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Compu-Picks 2011 Analysis: Week 12_2

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Nov 22, 2011


Compu-Picks 2011 Analysis: rating the non-LSU national title contenders after week twelve

As of right now, other than LSU (who will assuredly make the national title game if they run the table, and have a reasonable chance even if they blow a game), there are a number of teams who have the potential to make the national title game. Throwing out any AQ's with 2+ losses or non-AQ's with 1+ losses, we're left with: Alabama; Arkansas; Houston; Oklahoma St; Stanford; and Virginia Tech. The Compu-Picks rankings of these six teams (along with Boise; I'll get to why in a minute) are shown in the below table.

Rank BCS Rank Team League Score Schedule Rank * Result Rank
2 2 Alabama SEC 0.91 12 1
3 4 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.79 7 7
6 7 Stanford Pac-12 0.71 26 6
7 6 Boise State Mountain West 0.67 34 5
12 3 Arkansas SEC 0.46 45 11
13 8 Houston C-USA 0.45 96 3
24 5 Virginia Tech ACC 0.33 58 18

Unfortunately, six teams is actually quite a lot of teams to do any in-depth analysis on, so before we get into the full nitty-gritty let's see if we can pare down that list some, using what I call the "Boise test." Specifically, if anyone clearly has a worse resume than Boise (and doesn't have a legitimate chance to change that), we can throw them out and focus on the rest. Clearly, Alabama does not have a worse resume than Boise. Just as clearly, Arkansas and Oklahoma St each have a major chance to impress coming up. Even if you thought that either currently has a worse resume than Boise (and clearly the model does think this about Arkansas, rating them as having a worse schedule and doing worse against it), there's clearly the potential to change things in the immeditate future. So let's just focus on Houston, Stanford and Virginia Tech. Do any of them fail the "Boise test"?

As shown in the above link, Houston and Virginia Tech both fail this test. So if we remove them from the "legitimate national contenders" list, we're now left with four teams: Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma St and Stanford. Let's do this excercise again, this time comparing these four teams' resumes instead of the earlier "Boise test."

Rank Team Opp Name Loc Score
1 Oklahoma State Texas Tech AWAY 66 - 6
2 Oklahoma State Missouri AWAY 45 - 24
3 Oklahoma State Baylor HOME 59 - 24
4 Alabama Florida AWAY 38 - 10
5 Alabama Arkansas HOME 38 - 14
6 Alabama Vanderbilt HOME 34 - 0
7 Alabama Tennessee HOME 37 - 6
8 Stanford Washington State AWAY 44 - 14
9 Oklahoma State Tulsa AWAY 59 - 33
10 Stanford Washington HOME 65 - 21
11 Alabama Penn State AWAY 27 - 11
12 Alabama Mississippi State AWAY 24 - 7
13 Alabama Mississippi AWAY 52 - 7
14 Oklahoma State Texas AWAY 38 - 26
15 Stanford Oregon State AWAY 38 - 13
16 Arkansas Tennessee HOME 49 - 7
17 Stanford Arizona AWAY 37 - 10
18 Arkansas South Carolina HOME 44 - 28
19 Alabama Louisiana State HOME 6 - 9 (OT)
20 Stanford San Jose State HOME 57 - 3
21 Arkansas Mississippi State HOME 44 - 17
22 Stanford Southern California AWAY 56 - 48 (OT)
23 Oklahoma State Kansas State HOME 52 - 45
24 Alabama North Texas HOME 41 - 0
25 Stanford Duke AWAY 44 - 14
26 Stanford UCLA HOME 45 - 19
27 Arkansas Auburn HOME 38 - 14
28 Alabama Kent HOME 48 - 7
29 Stanford Colorado HOME 48 - 7
30 Oklahoma State Kansas HOME 70 - 28
31 Oklahoma State Louisiana-Lafayette HOME 61 - 34
32 Arkansas Texas A&M NEUTRAL 42 - 38
33 Oklahoma State Texas A&M AWAY 30 - 29
34 Oklahoma State Arizona HOME 37 - 14
35 Arkansas Vanderbilt AWAY 31 - 28
36 Stanford California HOME 31 - 28
37 Arkansas Alabama AWAY 14 - 38
38 Oklahoma State Iowa State AWAY 31 - 37 (OT)
39 Arkansas New Mexico HOME 52 - 3
40 Stanford Oregon HOME 30 - 53
41 Arkansas Mississippi AWAY 29 - 24
42 Arkansas Troy State HOME 38 - 28

Much like the original table, the conclusions here are fairly obvious (though like the first list, you may quibble with some items, such as New Mexico being so awful that even a massive blowout rates as one of the worst performances on this list, rated below both Bama's and OK St's losses). The top of the list is dominated by Alabama and Oklahoma St, which rather strongly suggests that these were the two best teams. Even if Arkansas comes up with a huge win at LSU, the story really isn't going to change. There are simply too many good performances by Bama and OK St for one result, no matter how impressive (and winning at LSU would be very impressive), to majorly overwrite the story.

Interestingly, the fact that Oklahoma St has shown up quite a bit on the bottom half of the list while Alabama really hasn't suggests that Alabama is (unsurprisingly) the best of the bunch. So are we done? Is it Bama without question?

Actually, not entirely. Remember, this list isn't just strength of opposition, it also factors in actual scores. When you just look at schedule difficulty, the story actually changes. Take a look at the following list of Bama and OK St's games, including the upcoming Auburn and Oklahoma contests, rated from toughest to easiest:

Rank Team Opp Name Loc Score
1 Alabama Louisiana State HOME 6 - 9 (OT)
2 Oklahoma State Oklahoma HOME -
3 Oklahoma State Texas A&M AWAY 30 - 29
4 Oklahoma State Missouri AWAY 45 - 24
5 Oklahoma State Texas AWAY 38 - 26
6 Oklahoma State Kansas State HOME 52 - 45
7 Alabama Penn State AWAY 27 - 11
8 Alabama Arkansas HOME 38 - 14
9 Alabama Auburn AWAY -
10 Oklahoma State Iowa State AWAY 31 - 37 (OT)
11 Alabama Mississippi State AWAY 24 - 7
12 Oklahoma State Baylor HOME 59 - 24
13 Oklahoma State Tulsa AWAY 59 - 33
14 Alabama Florida AWAY 38 - 10
15 Oklahoma State Texas Tech AWAY 66 - 6
16 Alabama Tennessee HOME 37 - 6
17 Alabama Vanderbilt HOME 34 - 0
18 Alabama Mississippi AWAY 52 - 7
19 Oklahoma State Louisiana-Lafayette HOME 61 - 34
20 Oklahoma State Arizona HOME 37 - 14
21 Oklahoma State Kansas HOME 70 - 28
22 Alabama North Texas HOME 41 - 0
23 Alabama Kent HOME 48 - 7

Now this story is quite a bit different. While Bama did have the #1 rated test on this list, Oklahoma St had #'s 2 through 6, and Bama also had the easiest two games. In other words, if (and it's still a big if) Oklahoma St does manage to win Bedlam, they'll have a fairly compelling argument that they faced the toughest schedule among the 1-loss contenders and that as a consequence they are the ones who really deserve the trip to New Orleans. And if the SEC struggles against the ACC (2-2 or worse, which I have to think is on the table), especially if Vandy and Florida (Bama played them both) do poorly, then that argument gets even stronger. Though conversely, if the SEC, especially Vandy and Florida, do well, then that could dampen the power of that argument.

Technical notes about the lists and analyses:

1) 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.

2) 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.

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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