I wrote this about 12 hours ago.† The committee pretty much did what I thought they should do, with the exception of choosing Georgia Tech over UCLA. I guess they went with the team that finished strong over the better "body of work".† After Oregon took the Rose and Arizona the Fiesta, there wasn't really a good bowl to put UCLA in anyway.† I also would have preferred Alabama play FSU in the Sugar Bowl and the traditional Rose Bowl match-up, but I guess they don't consider that.
I know this is early in the day for most of you, but Iím not the one who decided to make the selection show so early for west coasters like me. Iíll just have to find out the final verdict after I get up and have breakfast.
Iíll just do my regular top 25 blog later in the week, but for reference here are my ratingsresults. I use the numbers there below.
(Teams in my Top 7 apart from Boise St.; wins are limited to those over the top 60.)
Florida St. (3-0 vs. top 25, 5-0 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 14, 21, 25, 41, 46, 55, 60
Alabama (3-1 vs. top 25, 8-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 9, 16, 18, 26, 33, 40, 45, 47, 52
Lost to #8
Oregon (3-1 vs. top 25, 6-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 10, 11, 13, 36, 39, 48
Lost to #10
Ohio St. (2-0 vs. top 25, 5-0 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 13, 15, 28, 30, 43, 54
Lost to #74
TCU (1-1 vs. top 25, 4-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 19, 29, 30, 45, 57, 60
Lost to #7
Baylor (2-0 vs. top 25, 3-1 vs. top 50):
Beat numbers 5, 19, 29, 57, 60
Lost to #45
There should be no serious doubt about Florida St., Alabama, and Oregon, so Iíll skip to talking about the fourth semifinal team.
Baylorís win wasnít really in doubt for the much of the second half, but I donít think it was anything like the kind of exclamation point Ohio St. had. I had Ohio St. in the top 4 to begin with, so I am still convinced Baylor does not belong. Virginia Tech is a worse team to lose to than WVU, but my feeling is the two additional wins over the top 50 make up for this.
I respect the opinion that TCU belongs ahead of Ohio St., although obviously I donít agree with the conclusion. I think Ohio St. just showed emphatically they can play like a top 4 team. Admittedly, they showed all those weeks ago they can also lose to a mediocre team at home by two touchdowns, but at some point, the other 12 games taken as a whole should be more important. One top-25 win vs. 2 and 5 top-50 wins vs. 4 make up for that. TCU played the best of any of these teams in their loss, but actually that might have been their best game. I just havenít seen them look like a top team often enough, particularly in light of their difficulties against West Virginia and Kansas in the month of November.
Transitioning out of the semifinal discussion, I donít think Marshall and Boise St. are getting the respect that previous ďgroup of fiveĒ teams with similar records have gotten in the past. Hawaii in 2007, for instance, was #11 after starting 11-0. Marshall, which has actually had a better schedule this season, was #19 after starting 11-0. I do think Marshall and Boise St. may each be a couple of spots too high in my ratings though.
I mentioned briefly last week why I had Boise St. ahead of Arizona, and now itís similarly problematic to have Boise St. ahead of Baylor. There is a higher depth to Boise St.ís wins, but ultimately beating top-20 teams should be valued more highly. I want to try to find a way where beating #5 and #19 counts for more points than beating #20, #49, and #69. Those arenít Boise St.ís three best wins (they beat two others in the top 60), but they just happened to combine for slightly more points than Baylorís two best wins.
One way I thought of was adding some kind of additional credit for beating teams that end up with positive ratings (which is usually approximately the top 40). I wonít alter the formula at this point this season though. I will tinker with it after the final results of this year to see how it turns out. I will also look to see how it would alter previous ratings.
Something else I want to note is Boise St. actually has more FBS wins than Baylor because they played an extra game and did not play an FCS opponent. So where usually a team with two losses has fewer wins than one with a single loss, the two-loss team in question has more wins.
