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2010 Compu-Picks Ratings - College

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Feb 26, 2011


The Compu-Picks model rates the top and bottom teams in college football after the end of the bowl season

One of the things that I like to do with this model is come up with interesting bits of information about the season. Rankings, schedule strength, which teams got better and which got worse, which teams had an especially strong home-field edge and which did relatively better on the road (yes there WERE a few, as there usually are), and more. I hope you enjoy the list and commentary, and if you have some ideas for things you'd like to see in future versions of this, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for good new ideas, either to incorporate into the model itself or into the exhibits I provide based on the model.

Please remember that these ratings are used for the sole purpose of predicting future results. There are no bonus points for being undefeated, or being from a top conference, or playing X number of top 25 teams, or beating a team with a similar ranking head to head, or any single other sort of adjustment that many people use when making their rankings. Schedule strength counts a lot, and margin counts a lot. A close loss against a great team gives a better rating than a close win against a lousy team. Many people object to this, but in terms of predictive value, I consider it the only way to go. These rankings look different than most human polls, and for that matter they look different from most computer polls. That's OK. It's supposed to look different, both because its goals are different, and because it operates differently from other models. The only standard I use to judge it is how accurate its picks are, and this year I think it did pretty well (see this link for more details).

Team Rankings - 1 to 120

1 Stanford 31 West Virginia 61 Georgia Tech 91 Rutgers
2 Oregon 32 Miami (Florida) 62 Kentucky 92 Vanderbilt
3 Boise State 33 Air Force 63 Mississippi 93 Texas-El Paso
4 Texas Christian 34 Pittsburgh 64 Fresno State 94 Alabama-Birmingham
5 Auburn 35 Maryland 65 Colorado 95 Arkansas State
6 Alabama 36 Georgia 66 Syracuse 96 Wyoming
7 Ohio State 37 San Diego State 67 Connecticut 97 Utah State
8 Virginia Tech 38 Illinois 68 Houston 98 Marshall
9 Oklahoma State 39 California 69 Southern Methodist 99 Kansas
10 Oklahoma 40 Clemson 70 Iowa State 100 Central Michigan
11 Arkansas 41 Hawaii 71 Troy State 101 Louisiana-Monroe
12 Louisiana State 42 Central Florida 72 Toledo 102 Colorado State
13 Florida State 43 North Carolina 73 Army 103 Nevada-Las Vegas
14 Wisconsin 44 Washington 74 Temple 104 North Texas
15 Missouri 45 Kansas State 75 Northwestern 105 Kent
16 South Carolina 46 Tulsa 76 Cincinnati 106 Rice
17 Nevada 47 Northern Illinois 77 East Carolina 107 Tulane
18 Nebraska 48 Navy 78 Idaho 108 Middle Tennessee State
19 North Carolina State 49 Texas Tech 79 Louisiana Tech 109 San Jose State
20 Southern California 50 Tennessee 80 Minnesota 110 Florida Atlantic
21 Arizona 51 Boston College 81 Washington State 111 Louisiana-Lafayette
22 Mississippi State 52 Penn State 82 Western Michigan 112 Bowling Green State
23 Texas A&M 53 Texas 83 Florida International 113 Western Kentucky
24 Notre Dame 54 Southern Mississippi 84 Purdue 114 Ball State
25 Arizona State 55 Louisville 85 Wake Forest 115 New Mexico
26 Utah 56 Brigham Young 86 Miami (Ohio) 116 Memphis
27 Florida 57 Baylor 87 Virginia 117 New Mexico State
28 Iowa 58 UCLA 88 Duke 118 Eastern Michigan
29 Michigan State 59 Michigan 89 Indiana 119 Buffalo
30 Oregon State 60 South Florida 90 Ohio 120 Akron

Detailed Top 30 Team Ratings

Rank Final AP Rank Team League Score Schedule Rank
1 4 Stanford Pac-10 0.93 2
2 3 Oregon Pac-10 0.91 3
3 9 Boise State WAC 0.81 40
4 2 Texas Christian Mountain West 0.81 36
5 1 Auburn SEC 0.78 6
6 10 Alabama SEC 0.73 15
7 5 Ohio State Big Ten 0.67 50
8 16 Virginia Tech ACC 0.64 23
9 13 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.59 37
10 6 Oklahoma Big 12 0.58 19
11 12 Arkansas SEC 0.58 12
12 8 Louisiana State SEC 0.56 13
13 17 Florida State ACC 0.53 16
14 7 Wisconsin Big Ten 0.52 35
15 18 Missouri Big 12 0.52 21
16 22 South Carolina SEC 0.50 8
17 11 Nevada WAC 0.49 65
18 20 Nebraska Big 12 0.48 27
19 25 North Carolina State ACC 0.43 24
20 NR Southern California Pac-10 0.42 11
21 NR Arizona Pac-10 0.41 5
22 15 Mississippi State SEC 0.39 22
23 19 Texas A&M Big 12 0.38 20
24 NR Notre Dame Indep 0.38 29
25 NR Arizona State Pac-10 0.37 4
26 NR Utah Mountain West 0.35 48
27 NR Florida SEC 0.34 18
28 NR Iowa Big Ten 0.33 44
29 14 Michigan State Big Ten 0.31 38
30 NR Oregon State Pac-10 0.31 1

