2009 Compu-Picks Regular Season Wrapup

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Dec 19, 2009

The Compu-Picks model details some interesting stats about the 2009 college football regular 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).

As usual, only 1-A games are counted, so it doesn't matter how badly you beat a AA foe (or if you actually struggled or lost to them), it simply counts as a bye. No boost to winning percentage, no drop to schedule strength. It's as if the game wasn't played. In some cases , it entirely explains why the schedule is rated to highly; count AA games and it drops like a stone.

Also, 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 so far this year it's been pretty decent, going 151-129 (53.9%) ATS.

Team Rankings

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

Schedule Strength - Top 30 and Bottom 30

1 Mississippi State 91 New Mexico State
2 Georgia 92 Utah
3 Florida State 93 Tulsa
4 Miami (Florida) 94 Houston
5 Virginia 95 Southern Methodist
6 South Carolina 96 Nevada
7 North Carolina 97 Idaho
8 Baylor 98 Louisiana-Monroe
9 Georgia Tech 99 Akron
10 Alabama 100 Louisiana-Lafayette
11 Clemson 101 Buffalo
12 Auburn 102 Troy State
13 Virginia Tech 103 Western Kentucky
14 Oklahoma 104 Arkansas State
15 Arkansas 105 Boise State
16 Vanderbilt 106 Bowling Green State
17 North Carolina State 107 Florida Atlantic
18 Florida 108 Army
19 Mississippi 109 Eastern Michigan
20 Arizona 110 Texas-El Paso
21 Kansas 111 Central Michigan
22 Washington State 112 Ohio
23 Washington 113 Toledo
24 Duke 114 Ball State
25 Oregon State 115 North Texas
26 Wake Forest 116 Kent
27 Oregon 117 Middle Tennessee State
28 Maryland 118 Western Michigan
29 Kentucky 119 Northern Illinois
30 Louisville 120 Temple

Most vs Least Improved - Top 25 and Bottom 25

1 Nevada 96 Cincinnati
2 Northwestern 97 Florida State
3 Texas A&M 98 Louisville
4 Arkansas 99 Indiana
5 Central Florida 100 Florida International
6 New Mexico 101 Marshall
7 East Carolina 102 Eastern Michigan
8 Mississippi State 103 Western Kentucky
9 Texas Tech 104 Navy
10 North Carolina 105 Minnesota
11 Illinois 106 Arizona State
12 Alabama-Birmingham 107 Western Michigan
13 Colorado 108 Kansas
14 Oklahoma State 109 Louisiana-Monroe
15 Georgia 110 Duke
16 Oregon State 111 UCLA
17 Rice 112 Virginia
18 Texas 113 Army
19 Vanderbilt 114 Southern California
20 Louisiana Tech 115 Colorado State
21 New Mexico State 116 Arkansas State
22 North Carolina State 117 Michigan
23 Oklahoma 118 North Texas
24 Wisconsin 119 South Florida
25 Utah State 120 Iowa

Home Cooking vs Road Warriors - Top 20 and Bottom 20 Home-Field Factor
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 Kansas State 101 Vanderbilt
2 Troy State 102 Buffalo
3 Nevada 103 Western Kentucky
4 Auburn 104 Fresno State
5 Mississippi 105 Southern California
6 Washington 106 Cincinnati
7 Oklahoma 107 Brigham Young
8 Clemson 108 Oklahoma State
9 Texas A&M 109 Tulsa
10 South Carolina 110 Duke
11 Texas-El Paso 111 Nebraska
12 Louisiana Tech 112 Northwestern
13 Houston 113 Virginia
14 Air Force 114 Kentucky
15 Southern Mississippi 115 Ball State
16 Miami (Florida) 116 Alabama
17 Boston College 117 Florida State
18 Minnesota 118 Penn State
19 Arizona 119 Missouri
20 Alabama-Birmingham 120 Iowa