In an average playing week, Baylor did accumulate more points than Boise St. did in an average week.
One reason I say Marshall may be a spot or two too high is that I think Michigan St.should be in a major bowl. Their only losses are to teams I believe should be in the top 4.Wisconsin was technically the Big Ten runner-up, but they lost an additional game, and they lost to LSU and Northwestern. LSU isnít a bad loss, but Northwestern is pretty bad. They donít even qualify for a bowl game. I mention those together because theyíre in the same conference.
I also think UCLA should be included in the top 6 bowls, while Georgia Tech should be excluded. The two teams finished with the same number of losses, and there were understandable losses by both and fairly weak losses by both. UCLAís non-conference slate of Virginia, Memphis, and Texas, combined with the strength of the Pac-12 South relative to the ACC Coastal, should put them ahead.
Florida St. was actually two possessions ahead of Georgia Tech going into the last couple of minutes, which is a gigantic lead for the Seminoles, so the final score being two points doesnít sway me. Also, I give them credit for the one strong out-of-conference win (albeit an extremely lucky one) against Georgia, but the others were Wofford, Tulane, andGeorgia Southern.
I havenít exactly made the case why UCLA should go ahead of Wisconsin or Michigan St. should go ahead of Georgia Tech, but hopefully you can fill in the blanks there.
The only other thing in the top 25 worth commenting on is a team that hadnít been there since my (subjective) preseason rankingÖ.
We can also add Northern Illinois to the list of ďgroup of fiveĒ teams that may be a spot or two too high. After Arkansasís games against LSU and Ole Miss made that blowout loss more understandable, that only leaves one other loss for the Huskies against 11 wins. Like Boise St., Northern Illinois goes up an extra spot for playing an extra game. If I averaged by playing week, they would have stayed behind Louisville.
In addition to my blog linked to above, I also have a page on Facebook and am on twitter @TheBayouBlogger.
My current top 4
My Top 25
1 ( 2 ) Florida St. 1
2 ( 1 ) Alabama 2
3 ( 5 ) Ohio St. 3
4 ( 3 ) Oregon 4
5 ( 4 ) TCU 8
6 ( 22 ) Boise St. 12
7 ( 7 ) Arizona 10
8 ( 11 ) Ole Miss 14
9 ( 8 ) Miss. St. 5
10 ( 12 ) Ga. Tech 15
11 ( 15 ) UCLA 6
12 ( 9 ) Mich. St. 17
13 ( 13 ) Wisconsin 18
14 ( 6 ) Baylor 13
15 ( 14 ) Missouri 20
16 ( 30 ) Marshall 7
17 ( 10 ) Kansas St. 19
18 ( 16 ) Georgia 9
19 ( 19 ) Auburn 11
20 ( 31 ) Colo. St. 16
21 ( 20 ) Clemson 23
22 ( 24 ) Nebraska 24
23 ( 18 ) Arizona St. 21
24 ( 17 ) Oklahoma 22
25 ( 21 ) Louisville Ė
(USC and LSU are the two Mock BCS top 25 teams who are not in my top 25.)
Full Rankings 1-128
Out of top 25: (25) Minnesota
There are a total of 39* teams that got some level of points in the Mock BCS standings linked to above. (I list 40 teams since Texas A&M was in the top 25 of one of the computer rankings, but they got no points since the highest rating is dropped)
Earlier top-25 blogs:
I didnít do a post-game blog about LSU/A&M, but I updated the Rivalry Series entry, and I will write a bit about the Tigers in my second blog this week. I also plan to write about relative conference strength and lower bowl possibilities. I think the new committee rankings will be relevant to that discussion.
What Iíll discuss below is the current state of my rankings and how I think that SHOULD translate into what the committee does with the major bowls at the end. I canít speculate with any accuracy what they will do, especially being that I donít know how the rankings for this week will look.