Schedule Strength - Top and Bottom 30

Team Sagarin SOS Ranking Team
1 Oregon State 1 91 Army
2 Stanford 9 92 New Mexico State
3 Oregon 10 93 Central Florida
4 Arizona State 5 94 Marshall
5 Arizona 7 95 Louisiana-Monroe
6 Auburn 13 96 Tulane
7 UCLA 4 97 Alabama-Birmingham
8 South Carolina 12 98 Central Michigan
9 Washington 3 99 Toledo
10 California 6 100 Rice
11 Southern California 8 101 Texas-El Paso
12 Arkansas 11 102 Florida Atlantic
13 Louisiana State 15 103 Louisiana-Lafayette
14 Washington State 2 104 Troy State
15 Alabama 14 105 Florida International
16 Florida State 18 106 Temple
17 Miami (Florida) 16 107 Eastern Michigan
18 Florida 21 108 Arkansas State
19 Oklahoma 20 109 Northern Illinois
20 Texas A&M 17 110 Bowling Green State
21 Missouri 28 111 Miami (Ohio)
22 Mississippi State 30 112 Buffalo
23 Virginia Tech 40 113 Akron
24 North Carolina State 32 114 Kent
25 Wake Forest 26 115 North Texas
26 Clemson 27 116 Western Kentucky
27 Nebraska 39 117 Western Michigan
28 Georgia 36 118 Ohio
29 Notre Dame 22 119 Ball State
30 North Carolina 29 120 Middle Tennessee State

League Ratings

League Rating OOC Schedule Rating Home/Away/Neutral Splits OOC vs Top 10 OOC vs 11-20 OOC vs 21-40 OOC vs 41-60 OOC vs 61-80 OOC vs 81-100 OOC vs Bottom 20
Pac-10 0.36 0.22 10 / 14 / 4 1 - 5 1 - 3 2 - 1 4 - 2 5 - 1 2 - 0 1 - 0
SEC 0.32 -0.06 26 / 9 / 12 1 - 2 0 - 2 6 - 1 7 - 2 4 - 3 6 - 1 12 - 0
Big 12 0.19 -0.02 26 / 11 / 11 0 - 1 1 - 2 5 - 5 6 - 3 10 - 0 5 - 0 10 - 0
ACC 0.15 0.12 18 / 15 / 11 0 - 7 1 - 4 3 - 5 5 - 3 5 - 2 4 - 1 4 - 0
Big Ten 0.12 -0.03 23 / 10 / 9 0 - 3 2 - 2 4 - 4 2 - 2 3 - 2 6 - 0 12 - 0
Indep 0.12 -0.04 15 / 12 / 4 0 - 1 1 - 0 3 - 5 1 - 3 4 - 1 6 - 2 4 - 0
Big East 0.00 -0.02 16 / 15 / 6 0 - 2 0 - 3 3 - 5 1 - 5 2 - 3 6 - 0 6 - 1
Mountain West -0.03 0.10 14 / 18 / 6 0 - 4 1 - 6 2 - 2 4 - 3 6 - 2 2 - 3 2 - 1
WAC -0.07 0.04 14 / 18 / 4 1 - 2 0 - 3 4 - 4 3 - 4 3 - 2 2 - 2 5 - 1
C-USA -0.23 0.02 20 / 22 / 6 0 - 4 1 - 3 2 - 5 1 - 14 2 - 4 4 - 0 6 - 2
MAC -0.43 -0.02 11 / 31 / 4 0 - 4 0 - 1 0 - 6 0 - 8 4 - 11 2 - 7 3 - 0
Sun Belt -0.45 0.02 8 / 26 / 3 0 - 4 0 - 4 0 - 6 0 - 6 1 - 5 2 - 6 1 - 2
League Rating Bowl Record OOC vs AQ's OOC vs Non-AQ's OOC vs Pac-10 / SEC OOC vs Big 12 / ACC / Big Ten OOC vs Big East OOC vs MWC / WAC OOC vs CUSA OOC vs MAC / Sun Belt
Pac-10 0.36 2 - 2 12 - 7 4 - 5 1 - 1 8 - 5 2 - 0 2 - 4 1 - 1 1 - 0
SEC 0.32 5 - 5 15 - 10 21 - 1 1 - 1 11 - 7 3 - 2 2 - 0 8 - 1 11 - 0
Big 12 0.19 4 - 4 12 - 8 25 - 3 5 - 5 4 - 3 3 - 0 10 - 2 6 - 1 9 - 0
ACC 0.15 4 - 5 9 - 16 13 - 6 4 - 8 0 - 3 5 - 3 1 - 3 4 - 1 6 - 0
Big Ten 0.12 3 - 5 10 - 9 19 - 4 3 - 6 4 - 2 1 - 0 2 - 2 2 - 0 15 - 2
Indep 0.12 2 - 1 7 - 6 12 - 6 1 - 1 5 - 4 1 - 1 2 - 4 4 - 1 6 - 1
Big East 0.00 3 - 3 5 - 15 13 - 4 2 - 5 3 - 9 0 - 0 1 - 2 3 - 1 8 - 1
Mountain West -0.03 4 - 1 7 - 10 10 - 11 2 - 1 4 - 7 1 - 1 4 - 9 2 - 1 1 - 1
WAC -0.07 2 - 2 6 - 9 12 - 9 2 - 3 3 - 6 1 - 0 9 - 4 0 - 3 2 - 1
C-USA -0.23 2 - 4 6 - 24 10 - 8 2 - 9 2 - 12 1 - 3 4 - 2 0 - 0 6 - 2
MAC -0.43 2 - 2 3 - 25 6 - 12 0 - 4 2 - 17 1 - 3 2 - 3 1 - 3 2 - 3
Sun Belt -0.45 2 - 1 0 - 26 4 - 7 0 - 8 0 - 13 0 - 5 0 - 0 1 - 3 3 - 2

Division Ratings (I only compiled ratings for AQ divisions)

Division Rating League Rating Inter-Div Record Bowl Record
SEC West 0.51 SEC 0.32 16 - 3 4 - 1
Big 12 South 0.29 Big 12 0.19 13 - 6 3 - 2
ACC Atlantic 0.21 ACC 0.15 10 - 9 3 - 2
SEC East 0.14 SEC 0.32 3 - 16 1 - 4
ACC Coastal 0.10 ACC 0.15 9 - 10 1 - 3
Big 12 North 0.10 Big 12 0.19 6 - 13 1 - 2

Top and Bottom 25 Home-Road Splits

This describes how much better a team played at home vs on the road. It's well worth noting that it's neither good nor bad to be high or low on this list; it's good to have an especially strong home-field edge, with a loud crowd and possibly a weather edge, but it's also good to be able to play well on the road. Consequently, you will tend to see most really good teams around the middle of the list, because they do have a strong home-field edge but also are very capable of playing well on the road.

