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Compu-Picks 2011 Analysis: Week 8_1

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Oct 27, 2011


Compu-Picks 2011 Analysis: rating the top and bottom teams in college football after week eight

As of the end of Troy - FIU, these are the top 15 and bottom 5. Remember that this is a predictive model, designed to pick games and show how good a team actually is. Its results can be very different from what you'll see elsewhere. The workings of the model are confidential (it is, after all, designed to make winning picks), but I'm happy to answer questions about the models' results.

Rank BCS Rank Team League Score Schedule Rank *
1 1 Louisiana State SEC 0.96 5
2 2 Alabama SEC 0.92 31
3 7 Oregon Pac-12 0.84 2
4 6 Stanford Pac-12 0.82 55
5 4 Boise State Mountain West 0.76 32
6 3 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.74 15
7 9 Oklahoma Big 12 0.74 21
8 15 Wisconsin Big Ten 0.62 68
9 5 Clemson ACC 0.56 48
10 8 Kansas State Big 12 0.53 30
11 16 Texas A&M Big 12 0.51 27
12 21 Arizona State Pac-12 0.48 4
13 18 Michigan Big Ten 0.45 67
14 11 Michigan State Big Ten 0.42 40
15 20* Southern California Pac-12 0.41 28
116 Tulane C-USA -0.71 118
117 Florida Atlantic Sun Belt -0.72 84
118 Akron MAC -0.74 81
119 Memphis C-USA -0.76 111
120 New Mexico Mountain West -0.77 74

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
Big 12 0.32 -0.04 15 / 8 / 1 0 - 0 0 - 2 3 - 1 7 - 0 3 - 0 4 - 0 4 - 0
SEC 0.28 -0.17 18 / 6 / 4 1 - 2 1 - 0 3 - 0 1 - 1 3 - 0 3 - 1 12 - 0
Pac-12 0.23 0.11 11 / 12 / 2 0 - 3 1 - 1 2 - 3 2 - 3 4 - 1 2 - 0 3 - 0
Big Ten 0.12 -0.13 25 / 10 / 2 0 - 1 2 - 3 3 - 1 2 - 0 6 - 0 5 - 5 8 - 1
ACC 0.05 -0.09 18 / 9 / 0 0 - 3 0 - 0 2 - 4 1 - 1 1 - 1 7 - 1 6 - 0
Big East 0.03 -0.08 18 / 12 / 0 0 - 1 1 - 2 1 - 0 1 - 6 5 - 1 4 - 3 5 - 0
Indep -0.04 -0.04 14 / 13 / 0 0 - 0 1 - 3 0 - 2 1 - 5 5 - 3 3 - 2 1 - 1
Mountain West -0.14 0.05 10 / 17 / 1 0 - 1 1 - 4 2 - 4 1 - 1 5 - 3 1 - 3 2 - 0
WAC -0.16 0.02 11 / 19 / 0 0 - 4 0 - 2 0 - 5 0 - 4 0 - 4 2 - 2 5 - 2
C-USA -0.21 0.03 13 / 24 / 1 0 - 3 0 - 2 1 - 6 2 - 6 4 - 3 3 - 2 4 - 2
MAC -0.27 0.05 11 / 26 / 2 0 - 5 0 - 3 0 - 8 0 - 5 1 - 3 3 - 5 5 - 1
Sun Belt -0.34 -0.01 9 / 17 / 1 0 - 3 0 - 2 0 - 6 0 - 4 0 - 3 2 - 1 6 - 0
League Rating Bowl Record OOC vs AQ's OOC vs Non-AQ's OOC vs Big 12 / SEC OOC vs Pac-12 / Big Ten OOC vs ACC / Big East OOC vs MWC / WAC OOC vs CUSA OOC vs MAC / Sun Belt
Big 12 0.32 0 - 0 6 - 3 15 - 0 0 - 1 3 - 1 3 - 1 4 - 0 5 - 0 5 - 0
SEC 0.28 0 - 0 6 - 2 18 - 2 1 - 0 2 - 0 3 - 2 4 - 1 4 - 0 8 - 0
Pac-12 0.23 0 - 0 6 - 7 8 - 4 1 - 3 1 - 4 3 - 0 7 - 2 0 - 1 0 - 0
Big Ten 0.12 0 - 0 7 - 7 19 - 4 0 - 2 4 - 1 2 - 2 4 - 1 0 - 1 14 - 2
ACC 0.05 0 - 0 6 - 7 11 - 3 2 - 2 2 - 2 2 - 3 1 - 0 4 - 2 6 - 1
Big East 0.03 0 - 0 5 - 10 12 - 3 1 - 4 0 - 3 3 - 2 0 - 0 3 - 1 8 - 2
Indep -0.04 0 - 0 5 - 9 6 - 7 1 - 3 3 - 4 1 - 2 3 - 2 2 - 2 1 - 3
Mountain West -0.14 0 - 0 2 - 9 10 - 7 1 - 3 1 - 5 0 - 0 4 - 5 1 - 2 3 - 0
WAC -0.16 0 - 0 2 - 12 5 - 11 0 - 5 2 - 6 0 - 1 5 - 4 0 - 3 0 - 2
C-USA -0.21 0 - 0 5 - 16 9 - 8 0 - 9 2 - 0 3 - 7 5 - 1 0 - 0 2 - 5
MAC -0.27 0 - 0 3 - 26 6 - 4 0 - 7 1 - 10 2 - 9 2 - 2 1 - 0 0 - 2
Sun Belt -0.34 0 - 0 2 - 15 6 - 4 0 - 6 1 - 4 1 - 5 0 - 1 4 - 2 2 - 0