Because Florida St. has been accumulating a reasonable amount of points whileAlabama has recently had a bye and played Western Carolina, the Seminoles are still on top, although I would agree with probably most people in the conclusion that Alabama looks like the better team at the moment.
Georgia has also thrown a wrench into things by beating Auburn, losing to Georgia Tech, and failing to win the East. If Alabama were playing a two-loss Georgia team next week and Florida St. were playing a three-loss team, Alabama would have a good chance to move back into #1, but unless the Yellowjackets beat Florida St., I donít see that happening now.
By the way, Iíve never experienced such a disappointing day of college football in my life. I watched about 10 games that went down the final couple of minutes, and every last one of them went the way I didnít want them to. Georgia choking was just the beginning of a long day. Also, I donít know why on Earth Auburn thought they could win with field goals.
Alabama should have at least three losses, but then how would they torture me? One thing they did was allow LSU to move into first place in the SEC in total defense, so I guess we can say we got first place in something.
Despite the SEC Eastís troubles with the ACC (although letís not forget Georgia beatClemson earlier this year), I think itís justified to have three SEC WEST teams in the top 10 and all seven in the top 40. By the way, the Mock BCS agrees with the latter assessment. Texas A&M got no points, but they were ranked in one of the formerly BCS computers, so I think that makes them #40. It merely has three SEC West teams in the top 11 instead of the top 10 though.
Anyway, there are two more slots to fill out in the semifinals, so Iíll now talk about that.
I have no hesitation in supporting Oregon if they beat Arizona. They will have vindicated their one loss of the year. Even though they play in the weaker Pac-12 division, they still beat UCLA, who tied for second in the Pac-12 South. Of course, Michigan St.counts as a decent win as well. So thatís two of the top 3 teams in the Pac-12 South. (Technically, USC tied with ASU and UCLA in the South, but theyíre clearly #4 in my view.)
That last spot is going to be tricky. I do have Ohio St. there right now (actually ahead of Oregon at the moment), and I canít imagine that if the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin, that either the formula or my mind will change. However, I do understand the argument that maybe losing to Virginia Tech at home could be a disqualifying factor.
As I discussed last week, I firmly believe the best alternative to Ohio St. in that instance isTCU, whose only blemish is a 3-point loss to Baylor about 6 weeks ago.
West Virginia is better than Virginia Tech, but they donít belong anywhere near the top 25. The Mountaineers beat Baylor by a couple of touchdowns.
Even if Oregon loses, I still donít see Baylor being #4. The committee might pick them ahead of Arizona in that instance, but I donít think I would.
That might not seem to make sense being that I have Boise St. ahead of Arizona right now, but the Broncos have the better schedule at the moment. I know thatís hard to believe, but Boise St.ís opponents have a winning record overall, and Arizonaís opponents have a losing record overall. The Mountain West simply is not leaps and bounds behind the power conferences, and Boise played a very competitive schedule out of conference (while Arizona didnít).
However, Fresno St. isnít going to help the Broncos very much. So with a win, Arizona should easily pass them up as well as TCU and Oregon (whom they would have to beat).
Using my formulaís current rankings, these are the potential resumes of relevant teams for the last spot or two (two if Oregon, Florida St., or Alabama lose):
Team 1: beat #6, 17, 24, 56; lost to #46
Team 2: beat #17, 24, 29, 46, 56; lost to #14
Team 3: beat #12, 13, 29, 32, 44, 45, 55; lost to #76
Team 4: beat #4, 4, 23, 36, 50, 53; lost to #11, 27
Iím going to assume Alabama would be out of the running with a loss despite whatever strength of resume they might have. It might be possible for a team to be #1 going into championship week and hang on with a loss at some point, but this is not the year.
I do want to acknowledge that Baylor may be much better than #14. They would close the gap considerably by beating Kansas St., but obviously Oregon would be a better win than Kansas St. Also, the Bears would not pass up TCU.
So the only teams that should be in the running from my perspective are Nos. 1 to 5 and #7 Arizona.
