Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 11_1

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Nov 12, 2012

Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: rating the top and bottom teams in college football after week eleven

As of the end of Saturday's games, these are the Compu-Picks top 25 and bottom 20 (plus a couple extras). 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 * Result Rank
1 4 Alabama SEC 0.96 7 2
2 2 Oregon Pac-12 0.94 19 1
3 1 Kansas State Big 12 0.80 21 3
4 8 Texas A&M SEC 0.73 6 15
5 6 Florida SEC 0.72 8 12
6 12 Oklahoma Big 12 0.66 11 16
7 3 Notre Dame Indep 0.63 35 9
8 16 Oregon State Pac-12 0.61 2 31
9 5 Georgia SEC 0.61 37 7
10 7 Louisiana State SEC 0.61 10 23
11 9 South Carolina SEC 0.59 23 17
12 13 Stanford Pac-12 0.53 25 25
13 18 Southern California Pac-12 0.53 32 22
14 10 Florida State ACC 0.52 51 4
15 11 Clemson ACC 0.52 49 6
16 15 Texas Big 12 0.48 30 28
17 24 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.42 15 38
18 23 Texas Tech Big 12 0.40 20 43
19 6* Ohio State Big Ten 0.38 66 10
20 17 UCLA Pac-12 0.35 44 27
21 NR Utah State WAC 0.35 73 11
22 NR Fresno State Mountain West 0.35 58 20
23 NR Wisconsin Big Ten 0.34 56 26
24 NR Brigham Young Indep 0.34 42 29
25 NR Arizona State Pac-12 0.33 16 49
28 14 Nebraska Big Ten 0.32 38 39
29 21 Michigan Big Ten 0.30 40 36
33 22 Rutgers Big East 0.24 102 14
34 25 Washington Pac-12 0.24 1 79
38 20 Louisiana Tech WAC 0.22 113 8
100 . Boston College ACC -0.37 43 112
101 . Marshall C-USA -0.38 112 87
102 . Texas State WAC -0.38 76 95
103 . UTSA WAC -0.39 97 103
104 . Western Michigan MAC -0.41 122 81
105 . Florida International Sun Belt -0.42 99 97
106 . Army Indep -0.43 94 96
107 . Temple Big East -0.43 60 110
108 . Texas-El Paso C-USA -0.43 77 106
109 . Buffalo MAC -0.46 87 107
110 . Central Michigan MAC -0.48 111 99
111 . Colorado Pac-12 -0.48 31 123
112 . Miami (Ohio) MAC -0.49 104 104
113 . Alabama-Birmingham C-USA -0.50 107 101
114 . Illinois Big Ten -0.52 50 119
115 . Memphis C-USA -0.58 109 108
116 . South Alabama Sun Belt -0.61 110 109
117 . Tulane C-USA -0.63 108 113
118 . Eastern Michigan MAC -0.63 106 114
119 . Idaho WAC -0.67 78 120
120 . Southern Mississippi C-USA -0.68 93 118
121 . Hawaii Mountain West -0.73 53 124
122 . Akron MAC -0.74 120 117
123 . Umass MAC -0.82 118 122
124 . New Mexico State WAC -0.87 117 121

This week's extra table will be a list of the most surprising results to Compu-Picks. It's worth noting that it actually includes a couple of losses: Purdue 17-20 at Notre Dame and North Texas 21-35 at Kansas St. The fact that they still register so high on this list shows just how far apart these teams are supposed to be.

I'm going to try and cycle through various potentially interesting outputs through the year; let me know if there's something in particular that you might like to see in future versions of this article.

