WHO’S GOT THE POWER HALFWAY THROUGH THE SEASON?–WEEK 7


Howdy, all.  If you haven’t seen this column before (and I’m assuming you haven’t), this is where you’ll find out which teams have played the best against the best.  I can tell you this by looking at the results of my college football power ranking model, which I’ve been designing over the past five years.  I could give you the details of how the model works, but I won’t in this column.  I’d get bored writing it, and you’d never read this again.  If you really want to find out, go to my site, https://collegefootballpowerranking.wordpress.com, and click on the “How it Works” page.  That page may not be completely up to date with the latest model, but I’ll check it soon.

Here’s the model in a nutshell:  just like with every model out there, teams earn points from wins and lose them from losses.  I factor in Home/Away, scoring margins of 17 points or greater and strength of schedule.  A couple of things that make my model different:  every team begins the season evenly ranked.  I also incorporate a historical bias adjustment based on the team’s performance over the past four seasons.  This bias affects the points earned/lost by a team’s opponents and is partly reflected in that team’s strength of schedule.  Points earned or lost vary given the relative ranking of the two teams.  One more thing—I hate 1-AA teams.  Playing them doesn’t usually give a team much in winning points, but it adversely affects its strength of schedule.  Lose to a 1-AA opponent generally leads to free fall.

My rankings won’t look like the AP or the Coaches’ Polls because mine doesn’t suck.  Those polls generally catch up to mine as the season progresses.  Also, you’ll see some teams ranked ahead of some teams that beat them like VA TECH and GEORGIA over ALABAMA and CLEMSON.  This is because these other teams have played MUCH better competition since those early games.  You’ll also see quite a bit of movement at the top of the ranking.  There was a lot from last week because so many teams either got beat or had an open date.  It’s hard to earn points when you’re not playing.

Now, before I get into the rankings for this week, here are a few thoughts.

THE SEC EAST—Like a lot of you, I was surprised to see that Missouri was undefeated heading into their game against Georgia, until I looked at their schedule.  Even though Georgia was ranked #2 entering the game, I wasn’t very surprised with the outcome.  The game may have been different if Georgia hadn’t been down to its 3rd running back and scout team wide outs.  The game would have been different if Georgia would just play some damn defense.  But, I have to give Missouri their due.  They whipped Georgia at Athens, and would be firmly in control of the East if their QB hadn’t suffered that separated shoulder.  If Missouri beats Florida and South Carolina over the next two weeks, they may still control the East.  It’s no sure thing with their finishing with Ole Miss and A&M.  I think Missouri just opened the door for South Carolina to backdoor Georgia and slip into the championship game.

Georgia—they’ve lost too much on offense, and they’ll probably lose to either Florida or Auburn in the next few weeks, if not both.  Florida could find themselves back around the top 10 if they can find a way to slow down Georgia’s offense in two weeks.  That’s easier said than done since Georgia should have Gurley back to tote the rock.  Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky all combine to suck.

THE SEC WEST—LSU may have found some defense.  They’ll need it with Ole Miss this weekend and Alabama and A&M lurking.  A&M is still dangerous, but Ole Miss seemed to study LSU’s game film last year and slowed them down, some, at first.  Most of y’all didn’t stay up to watch the whole game, but Ole Miss could have won that game.  Ole Miss won the 4th quarter 21-20, but their final series consisted of 3 incomplete passes that took 34 seconds off the clock, including the punt.  I think they should have tried running the ball to work the clock, but it may not have worked since A&M had all of their timeouts.

Arkansas shouldn’t be this bad.  Bad enough to give up 52 (FIFTY TWO) unanswered points.  Some teams like Georgia get worse due to injuries, and some like Arkansas seem to find their suck groove.  Florida vs Missouri might be a good one, and LSU vs Ole Miss could be a shoot-out.