1 California 96 Utah
2 Nevada-Las Vegas 97 Temple
3 Connecticut 98 Western Michigan
4 Iowa 99 Toledo
5 Colorado 100 North Texas
6 Colorado State 101 Vanderbilt
7 Georgia 102 Oklahoma State
8 Rice 103 Pittsburgh
9 Northern Illinois 104 Southern California
10 Louisiana-Monroe 105 Louisiana-Lafayette
11 Kentucky 106 South Florida
12 Marshall 107 Virginia Tech
13 Arizona State 108 Utah State
14 Wyoming 109 Tulane
15 Arkansas State 110 Buffalo
16 Hawaii 111 Washington State
17 Middle Tennessee State 112 Ball State
18 Kent 113 Troy State
19 Michigan State 114 Stanford
20 East Carolina 115 Central Michigan
21 Southern Methodist 116 Florida International
22 Brigham Young 117 Navy
23 New Mexico State 118 Western Kentucky
24 Oklahoma 119 Texas
25 Fresno State 120 Syracuse

Top and Bottom 25 Most / Least Improved

This describes how much better a team played at the end of the year compared to how they played early on. Since the system is rating how good a team is now, it's better to be higher than lower on this list, though of course the best result is to play at a really high level the whole year long.

1 Brigham Young 96 UCLA
2 Washington State 97 Michigan
3 Auburn 98 Cincinnati
4 Tulsa 99 Northwestern
5 Washington 100 Nebraska
6 Stanford 101 Kansas
7 Wisconsin 102 Rutgers
8 Notre Dame 103 California
9 Maryland 104 Ohio
10 Texas-El Paso 105 Eastern Michigan
11 Connecticut 106 Kansas State
12 Duke 107 Missouri
13 Southern Mississippi 108 Ball State
14 Arkansas 109 Bowling Green State
15 Tennessee 110 Central Michigan
16 Rice 111 Iowa
17 New Mexico 112 Arizona
18 Louisville 113 Colorado
19 Oregon 114 Texas
20 Florida State 115 Temple
21 San Diego State 116 Florida Atlantic
22 Alabama 117 Baylor
23 Oklahoma 118 Iowa State
24 Oklahoma State 119 Vanderbilt
25 Boston College 120 Buffalo

Top Forty wins of the Year

Game Rank Team Opponent Location Score FEI Rank
1 Oregon Stanford HOME 52 - 31 14
2 Stanford Virginia Tech NEUTRAL 40 - 12 7
3 Auburn South Carolina NEUTRAL 56 - 17 4
4 Texas Christian Utah AWAY 47 - 7 8
5 Stanford California AWAY 48 - 14 6
6 Arkansas South Carolina AWAY 41 - 20 1
7 Stanford Washington AWAY 41 - 0 NR
8 Stanford Oregon State HOME 38 - 0 NR
9 Oklahoma State Arizona NEUTRAL 36 - 10 NR
10 Missouri Texas A&M AWAY 30 - 9 12
11 Oklahoma Florida State HOME 47 - 17 5
12 Auburn Arkansas HOME 65 - 43 17
13 Alabama Michigan State NEUTRAL 49 - 7 2
14 Boise State Utah NEUTRAL 26 - 3 NR
15 Stanford Notre Dame AWAY 37 - 14 21
16 Florida State Miami (Florida) AWAY 45 - 17 NR
17 Oregon Southern California AWAY 53 - 32 NR
18 Miami (Florida) Pittsburgh AWAY 31 - 3 15
19 South Carolina Florida AWAY 36 - 14 NR
20 Auburn Oregon NEUTRAL 22 - 19 NR
21 Nebraska Kansas State AWAY 48 - 13 23
22 Oregon Washington HOME 53 - 16 NR
23 Texas Christian Air Force HOME 38 - 7 NR
24 Stanford UCLA AWAY 35 - 0 NR
25 Oregon State Southern California HOME 36 - 7 NR
26 South Carolina Alabama HOME 35 - 21 10
27 California Arizona State HOME 50 - 17 NR
28 Utah Iowa State AWAY 68 - 27 NR
29 Oregon Oregon State AWAY 37 - 20 NR
30 Alabama Tennessee AWAY 41 - 10 NR
31 South Carolina Clemson AWAY 29 - 7 NR
32 Alabama Florida HOME 31 - 6 NR
33 Wisconsin Ohio State HOME 31 - 18 NR
34 Boise State Fresno State HOME 51 - 0 NR
35 Boise State Hawaii HOME 42 - 7 NR
36 West Virginia Pittsburgh AWAY 35 - 10 NR
37 Stanford Arizona HOME 42 - 17 NR
38 Nebraska Washington AWAY 56 - 21 NR
39 Oregon Arizona State AWAY 42 - 31 NR
40 Oregon UCLA HOME 60 - 13 NR