Some thoughts on the list:

1) Please note that AA games are NOT counted for these ratings. This includes the schedule rankings. At some point later this year, I will post an adjusted schedule list that does account for the AA games, but they are not ready at this time. Please keep this in mind when looking at the schedule rankings, since a "true" schedule ranking would note these games.

2) As usual, I'm only posting the compu-picks ratings for the very top and bottom teams (top 15 / bottom 5 this week), and will slowly expand the list as the season goes on. The reason I do this is that the teams at the very top and very bottom have largely separated themselves by now, while the teams on the next tier can largely be jumbled together.

This year, it's no secret that LSU and Alabama have separated themselves from the pack, and for now everyone's fighting for "next best." As teams start to hit the tougher parts of their schedules, some will continue winning, while others (Wisconsin and Oklahoma in week 7) will drop at least one. Until we see more from the other contenders, there are still a lot of open questions.

3) League ratings are now up. They correspond reasonably well to Sagarin's ratings, with the Compu-Picks order of leagues tying exactly to his "Simple Average" order, with only CUSA and the WAC switched. One interesting differene, though, is that the scale of the differences doesn't really tie. For instance, his simple average has the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and Big East in a tight cluster, with the Big Ten and ACC essentially tied. Compu-Picks, on the other hand, shows pretty distinct differences between these leagues, with only the ACC and Big East in a very close race.

With that in mind (and without any other particularly good comparison point to look at), I'm not sure what points are really worth empasizing here. Each league has strengths and weaknesses, and a number of things, from overall record to schedule difficulty (which does take into account home-field advantage) all tell a part of the story.

4) As usual, the BCS crushes teams for losses, even if they're close, even if they're against good teams, and regardless of how good they've been beforehand. Oklahoma dropping all the way to 10th is silly, and Wisconsin dropping all the way to 15th is just totally ridiculous. Both of these teams have been quality to date, and dropping that far simply doesn't make sense. In the Compu-Picks ratings, Wisconsin dropped a bit (fair given that they did lose), but not a lot. Oklahoma dropped more (again fair given that they lost at home to a non-elite Texas Tech team), but still hardly off a cliff.

5) Clemson at 4th in the BCS seems wildly overrated. They've played a middling schedule and haven't been really dominant against it, only beating FSU by 5, Auburn by 14, and Maryland by 11 (in a game where they were down big or a while, though Compu-Picks doesn't factor that in). They've been a quality team, but #4? That's just hard to see. They simply haven't played like the kind of elite team that justifies a #4 ranking.

