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Top 120 Teams of 2004-2009

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Jul 24, 2010


The 2010 Compu-Picks Model Lists the Top 120 College Football teams of 2004 - 2009.

Now that the 2010 Compu-Picks model has been finalized, it's time to take that model and look at some of the past seasons of college football. Before I get to that, though, I want to talk about what the model is, what it's for, and a bit about how it works. Compu-Picks, as its name indicates, is a predictive model. Its primary purpose is to make picks against the spread (ATS), and the college model is very good at it (in 2008, its medium confidence picks went 24-10, and high confidence picks went 3-2; in 2009, it went 169-138 [55.0%]; and the 2010 model could be even better after further improvements). The current model makes picks starting in week 8 (it needs that much time to get enough data to work properly), and either passes on a game or makes an ATS pick with confidence level 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. The confidence level is the weight that the pick gets (similar to wagering 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 units on a game). Testing on the last six years of data show a 57.5% ATS record, though there is some degree of over-fitting in that number, so you should probably take it with a degree of salt; the "real" number is probably closer to 55%, though that's still excellent by pretty much any standard.

Since its purpose is to make picks, it shouldn't be surprising to hear that the model's output is basically a power rating, loosely representing how good a team actually is and how well it would match up with any other team out there. It is NOT a maximum likelihood calculator, it is NOT an attempt to replicate human poll thought processes, and it is NOT some cool-sounding algorithm that would hopefully churn out something that makes sense. It also does NOT adhere to BCS computer poll rules; it considers location (home/away/neutral), margin, overtime, byes, and various other things that you won't see reflected in any BCS model. Unlike many (perhaps all) BCS models, it also does NOT count ANY games against 1-AA opponents; I believe that there is not enough data available to properly compare 1-A to 1-AA, and that trying to do so anyway can lead to wacky conclusions, such as a Villanova (a 1-AA team) being rated the 30th best team of 2009 by Sagarin's model ( link here ). The BCS models, as well as various other models floating around the internet, are the way they are for their own reasons, and as long as they're doing a good job adhering to their purposes, that's fine. But this model is the way it is because it's the best I can make it at picking games, and every single design decision is made towards furthering that goal.

Since its purpose and structure are substantially different than other models out there, don't be at all surprised to see major differences between Compu-Picks rankings of teams and other models' rankings of teams. That doesn't make other models necessarily wrong; they're trying to do different things than this model, and it may be defensible to rank Team A over Team B even if Team B is actually better, whether due to Team A having a better win %, a head to head win over Team B, or whatever other reason. But in answering the simple question, "which team is better at the end of the year" (as opposed to "who is more deserving", "who scheduled themselves the easiest path to the title", "who plays in the most prestigious conference", "who won the head to head game back in week five", "who had the best record", "who had the best conference record", "who exceeded preseason expectations the most", "who should feel happiest about their season", etc.) I don't think there's anything out there that does a better job than Compu-Picks. You may agree or disagree with specific rankings, and I'm not foolish enough to claim that the system has gotten every single team 100% right, but I think that on the whole, it does an extremely good job at comparing and contrasting teams against the very simple standard of "which team is better at the end of the year". Ultimately, I find the model's outputs to be consistently interesting, defensible, and thought-provoking. I hope you will as well.

This is a two-part project. The first part, this page, is a large table that compares Compu-Picks' top 120 teams of the past six seasons (2004 - 2009) to various other systems' lists of top teams. The second part ( link here ), is a more detailed breakdown of Compu-Picks' top 25 teams, as well as a few selected others, explaining what separates the good from the very good from the great from the best of the best. If you like reading for dramatic effect, you may want to read the second part first, as it's a count-down from #25 to #1. The table here, on the other hand, simply shows you the list from 1 - 120, with some additional detail behind that ranking and comparisons to other systems' rankings.