Bottom Forty losses of the Year

Game Rank Team Opponent Location Score
1397 Utah State Idaho HOME 6 - 28
1398 Ohio Kent AWAY 6 - 28
1399 Louisiana-Lafayette Florida International HOME 17 - 38
1400 Middle Tennessee State Memphis AWAY 17 - 24
1401 Vanderbilt Wake Forest HOME 13 - 34
1402 Ball State Kent AWAY 14 - 33
1403 Akron Ohio AWAY 10 - 38
1404 Wyoming Nevada-Las Vegas AWAY 16 - 42
1405 Alabama-Birmingham Marshall HOME 17 - 31
1406 North Texas Florida International HOME 10 - 34
1407 Miami (Ohio) Ohio HOME 13 - 34
1408 Central Michigan Ball State HOME 17 - 31
1409 Kent Western Michigan AWAY 3 - 38
1410 Eastern Michigan Northern Illinois HOME 3 - 71
1411 Florida Atlantic Middle Tennessee State AWAY 14 - 38
1412 Louisiana-Monroe Middle Tennessee State AWAY 10 - 38
1413 Buffalo Eastern Michigan HOME 17 - 21
1414 Buffalo Akron AWAY 14 - 22
1415 Memphis Houston HOME 17 - 56
1416 Florida Atlantic Troy State HOME 7 - 44
1417 New Mexico State Texas-El Paso AWAY 10 - 42
1418 New Mexico State Kansas AWAY 16 - 42
1419 Marshall Bowling Green State AWAY 28 - 44
1420 Nevada-Las Vegas Colorado State AWAY 10 - 43
1421 New Mexico Colorado State AWAY 14 - 38
1422 New Mexico Texas-El Paso HOME 20 - 38
1423 Akron Temple AWAY 0 - 30
1424 Eastern Michigan Toledo HOME 7 - 42
1425 Louisiana-Lafayette Middle Tennessee State HOME 14 - 34
1426 Bowling Green State Western Michigan HOME 7 - 41
1427 Colorado State Wyoming AWAY 0 - 44
1428 New Mexico Nevada-Las Vegas AWAY 10 - 45
1429 Akron Western Michigan HOME 10 - 56
1430 Eastern Michigan Central Michigan HOME 14 - 52
1431 Buffalo Temple HOME 0 - 42
1432 Eastern Michigan Vanderbilt AWAY 6 - 52
1433 Buffalo Ball State HOME 3 - 20
1434 Bowling Green State Kent HOME 6 - 30
1435 Western Kentucky North Texas HOME 6 - 33
1436 Louisiana-Lafayette Western Kentucky HOME 21 - 54

25 Biggest Head-Scratchers

These were the games that, after all of the games have been played, stick out as especially weird. For instance, if a 20-point underdog wins by 10 early in the year, but then they go 8-4 and the team they upset goes 4-8, well, that's not really so weird. But if a 14-point favorite wins by 35, then ends up 4-8 while the team they beat goes 8-4, then that would stick out as a weird result despite it making sense at the time.

Game Rank Team Opponent Location Score
1 Washington State Oregon State AWAY 31 - 14
2 Vanderbilt Mississippi AWAY 28 - 14
3 Navy Notre Dame NEUTRAL 35 - 17
4 Houston Southern Methodist AWAY 45 - 20
5 Miami (Florida) Pittsburgh AWAY 31 - 3
6 Syracuse Cincinnati AWAY 31 - 7
7 Ohio Miami (Ohio) AWAY 34 - 13
8 Texas Nebraska AWAY 20 - 13
9 Western Kentucky Louisiana-Lafayette AWAY 54 - 21
10 Washington Nebraska NEUTRAL 19 - 7
11 Utah State Brigham Young HOME 31 - 16
12 West Virginia Pittsburgh AWAY 35 - 10
13 Tulsa Hawaii NEUTRAL 62 - 35
14 Kent Bowling Green State AWAY 30 - 6
15 Missouri Texas A&M AWAY 30 - 9
16 North Texas Western Kentucky AWAY 33 - 6
17 Utah Iowa State AWAY 68 - 27
18 Arkansas South Carolina AWAY 41 - 20
19 Navy East Carolina AWAY 76 - 35
20 Marshall Alabama-Birmingham AWAY 31 - 17
21 Connecticut Syracuse AWAY 23 - 6
22 Idaho Western Michigan AWAY 33 - 13
23 Minnesota Illinois AWAY 38 - 34
24 Tulane Texas-El Paso AWAY 34 - 24
25 Oklahoma State Arizona NEUTRAL 36 - 10

Some thoughts on the results:

1) I'm sure the first things that everyone noticed was that Auburn, the national champion, was rated FIFTH, and that Stanford, who lost by 21 at Oregon, was rated FIRST. Since I know these will be the most talked about results, I figured I'd discuss them here. First, as noted before, anything less than a 0.05 or so difference is basically meaningless. As such, I'm going to ignore Boise/TCU at 3/4 and focus on Stanford, Oregon and Auburn (note also that this means that Stanford and Oregon were essentially rated as being even).

Before going any further, I'd like to clarify that compu-picks' numbers do NOT mean that it is saying that Auburn didn't deserve the title. Auburn won the national title game against a very good Oregon team. So yes, they certainly deserved the title. What the numbers are saying is that, predictively speaking, it does not believe that Auburn was actually the best team in the country (somewhat like the New York Giants when they won the Super Bowl; most would say the Patriots were the better team, but the Giants won the game, and were deserving champions; another, more extreme example, would be a 5+ seed winning the NCAA basketball tournament). Does that mean compu-picks is right? Not necessarily. It has a reasonable perspective, and its perspective is backed up by its predictive record. But that's all. It can certainly be wrong, and if you want to argue that its conclusions here are wrong, I don't really have a problem with that. All I'm saying is that they're reasonable. So let's see why I say that they're reasonable.

