2009 Compu-Picks Post-Bowl Wrapup

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jan 10, 2010

The Compu-Picks model details some interesting stats about the 2009 college football 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 in the regular season, and 18-9 (66.7%) in the bowls for a total of 169-138 (55.0%)

Team Rankings

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

Schedule Strength - Top 30 and Bottom 30

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

Most vs Least Improved - Top 25 and Bottom 25

1 Northwestern 96 Miami (Ohio)
2 New Mexico 97 Fresno State
3 Arkansas 98 Army
4 Southern Methodist 99 Louisiana-Monroe
5 Mississippi State 100 Akron
6 East Carolina 101 Temple
7 Air Force 102 UCLA
8 Brigham Young 103 Boston College
9 Nevada 104 Duke
10 Georgia 105 Southern California
11 Rice 106 Toledo
12 Alabama-Birmingham 107 Kent
13 Alabama 108 Arizona
14 Syracuse 109 Missouri
15 Tulane 110 Iowa State
16 Auburn 111 Arizona State
17 Mississippi 112 Colorado State
18 Louisiana Tech 113 Arkansas State
19 Rutgers 114 Eastern Michigan
20 Texas A&M 115 Michigan
21 Central Florida 116 Western Michigan
22 Illinois 117 North Texas
23 Wisconsin 118 Northern Illinois
24 Middle Tennessee State 119 Virginia
25 Nevada-Las Vegas 120 Kansas

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 Nevada 101 Boise State
2 Troy State 102 Rutgers
3 South Carolina 103 Buffalo
4 Kansas State 104 Western Kentucky
5 Texas A&M 105 Tulsa
6 Auburn 106 Florida
7 Washington 107 New Mexico State
8 Houston 108 Duke
9 Louisiana Tech 109 Kentucky
10 Miami (Florida) 110 Southern California
11 Texas-El Paso 111 Brigham Young
12 Oklahoma 112 Northwestern
13 Clemson 113 Nebraska
14 Southern Mississippi 114 Missouri
15 Arizona 115 Virginia
16 Mississippi 116 Penn State
17 Maryland 117 Ball State
18 Boston College 118 Florida State
19 Northern Illinois 119 Alabama
20 Minnesota 120 Iowa

Conference Rankings - Best to Worst

1 SEC 0.31
2 ACC 0.21
3 Big East 0.17
4 Big 12 0.16
5 Pac-10 0.11
6 Big Ten 0.09
7 Mountain West -0.03
8 Indep -0.04
9 WAC -0.16
10 C-USA -0.20
11 Sun Belt -0.31
12 MAC -0.34

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 Texas NEUTRAL 37-21
4 Texas Christian Mountain West Brigham Young AWAY 38-7
5 Florida SEC Cincinnati NEUTRAL 51-24
6 Alabama SEC Mississippi AWAY 22-3
7 Florida SEC Kentucky AWAY 41-7
8 Alabama SEC Mississippi State AWAY 31-3
9 Nebraska Big 12 Arizona NEUTRAL 33-0
10 Stanford Pac-10 Southern California AWAY 55-21
11 Texas Tech Big 12 Oklahoma HOME 41-13
12 Ohio State Big Ten Penn State AWAY 24-7
13 Alabama SEC Arkansas HOME 35-7
14 Virginia Tech ACC Miami (Florida) HOME 31-7
15 Cincinnati Big East Rutgers AWAY 47-15
16 Alabama SEC Virginia Tech NEUTRAL 34-24
17 Texas A&M Big 12 Texas Tech AWAY 52-30
18 Texas Big 12 Oklahoma State AWAY 41-14
19 Florida State ACC Brigham Young AWAY 54-28
20 Southern California Pac-10 California AWAY 30-3
21 Oklahoma Big 12 Oklahoma State HOME 27-0
22 Texas Big 12 Missouri AWAY 41-7
23 Florida SEC Georgia NEUTRAL 41-17
24 Virginia ACC North Carolina AWAY 16-3
25 Boise State WAC Texas Christian NEUTRAL 17-10
26 Oregon Pac-10 California HOME 42-3
27 Florida SEC Louisiana State AWAY 13-3
28 Rutgers Big East South Florida HOME 31-0
29 Iowa Big Ten Iowa State AWAY 35-3
30 Florida SEC Florida State HOME 37-10
31 Oregon Pac-10 Southern California HOME 47-20
32 Brigham Young Mountain West Oregon State NEUTRAL 44-20
33 Iowa Big Ten Penn State AWAY 21-10
34 Oklahoma Big 12 Texas A&M HOME 65-10
35 Virginia Tech ACC Tennessee NEUTRAL 37-14
36 Florida SEC Troy State HOME 56-6
37 North Carolina ACC Virginia Tech AWAY 20-17
38 Miami (Florida) ACC Georgia Tech HOME 33-17
39 Georgia Tech ACC Duke AWAY 49-10
40 Iowa Big Ten Georgia Tech NEUTRAL 24-14