Arizona/Boise St. has prompted me to consider a slight modification to my system though. I have preliminary ratings of teams between 0 and about 7 (which would be if the team with the best schedule went undefeated, which is nearly impossible). Boise St. has only beaten one team (Colorado St.) with a preliminary rating higher than 4.0, while Arizona has beaten three (Oregon, Arizona St., and Utah). So my idea is to have those higher-rated opponents count for a bit more than they do already.
There are a total of 12 teams that will be in CFP bowls. I donít see any of the 6 mentioned above falling out, so here are 6 other teams I think should be make up the rest of the spots:
Boise St. (top ďgroup of fiveĒ team)
This would be assuming that Georgia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Kansas St. all lost. I believe a win by any of those (although Kansas St. might be debatable) should get them in. I have the teams above so they would be eliminated from the bottom right now. If Baylor beats Kansas St., I would want them to be given a safe spot though.
Boise St. should be assured the ďgroup of fiveĒ spot with a win, but if they lose and Marshall wins, I would want them replaced with Marshall. If both lose, I guess Colorado St. would take that slot.
In addition to my blog linked to above, I also have a page on Facebook and am on twitter @TheBayouBlogger.
I know this is long, but there are a few things I cover.† I give an overview of his time at both Michigan St. and LSU (with more detail for LSU of course) and then I talk about some things that went Alabama's favor that don't necessarily go in LSU's favor had Saban stayed all this time.
People talk about ghosts of Tiger Stadium (which turns 90 on Tuesday, by the way). Usually itís positives like Billy Cannonís Halloween Run in 1959, the 1988 Earthquake Game against Auburn, the five fourth-down conversions against Florida in 2007. There were a couple of other classics against those opponents and others.
There have also been negatives. One negative was when the Tigers went 30 years without a win against Alabama at home. Even though Bear was only there for about the first 1/3 of that time, it was like his ghost was still on the sidelines, pushing the Tide to victory in a way that it wasnít even present in the state of Alabama.
Other than the national championship, one of the main things Iím grateful for from Sabanís tenure is the fact that he had two home wins over Alabama, the first of which ended that long streak. Neither win came against a great Alabama team, but that wasnít important. Just like it wasnít important how young this LSU team was or how well Ole Miss had played in previous games this season.
In January, it will have been ten years since Nick Saban coached an LSU team.
Under Miles, things against Alabama started even better. After winning two games over Mike Shulaís teams (I also find it kind of funny that Miami is the team Saban came from due to that last name), Miles won three of his first five games against Saban. If Miles had left after 7 seasons, heíd be known the guy who (unlike Saban) actually beat a number of good Alabama teams at LSU. (In addition to the three wins over Saban, LSU beat a previously unbeaten, 4th-ranked Alabama team in 2005.)
The ghost of Bear might be gone now, but now there is a living ghost in the collective psyche of LSU fans by the name of Nick Saban. Some still openly regret the fact that heíd left and wanted him to come back. Iíve heard from multiple sources there was a group of boosters who thought they could get Saban back if Miles were to leave. Others bitterly resent what they see as his betrayal of LSU by going to Alabama.
I believe like most supposedly supernatural phenomena, this ghost is present in our minds only to the extent we allow it to be, but itís been really hard to shake since 1/9/12, that fateful day that ended what would have been LSUís first undefeated season since 1958 (although LSU still won two more games in 2011 than it had in 1958). It also prematurely ended what should have been at least 24 consecutive months of bragging rights over the Tide and gave Alabama another national championship to rub everyoneís noses in.
To backtrack a bit, I want to note that very few people mind the fact that he went to Miami. He had rejected many NFL offers out of respect for LSU, and he was still of the age that it made sense to give it a try. Also Wayne Huizenga, the owner of the Dolphins, had bent over backwards to accommodate Sabanís every contractual demand.