First, let's talk about losses. Stanford and Oregon had one, Auburn did not. Is it really that simple? Well, actually, no. When Stanford had a down game, they played an opponent (Oregon, on the road) that was good enough to beat them handily. When Oregon had a down game, they played an opponent (Auburn) that was good enough to beat them in a close game. But what Auburn? Did they have any down games? Actually, they had a MAJOR down game, when they played Clemson (6-7 with an ugly bowl loss to USF, and a 5-7 record in 1-A play) and got taken to overtime. Compu-picks rated Auburn's result as WORSE than the losses by Stanford and Oregon.

Why? Because a 3-point overtime win is rated as only a little better than a tie. Factoring in home-field advantage, it essentially was a tie. So in compu-picks' mind, it compared a tie at home to Clemson with a convincing loss to Oregon and a close loss to Auburn. It should come as no surprise that Oregon's close loss to Auburn rated better than the other two. But what about the 21-point loss at Oregon? Is that really a BETTER performance than essentially tying Clemson? Think of it this way: would you expect Clemson (who Auburn "tied") to have come within 21 of Oregon at Autzen?

It's hard to see how. Clemson was 1-4 on the road, and the win was against an awful Wake team. They got pounded at home by South Carolina, they lost at home to Miami, and again, they lost their bowl game to a very mediocre USF team. It's hard to see why you'd expect Clemson to have done better than Tennessee (48-13 victims in Knoxville), UCLA (60-13 at Autzen), Washington (53-16 at Autzen). In fact, substantially better teams than Clemson got reamed by the Ducks, such as USC (53-32 in LA) and Arizona (48-29 at Autzen [the closest result at Autzen]), not to mention the Stanford result. So if you don't think that Clemson could have hung within 21 of Oregon on the road, then isn't it reasonable to think that essentially tying Clemson is a worse result than losing by 21 at Autzen? You can certainly argue against it, but Compu-picks has a case.

Of course, that's a simplification. All three of these teams actually had THREE down games: Stanford against Oregon (as mentioned), against Washington St (won 38-28 at home), and against USC (won 37-35 at home); Oregon against Auburn (as mentioned), at Cal (15-13 win), as well as an unimpressive 72-0 win against New Mexico (yes, UNM was really so awful that 72-0 still wasn't a good result); and Auburn had down games against Clemson (as mentiond), Ark St (52-26 win, same basic story as Oregon's UNM win, except Ark St wasn't as bad), and at Kentucky (37-34). But that doesn't change the main point, which was that compu-picks rated Auburn's worst performance as being worse than Stanford or Oregon's loss.

There's another relevant argument, which is to focus on the best performances instead of the worst. Looking at it this way, it's extremely easy to see why Compu-picks might have rated these three teams in the order it did. Stanford appears seven times on this list, one more than Oregon (who had six), and the two of them made the list far more than their nearest competitors (Auburn, Alabama, Boise, South Carolina, each with three appearances). Part of it was that compu-picks was high on the Pac-10 (which had a great season-long record vs fellow AQ's and an impressive 2-2 bowl record considering that each bowl game was against a top 25 team, which included Washington's major upset win over Nebraska), and it's certainly reasonable to rate the leagues differently (which would give different results to some degree).

But another part was that both Stanford and Oregon (especially Stanford) put up a large number of simply ridiculous scores. Stanford's seven appearances were: 40-12, 48-14, 41-0, 38-0, 37-14, 35-0, and 42-17; by contrast Oregon's were: 52-31, 53-32, 53-16, 37-20, 42-31, 60-13. What really stands out isn't just the high margins, but the combination of offensive and defensive dominance. Three times Stanford won by 35+ AND shut the other team out... and these weren't exactly Sun Belt opponents; twice Oregon scored over 50 while holding their opponent to under 20 (and Washington was a pretty decent opponent... just ask Nebraska). By just about any reasonable measurement, considering that they generally came against decent to good (sometimes very good) opponents, both lists are incredibly impressive. That's what really stood out about Stanford and Oregon in 2010; both played very challenging schedules, and both dominated on a consistent basis. That, more than anything else, is why compu-picks was so high on the both of them.

2) Last year, after the bowl games were over Compu-picks rated TCU slightly ahead of Boise despite Boise's head to head win. I defended this by noting that head to head is far from the only thing that matters, and that the system judges whole resumes instead of just one result. After getting an annoying number of accusations of bias and hatred towards Boise, I'd like to point out that this year's system has Boise slightly AHEAD of TCU, despite TCU being undefeated and Boise having a loss at Nevada. What does this mean? Exactly what I've been consistently saying. Compu-picks rates teams according to its own criteria, which are frequently much different than what seems intuitive to people. That doesn't mean it loves or hates any particular teams.

3) As part of my post-season analysis, I'm providing some schedule strength numbers reflecting the top and bottom 30 schedules according to compu-picks, as well as comparisons for the top 30 schedules to the Sagarin schedule ratings (link here). Essentially, the two sets of ratings are very comparable. The biggest difference, as noted in previous articles, is that Compu-picks ignores AA games (both for W/L and schedule ratings) and Sagarin counts them. There are other differences, of course, but this is, as far as I can tell, the most critical. For a more detailed analysis of compu-picks' schedule numbers compared other other available models, please see the regular season rating article (link here).

4) Speaking of schedule strength, it's worth asking whether it really makes sense to adjust for home-field advantage. Does it really make a difference?

The answer is yes, as shown in the table below. Looking at intra-league games (which gets rid of bodybag games skewing the numbers), home teams only have a 53% winning percentage overall, which makes it pretty clear that home-field isn't much of a predictor in aggregate; however, when you throw out the mismatches (loosely defined here as games where one team ended up with 2 or more league wins than the other), the story is much different.