Rank Team Conf Week Opp Name Loc Score OppScore OT
1 Virginia ACC 10 North Carolina State AWAY 33 6 NO
2 Kentucky SEC 2 Kent HOME 47 14 NO
3 Ohio MAC 1 Penn State AWAY 24 14 NO
4 California Pac-12 6 UCLA HOME 43 17 NO
5 Oklahoma Big 12 7 Texas NEUTRAL 63 14 NO
6 UCLA Pac-12 10 Arizona HOME 66 10 NO
7 Texas Christian Big 12 7 Baylor AWAY 49 21 NO
8 Navy Indep 9 East Carolina AWAY 56 28 NO
9 Western Kentucky Sun Belt 5 Arkansas State AWAY 26 13 NO
10 Vanderbilt SEC 10 Kentucky AWAY 40 0 NO
11 South Carolina SEC 6 Georgia HOME 35 7 NO
12 Notre Dame Indep 9 Oklahoma AWAY 30 13 NO
13 Arkansas State Sun Belt 8 Louisiana-Lafayette AWAY 50 27 NO
14 Purdue Big Ten 2 Notre Dame AWAY 17 20 NO
15 Kent MAC 9 Rutgers AWAY 35 23 NO
16 Utah State WAC 7 San Jose State AWAY 49 27 NO
17 Virginia Tech ACC 4 Bowling Green State HOME 37 0 NO
18 Georgia Tech ACC 11 North Carolina AWAY 68 50 NO
19 Florida Atlantic Sun Belt 11 Western Kentucky AWAY 37 28 NO
20 North Texas Sun Belt 3 Kansas State AWAY 21 35 NO
21 Middle Tennessee State Sun Belt 5 Georgia Tech AWAY 49 28 NO
22 Texas Big 12 3 Mississippi AWAY 66 31 NO
23 Tulsa C-USA 11 Houston AWAY 41 7 NO
24 West Virginia Big 12 6 Texas AWAY 48 45 NO
25 Marshall C-USA 8 Southern Mississippi AWAY 59 24 NO

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) One consistent theme that pops up when I've done these analyses the past few years is that Compu-Picks gives a lot more weight to schedule strength and dominance than does the BCS, and a lot less weight to simple W/L record and head to head. The same thing is true this time around.

3) As usual, I'm only posting the Compu-Picks ratings for the top and bottom teams (top 25 / bottom 25 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.

4) Again this year I'm tracking the "Compu-Picks Curse" a bit more carefully. Below is the list of the teams that the system thought overrated each week (* means a bye/AA game or a game against someone else the model didn't like). So far teams have been exposed in six of seventeen potential games.

After week 7 (0-2): Florida, Notre Dame - no wins, but BYU came close at South Bend
After week 8 (3-2): Notre Dame, USC, Mississippi St, Georgia, and Ohio - Notre Dame had a very impressive win at Norman, Georgia beat a very good Florida team (though that game was UGLY), but USC lost to unranked Arizona, Ohio lost to 3-4 Miami(OH), and Miss St got annihilated at Bama.
After week 9 (0-6): Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio St, Louisville - Notre Dame came very close to losing to below-average Big East team, but for the purposes of this analysis, a win is a win. LSU lost... but if you think a close loss to the #1 team in the country is "getting exposed"... I'm sorry, but I just can't help you.
After week 10 (3-4): Georgia, Ohio St*, Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, Rutgers, Northwestern, Louisville, Toledo - 3 teams go down to unranked opponents (most notably Louisville getting smacked around by a now 5-5 Syracuse team), and Nebraksa and Louisiana Tech both came close to making it five.

5) One interesting aspect of this week's BCS rankings is that the SEC occupies spots four through nine. Since clearly Compu-Picks disagrees with the BCS on a number of these teams, I've created a breakout article specifically looking at six of them.

6) After another horrific showing by Illinois, they now drop below Colorado to grab the "worst AQ in the country" title. Though it's still pretty close, and could swing the other way just like it did for Virginia a couple weeks ago.

7) I'm going to say a special word about Arizona, because they really exemplify what Compu-Picks sees. In 1-A games, they're 5-4, which most people glance and assume they must not be worth noting. Except those nine games have been completely brutal, with the easiest of them being Colorado, Toledo and Washington (not terribly brutal home games, but when those are your three relative cupcake games, life kind of sucks). They faced five teams ranked in the BCS top 20 (#3 Oregon, #11 Oregon St, #14 Stanford, #18 UCLA and #19 USC), plus another (Oklahoma St) who can't be far off the top 25 (the AP Poll had them 31st and the Coaches Poll 29th for reference).
And what has Arizona done against this schedule? They went 1-4 against the BCS top 25, with two very close losses, and 4-0 against everyone else (including three blowout wins). Is that a top 25 resume? Maybe, maybe not, but it's silly that W/L record has been so emphasized and schedule so de-emphasized that they got no coaches' poll votes and almost no AP poll votes.
There's something inherently broken about how college football almost completely devalues schedule strength, and Arizona is a fantastic example of this.

8) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the BCS: Alabama, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oregon St, USC.

In terms of power ratings, it's still easy to put Bama #1. They've been dominant in almost every game this year, and have done so against a very nasty schedule. Again, W/L doesn't rule over all, and their consistently high level of play is enough to elevate them here despite their loss.

Texas A&M clearly deserved a big bump from winning at Bama, and that's what they got. Unfortunately, they started out underrated, and that's still the case after their big bump. Nasty schedule, great results, and just 8th? That's just off.