When reading the table, this key may be useful:
"Rank" : overall rank of each team on the overall list of all 1-A teams from 2004 - 2009
"Year": year that the team played in (some teams show up multiple times on the list)
"Team": the team name
"Year Rank": where the team ranked against all other teams in that year (for instance, the model ranked Utah as the 4th best team in 2004)
"Schedule Rank": where the team's schedule ranked against all other teams that year
(Other Well-Known System Rankings)
"Billingsley": Billingsley's top 20 teams from this time period, taken from his all-time list of top 200 teams.
"Colley": Colley Matrix's top 100 teams from this time period, taken from his website.
"Sagarin": Sagarin's top 100 teams (using the RATING field) from this time period, taken from his website (sub "08", "07", etc for "09" to get previous years' data).
(Football Outsiders' Top 40, emailed to me from Bill Connelly)
"F /+": F /+ top 40 teams from 2005 - 2009 (2004 not included in his list).
(Selected Other Systems linked from Massey's computer ranking comparison page)
"ARGH": ARGH top 40 teams from this time period, taken from his website.
"Bihl": Bihl top 40 teams from this time period, taken from his website.
"Congrove": Congrove top 40 teams from this time period (using POWER field), taken from his website.
"Howell": Howell top 40 teams from this time period, taken from his website.
"Sorenson": Sorenson top 40 teams from this time period, taken from his website.

Also, note that a blank space means that the team did not appear in that model's top X list. "N/A" refers to the fact that the F /+ model did not publish final 2004 ranking, and the ARGH model did not publish final 2005 rankings, so I slapped an "N/A" on all 2004 teams for F /+ and all 2005 teams ARGH and just did a combined top 40 of the other five seasons.

Without further ado, the Compu-Picks top 120 teams from 2004 - 2009:

Rank Year Team Year Rank Schedule Rank Billinglsey Colley Sagarin F /+ ARGH Bihl Congrove Howell Sorenson
1 2004 Southern California 1 1 3 3 2 N/A 1 2 3 2 2
2 2008 Florida 1 2 5 6 5 1 5 9 2 8 1
3 2009 Alabama 1 1 1 2 3 2 2 3 16 1 7
4 2008 Southern California 2 4 8 17 10 5 6 20 6 13 4
5 2005 Texas 1 12 2 1 1 3 N/A 1 1 3 3
6 2005 Southern California 2 1 11 11 4 4 N/A 5 4 10 9
7 2009 Florida 2 2 6 9 7 6 4 7 8 4 25
8 2008 Oklahoma 3 1 14 19 12 8 20 16 7 27 6
9 2004 Oklahoma 2 3 13 8 21 N/A 9 6 5 9 8
10 2008 Texas 4 6 12 7 15 12 11 12 13 18 5
11 2009 Texas 3 9 9 15 23 20 8 19 10 7 37
12 2004 California 3 9 46 38 N/A 23 28 25 16 19
13 2006 Southern California 1 1 13 8 10 15 22 15 12 15
14 2007 Louisiana State 1 3 20 18 17 17 19 27 18 29 26
15 2004 Utah 4 53 21 22 N/A 13 18 29 15 16
16 2005 Ohio State 3 4 23 9 9 N/A 13 17 22 12
17 2004 Auburn 5 27 4 5 18 N/A 3 4 31 6 13
18 2007 West Virginia 2 20 35 24 19 24 20 35
19 2008 Penn State 5 15 58 47 15 32 26 20
20 2006 Ohio State 2 21 18 20 13 10 21 27 14 23
21 2004 Louisville 6 61 48 25 N/A 27 39 9 33
22 2007 Southern California 3 12 44 28 18 28 14 40
23 2009 Texas Christian 4 36 17 30 32 13 17 26 34 19
24 2006 Louisville 3 24 16 14 12 24 30 11 24
25 2006 Florida 4 2 15 4 6 7 7 8 21 5 14
26 2004 Miami (Florida) 7 5 68 50 N/A 37 23 33
27 2006 Michigan 5 6 25 29 31 30 39 25 30
28 2009 Virginia Tech 5 8 59 52 16 29 36 24
29 2005 Penn State 4 8 12 16 11 N/A 10 20 11
30 2007 Ohio State 4 30 54 54 29 30
31 2007 Missouri 5 13 33 31 36 31 40
32 2005 Virginia Tech 5 36 29 19 14 N/A 36 22 26 22
33 2006 Louisiana State 6 16 28 11 16 33 24 30 29
34 2004 Texas 8 13 19 10 43 N/A 14 15 11 21 18
35 2007 Kansas 6 53 41 20 21 29
36 2007 Florida 7 2 71 53 21
37 2007 Oklahoma 8 35 69 30 32
38 2009 Boise State 6 71 7 27 36 38 18 14 37 17
39 2008 Texas Tech 6 3 52 58 37 21
40 2007 Oregon 9 5 90 48 27
41 2004 Virginia Tech 9 10 78 42 N/A 35
42 2008 Ohio State 7 5 80 78 19 34
43 2007 Virginia Tech 10 17 57 51
44 2006 California 7 5 51 33 39
45 2006 Boise State 8 62 24 27 35 22 17 23
46 2007 Georgia 11 9 26 34 33
47 2008 Utah 8 53 10 14 26 25 11 32 10
48 2008 Texas Christian 9 46 62 37 23 27
49 2008 Alabama 10 37 31 35 34 39 34 39 17
50 2005 Notre Dame 6 11 94 59 40 N/A
51 2006 West Virginia 9 29 38 41 22 37
52 2008 Boise State 11 76 60 74 38 35
53 2009 Georgia Tech 7 3 65 83
54 2006 Brigham Young 10 71 100 55 24
55 2009 Ohio State 8 46 36 45 25 26 31
56 2004 Boise State 10 59 43 56 N/A 32 40
57 2005 Miami (Florida) 7 19 81 77 28 N/A
58 2009 Cincinnati 9 22 16 22 57 34 23 28
59 2004 Georgia 11 11 40 66 N/A
60 2007 Cincinnati 12 31
61 2005 Louisiana State 8 28 47 46 26 N/A 32
62 2005 West Virginia 9 44 32 40 N/A 25
63 2009 Penn State 10 53 70 69 30
64 2004 Florida State 12 19 98 N/A
65 2006 Oklahoma 11 27 84 79
66 2009 Iowa 11 25 39 63 38
67 2004 Arizona State 13 2 49 72 N/A 35 31
68 2009 Nebraska 12 48 94
69 2004 Virginia 14 20 N/A
70 2008 Oregon 12 22 89 67 36
71 2005 Georgia 10 47 75 36 N/A
72 2009 Oregon 13 17 45 71 37
73 2006 Rutgers 12 39 50 49 36
74 2008 Oklahoma State 13 7
75 2007 Arizona State 13 22 72 89
76 2005 Oregon 11 7 56 87 N/A
77 2006 Auburn 13 30 34 44 40 34
78 2009 Louisiana State 14 14 99 93
79 2008 Missouri 14 9
80 2009 Oklahoma 15 16 12
81 2006 Wisconsin 14 70 42 39 40
82 2004 Louisiana State 15 28 88 N/A
83 2005 Auburn 12 52 N/A
84 2006 Virginia Tech 15 50 31
85 2005 Alabama 13 55 67 92 33 N/A
86 2005 Boston College 14 24 82 76 N/A
87 2005 Wisconsin 15 32 79 81 N/A
88 2009 Miami (Florida) 16 4
89 2007 Texas 14 39 95 73
90 2008 Georgia 15 8 61 80 28
91 2007 South Florida 15 8
92 2006 Texas 16 40 95 33
93 2009 Clemson 17 11
94 2006 Arkansas 17 10 91 65 32
95 2007 Clemson 16 33
96 2004 Iowa 16 16 37 68 N/A
97 2006 Tennessee 18 12 92 70
98 2004 Texas Tech 17 17 90 N/A 28
99 2004 Oregon State 18 4 N/A
100 2007 Auburn 17 10 85
101 2005 Louisville 16 63 N/A 38
102 2008 Florida State 16 11
103 2007 Michigan 18 28
104 2004 Purdue 19 42 N/A
105 2007 Boston College 19 36 66
106 2005 Texas Tech 17 40 93 64 N/A
107 2009 Texas Tech 18 43
108 2005 Clemson 18 39 N/A
109 2005 Michigan 19 6 84 N/A
110 2006 South Carolina 19 17
111 2009 Pittsburgh 19 40 83
112 2004 Tennessee 20 25 64 97 N/A
113 2008 Oregon State 17 20 75 39
114 2004 Texas A&M 21 7 N/A
115 2006 Georgia 20 15 86
116 2008 Mississippi 18 38 60
117 2005 Texas Christian 20 67 53 82 N/A
118 2008 Iowa 19 65
119 2006 Notre Dame 21 22 77
120 2005 Florida 21 42 86 96 N/A

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