When the teams ended up with the same number of league wins, the home team won slightly more than two-thirds of the time (it's a small sample size, of course, but it's still a very compelling number). When you expand the list to minor mismatches (teams ending up within one win of each other), the win rate drops, but is still close to 60%. So in answer to the question, yes I do think that it's a relevant factor that makes a lot of sense to include in this rating system. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any system which fails to account for this is flawed; certainly that includes the NCAA's ridiculous schedule numbers, but it also includes most or all of the BCS computers as well.

League Home Team W/L (%) - overall Home Team W/L (%) - same # wins Home Team W/L (%) - within 1 win
Pac-10 23 - 22 (51%) 1 - 3 (25%) 11 - 5 (69%)
SEC 27 - 20 (57%) 3 - 2 (60%) 10 - 7 (59%)
Big 12 23 - 21 (52%) 4 - 2 (67%) 11 - 6 (65%)
ACC 26 - 22 (54%) 7 - 1 (88%) 12 - 8 (60%)
Indep 0 - 1 (0%) 0 - 0 (%) 0 - 1 (0%)
Big Ten 22 - 21 (51%) 4 - 1 (80%) 8 - 7 (53%)
Big East 12 - 16 (43%) 2 - 2 (50%) 3 - 9 (25%)
WAC 20 - 16 (56%) 3 - 0 (100%) 6 - 2 (75%)
Mountain West 23 - 13 (64%) 5 - 0 (100%) 9 - 1 (90%)
C-USA 29 - 19 (60%) 4 - 1 (80%) 13 - 4 (76%)
MAC 25 - 27 (48%) 1 - 2 (33%) 4 - 9 (31%)
Sun Belt 17 - 19 (47%) 2 - 3 (40%) 8 - 10 (44%)
Total 247 - 217 (53%) 36 - 17 (68%) 95 - 69 (58%)

5) After six out of the seven weeks I've posted comments (I'm ignoring Army-Navy week, since there was just one game played), at least one teams the model thought that the BCS overrated got exposed:

After week 8: Auburn, Wisconsin, Michigan St - Michigan St loses 37-6 at Iowa
After week 9: Auburn, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Michigan St - Utah loses 47-7 at TCU and Oklahoma loses 33-19 at Texas A&M
After week 10: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Mississippi St - Mississippi St loses 30-10 at Alabama (Bama and MSU were only seven spots apart in the BCS before the game)
After week 11: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St, Mississippi St - no teams got exposed, though LSU and Michigan St came pretty close
After week 12: Auburn, LSU, Wisconsin, Michigan St - LSU loses 31-23 at an Arkansas team rated seven spots below them (and Michigan St nearly got knocked off at a Penn St team that wasn't even close to being ranked)
After week 13: Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan St, Mississippi St, Northern Illinois - NIU loses 26-21 to a pretty bad Miami(OH) team (though Auburn came up with a fantastic win)
End of regular season: Auburn, Wisconsin, LSU, Michigan St, Mississippi St, Hawaii, UCF - Michigan St gets humiliated 49-7 by Alabama (rated seven spots below them in the BCS), Hawaii loses 62-35 to Tulsa

I should also point out that two teams (Auburn, Wisconsin) were regulars on the list without ever getting exposed, much less suffering the sort of humiliating losses that most other teams shown on the list did (LSU got exposed to some degree at Arkansas, though it was hardly an embarrassment, especially compared to many other listed losses), so I must admit that the list was far from a perfect predictor. On the other hand, Michigan St was a regular on the list and more than justfied their presence, getting utterly humiliated not just once but twice (not two mention two close calls against Northwestern and Penn St), and a solid majority of teams who showed up eventually suffered bad losses (some the very first week they popped up on the list). So overall I'm quite happy with its performance, though again I certainly admit it's not perfect.

6) I talked quite a bit about league ratings in the regular season analysis ( link here), so I'm not inclined to dig too deeply into them again, though I did want to note a couple of interesting results. The first is that the Big East, despite a terrible season by almost any reckoning, was STILL on top of the Mountain West. While there are, as always, plenty of moving parts, the clearest indication of why this happened was that the Mountain West went an atrocious 4-9 against the WAC (and going 2-1 vs CUSA and 1-1 vs MAC/Sun Belt didn't help). When you get your clock cleaned by the WAC, chances are you won't be rated too highly.

One interesting thing I added to the analysis was a table that broke down the strengths of each of the AQ divisions. To (I hope) absolutely no one's surprise, the SEC West was ahead by a mile. And yes, that 16-3 record vs the East really did happen, as did its 4-1 bowl record. The issues that the SEC had in 2010 (and they did exist) were pretty much confined to the East. The West was an absolute juggernaut. Oh, and by the way, the Big 12 North, as usual, sat right at the bottom of AQ divisions. While there were plenty of pros and cons to last summer's expansion news, I doubt that too many college football fans will miss that division.

7) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the final AP Poll: Stanford, Boise St, Virginia Tech, NC St, USC, Arizona, Notre Dame, Arizona St

Stanford and Oregon were discussed above, so I won't get too much into them, other than to emphasize that both had very tough schedules and both were consistently dominant (a theme that gets repeated regularly here).

A few weeks ago, Boise got crushed in the BCS rankings for losing a very close game on the road to a top 20 team. That was simply dumb. They've been a dominant team all year long against a schedule that, while not fantastic, compares reasonably well to at least a few other members of the top ten, including Ohio St.

Virginia Tech is an interesting case. Part of this difference is that the model doesn't count AA games (which means that the JMU loss doesn't count against them here), but just as important is the fact that they've gone on a tear through the ACC, 9-0 with a boatload of utter ass-kickings. Especially after Stanford blew them out, #8 may be a spot or two high, but they're either a top 10 team or very close. They're pretty clearly underrated.