THE BIG 12—Pundits nationwide are talking up Baylor.  Yes, they’ve won their games by an average of 63-18, but here’s another number for you.  112.  This is the average rank of their opponents.  You’re still not sure?  Arguably, their toughest opponent so far has been Louisiana-Monroe, and they aren’t playing nearly as well as they were last season when they beat Arkansas.  They have two more bad teams in the next two weeks.  After that, they could realistically lose their final five.  I don’t know that this will happen, but I will be surprised if they win more than 9.  I’m calling it.  Write it down.

How the hell did Texas beat Oklahoma?  The only thing I can figure is that Bob Stoops is worried that Texas’s next hire will beat him badly, so he did his part in helping Mack keep his job.  A lot of people between Austin and Norman think they both should go.

Texas Tech is the other undefeated team left in the Big 12, but they needed some zebra help to beat TCU.  I like Kingsbury, but their next three games could be pretty tough.  By the way, if anyone wants to know, I’ll tell you how the Big 12 is cheating the other major conferences again this season.

Texas Tech vs West Virginia could be a fun one depending on which schizo W VA team shows up.  Same with TCU vs Oklahoma State.  Like Ole Miss, TCU may be the most dangerous 3-3 team out there.

THE ACC—Hell of a game this weekend between Florida State and Clemson.  The winner will be in the thick of the national title conversation and should be as long as it’s Florida State.  I only write this because Clemson is playing two 1-AA teams this season.  But, I’m not completely sold on either of these two.  Both of these teams have that old, Spurrier-esque, shiney pants offense and defenses that don’t scare Wake Forest.  In three weeks, Miami and Virginia Tech square off.  These teams aren’t getting the pub, but their combined record is 12-1, and both of them appear to be more balanced than Clemson and Florida State.  The winners of each of these two games should meet in the ACC championship game, which could be the game they originally envisioned.   By the way, you’ll see below that Virginia Tech and Miami are ranked higher than Clemson and Florida State.

There always seems to be a lot of unforeseen upsets in the ACC every year.  I have no idea how East Carolina was able to beat North Carolina so badly and a lot worse than South Carolina and Virginia Tech beat them, but if there’s one team that could rise up this week, it’s the Tarheels.  Beware, Canes.

THE PAC 12—Right now, the Pac 12 looks like it has finally displaced the Big 12 and is taking its place as the other main power conference along with the SEC.  This may change before the season ends, and the ACC may have something to say about it.  At this time, eight of the twelve teams may really be pretty good.  I don’t believe that USC has the depth to win a lot, but eight wins is possible.  Arizona and Washington State aren’t too bad, and they may be good enough to pull a couple of upsets.  Colorado and Cal are pretty bad, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dykes can’t right the ship at Cal after a couple of seasons.   The two marque games are Washington vs Arizona State and UCLA vs Stanford.

THE BIG 10—Nice win by Penn State.  Stanford’s loss could be HUGE for the Big 10!  If they go on to win the PAC 12, they may put a less than deserving Ohio State into the national championship game.

THE RANKING—Stanford and Georgia had started building up a nice cushion between them and the rest of the teams before their losses last week.  Almost five points.  This week, the top seven teams are all within five points.  As we get deeper into conference play, we should see less dramatic movement from week-to-week as the teams play more opponents near their own rank.  The teams are starting to find their slots.  Missouri, Utah, Texas and BYU are the big risers this week.  Oklahoma was the big loser, but they’ll get a chance to climb back up in two weeks when they play Texas Tech.

I feel the need to give a shout out to one team that should become bowl-eligible for the first time in a very long time, and that’s Tulane.  They’re 5-2, and they just whipped East Carolina who beat the hell out of North Carolina a few weeks ago.  Also, a buddy of mine here in Atlanta wants me to give a shout out to Georgia State.  I’ve got to say, the Panthers are AWFUL.  Not only are they 0-3 against 1-A opponents, they’re also 0-3 against 1-AA teams.  Georgia State is in its second year of transitioning to 1-A while Old Dominion is in its first.  Appalachian State, Charlotte and Georgia Southern are coming aboard next season.    The Sunbelt and Conference USA are gaining members but losing strength of schedule for the next few seasons.  This could be a win for the American Athletic Conference, but I doubt it.  They have as many teams ranked 100 or worse (3) as they do in the top 40.