40 Worst Games

Rank Team Conference Opponent Location Score
-1 Washington State Pac-10 UCLA HOME 7-43
-2 Akron MAC Indiana HOME 21-38
-3 Rice C-USA Navy HOME 14-63
-4 Wyoming Mountain West Colorado AWAY 0-24
-5 Colorado State Mountain West San Diego State HOME 28-42
-6 Rice C-USA Vanderbilt HOME 17-36
-7 Tulane C-USA Rice AWAY 20-28
-8 Tulane C-USA Marshall HOME 10-31
-9 Western Michigan MAC Ball State HOME 17-22
-10 Texas-El Paso C-USA Memphis AWAY 20-35
-11 Nevada WAC Southern Methodist NEUTRAL 10-45
-12 Ohio MAC Kent HOME 11-20
-13 Florida International Sun Belt Toledo HOME 31-41
-14 New Mexico Mountain West New Mexico State HOME 17-20
-15 New Mexico State WAC Fresno State HOME 3-34
-16 Washington State Pac-10 Hawaii HOME 20-38
-17 Miami (Ohio) MAC Western Michigan AWAY 26-48
-18 Western Kentucky Sun Belt North Texas AWAY 49-68
-19 New Mexico Mountain West Nevada-Las Vegas HOME 17-34
-20 Marshall C-USA Texas-El Paso AWAY 21-52
-21 Tulane C-USA Central Florida AWAY 0-49
-22 New Mexico State WAC Nevada HOME 20-63
-23 Tulane C-USA Tulsa HOME 13-37
-24 Western Michigan MAC Northern Illinois AWAY 3-38
-25 Louisiana-Lafayette Sun Belt Florida Atlantic HOME 29-51
-26 Ball State MAC North Texas HOME 10-20
-27 Eastern Michigan MAC Northern Illinois AWAY 6-50
-28 Miami (Ohio) MAC Buffalo HOME 17-42
-29 Eastern Michigan MAC Toledo AWAY 21-47
-30 Rice C-USA Central Florida HOME 7-49
-31 Eastern Michigan MAC Army HOME 14-27
-32 Akron MAC Temple HOME 17-56
-33 Western Kentucky Sun Belt Florida International HOME 20-37
-34 San Jose State WAC Nevada HOME 7-62
-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 Southern Methodist C-USA Nevada NEUTRAL 45-10
3 Syracuse Big East Rutgers HOME 31-13
4 Kansas State Big 12 Texas A&M HOME 62-14
5 Virginia ACC North Carolina AWAY 16-3
6 Western Michigan MAC Toledo AWAY 58-26
7 Texas Tech Big 12 Nebraska AWAY 31-10
8 Stanford Pac-10 Southern California AWAY 55-21
9 Texas-El Paso C-USA Marshall HOME 52-21
10 Northwestern Big Ten Iowa AWAY 17-10
11 Texas-El Paso C-USA Houston HOME 58-41
12 Purdue Big Ten Ohio State HOME 26-18
13 Kent MAC Ohio AWAY 20-11
14 Rutgers Big East South Florida HOME 31-0
15 Colorado State Mountain West Nevada HOME 35-20
16 Texas Tech Big 12 Oklahoma HOME 41-13
17 Florida State ACC Brigham Young AWAY 54-28
18 Washington Pac-10 California HOME 42-10
19 Hawaii WAC Navy HOME 24-17
20 Missouri Big 12 Kansas State AWAY 38-12
21 Illinois Big Ten Michigan HOME 38-13
22 Iowa State Big 12 Nebraska AWAY 9-7
23 Notre Dame Indep Nevada HOME 35-0
24 Louisiana-Monroe Sun Belt North Texas AWAY 33-6
25 Bowling Green State MAC Troy State HOME 31-14

Some other notes about the model's numbers:

1) Just like last year, we had a national champion that was substantially better than everyone else. Take a look at that list of top 40 performances. Of the 13 1-A games Bama played (they also had a AA game, which the model didn't count), they had an amazing SIX make the top 40 list: numbers 1 (32-13 over Florida); 3 (37-21 over Texas); 6 (22-3 @ Miss); 9 (31-3 @ Miss St); 13 (35-7 home vs Arkansas); and 16 (34-24 over Virginia Tech). It's worth noting that Florida also had six (which is why they were 2nd ranked, well above the rest), but even they were generally lower on that list, with only two top 10 performances and the rest below 20th (and they lost pretty convincingly when they played Bama a few weeks ago). The most that ANYONE else on the list had was three top 40 performances (Iowa, whose best was only 29th on the list). There's a decent gap between 1 and 2, and a huge gap between the top two and everyone else, and it's completely deserved.

2) The Big Ten had a nice bowl season (4-3 against a fairly tough slate), and thanks to that the gap has largely closed between them and the #5 league (the Pac-10, thanks to a crummy bowl season). However, the Big Ten is still stuck at 6th, and the reason is that the regular season was so lousy for them, with 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 (5-4 Pac-10) and getting taken to OT by Syracuse (1-6 BE)
Ohio St (7-1 B10) losing at home to USC (5-4 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

Ultimately, there were too many poor results and too few good ones. Next year may well be better, but this year was very unpleasant for the league, even with a nice ending to it.

