Bill Connelly takes a look at the early-season S&P+ outliers and whether his eyeballs agree or disagree with the stats. Spoiler: Alabama is underrated. Alabama! Underrated!
03 Sep 2010
by Bill Connelly
First things first: Here is the Seventh Day Adventure podcast that was missing from yesterday's SDA column. I discuss the Boise State-Virginia Tech clash with the editors of two great blogs, Gobbler Country and One Bronco Nation Under God. In future weeks that don't include Internet outages, this will be part of SDA.
As with the data tables yesterday, feel free to leave feedback in the comments section regarding this podcast and how we could improve it in the future. As soon as possible, we will get this on iTunes.
I can't stop tinkering. It's in my nature. I'm always looking to tweak things to make them slightly better. That being the case, I was going to feel the need to post an updated version of FO's Projected F/+ even if nobody in the country had gotten injured or suspended since Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 was released. Before we unveil the up-to-date Top 120, I should detail what has changed in the formulas since FOA 2010:
Few teams made huge moves when all was said and done (at least outside of the 60-90 range, where teams are significantly bunched together), but without further ado, here is your new Projected F/+ list.
|2010 Updated F/+ Projections|
|101||San Diego State||176.8||4.5||2.2||0.508||69|
|114||San Jose State||167.7||4.0||2.1||0.325||31|
|120||New Mexico State||160.0||2.3||1.5||0.817||113|
We have a new No. 1! With each tweak of the formula, Florida and Alabama traded the top spot back and forth. In the end, the Gators got the nod, but a likely SEC championship game between the two schools is still projected as almost completely dead even.
As mentioned, a handful of teams did move significantly.
Kansas State: +16 (88th to 72nd). The addition of that fifth year of historical play (2005) helped the Wildcats' cause slightly, as did the fact that coaches entering their second year with a team typically see improvement (and for technical purposes, Bill Snyder is entering his "second" season). Plus, teams ranked between 70 and 90 were extremely close together. This does not have a significant impact on their projected wins and losses, however.
Iowa State: +14 (89th to 75th). Iowa State almost won the Big 12 North in 2005, so the fifth year helps them as well. Plus, like Kansas State, their head coach is entering his second year.
Utah State: +10 (106th to 96th). The Aggies also have a second-year coach, plus the ABC Index helps them. They were a much better team at the end of 2009 than they were at the beginning.
Rutgers: +9 (63rd to 54th). The Scarlet Knights did not lose a ton to the draft, and they were aided by a strong late-season performance. ABC Index is their friend.
Syracuse: +9 (76th to 67th). They fall into the same department as Kansas State and Iowa State. The fifth year helps, as does the magical second year for Doug Marrone.
These teams saw the most significant rises in the rankings, but three Top 25 teams improved their standing as well.
Auburn. Again, five-year history combined with Gene Chizik's second season helped Auburn rise from 27th to 21st.
Nebraska. Always be closing. Nebraska's late-season improvement, combined with the fifth year of historical data and Bo Pelini's third season (usually another good one for a coach) resulted in Nebraska jumping from 21st to 15th.
Georgia Tech. Same as Nebraska. ABC Index + coach entering third season = good things. In this case, "good things" is moving from 28th to 23rd.
Rankings, of course, are a zero-sum game. If some rise, some must fall. Here are the teams who took the biggest tumbles:
All five of these teams were hurt by the five-year history addition. Plus, Kent State has a coach entering his seventh season in a stagnant situation (usually, you are what you are at that point), and SMU was dinged at least a hair by losing just their second draft pick in the last five seasons.
Here are some of the higher-ranked teams who fell:
Ole Miss (25th to 31st). The addition of the fifth year hurt, as did the loss of four draft picks.
Georgia (19th to 25th). ABC Index did Georgia no favors. They did not finish 2009 tremendously strong.
South Carolina (23rd to 28th). The Gamecocks have lost more talent than they were accustomed to in the last two years (not necessarily a bad thing), and Steve Spurrier is in a bit of a stagnant situation entering his sixth season. It is harder to make big breakthroughs after you have been at a school for more than one recruiting cycle. That said, they sure did look great last night.
North Carolina. Five-year history obviously did not help the Heels, but they fell primarily because of the estimated impact of the upcoming defensive suspensions they are likely to suffer.
Again, nobody's win expectations changed drastically, and I don't want to overstate the impact the five-year history factor had -- most of the time, if a team rose or fell a few spots, it was as much because they were bunched together with other teams. Only four teams are now projected to win at least 1.0 more games: Kansas State (1.3), Iowa State (1.2), Syracuse (1.1) and Mississippi State (1.0). Meanwhile, only two teams are projected to win at least 1.0 fewer games: Boston College (-1.1) and USC (-1.3).
Obviously with the amount of politics that goes into bowl selections, it is a fool's errand to predict who is going to which bowls. But when did I ever say I wasn't a complete fool?
First, here are your conference title game matchups.