PTS FOR

LAST

WEEK 7 RANKING

WINS

LOSSES

RANK

1

OREGON

23.63595

6

0

8

2

LSU

21.23867

6

1

14

3

MISSOURI

20.46564

6

0

21

4

VIRGINIA TECH

20.32547

6

1

10

5

ALABAMA

19.22687

6

0

4

6

GEORGIA

19.14231

4

2

2

7

MIAMI

18.90265

5

0

3

8

UCLA

18.78483

5

0

5

9

BAYLOR

17.62909

5

0

9

10

OHIO ST

17.38769

6

0

6

11

UTAH

17.33559

4

2

43

12

CLEMSON

16.66357

6

0

11

13

STANFORD

15.54044

5

1

1

14

NOTRE DAME

15.42052

4

1

12

15

FLORIDA ST

14.50098

5

0

13

16

SOUTH CAROLINA

14.45711

5

1

17

17

TEXAS AM

14.07664

5

1

22

18

TEXAS

13.96206

4

2

59

19

BYU

13.55437

4

2

36

20

AUBURN

12.91001

5

1

18

21

MICH ST

12.57977

5

1

26

22

ARIZONA ST

11.65589

4

2

19

23

LOUISVILLE

11.28704

6

0

38

24

TEXAS TECH

11.03896

6

0

23

25

WASHINGTON

10.43599

4

2

15

26

OKLAHOMA

10.06743

5

1

7

27

OREGON ST

9.794508

5

1

48

28

FRESNO ST

9.128933

5

0

25

29

PENN ST

9.085254

4

2

73

30

NORTHERN ILL

8.982916

6

0

28

31

UCF

8.90191

4

1

29

32

NEBRASKA

8.6945

5

1

33

33

WISCONSIN

8.447594

4

2

54

34

USC

8.443763

4

2

46

35

HOUSTON

8.340271

5

0

34

36

WEST VIRGINIA

7.568521

3

3

32

37

MICHIGAN

6.924423

5

1

16

38

FLORIDA

6.891494

4

2

24

39

PITTSBURGH

6.405576

3

2

27

40

MARYLAND

6.244358

5

1

39

41

BALL ST

5.973202

6

1

42

42

TULANE

5.645937

5

2

64

43

RUTGERS

4.290492

4

2

30

44

SYRACUSE

4.155316

3

3

68

45

INDIANA

4.114484

3

3

37

46

ILLINOIS

3.43832

3

2

44

47

WASHINGTON ST

3.395455

4

3

20

48

WAKE FOREST

3.281227

3

3

45

49

BOISE ST

3.063267

4

2

65

50

TCU

2.82388

3

3

53

51

IOWA

2.45699

4

2

50

52

OKLAHOMA ST

2.378484

4

1

49

53

UNLV

1.566802

4

2

52

54

NORTHWESTERN

1.439724

4

2

40

55

DUKE

1.255006

4

2

70

56

MISSISSIPPI ST

1.017578

3

3

61

57

MISSISSIPPI

0.271178

3

3

51

58

RICE

0.217837

4

2

58

59

TENNESSEE

0.173284

3

3

55

60

MARSHALL

0.088867

4

2

57

61

UL-LAF

-0.28572

3

2

56

62

GA TECH

-0.48428

3

3

41

63

ARIZONA

-0.87826

3

2

47

64

MINNESOTA

-1.36227

4

2

60

65

BUFFALO

-1.4087

4

2

62

66

WESTERN KENTUCKY

-1.87982

4

2

66

67

SAN JOSE ST

-1.94847

3

3

76

68

BOSTON COLLEGE

-2.87868

3

3

67

69

VANDERBILT

-3.29726

3

3

69

70

EAST CAROLINA

-3.46602

4

2

31

71

ARKANSAS

-4.27309

3

4

71

72

COLORADO

-4.68795

2

3

72

73

UTAH ST

-5.37659

3

4

63

74

OLD DOMINION

-5.49777

4

2

79

75