3) The ACC is STILL the #2 conference according to the model, even after a slightly sub-par bowl season (3-4). 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 (which got a LOT better after the Holiday Bowl), 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. And even in the bowls, they still had a nice upset win by Florida St over West Virginia and an absolute thrashing by Virginia Tech of Tennessee.

Ultimately, I tend to disagree with this result; had the model counted the AA games, for instance, it would have dropped a bit further, and I'm just not sold on the idea that they were really the #2 league. That said, I can't think of any other league I'd definitely have above them (all non-SEC leagues have substantial warts after all), so maybe it's reasonable. Honestly, I'm really not sure.

4) Given the amount of flak I've taken at times for having Oklahoma ranked highly (they're STILL not ranked in the final AP Poll), 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 had them 11th pre-bowl, 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. They also barely lost to Miami (on the road) and Texas. Overall, they're 7-5 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.

5) The following teams are ranked much higher by the model than the final AP Poll: Virginia Tech (Compu-picks 4th, AP 10), Nebraska (8 vs 14), Oklahoma (10 vs NR), Clemson (14 vs 24), Arkansas (19 vs NR), UNC (21 vs NR). Virginia Tech, Oklahoma (aside from the Tech loss), Nebraska (aside from the Tech loss), 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.

I could talk all day about how horribly overlooked Virginia Tech has been, but I think it pretty much explains itself. They destroyed Miami, BC, Virginia and Tennessee, they gave Bama a decent game, and their other two losses were both pretty close (and against legitimately good teams). The only reasons their record wasn't gaudier was because their schedule was brutal and some bad luck in close games. They've played at a very high level far more frequently than they've been given credit for, and really flew under the radar this year.

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 6-5 against THAT slate is legitimately impressive.

6) The following teams are ranked much lower than the model than the BCS: Iowa (Compu-picks 16th, AP 7th), BYU (23 vs 12), Wisconsin (31 vs 16), Utah (34 vs 18), Central Michigan (47 vs 23).

Iowa had three very nice wins: Iowa St, Penn St, Georgia Tech. And they had two other nice wins: Arizona and Wisconsin. And giving Ohio St all they could handle was a good showing too. Unfortunately, the rest was mediocre to lousy. Losing at home to Northwestern, barely beating an awful Arkansas St team at home, barely beating a bad Michigan team at home (not to mention the ugliness against UNI)... there were really bad performances for a top 25 team, much less a top 10 team. Ultimately, if you choose to ignore the bad and emphasize the good, you can argue top 10, but I think that overall they just aren't a top ten team. The model probably hits them a bit too hard, but the AP is too generous. I think that around 12th, midway between the two points, is probably most reasonable.

BYU has some nice wins (Oklahoma, Oregon St), two really ugly blowout losses at home (Florida St, TCU), and nothing else of particular note. 2-2 against Oklahoma, Oregon St, Florida St and TCU is nice, but hardly a resume that screams top 15. I would consider them solidly overrated based on what they've actually done.

Wisconsin is actually a team that the model dumps on a bit more than it should, because some of their games weirdly went against them, from the flu against Fresno to turnover issues agianst Iowa and Ohio St. That said, a mediocre Fresno team took them to overtime (and got thoroughly screwed on the non-call of roughing the passer in OT), they only beat a bad NIU team by 8 at home, they barely beat Minneosta and Indiana, and the closest thing they had to a signature win was 20-14 over a good but not great Miami team. I'd have them better than 31st myself, but top 20 seems too generous to me.

Utah has beaten virtually nobody (their best wins were Cal and Air Force [OT at home] ), has three losses, and to be honest, I've got no clue why they're ranked even after the bowls, much less before. "Helmet" status isn't just for BCS schools anymore, I guess.

I'm convinced the AP simply ran out of ideas when they added CMU. Only 2 losses seems nice... until you remember that they're 1-2 against BCS schools (NONE OF WHICH are ranked in the AP top 25 post-bowl), and their win was extremely close. The MAC was horrible again this year, and they simply didn't do anything particularly worth noting. Sorry, but it's true. It's a joke that this team is ranked by anyone, much less by enough voters to actually have them make the final top 25.

7) Boise just lost to TCU, but the model has TCU over them? Why? Ultimately, it's because TCU played a schedule that was far more challenging than Boise's (even after the Fiesta Bowl, their schedule was only ranked 99th). That said, the model may be over-punishing Boise for their awful schedule. This is one of the big things I'm going to try and investigate a bit more during the offseason; next year's model might re-rate the 2009 Broncos a bit better than this year's, though I'm not sure it would be enough to put them over a TCU team that had been fantastic the entire season rather than just two games as Boise had been.

Mr Pac-10's 2009 Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com