Conference Rankings - Best to Worst

3 Big 12
4 Pac-10
5 Big East
6 Big Ten
7 Mountain West
8 Indep
10 C-USA
11 MAC
12 Sun Belt

40 Best and 40 Worst Performances

40 Best Games

Rank Team Conference Opponent Location Score
1 Alabama SEC Florida NEUTRAL 32-13
2 Texas Tech Big 12 Nebraska AWAY 31-10
3 Alabama SEC Mississippi AWAY 22-3
4 Florida SEC Kentucky AWAY 41-7
5 Stanford Pac-10 Southern California AWAY 55-21
6 Alabama SEC Mississippi State AWAY 31-3
7 Virginia Tech ACC Miami (Florida) HOME 31-7
8 Texas Christian Mountain West Brigham Young AWAY 38-7
9 Texas Tech Big 12 Oklahoma HOME 41-13
10 Alabama SEC Arkansas HOME 35-7
11 Oklahoma Big 12 Oklahoma State HOME 27-0
12 Texas Big 12 Oklahoma State AWAY 41-14
13 Southern California Pac-10 California AWAY 30-3
14 Ohio State Big Ten Penn State AWAY 24-7
15 Texas Big 12 Missouri AWAY 41-7
16 Texas A&M Big 12 Texas Tech AWAY 52-30
17 Oregon Pac-10 California HOME 42-3
18 Cincinnati Big East Rutgers AWAY 47-15
19 Alabama SEC Virginia Tech NEUTRAL 34-24
20 Oklahoma Big 12 Texas A&M HOME 65-10
21 Virginia ACC North Carolina AWAY 16-3
22 Florida SEC Louisiana State AWAY 13-3
23 Kansas State Big 12 Texas A&M HOME 62-14
24 Florida SEC Georgia NEUTRAL 41-17
25 Iowa Big Ten Iowa State AWAY 35-3
26 Miami (Florida) ACC Georgia Tech HOME 33-17
27 Notre Dame Indep Nevada HOME 35-0
28 Florida State ACC Brigham Young AWAY 54-28
29 Oregon Pac-10 Southern California HOME 47-20
30 North Carolina ACC Boston College AWAY 31-13
31 Georgia Tech ACC Duke AWAY 49-10
32 Georgia SEC Arkansas AWAY 52-41
33 Washington Pac-10 California HOME 42-10
34 Florida SEC Troy State HOME 56-6
35 Georgia SEC Georgia Tech AWAY 30-24
36 North Carolina ACC Virginia Tech AWAY 20-17
37 Iowa Big Ten Penn State AWAY 21-10
38 Penn State Big Ten Michigan State AWAY 42-14
39 Georgia Tech ACC North Carolina HOME 24-7
40 Virginia Tech ACC Boston College HOME 48-14

40 Worst Games

Rank Team Conference Opponent Location Score
-1 New Mexico State WAC Hawaii AWAY 6-24
-2 Western Kentucky Sun Belt Troy State HOME 10-40
-3 New Mexico State WAC Nevada HOME 20-63
-4 Western Michigan MAC Ball State HOME 17-22
-5 Rice C-USA Vanderbilt HOME 17-36
-6 Tulane C-USA Rice AWAY 20-28
-7 Ohio MAC Kent HOME 11-20
-8 New Mexico State WAC Fresno State HOME 3-34
-9 Akron MAC Indiana HOME 21-38
-10 New Mexico Mountain West Wyoming AWAY 13-37
-11 Texas-El Paso C-USA Memphis AWAY 20-35
-12 Florida International Sun Belt Toledo HOME 31-41
-13 Colorado State Mountain West San Diego State HOME 28-42
-14 New Mexico Mountain West New Mexico State HOME 17-20
-15 Tulane C-USA Marshall HOME 10-31
-16 Tulane C-USA Central Florida AWAY 0-49
-17 Western Michigan MAC Northern Illinois AWAY 3-38
-18 Washington State Pac-10 Hawaii HOME 20-38
-19 Rice C-USA Navy HOME 14-63
-20 Miami (Ohio) MAC Western Michigan AWAY 26-48
-21 Marshall C-USA Texas-El Paso AWAY 21-52
-22 Rice C-USA Central Florida HOME 7-49
-23 Eastern Michigan MAC Northern Illinois AWAY 6-50
-24 Western Kentucky Sun Belt North Texas AWAY 49-68
-25 New Mexico Mountain West Nevada-Las Vegas HOME 17-34
-26 Tulane C-USA Tulsa HOME 13-37
-27 Miami (Ohio) MAC Buffalo HOME 17-42
-28 Eastern Michigan MAC Toledo AWAY 21-47
-29 San Jose State WAC Nevada HOME 7-62
-30 Akron MAC Temple HOME 17-56
-31 Ball State MAC North Texas HOME 10-20
-32 Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt Florida Atlantic HOME 29-51
-33 Eastern Michigan MAC Army HOME 14-27
-34 Western Kentucky Sun Belt Florida International HOME 20-37
-35 New Mexico Mountain West Tulsa HOME 10-44
-36 Eastern Michigan MAC Western Michigan HOME 14-35
-37 North Texas Sun Belt Louisiana-Monroe HOME 6-33
-38 Eastern Michigan MAC Kent HOME 6-28
-39 New Mexico State WAC Texas-El Paso HOME 12-38
-40 Toledo MAC Western Michigan HOME 26-58

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.