The betrayal was going to Alabama. Alabama may not have ever put too much emphasis on beating LSU, but the same could not be said of LSUís priorities. Of course, Alabama was not what it once was in 2007, but I think most LSU fans knew it would only be dormant for so long. For the catalyst of Alabamaís return to be Nick Saban was the ultimate slap in the face.
Both LSU and Michigan St. (his two stops before his brief experiment with NFL head coaching) fans took part in derogatory chants against Saban a couple of weeks ago. The Michigan St. fans did it when Chris Fowler interviewed Saban by satellite (if thatís even still the technology used), and the LSU fans did so in person when the Tide came to Tiger Stadium.
What annoys me more though is the perception by some that LSU and Michigan St. owe any success in the last few years to Saban. I wanted to set the record straight on some things, because Saban did not have anything close to the kind of improvement or level of consistency heís had at Alabama since 2008.
I could probably write a book about all the things I like and donít like about him and my observations of him as a person and a coach over the last 20 years (I clearly remember Michigan St. both before he took the job and during his time there), but I just want to focus on what exactly changed at Michigan St. and LSU when you look at the results on the field. I also want to consider the argument or suggestion that if heíd stayed at LSU, the LSU football team would be what Alabama has been over the last five seasons.
Sabanís last year at Michigan St. was a good one; but before that, his teams were just about as mediocre as they were under his predecessor there (although to be fair, 6-5-1 and 6-6 at least arenít losing seasons, which his predecessor had suffered a couple of times). Still, Sabanís second-best season there was only 7-5.
I donít want to dwell on Michigan St. too much ó his last season there was 15 years ago ó but in his first season gone, they went right back to 5-6, which they had finished the year before Saban started there. That was a long-term impact of approximately 0. In fact, you can go out even further. In the five years before Saban, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. In the five years after he left, Michigan St. won 48% of its games. What are fans today supposed to thank him for again? Other than memories of the 1999 Citrus Bowl?
It doesnít take a great coach to have a single ten-win season in five years. I donít think any major programs are beating down the doors of Will Muschamp, Larry Coker, Gerry DiNardo (Sabanís full-time predecessor), or even Gene Chizik, who has a national championship to his credit. Another example from the SEC, David Cutcliffe, took a long time to get back into a head coaching job despite having led Ole Miss to its best season in decades in 2003.
Saban did step things up in his fourth and fifth years at LSU, but the Tigers had a combined 12 losses in his first three years. The conference championship in 2001 was a fluke. How often has the SEC champion had three conference losses? How often does the SEC champion have a loss by 29 points at home?
LSU had worse in the previous two seasons than Michigan St. had had immediately before Saban but had two season of the previous four with wins of 9 games or more, whereas the last time Michigan St. had won even 8 games was five seasons before Saban got there.
LSU likely had better athletes to start with. After being a dormant program for 6 seasons, DiNardo did have some initial success. In his first season, he led the Tigers to only their second bowl win in 16 years, and it was over Sabanís first Michigan St. team. This was followed by a 19-5 record over the next two seasons, which included a win over defending national champions Florida in 1997. Also, Louisiana is more fertile recruiting ground for recruiting than the state of Michigan, and LSU isnít ďlittle brotherĒ to anyone in the state of Louisiana.
It was not that difficult to have a spike in Louisiana recruiting. It also wasnít the case that DiNardo couldnít develop players, which he clearly did given some of the close results against good teams. He just lost the ability (partly due to turnover among his assistants) to manage the team to wins.
Iím sure that put a damper on recruiting in the 1998-99 offseason, but LSU would finish the 1999 campaign with a strong win over a ranked Arkansas team (with an interim coach), and the hope that the hire of Saban brought (probably as much as or more than Saban himself) kept the recruiting after the 1999 season from being a problem. If they could beat a ranked team with a no-name interim coach at the helm, the sky was the limit.
Nonetheless, Sabanís first three seasons were actually worse than DiNardoís first three by record, and there had been no winning seasons that preceded any of the recruiting classes DiNardo worked with in that time.