Oklahoma remains a classic "Compu-Picks values things differently than voters" team. Blowout wins, losses only to elite opponents (and one of them was very close) = Compu-Picks likes them better than most.

The Washington loss was bad for Oregon St, but this team has still achieved a tremendous amount. Key wins at Arizona, BYU (convincingly) and UCLA, a home win vs ASU, and a solid showing (in defeat) at Stanford... there's a whole lot more heft to the resume than they're getting credit for.

Was USC overrated preseason? Clearly, but they've still done a lot, doing well against a pretty reasonable schedule. To this point, they've certainly done more than UCLA and Nebraska, two teams that out-rank them in the BCS. If you're looking for a good example of why "preseason bias" does NOT seem to be something stuck in the system, 2012 USC is a decent example.
They've gotten the label of "disapointment", which overrides their actual achievements and has artificially dampened their ranking (unless you can think of some alternative reason the coaches dropped them behind Louisville, Louisiana Tech and Rutgers, since that just looks crazy).

9) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the BCS: Kansas St, Georgia, Ohio St (AP Rank 6th), Nebraska, Rutgers, Louisiana Tech, Louisville.

There's really nothing "wrong" with Kansas St's resume (other than that bad game against North Texas), they just haven't played at quite the same level as Bama and Oregon. And since this is a power rating where they rate well below those two, and I'm comparing to their BCS rank of 1st, they hit the "overrated" list.

Thanks to jumping over Alabama in the BCS rankings, Notre Dame returns to this list. A team that struggled against Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, BYU AND Pitt isn't a top 3 team. Their schedule is weak compared to the other top undefeated teams, and they haven't been anywhere near as dominant.

Georgia almost splits into two teams. "Good Georgia" beat up Mizzou, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Auburn and beat Florida. They're a legitimate top 5 team and national title contender. However, there's another team to consider. "Bad Georgia" struggled against Buffalo, barely held off Tennessee and Kentucky, and got blown out by South Carolina. "Bad Georgia" has no business being in the top 25, much less top 10, much less top 5.
And it's interesting that Georgia's ranking of 5th basically ignores "Bad Georgia." Four out of their ten performances this year showed a team that was a total fraud to be in the top ten, much less top five, and yet here they are, as if those bad games never happened. Very strange.

Ohio St's AP ranking is just a joke. They've faced a schedule far weaker than any top-ranked team outside of Louisville, and they haven't dominated it at all. Close wins over Cal, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan St... really? This is a top 10 resume? Their achievements are a dominating win over Nebraska and not losing. Their second-rated performance was a 12-point win at a mediocre Penn St team (who lost to Ohio AND Virginia). Their resume has absolutely no heft to justify their absurd ranking. This is a team that has benefitted massively from a down Big Ten and a really weak non-conference schedule (especially since their one AQ opponent, Cal, is way down this year). Against any kind of quality schedule, they'd have had at least one loss and very likely more.

Nebraska has two losses (one a blowout), barely held off Wisconsin, Michigan St and Northwestern, and their shining moments were a blowout over Arkansas St and winning by 14 against Michigan. They're not a top 20 team.

Rutgers being ranked is silly. Their schedule has been AWFUL, they've nevertheless managed to lose a game, and they still managed to struggle against Tulane, USF and Syracuse.

Louisiana Tech has played an absolutely awful schedule and lost (though a close loss) to the only decent team they've faced. They also barely held off bad Houston and Virginia teams. Not a top 25 team. And Vegas agrees, making them a HOME UNDERDOG to unranked Utah St.

Louisville is a total cakewalk schedule fraud. They got blasted by an utterly mediocre Syracuse team after barely holding off mediocre UNC, and USF teams as well as a bad FIU team and utterly atrocious USM team who did better against Louisville than they could against WKU, Marshall, Rice, UAB and SMU. Seriously, Louisville being ranked is a joke. They were a fraud last week and just as much of one this week even after their big shift in rank.

10) This isn't directly to do with the list, but here are some fun lists of results:

@ Stanford 21, USC 14
@ Washington 17, Stanford 13
USC 24, @ Washington 14

@ Miami 44, NC St 37
@ NC St 17, Florida St 16
Florida St 33, @ Miami 20

@ South Carolina 35, Georgia 7
@ Florida 44, South Carolina 11
Georgia 17, Florida 9

LSU 24, @ Texas A&M 19
Alabama 21, @ LSU 17
Texas A&M 29, @ Alabama 24

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 (USC and Florida St had closer losses than wins, therefore they get a bonus; Washington and Miami had both games at home, 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.

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