6) While Compu-Picks also disagrees with Oklahoma St's lofty ranking, this one seems more defensible. The Cowboys have played a very tough schedule, and have done very well against it, winning by 12+ points in every game other than the close road win against a very good A&M squad. Compu-Picks is more impressed by a couple of other teams, but the Cowboys aren't far behind.

7) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the BCS: Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, ASU, Michigan, USC.

Oregon has the #2-rated schedule to date, and has been consistently dominant over everyone after their loss to #1-rated LSU. The BCS is killing them for that loss, but the fact remains that this has been a very good team, week in and week out.

Stanford just keeps annihilating everyone. The schedule strength is still low, but they've been dominant enough to make up for it. If they can continue their dominance as the schedule continues to toughen, they will continue to climb.

Oklahoma and Wisconsin were simply punished far too harshly for their losses this past weekend. Wisconsin is still the best in the Big Ten (and it hasn't really been close), and Oklahoma is still at least arguably the best Big 12 team, given their entire resume.

Texas A&M is one of those teams the model likes because their losses have been very close and their wins (except for Tech) have been blowouts. Had a play or two gone differently against either OK St or Arkansas, everyone would have them in the top ten. As it is, they still have a reasonable chance to playing their way back into the Big 12 title race. They have games remaining against KSU and Okalhoma, and they've been playing well enough that they have a legit chance in each.

ASU isn't complicated at all: the #4 schedule strength gives them a big boost, which is why they're rated so highly even though they haven't been hugely dominant and do have two losses.

Michigan is the opposite: unimpressive schedule rank, but extremely dominant against it, with all but one win (Notre Dame) by at least 18 points. The loss to Michigan St hurt, of course, but overall this has been a consistently strong team.

USC is actually fairly comparable to many of the teams below them, with schedule ratings in the ballpark of most of the 16-25 teams, and have been a bit more dominant than most but again, not tremendously so (the blowout loss at ASU is a definite factor). What helps them push their rating a bit over teams like Arkansas, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Texas (all somewhat similar with respect to schedule strength and how they've done against their schedules) is the fact that their worst game of the year (by far) was week one, and their best two games (again by far) were the most recent two. It's not a huge difference, but it is worth a couple spots on the list, bumping them from 20th (in the AP Poll; the BCS doesn't rank them for reasons unrelated to how good they are this year) to 15th.

8) The following teams are ranked materially lower than the model than the BCS: Oklahoma St, Clemson, Nebraska, Michigan St, Arkansas, Virginia Tech.

I've discussed OK St and Clemson above.

Nebraska's schedule has been a bit below average for a top 15 team, and they had a very weak performance against Wisconsin. They also haven't had anything close to a signature performance; their best game was arguably their 13-point home win against the same Washington team that Stanford annihilated. They'll have a chance to earn their way up a bit against Michigan St, but right now they just haven't been good enough to justify their BCS ranking.

Michigan St is a team where their (very close at home) head to head win against Wisconsin is overriding a few of their other negatives, most notably their mediocre schedule and their blowout loss at Notre Dame. On the other hand, like USC their two best game of the year (by far) were their most recent two, and that's helping their rating in Compu-Picks. If they keep up their level of play in future weeks

Arkansas has now had a very poor showing against a lousy Troy team, and a number of less than impressive other showings (New Mexico, Bama, and most recently Ole Miss). They looked very strong against A&M and Auburn, but otherwise haven't even looked like a top 15 team, much less a top 10 team.

Virginia Tech: the BCS has them ranked #12, but Compu-Picks doesn't even have them close. A very weak schedule (71st by Compu-Picks calculations), a 20-pt home loss to Clemson, way too close wins against ECU, Miami and BC... really, the question isn't why does Compu-Picks have them so low, it's why anyone could possibly put them in a top 15, much less #12.

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

@ Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31
@ Notre Dame 31, Michigan St 13
@ Michigan St 28, Michigan 14

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 (Notre Dame's loss was close and their win a blowout, therefore they get a bonus; Michigan's win came much earlier than their loss, therefore they get a demerit; 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 the top and bottom few, and slowly expand the list. 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).

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

2011 Compu-Picks Blog

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