Sabanís 9 wins in his final season were good in the context of the 12 years before his arrival, but I donít remember Les Miles getting a ton of credit for following a national championship season with 8-win and 9-win seasons, respectively. Nor did he get a lot of credit for winning 33 games in the past three full seasons combined. Sabanís best three years at LSU together didnít account for that many wins.
One of the other coaches I mentioned likely could have coached Sabanís 2004 team to 9 wins or more. Also, the loss to Georgia that season was reminiscent of the handful of bad losses Miles has had. So there was really only one season at LSU that was better than what had taken place at LSU the five seasons before Sabanís arrival.
As he did at Michigan St., he did raise the floor at LSU. When things didnít go well, he went 8-5 and 8-4 instead of 4-7 and (starting) 2-8. That was an improvement, but just like with Michigan St., he only raised the ceiling in one year.
In both instances, those singular seasons caused his stock to go through the roof (continuing with the housing analogy), although he did decide to stick around at LSU another year anyway. Also, itís not just wins and losses on their own. There were baffling losses under Saban. In his first season, he lost to Florida by 32, he lost to UAB (with only 10 points scored), and he lost to an Arkansas team (which had gone into the game with a losing record), 14-3.
Itís not good if you have three games where you score 10 or fewer points and four games where you score 17 or fewer.
The next year, they had the opposite problem. The offense was only held under 20 twice, but they allowed 44 to Florida, 25 to a bad Kentucky team, 35 to Ole Miss, 38 to Arkansas, and 34 to Illinois.
2002 was all over the map. They scored 14 or fewer four times, but they scored over 30 seven times. They allowed over 25 points five times.
2003ís team only had a single loss, but it was an ugly one: 19-7 at home against Ron Zookís Gators. The Tigers struggled offensively at times against the better teams such as Georgia, Ole Miss, and Oklahoma. It helped that that team was able to play 6 teams with losing records and a I-AA opponent. Before the last four games of that season, LSU had not played two teams back-to-back that would finish with winning records. Contrast that with Milesí last couple of seasons.
The 2004 team did not have a stellar offense, and LSU actually hurt themselves by trying to start JaMarcus Russell too soon. They nearly lost to Florida before Marcus Randall came off the bench to lead a comeback. They also needed Oregon St. to miss a few extra points in order to win the opener by 1 point in overtime. I already mentioned the Georgia loss that year.
LSU scored over 40 points three times that year (against teams with a combined 11 wins), but their highest point output otherwise was 27 against an Ole Miss team that finished 4-7. They only managed to score 24 apiece against the likes of Troy and Vanderbilt.
This was with Jimbo Fisher as the offensive coordinator. To apply the criticism Miles gets to Saban, he must have been holding the offensive coordinator back, right? It would seem to apply to Saban even more. In fact, Iím calling it right now: Cam Cameron is not going to be the head coach of a national-championship team in the next 10 years.
One could have also argued Saban only developed one ďrealĒ quarterback (Matt Mauck, whom he actually first recruited during his Michigan St. days) in those five years.
Saban was there when Russell came to LSU, but Iím sure that had more to do with Jimbo. Also, Russell didnít really come into his own until the middle of his last year, which had nothing to do with Saban.
Point being, if you start from the perspective of looking to blame the head coach for everything, Saban could have taken a lot of blame as well as credit during his time at LSU. I think people just donít realize how much their expectations have changed, which made every big win Saban had wonderful and every loss (or sometimes even close win) under Miles tragic.
So if weíre going to be assigning blame, we can blame Saban for causing LSU fans to forget what a losing season feels like. I still donít think we have him to thank for the 7 double-digit-win seasons since he left, although of course he was instrumental for at least the first couple of them.
The LSU fans who do have this pathetic sense of longing for Saban are misguided. Alabama has certain advantages that LSU just isnít going to have.