WYOMING

-5.69586

4

2

88

76

KENTUCKY

-5.98584

1

5

80

77

MEMPHIS

-6.17033

1

4

74

78

CENTRAL MICH

-6.69517

3

4

103

79

KANSAS

-6.9318

2

3

77

80

NORTH TEXAS

-6.98734

3

3

95

81

CALIFORNIA

-7.26754

1

5

82

82

KENT ST

-7.71383

2

5

81

83

OHIO UNIV

-8.12884

4

2

35

84

NORTH CAROLINA

-8.43753

1

4

87

85

BOWLING GREEN

-8.62622

5

2

83

86

TOLEDO

-8.67499

3

3

91

87

PURDUE

-9.06268

1

5

89

88

SMU

-9.09509

1

4

92

89

ARMY

-9.73553

3

4

100

90

NC STATE

-10.0423

3

3

78

91

TROY

-10.3728

4

3

96

92

NAVY

-10.5203

3

2

75

93

VIRGINIA

-10.6512

2

4

93

94

CINCINNATI

-11.4468

4

2

101

95

NEVADA

-11.9109

3

3

99

96

ARKANSAS ST

-12.3441

3

3

102

97

FLORIDA ATLANTIC

-13.1365

2

5

94

98

TULSA

-13.467

2

4

104

99

COLORADO ST

-13.901

2

4

86

100

TEXAS SAN ANTONIO

-14.7359

2

5

98

101

NEW MEXICO

-14.79

2

4

90

102

ULM

-14.8803

3

4

106

103

MIDDLE TENN

-15.2722

3

4

85

104

TEXAS ST

-17.0989

3

3

84

105

UAB

-17.252

2

4

107

106

IDAHO

-17.6008

1

6

97

107

SAN DIEGO ST

-19.3115

3

3

115

108

SOUTH FLORIDA

-21.1255

2

4

118

109

SOUTH ALABAMA

-21.581

2

3

110

110

HAWAII

-21.9589

0

6

108

111

SOUTHERN MISS

-23.1095

0

5

111

112

LA TECH

-23.141

2

4

113

113

KANSAS ST

-23.3593

2

4

112

114

IOWA ST

-23.5712

1

3

114

115

EASTERN MICH

-25.2875

1

5

105

116

AIR FORCE

-27.2302

1

6

109

117

AKRON

-27.5782

1

6

117

118

NEW MEXICO ST

-29.1672

0

6

120

119

UTEP

-31.3546

1

5

119

120

MIAMI (OH)

-31.9226

0

6

116

121

CONNECTICUT

-38.444

0

5

121

122

UMASS

-58.6301

1

5

124

123

WESTERN MICH

-61.1993

0

7

122

124

TEMPLE

-62.5671

0

6

123

125

FLORIDA INT

-76.5671

1

5

125

126

GEORGIA STATE

-149.525

0

6

126

I’ll try to get a little more humor into next week’s column.  Let me know what you think about the rankings.  Trust me, I can take it.  I’m planning on updating my projections for the end of the season starting next week.

Guys, I need some help to be able to continue with this website.  I’m just asking for $5 a head.  If twenty of you lend a hand, I may be able to get my own domain name.  If two hundred of you help, this action will begin to look feasible.  Please click on this link at the top of the page starting with https://collegefootballpowerranking.wordpress.com/please-help-me-keep-this-page-going/.  I really appreciate this.

Thanks,

Bill

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