Now, here are the bowls.
|2010-11 Bowl Schedule and Projections|
|Dec. 18||New Mexico Bowl||Louisiana Tech vs Temple|
|Dec. 18||UDrove Humanitarian Bowl||Fresno State vs Northern Illinois|
|Dec. 18||R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl||Tulsa vs Troy|
|Dec. 21||Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl||Central Florida vs South Florida|
|Dec. 22||Maaco Bowl Las Vegas||Oregon State vs Utah|
|Dec. 23||SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl||Navy vs BYU|
|Dec. 24||Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl||Hawaii vs UTEP|
|Dec. 26||Little Caesars Pizza Bowl||Northwestern vs Central Michigan|
|Dec. 27||Advocare V100 Independence Bowl||North Carolina vs Air Force|
|Dec. 28||Champs Sports Bowl||Notre Dame vs Miami-FL|
|Dec. 28||Insight Bowl||Oklahoma State vs Michigan State|
|Dec. 29||EagleBank Bowl||Virginia vs East Carolina|
|Dec. 29||Texas Bowl||Texas A&M vs Purdue|
|Dec. 29||Valero Alamo Bowl||Arizona vs Texas Tech|
|Dec. 30||Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl||Southern Miss vs Wake Forest|
|Dec. 30||New Era Pinstripe Bowl||Kansas vs Pittsburgh|
|Dec. 30||Franklin Music City Bowl||Ole Miss vs Boston College|
|Dec. 30||Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl||California vs Missouri|
|Dec. 31||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Georgia Tech vs West Virginia|
|Dec. 31||Hyundai Sun Bowl||Florida State vs Stanford|
|Dec. 31||AutoZone Liberty Bowl||Houston vs South Carolina|
|Dec. 31||Chick-fil-A Bowl||Clemson vs Tennessee|
|Jan. 1||Dallas Football Classic||Rutgers vs Michigan|
|Jan. 1||Outback Bowl||Iowa vs Auburn|
|Jan. 1||Capital One Bowl||Georgia vs Penn State|
|Jan. 1||Konica Minolta Gator Bowl||Wisconsin vs Arkansas|
|Jan. 6||GMAC Bowl||Ohio vs Middle Tennesseee|
|Jan. 7||AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic||Nebraska vs LSU|
|Jan. 8||Birmingham Bowl||Mississippi State vs Connecticut|
|Jan. 9||Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl||Kentucky vs Nevada|
|2010-11 BCS Bowl Schedule and Projections|
|Jan. 1||Rose Bowl Game||Ohio State vs Oregon|
|Jan. 1||Tostitos Fiesta Bowl||Oklahoma vs Boise State|
|Jan. 3||Discover Orange Bowl||Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati|
|Jan. 4||Allstate Sugar Bowl||Alabama vs TCU|
|Jan. 10||2011 Tostitos BCS National Championship Game||Florida vs Texas|
It appears your primary BCS Championship candidates for 2010 are rather unsurprising: 1) the winner of the second Alabama-Florida matchup (i.e. the SEC Championship), 2) Texas, 3) Ohio State, 4) TCU (if they can get to 12 wins instead of 11), and 5) Boise State (if they beat Virginia Tech).
Here are the next ten major conference teams in terms of projected mean wins. In theory, these are teams who have the best chance of crashing the BCS party. This list does not include USC, which is banned from the postseason.
To Joe Paterno, for figuring out another "first" to check off the list. It appears that when Penn State opens its season against Chronic Fatigue University (OK, Youngstown State), they will be doing so with true freshman Robert Bolden behind center. He is the first true freshman ever to start the season as No. 1 quarterback and the first true freshman to start a game for JoePa since 1992. When you have worked at the same place since John Snyder was the Secretary of the Treasury and I Love Lucy was still in pre-production, it is difficult to find ways to spice things up. Difficult, but apparently not impossible.
You know what? No rants this week. College football is back. Life is good.
The pockets of passion this sport produces are hard to match. College football led to large, happy gatherings of fans in places like Ames, Winston-Salem, and Piscataway last night. Meanwhile, good-sized crowds in places like Murfreesboro and Birmingham went home sad. It's hard for any other sport to match those pockets of passion.
In honor of the current mood of most college football lovers.
"Happy," by Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins
"Happy," by the Rolling Stones
"Happy Jack," by The Who
"I Hope You're Happy Now," by Elvis Costello
"It's Not the Only Way to Feel Happy," by Field Music
"Lovely Cruise," by Jimmy Buffett
"Wonderful," by The Beta Band
"Wonderful," by Pat McGee Band
"Wonderful Place," by N*E*R*D
"You've Made Me So Very Happy," by Blood, Sweat & Tears
East Carolina over Tulsa. Spread: ECU +8.5 | F/+ Projection: ECU by 8.2. I have no idea why Tulsa is favored by eight points on the road against the defending Conference USA champion, but they are. And therefore, this qualifies as an upset.
Cincinnati over Fresno State. Spread: Cincy +3 | F/+ Projection: Cincy by 17.9. The projection itself might be a little strong and the trip itself a little long, but Cincinnati still has plenty of riches on the offensive side of the ball, and they should be able to overcome the host Bulldogs.
Virginia Tech over Boise State. Spread: Va. Tech +2 | F/+ Projection: Va. Tech by 10.4. This is another projection that is a bit too far in the underdog's favor, but Virginia Tech is a very, very strong team. Boise State has the clear experience advantage, and as our friend from Gobbler Country referenced in the SDA podcast, playing in the first game of the season favors the Broncos. But the F/+ projections love the Hokies. Consider this an early test of both two Top 10 teams and the projections themselves.
Louisville over Kentucky. Spread: Kentucky -3 | F/+ Projection: Kentucky by 2.5. Kentucky is projected to hold on for the win here, but it could be, as Lee Corso is fond of saying, closer than the experts think (to the extent that 'experts' are thinking about this game, anyway). Teams under first-year coaches are a bit of a crapshoot, but if Charlie Strong can push the right buttons, Louisville does still have some semblance of talent and athleticism that was misplaced and misguided in the Steve Kragthorpe era.
For full F/+ projections, go here.
Honestly, every college football fan and non-fan should read and re-read Spencer Hall's wonderful "Football Season Is Over, Football Season Has Begun" post at EDSBS. It highlights everything that makes this sport so special, and I struggle to even describe how good it is. Just read it, and get ready for an exhilarating four months of college football.
15 comments, Last at 06 Sep 2010, 2:54am by Brendan Scolari