I donít buy into conspiracies, but I think there is a natural degree of deference they get from recruits, from referees, from the media, from conference officials (who, perhaps not coincidentally, are based in Alabama), etc. Notre Dame has not had a sustained presence atop college football in 20 years. For Nebraska, itís been about 15 years. So Alabama is the focal point of the historically great programs right now. There is just a different level of mystique for such programs. Nick Saban or not, that wasnít going to be LSU.
People canít accept that though. They just think that had Saban been here in 2009, 2011, and 2012, we would have had three national championships in those years rather than none. Maybe Saban wins in 2011 with either team (although even thatís arguable), but Iím doubtful about 2009 and 2012.
What if LSU (rather than Alabama) had been undefeated in 2009 and threw an interception on the game-clinching drive against Alabama. You think that gets ruled incomplete and LSU goes on to kick the field goal anyway?
LSU got some flak for winning in 2007 with two losses, but at least they won the conference, unlike Alabama in 2011.
Letís say LSU loses a home game to Alabama like they did this year and everything else plays out like 2011. Do you think LSU gets a re-match over a one-loss champion of another conference? I doubt it.
LSU hasnít gotten a soft touch at all in their slate against the SEC East even though their annual opponent (Florida) has been better than Alabamaís annual opponent (Tennessee).
The previous two seasons have had ďbridgeĒ schedules, temporary stop-gaps before they started off the new rotation, which was formalized before this season.
Alabama drew Missouri in 2012. Missouri played in the 2011 Independence Bowl, but they had an anticipated lull in adjusting to the SEC slate in 2012. In addition to the one good Muschamp team (which would only lose one SEC game), LSU had to play South Carolina, which had gone 11-2 in 2011. South Carolina would finish with the same record in 2012.
If you switch both SEC East opponents around, chances are LSU goes to the SEC Championship game instead of Alabama in 2012, even assuming Alabama still beats LSU in the closing seconds. Point being, I donít think had Saban coached LSU that year (even if he had players just as good as the ones he had at Alabama), he would have beaten both Florida and South Carolina.
In 2013, LSU got Georgia, which had nearly beaten Alabama in the 2012 championship game, while Alabama played Kentucky, fresh off another losing season. Again, that scenario does not get reversed if Saban coaches LSU instead of Alabama.
It was an extra advantage for Alabama because what turned out to be their top challenger, Auburn, had to play Georgia also. Auburn had a favorable bounce and there were some unfortunate injuries to Bulldogs players between playing LSU and Auburn, but that could have easily been another Alabama divisional win (even with the Iron Bowl loss) owing in significant part to the schedule.
A Saban team might have won another game last season at LSU, but if they donít end up winning two more, they donít win the championship anyway.
So all things considered, maybe Saban wins one more championship than Miles did over the last 10 years (thatís right, this is the 10th LSU season after Saban). On the other hand, maybe they donít win in 2007. You might blame Miles for the OT losses, but maybe Saban loses games to Florida and Auburn (there were some gutsy calls Saban may not have made) and they either lose a third somewhere along the way or someone else wins the division. So it could even be the same number of championships.
I donít mind the idea of looking at the unmatched level of success Alabama has had over the better part of the last seven seasons (the only time a program had done anything like that in my memory was Nebraska in the mid-1990s) and wanting to match that, but just get over the fact that the head coach there coached LSU 10 years ago. That goes for people who want to insult him and those who wish heíd stayed (or fantasize about his return) alike. For those who persist in being hung up on Saban, at least get your facts right.
This is my previous post here at the Gab. I included a picture of Saban with Jimbo Fisher, who was an assistant throughout Saban's time at LSU.
ím going to do things a little differently this week. To avoid confusion, Iím omitting last weekís rankings from the chart (I will discuss movement of teams in the discussion below). Iím listing my top 25 in order and to the right, Iím first listing the college football playoff top 25, followed by a mock BCS (Iíll just call it BCS from now on since there is no ďrealĒ BCS ranking anymore) ranking.
