opponents without an offensive touchdown en route to a 7-0 start has earned some benefit of the doubt.

That said, only one of those seven wins came in a true road game, a 20-3 upset at Michigan State, and the Spartans do not boast anything like the array of explosive skill talent the Irish will face in Norman. The only victim to date that even comes close to Oklahoma in that regard, Miami, actually had no trouble getting receivers behind the Notre Dame secondary earlier this month, but was plagued by a sudden, chronic case of the dropsies. If there is a weak spot on the Irish defense, conventional wisdom says it's the secondary, which still features three starters (corners Bennett Jackson and KeiVarae Russell and safety Matthias Farley) who were unexpectedly thrust into the lineup after a string of injuries in August and September. If there's any achievement left to be unlocked that will convert the remaining skeptics, putting one of the deepest, most athletic receiving corps in the nation on ice would certainly qualify.

No. 11 Mississippi State (+24) at No. 1 Alabama (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Mississippi St.
Has the Ball ...
When Alabama
Has the Ball ...
Category MSU
(7-0)
Alabama
(7-0)
MSU
Off
Alabama
Def
MSU
Def
Alabama
Off
2012 F/+ Rk 42 1
2012 FEI Rk 30 3
2012 S&P+ Rk 44 1 58 1 33 15
2012 FPA 22 6
2012 Rushing S&P+ Rk 60 2 58 13
2012 Passing S&P+ Rk 74 1 30 14
2012 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 80 3 71 22
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.6% Run
(61)
66.2% Run
(25)
2012 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 28 1 22 2
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
38.5% Run
(30)
47.5% Run
(9)

Alabama's defense has been so good, for so long, across so many transitions from one blue-chip lineup to the next, that the astonishing extent of its dominance barely registers anymore. Yeah, the Crimson Tide lead the nation in every major defensive category for the second year in a row, even with six new starters in place of departed draft picks. So what? That's just Bama being Bama. But now you're telling us they lead the nation in pass efficiency on offense, too? That's just not fair.

Unfair, but true: On top of the typically deep, bruising ground game, junior quarterback A.J. McCarron is one of only two regular starters nationally who's yet to throw an interception, and he's led the Tide to at least 33 points in each of their first seven games. (And could have certainly added more in any of them, had that been remotely necessary.) On average, Bama is averaging 219 yards per game rushing, 220 passing, and 41 on the scoreboard, which is on pace for a new school record.

Mississippi State? The Bulldogs hung 41 on Tennessee a couple weeks back and arrive in Tuscaloosa with the best turnover margin in the nation. They've also lost seven in a row against ranked teams and 13-of-15 under head coach Dan Mullen. Keeping it relatively close will count as a major victory.

Picks

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Matt F/+
Tennessee +14 S. Carolina Tennessee Tennessee
N.C. State +7.5 N. Carolina N.C. State N.C. State
TCU +7.5 Oklahoma St. TCU OSU
Georgia +6.5 Florida Florida* Florida*
USC -6.5 Arizona USC Arizona
Texas Tech +7.5 Kansas St. KSU KSU
Ohio St. -1 Penn St. Penn St. Ohio St.
Michigan +2.5 Nebraska Michigan Michigan
Notre Dame +11 Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma
Miss. St. +24 Alabama Miss. St. Alabama
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Last Week
Season Total
F/+: 7-3 (1-0) 49-31 (5-2)
Matt: 7-3 (0-1) 33-47 (2-5)

Posted by: Matt Hinton on 26 Oct 2012

6 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2012, 6:41am by bucko

Comments

1
by erniecohen :: Fri, 10/26/2012 - 8:03pm

Does anybody have a problem with a ranking system in which #5 is +11 versus #8? I think that part of being a pollster should be that every week, if you have ranked a team above another team that is the betting favorite, you should be forced to bet on your higher-ranked team without points for, say, 1% of your annual salary.

3
by An Onymous (not verified) :: Sat, 10/27/2012 - 9:43am

The problem is that there are two different kinds of rankings- descriptive and predictive. Predictive rankings are the things Vegas uses to set the spread. In predictive rankings, Oklahoma ranks higher than Notre Dame. The AP and Coaches polls, on the other hand, are used to award national championships, and must therefore be descriptive. Their goal isn't to identify the best team, it's to identify the most deserving team. In descriptive rankings, Notre Dame ranks above Oklahoma- they've gone undefeated against a quality slate, while Oklahoma has not. This is not a failure of the ranking system, it is a fundamental difference in what the rankings are trying to accomplish.

4
by An Onymous (not verified) :: Sat, 10/27/2012 - 9:43am

The problem is that there are two different kinds of rankings- descriptive and predictive. Predictive rankings are the things Vegas uses to set the spread. In predictive rankings, Oklahoma ranks higher than Notre Dame. The AP and Coaches polls, on the other hand, are used to award national championships, and must therefore be descriptive. Their goal isn't to identify the best team, it's to identify the most deserving team. In descriptive rankings, Notre Dame ranks above Oklahoma- they've gone undefeated against a quality slate, while Oklahoma has not. This is not a failure of the ranking system, it is a fundamental difference in what the rankings are trying to accomplish.

2
by bucko (not verified) :: Sat, 10/27/2012 - 5:13am

"The defending conference champ, Wisconsin, was upset early at Oregon State, barely survived an upset bid by Utah State, and opened Big Ten play by blowing a 20-3 lead at Nebraska."

Oregon State is undefeated and ranked 7th in the country.

Utah State is 6-2 with its only other loss to a BYU team that loses to ranked teams like Notre Dame, Boise State and OSU but beats everyone else.

And yes, with a freshman qb playing his first road game in his career Wisconsin lost by 3 points.

I get that the writer was trying to make a point. But The Badgers have lost two games by six points away from Madison. That makes them unworthy of being regarded as a legitimate contender? Really?

6
by bucko (not verified) :: Sun, 10/28/2012 - 6:41am

What a dogfight of a game. Even with the qb injury Wisconsin should have won. No idea what the coaches were thinking having the defense play soft at the end of regulation.

Michigan State definitely played like a desperate team. Wish the WI offensive line had shown up.

5
by mm(old) (not verified) :: Sat, 10/27/2012 - 10:45pm

"It's tempting to dismiss USC's hyper-efficient, 50-6 throttling of Colorado last week as the inevitable result of, you know, playing Colorado, but the Trojans couldn't have fared much better against air"

People were saying the same thing about West Virginia a few weeks back...