Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 12_1

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Nov 18, 2012

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

As of the end of Saturday's games, these are the Compu-Picks top 30 and bottom 25 (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 2 Alabama SEC 0.94 5 1
2 5 Oregon Pac-12 0.89 12 2
3 9 Texas A&M SEC 0.72 2 15
4 4 Florida SEC 0.71 6 11
5 6 Kansas State Big 12 0.68 20 8
6 1 Notre Dame Indep 0.65 35 5
7 15 Oregon State Pac-12 0.64 3 23
8 13 Oklahoma Big 12 0.62 10 19
9 3 Georgia SEC 0.59 37 7
10 8 Stanford Pac-12 0.58 14 26
11 7 Louisiana State SEC 0.58 13 21
12 12 South Carolina SEC 0.56 25 16
13 10 Florida State ACC 0.55 53 3
14 11 Clemson ACC 0.52 49 6
15 16 Texas Big 12 0.49 27 25
16 21 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.47 21 28
17 NR Southern California Pac-12 0.47 26 30
18 17 UCLA Pac-12 0.39 40 22
19 4* Ohio State Big Ten 0.38 63 10
20 24 Arizona Pac-12 0.36 1 56
21 NR Utah State WAC 0.36 67 13
22 NR Mississippi State SEC 0.35 32 39
23 NR Arizona State Pac-12 0.33 31 44
24 NR Fresno State Mountain West 0.33 61 18
25 14 Nebraska Big Ten 0.33 39 32
26 NR Wisconsin Big Ten 0.32 50 29
27 NR Texas Tech Big 12 0.32 17 52
28 19 Michigan Big Ten 0.31 47 31
29 18 Rutgers Big East 0.31 83 14
30 NR Brigham Young Indep 0.30 41 38
32 22 Boise State Mountain West 0.27 96 9
34 25 Washington Pac-12 0.26 7 65
49 20 Louisville Big East 0.13 77 37
53 23 Kent MAC 0.12 112 20
100 . Marshall C-USA -0.36 116 78
101 . Florida International Sun Belt -0.37 97 90
102 . Colorado State Mountain West -0.38 84 96
103 . New Mexico Mountain West -0.39 92 92
104 . Nevada-Las Vegas Mountain West -0.40 85 100
105 . Texas State WAC -0.41 82 101
106 . Central Michigan MAC -0.43 118 88
107 . Western Michigan MAC -0.45 122 79
108 . Texas-El Paso C-USA -0.45 91 103
109 . Buffalo MAC -0.46 98 95
110 . Memphis C-USA -0.46 110 94
111 . Army Indep -0.48 95 105
112 . Colorado Pac-12 -0.51 33 123
113 . Illinois Big Ten -0.52 58 119
114 . Miami (Ohio) MAC -0.55 108 107
115 . Eastern Michigan MAC -0.58 109 110
116 . Alabama-Birmingham C-USA -0.59 114 109
117 . South Alabama Sun Belt -0.60 101 111
118 . Tulane C-USA -0.61 104 113
119 . Southern Mississippi C-USA -0.67 99 118
120 . Idaho WAC -0.69 90 120
121 . Hawaii Mountain West -0.74 65 124
122 . Akron MAC -0.75 120 117
123 . Umass MAC -0.82 121 122
124 . New Mexico State WAC -0.87 117 121

This week's extra table will be a list of the biggest / smallest home field advantages this year. There isn't anything particularly good or bad about appearing high, low or in the middle of HFA, since it's measured by how well teams have fared at home compared to on the road. It's a stylistic measurement as opposed to a quality measurement. It's not necessarily better or worse to do your best work at home vs on the road.

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.

H Rank Team
1 Oklahoma State
2 Virginia Tech
4 Southern Methodist
5 Kentucky
6 Washington
7 Nebraska
8 Duke
9 Arizona
10 Air Force
11 New Mexico
12 Army
13 Connecticut
14 Mississippi State
15 South Carolina
16 Baylor
17 Rice
18 Miami (Florida)
19 Colorado State
20 Louisiana Tech
105 Central Michigan
106 Utah State
107 Michigan State
108 Temple
109 Nevada
110 Maryland
111 Akron
112 Notre Dame
113 Oklahoma
114 Ball State
115 San Jose State
116 Western Kentucky
117 Hawaii
118 Texas A&M
119 Rutgers
120 Colorado
121 Arkansas State
122 Wisconsin
123 Georgia Tech
124 Texas Christian

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 30 / 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 eight of twenty-five 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.
After week 11 (2-3): Kansas St, Georgia*, Ohio St, Nebraska, Rutgers, Louisiana Tech, Louisville* - Louisiana Tech loses to unranked Utah St and Kansas St gets smoked at Baylor. Ohio St also came very close to losing at unranked Wisconsin, though Rutgers had a solid win at Cincy.