Compu-picks thought NC St was underrated pre-bowl, and the Wolfpack rewarded compu-picks' perception, beating up a favored West Virginia team 23-7. Their schedule was good but not great, three of their four losses were pretty close (7 points, 1 point, and an overtime loss by 6 points), with the other only being by 11 (not exactly a blowout). A number of their wins were by double digits, and in general they were consistently playing at a pretty good level. No single "wow" moment, but a lot of quality performances.

USC is another underrated team. They very nearly won at Stanford, they played 12 of their 13 games against AQ opponents (and the other was a very decent Hawaii team), they had SEVEN road games... there was a lot to recommend this team. They suffered two convincing losses (though one was to Oregon), but they also had most of their wins by double-digits, including three by 20+. They also beat Hawaii (on the road by 2 TD's) and Arizona (on the road). They were a legitimately good team that fell through the rankings cracks.

Arizona is the same type of story as most other teams that compu-picks thought was underrated: very tough schedule, tendency towards blowout wins and close losses (except at Stanford and Oregon, compu-picks' #'s 1 and 2, plus the bowl against OK St, compu-picks' #7). They're better than their record, and despite what the AP thinks, there simply weren't 25 teams out there better than the Arizona Wildcats.

Isn't Notre Dame supposed to be getting the benefit of the doubt in the ratings? They had a quality schedule, they had a number of convincing wins, they ended the year very hot, riding a four-game winning streak which included three quality wins (Utah, USC, Miami), and they were a consistently good performer. They never really had a single truly great game (though the Utah win was quite good), but in terms of a quality set of results against a quality schedule, they would certainly seem to qualify. The Michigan and Navy losses were embarrasing, but there's more than enough good to offset that. Notre Dame should have at least been in the first couple of teams out of the rankings.

Arizona St is the poster child for a team that's been punished for a really tough schedule. They're 4-6 in 1-A games... but they've played six road games, they've played all 10 games against AQ opponents, and two of their home games were against top five teams (and one was a very close loss). They also played a very good Wisconsin team (rated #5 in BCS) on the road and only lost by a single point. They had an admittedly atrocious showing at Cal, but other than that it's been a boatload of quality performances, just against a schedule that was ridiculously hard. It's extremely unfortunate that this team wasn't allowed to make a bowl game, especially since SJ St bailed on them late. That said, those are the rules, and they should have found a replacement. In week one, Baylor, Kansas, Miami, Virginia (who ALSO had 2 AA games on the schedule), West Virginia, Rutgers, Air Force, SD St, Nevada, Louisiana Tech, and probably a bunch of others were all playing AA teams; if ASU tried harder, they probably could have gotten one of those teams on the schedule. Presuming a win in such a game (fair assumption against at least half the list, though teams like Nevada, Miami, WV etc. would have been tough), failing to do so cost them a bowl game. In 2010, ASU was a better team than around half of the teams who went to bowls, which says it all about both how good ASU was and the administrative screw-ups that cost them a bowl game.

8) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the final AP Poll: TCU, Auburn, Wisconsin, Nevada, Mississippi St, Michigan St, Maryland, UCF, Tulsa

It's interesting that TCU was well behind Oregon pre-bowl, but a very close win over Wisconsin (by TCU) and a close loss by Oregon (to Auburn) was enough to switch the two across the board. Was TCU really a better team than Oregon? For that matter, were they better than Boise? Considering that TCU struggled a bit against Oregon St (9-pt win), SD St (5-pt win), and that they only beat their single elite opponent (Wisconsin) by 2, you can make a reasonable case that they shouldn't have been ranked quite as highly as they ended up. They were still a very good team, though.

Auburn has also been discussed above, so I won't dwell too much on them, though having a number of close to very close wins hurt their rating. I should also note that, despite Auburn's national championship win, their rating didn't go up much. This is because bowl season was much less kind to their regular season opponents, which hurt their schedule ratings materially. LSU, Alabama and Miss St won, but there were losses by Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina (double weight since Auburn played them twice), Kentucky, and Clemson. This was especially damaging since everyone on that list except for Arkansas and Kentucky were favorites (though a number of the lines were close).

Wisconsin's big downside was the schedule: it just wasn't as good as many of their neighbors. That said, one big thing in their favor was that they got a lot better as the season went on (their worst performances by far were against SJ St, ASU and Michigan St, all of which were early). Compu-picks does weight recent games more strongly than earlier ones, but it's certainly reasonable to argue that Wisconsin is a good example of where it doesn't do it enough. I think the Badgers are a spot or two high in the AP poll... but I'd agree that compu-picks has them too low.

One thing interesting to note, though, is that losing to TCU dropped Wisconsin 2 spots in the AP poll but they rose by one spot in compu-picks. Compu-picks considered the TCU loss to be a quality result: a very close loss against a very good team. Had Wisconsin been, say, fifth, they might have dropped, but that was a very good result for a team ranked pre-bowl at the 17th spot.

Nevada had a bad schedule for a top 25 team. That's the big thing, though it's also worth noting that they had a number of way too close wins for a "#11" team. A top 15 team shouldn't only beat BC by 7, shouldn't only beat Utah St (at home) by 14, shouldn't only beat Fresno (at home) by ONE. Against a schedule as weak as theirs, they needed a lot more 51-6 and 63-17 and a lot less 34-31, 20-13, etc. There's no question in my mind that the AP poll overrated Nevada. Beating one great team (Boise, in a very close game at home) does not change the lack of heft in the rest of the resume.

Mississippi St was a team with a number of close wins, and a pair of butt-kicking losses (LSU by 22, Bama by 20). I haven't thought about them enough to have a really defined opinion of where they shoudl be... but 15th seems at least a bit too high.