25 Biggest Surprises

Order Team Conference Opponent Location Score
1 Texas A&M Big 12 Texas Tech AWAY 52-30
2 Kansas State Big 12 Texas A&M HOME 62-14
3 Virginia ACC North Carolina AWAY 16-3
4 Texas-El Paso C-USA Houston HOME 58-41
5 Syracuse Big East Rutgers HOME 31-13
6 Western Michigan MAC Toledo AWAY 58-26
7 Colorado State Mountain West Nevada HOME 35-20
8 Northwestern Big Ten Iowa AWAY 17-10
9 Stanford Pac-10 Southern California AWAY 55-21
10 Texas-El Paso C-USA Marshall HOME 52-21
11 Texas Tech Big 12 Nebraska AWAY 31-10
12 Kent MAC Ohio AWAY 20-11
13 Notre Dame Indep Nevada HOME 35-0
14 Washington Pac-10 California HOME 42-10
15 Rutgers Big East South Florida HOME 31-0
16 Purdue Big Ten Ohio State HOME 26-18
17 Texas Tech Big 12 Oklahoma HOME 41-13
18 Florida State ACC Brigham Young AWAY 54-28
19 Southern California Pac-10 California AWAY 30-3
20 Illinois Big Ten Michigan HOME 38-13
21 Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt North Texas AWAY 33-6
22 Georgia SEC Arkansas AWAY 52-41
23 Toledo MAC Colorado HOME 54-38
24 Georgia SEC Georgia Tech AWAY 30-24
25 Iowa State Big 12 Nebraska AWAY 9-7

Some other notes about the model's numbers:

1) The model thinks that the Big Ten sucks (for a BCS league anyway). Most pollsters and BCS computers disagree.

Compu-picks looks at games like:
Indiana (1-7 B10) getting waxed by 40 at Virginia (2-6 ACC) and nearly losing at home to Western Michigan
NW (5-3 B10) losing at Syracuse (1-6 BE) and almost losing to Eastern Michigan, arguably the worst team in 1-A; also only beat Miami of Ohio (who only has ONE 1-A win) by 10 at home
Minn (3-5 B10) losing at home by 14 to Cal (5-3 Pac-10) and getting taken to OT by Syracuse (1-6 BE)
Ohio St (7-1 B10) losing at home to USC (5-3 Pac-10)
Purdue (4-4 B10) losing at home to Northern Illinois (though at least they had a nice showing @ Oregon)
Illinois (2-6 B10) getting waxed on a neutral field by Mizzou (4-4 B12)
Penn St (6-2 B10) playing NO ONE non-conference
Wisconsin (4-4 B10) getting taken to overtime at home by Fresno
Mich St (4-4 B10) losing at home to Central Michigan

Yeah, there are a few bright spots... but not many, and not nearly to offset all of the ugliness. Other models and pollsters may be fooled a boatload of easy wins against lousy teams (poster child: Penn St), but not this one. I stand by my model's conclusion that the Big Ten is the worst of the BCS leagues this year... and it's not even close. That said, Wisconsin's dominating win at Hawaii helped a bit, and if they can come up with a respectable bowl showing, that could end up better than 6th.

2) The ACC is STILL the #2 conference according to the model, though it took a substantial hit in week 13 for obvious reasons. Overall, there are still a boatload of very solid performances against non-SEC OOC opponents, from the aforementioned ass-kicking by UVA over Indy, to VA Tech's win over Nebraska and convincing win at ECU, to UNC's win at UConn, to Wake's win over Stanford, to FSU's beatdown at BYU, to NC St's win over Pitt, to Miami's beatdown of USF, and a few more I'm not bothering to mention. Aside from Maryland, the two AA losses, Duke's thrashing at Kansas, and two upset losses by Clemson and Georgia Tech, there's a stunning lack of crappy non-conference performances, especially considering how many solid showings they have.

I disagree with this result; had the model counted the AA games it would have dropped a bit further, at least to #3, possibly to #4 or #5 (2 through 5 are all fairly close together), and I think that would be a fair result. Still, it's hard to say that the ACC is substantially below any leagues other than the SEC this year. And yes, that does make the resounding point about how far above the rest the SEC is this year, though bowl season may lead to a re-evaluation.

3) Given the amount of flak I've taken at times for having Oklahoma ranked highly (and now they're #9), I figured they deserved their own section. No, I don't think it's correct, but yes, I do think it's reasonable and defensible (worth noting: LVSC currently has them 11th, see: http://www.vegasinsider.com/co...fm/story/936207 ), so it's not like the model is alone on an island on this one. Anyway, here's why they're so high:

They had two EXTREMELY impressive wins, thumpings over OK St and A&M (by 55!); both currently make the model's list of 40 performances , which puts them in pretty good company, considering that Bama, Florida, and Texas combined account for eleven, and no one else has more than two). They also barely lost to Miami (on the road) and Texas (NO ONE ELSE came within single digits, and most lost by 20+). Overall, they're 6-5 against 1-A teams, which doesn't sound great, but it's against an absolutely brutal schedule, and they've been dominant in their wins and oh so close in their losses (except Tech of course). Yes, they're been extremely inconsistent, but it fluctuates between mediocre showings and outstanding shows, for the most part, and there's been a lot of outstanding.