5) According to the BCS and all the human polls, Oregon should be ranked behind Georgia. This despite the Ducks playing a tougher schedule, being more dominant in their wins, having a MUCH closer loss (3 points in OT vs blowout loss) AND losing to a better opponent than Georgia (though it's fair to note Stanford was at home and South Carolina was away). This is utterly ridiculous.

6) Illinois still occupies the "worst AQ in the country" title, though right now it's truly neck and neck between them and Colorado.

7) Ohio State being ranked 4th by the AP poll is hilarious. They have everything wrong with Notre Dame's resume (way too many struggles against mediocre opponents) without any of the things that help bolster the Irish's resume, such as a big win at Oklahoma or a win (even a controversial home overtime win) over Stanford. Instead the Buckeyes played really well against Nebraska and othewise simply haven't managed to lose.
Legitimate top 5 teams obviously shouldn't struggle against mediocre to bad opponents, and yet Ohio St has done this more often than not, with single digit wins against Cal, Michigan St, Indiana, Purdue (in overtime), and now Wisconsin (though in fairness they're a bit better than mediocre). Not to mention far from convincing wins against UAB and Penn St. Honestly, this isn't even one of the ten best teams in the country, much less #4. Michigan isn't very good, so the Buckeyes probably won't get "exposed" by a loss, but all it takes is a casual look at their resume to realize that they've been getting exposed all year long. "Lucky to be undefeated against a poor schedule" is not anything close to a top-tier resume.

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

One of the great example of how Compu-Picks differs from the BCS is that Oregon played a very good Stanford team at home and lost a very close game, by just 3 points in overtime. Should this fundamentally change how we view the Ducks? Of course not. And yet the Ducks slid from #2 in the BCS to #_, while in Compu-Picks their rating slipped a bit but the gap they'd established all year long between themselves and everyone other than Bama was more than enough to keep them in the 2 spot. If we're truly looking for who the best teams are, isn't the Compu-Picks approach more reasonable?

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 9th? That's just off.

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.

Did USC really deserve to get dumped from the rankings after their loss at UCLA? That seems a big stretch. They've still played a tough slate and been very successful against it. They also don't have the kind of ugly performances that hurts the resume of a lot of teams ranked in the lower end of the BCS top 25 (UCLA getting blown out at Cal, Rutgers losing to Kent, ASU losing at Mizzou, Nebraska getting blown out at Ohio St, Michigan nearly losing to Air Force, NIU losing to Iowa and nearly to Army, Kent getting blown out at Kentucky, etc.). Let's just say there was good reason why unranked USC was expected to be a home favorite over BCS #1 before news of Matt Barkley's injury came out.

9) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the BCS: Notre Dame, Georgia, Ohio St (AP Rank 4th), Nebraska, Louisville, Kent.

Thanks to jumping over everyone 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 2 team. Their schedule is weak compared to the other top undefeated teams, they haven't been anywhere near as dominant, and they're pretty clearly lucky to be undefeated. And if you don't believe me, consider that they were expected to be mild underdogs at USC this weekend before the Barkley injury news came out. And USC is unranked.

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 1-A performances this year (Compu-Picks ignores AA games) 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 was covered above. But it's still ridiculous to see them at the 4 spot in the AP poll.

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 much less top 15.

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.

Kent was blown out by Kentucky. That alone makes top 25 for these guys ridiculous even if they'd played an anotherwise solid schedule (they haven't) and/or they'd dominated said schedule (they haven't).

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.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at

Follow cfn_ms on Twitter

Related Stories
Alejandro Maldonado: Stanford Post Game
 -by  Nov 18, 2012
Dawgs Slam Eagles: Legge's Thoughts
 -by  Nov 18, 2012
POLLS: Beavs are ranked 15/16/17/15/12
 -by  Nov 18, 2012