Michigan St being in the top 15 is an absolute joke. Their schedule was weak, they had way too many close wins (and against Notre Dame, Northwestern, Purdue, and Penn St, not exactly murderer's row), and they got completely destroyed... TWICE! Bama is good enough that getting blasted by them shouldn't necessarily disqualify a team from a top 15 rating, but Iowa isn't. That was an awful loss for a team ranked 20, much less someone not far from the top 10. Other than one quality win against Wisconsin, what exactly did this team have? Notre Dame? It's hard to give much credit when you need a fake field goal in overtime to pull it out at home, especially when it's an opponent who most people don't even have ranked (Compu-picks does, but even there ND is just on the edges of the top 25). Quite frankly, anyone who had Michigan St as a top 15 team needs to turn in their voter card. Anyone who put them in the top 10 (and there probably were some)... honestly, I don't think that I can adequatly describe how dumb that is and not get this article yanked.

Maryland... I just don't get it. They barely beat Duke, they barely beat Navy, they got waxed by Clemson, their BEST win was probably the close home win against NC St. Are people blinded by the bowl beatdown of ECU (who sucked)? Did the head to head truthers proclaim that they have to be above NC St despite the obvious disparity in resumes? Not to mention the fact that NC St beat West Virginia who beat Maryland? (so you'd think that would cancel) Was this just a throwaway vote? I simply don't get it. I'm not even sure I want to.

UCF and Tulsa appear to be this year's throwaway votes for mid-majors. Both had horrible schedules (UCF made the bottom 30 at 93, and Tulsa JUST missed... literally, as they were 90th in schedule strength), and both suffered losses to mediocre to bad teams (UCF against USM at home, Tulsa at ECU and at SMU). UCF was 1-2 against AQ opponents (and the best of the lot was NC St), while Tulsa was 1-1. Not a whole lot to suggest top 25 worthy for either of them, to be honest.

And by the way, if head to head is so important, can I ask why UCF was rated above NC St? Didn't NC St win head to head? And in a home game for UCF? Does head to head only count when people feel like it? I've made it clear I don't think much of it as a standard (and compu-picks gives no special credit for it), but I'd like to know where the are critics on that one if it's really so important.

9) This isn't directly to do with the list, but here's a couple fun lists of results:

Texas 20, @ Nebraska 13
Nebraska 48, @ Kansas St 13
Kansas St 39, @ Texas 14

@ Michigan St 34, Wisconsin 24
Wisconsin 31, @ Iowa 30
@ Iowa 37, Michigan St 6

Alabama 24, @ Arkansas 20
Arkansas 41, @ South Carolina 20
@ South Carolina 35, Alabama 21

USC 24, @ Arizona 21
@ Arizona 44, Washington 14
Washington 32, @ USC 31

@ Air Force 35, BYU 14
@ BYU 24, San Diego St 21
@ San Diego St 27, Air Force 25

If you try to apply "head to head is the only thing that matters" logic to this list, your head will explode. You can tease out certain information from these lists (Wisconsin, Alabama and Washington had both of their games on the road, they get a bonus; Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona and Air Force had losses much closer than their wins, therefore they get a bonus; etc.), but what it really does is highlight that each of these results was JUST ONE GAME. To properly evaluate a team, you need to evaluate the whole resume, not pretend that a single result means everything and the rest almost nothing just because of head to head "logic". That's why Compu-Picks doesn't give ANY special consideration to head to head results. You are what your resume says you are. Period.

Technical notes about the lists:

1) Conference ratings are straight averages of all of the teams in the league. There is no "central averaging" (like Sagarin does), or over-weighting the top teams, or anything like that. Such approaches would yield different numbers, and could potentially change the order of some of the leagues.

2) Games against AA teams are not counted. There are many good arguments both for and against counting such games (see this link for an interesting analysis of the issue). I have elected not to count these results in the Compu-Picks model. As is the case almost every year, this means that one or two especially surprising AA upsets don't make it into the numbers, skewing the results to a fair degree for a couple of teams. I believe that this is a more than acceptable tradeoff given the substantial issues that counting AA games would create, but you are certainly welcome to disagree with my decision on this matter.

3) As mentioned here, the purpose of this system is to make picks, not to create a list used for rankings. As such, I evaluate the system solely on the basis of how good a job it does making picks. I do not evaluate the system on the basis of whether or not it agreed with AP polls, BCS rankings, the BCS computers, or any other such list out there. In fact, the system has a long and established history of being substantially different than those sources. I am fine with these differences. To be honest, I publish these lists because I find them interesting and thought-provoking, and because I believe it is a good thing to introduce an approach that doesn't simply regurgitate the same avenues of thinking as you can find in most places.

4) The system is noisy, especially earlier in the year. This is why I start with only a top 10 / bottom 10 list, and slowly expand it. While I believe that the numbers are reasonable, I certainly accept that they're not perfect. If you believe that a specific team is over- or under-ranked, you may well be right. I bring this up because if you're going to criticize the system for being wrong about a team, I'd appreciate it if you explain why you think the system is substantially wrong, rather than just marginally so (if it's just one or two slots off, especially well before the end of the year, I'd consider that well within a reasonable error range).

5) Some people have expressed curiosity about compu-picks' schedule ratings. Essentially, it's the average difficulty of all 1-A games that a team has played to date, which basically means the average rating of all of a team's 1-A opponents, then adjusted for things like home-field advantage. This, of course, varies enormously from the NCAA's official schedule ratings, which simply look at the opponents' winning percentages and that's it. Needless to say, the NCAA's approach is silly and deeply flawed; it's better than picking numbers out of a hat, but no serious analyst should rely on it at all when trying to evaluate how difficult a team's schedule actually was.

2010 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com

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