4) The following teams are ranked much higher by the model than the BCS: Florida (see note 6), Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Clemson,Arkansas, Texas Tech, UNC. Virginia Tech, Oklahoma (aside from the Tech loss), Miami (aside from VA Tech), Clemson (aside from South Carolina) and Arkansas (aside from Bama) are all teams with very tough schedules, and who have had close losses and blowout wins. The model rewards both types of things, because those types of teams tend to be a lot better than their records.

Nebraska (aside from the Tech loss) has been consistently convincing in their wins, and occasionally hugely dominant; also, three of their four losses were by less than a field goal, which was far less of a detriment to their rating than if they had been convincing losses.

UNC's schedule is ranked as one of the toughest, which significantly boosted their ranking. They have yet to play a truly bad 1-A team, and have played a number of very good teams. To be 6-4 (UNC) against THAT slates is legitimately impressive.

5) The following teams are ranked much lower than the model than the BCS: Cincy, Boise St, Ohio St, Iowa, BYU, West Virginia, Oklahoma St, Utah, Wisconsin. It should be pretty clear why the Big Ten schools are lower, so I won't rehash that one.

Cincy has had a very mediocre schedule for an alleged top three team, and they've hardly been week-in, week-out dominant against that slate (which would be TCU's and Texas's excuse). They have some legitimately impressive wins (blowout at Rutgers, 10-point win at Oregon St, 17-pont win a USF), but they have a number of red flags, like only beating Fresno by 8 at home, only beating UConn by 2 at home, only beating West Virginia by 3 at home, only beating a truly awful Illinois team by 13 at home, and only beating Pitt by one point in what was supposed to be a national title game audition (should Texas lose, which almost happened). On any given Saturday, they can play at a national title level, but they can also be surprisingly mediocre… and it's happened multiple times. I'm OK with the model being lower on them than pretty much everyone else.

Boise is simply getting killed for an awful strength of schedule. That said, they've been extremely dominant against that schedule, and they do have a good win over Oregon, so it's at least arguable that the model is underrating them. The problem is, since they really haven't proved much (undefeated, but only one top 40 win), it's hard to rate them accurately; no matter what, there are assumptions involved in comparing blowouts against crappy teams to less dominating wins against good teams. BCS homers might say Boise isn't even top 15 and has no business in the Fiesta Bowl, WAC homers might say Boise is a top 3 team because beating Oregon is awesome and nothing else matters. I think 10th is a touch low but at least reasonable.

West Virginia is 8-3 against a decent but not great 1-A schedule. Their most dominating wins were by 21 against Syracuse, 17 against Marshall and 15 against ECU. Twice they've lost by double-digits, to both Auburn and USF. Most of their wins have been close. If you totally ignore margin you can argue them higher, but this model counts margin. They have two double-digit losses, and not a single showing that the model would put in its top 100, or even close to it. I'm not really sure why you'd think this is a clear top 25 team (and being ranked 16th says that plenty of people do). Around the edges… okay. Top 20 and nearly top 15? I don't buy it.

Oklahoma St's reasons resemble West Virginia, except the difference isn't quite as extreme. They also have played an OK schedule, and they had three double-digit losses vs WV's two. But they also had some higher-level showings, like demolishing Baylor and winning pretty easily against Georgia and Mizzou, plus a nice win over Texas Tech. Overall, top 20 seems like a reach in my opinion, though if you want to ignore margin you can probably make a reasonable case.

Utah has beaten precisely nobody (toughest test they passed was Air Force at home, and that took overtime), has three losses, and to be honest, I've got no clue why they're ranked. "Helmet" status isn't just for BCS schools anymore, I guess.

BYU has the win over Oklahoma, but that's offset by getting hammered by FSU at home. Not much else heft to the resume, plenty of wins but not much schedule strength (and only beating an awful New Mexico team by 5 doesn't help). However, they're not really that far off either.

6) Florida lost by a bunch to Bama but only got knocked down to 2nd? Why is that? Well, a few things: first, they previously enjoyed a substantial gap over 3rd and below (last week: .75 vs .69; now it's .70 vs .67); second, Texas hardly looked like a national title team when they squeaked by Nebraska (solid win if you're top 10, great if you're top 20… not so awesome if you're trying for top 2); and third, Bama is a really good team. It's not like they got punked by Alabama-Birmingham here, and while the loss certainly dropped them, it's hardly the sort of result that ought to make you think that the sky is falling. They're still a really good team and have a whole season's worth of really good results to prove it. I'm sure it's not popular, but I'm totally cool with this result from the model. I wouldn't vote Florida 2nd myself, but it is absolutely reasonable.

Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog

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