There are 36 teams that got at least some level of points under this approximated BCS system, so Iíll mention those who arenít in my top 25 afterward.
The BCS formula canít be completely replicated because there is no longer a Harris poll, and one of the computer systems (Massey) no longer lists ratings that comply with BCS rules, which included a ban on any consideration for margin of victory. I think Iíve made a pretty good approximation by using the AP poll and Masseyís ďnormalĒ ratings.
At least we can all agree on #1.
My Top 25
1 Miss. St. 1 , 1
2 Ole Miss 4 , 6
3 Auburn 3 , 4
4 Florida St. 2 , 2
5 Alabama 6 , 3
6 Oregon 5 , 5
7 LSU 19 , 13
8 Nebraska 15 , 17
9 Marshall ó , 23
10 Mich. St. 8 , 8
11 Notre Dame 10 , 7
12 Georgia 11 , 9
13 Ohio St. 16 , 15
14 UCLA 22 , 24
15 Arizona 12 , 16
16 Colo. St. ó , (27)
17 TCU 7 , 11
18 Kansas St. 9 , 10
19 Arizona St. 14 , 12
20 Clemson 21 , 20
21 Boise St. ó , (31)
22 Baylor 13 , 14
23 Oklahoma 18 , 19
24 Duke 24 , 25
25 W. Virginia 20 , 21
Out of my top 25: (11) Minnesota, (21) USC
My full list of FBS teams
These are all other teams that would have received some level of points in the BCS system (same format as above; if theyíre completely unranked, theyíre omitted):
26. Missouri Ė, 29
27. Ga. Tech Ė, 34
28. Minnesota Ė, 33
29. USC Ė, 28
30. Louisville 25, 35
31. East Carolina 23, 22
34. Wisconsin Ė. 30
36. Texas A&M Ė, 26
38. Stanford Ė, 32
40. Okla. St. Ė, 36
Explanation and future rankings
I donít have time for too much editorializing, but before seeing these I already thought it was an oversight not to have a system that was at least partially objective. Iím not going to judge the whole thing on one rankings list, but based on what I see here, I would have preferred to keep something like the BCS formula and pick the top four from that.
I know people who donít understand how my system works wonít be happy with these. Last week, Ole Miss was technically #1, but I just didnít rank them as such on my blog because I wanted to see if they would beat LSU before taking that step. Iím glad I made that choice.
Anyway, the question remains: how do they only lose one spot? I even thought I might have made a mistake, but Iíll explain.
The first thing I wanted to mention is theyíre actually #4, behind Auburn and Florida St. (who have had two byes apiece) if you divide the overall rating by playing weeks.
It also helps that Ole Miss started out a large distance over #3. A normal distance from one team to the next is about 0.02. Ole Miss was 0.12 ahead of last weekís (computer) #3, Florida St. Losing to LSU only subtracts 0.09 from Ole Missís score. Ole Miss still goes from 0.04 ahead of Mississippi St. to 0.14 behind. For context, in last weekís ratings, 0.14 was approximately the distance between #6 Oregon and #16 LSU. There just arenít teams between the two in this case.
Just as an aside, this week LSU was only 0.04 short of the Ducks.
With Florida St.ís bye week (most teams lose at least one spot in a bye week), Ole Miss was able to stay ahead and Auburn was able to pass them up. I understand one may object to two one-loss teams being ahead of Florida St., but at the end of last regular season there was just one, and at the end of this year there will likely be one. Someone has to lose Auburn-Ole Miss next week. Itís not guaranteed Mississippi St. will get past Alabama and Ole Miss. Also, someone has to lose between Alabama and Auburn. Auburn also has to play Georgia. So there are plenty of future opportunities on here for Florida St. to move back up.
Even if Ole Miss beats Auburn next week, they will then have a lull in points. They play Presbyterian College the following week, followed by a bye. Florida St.ís opponents of Louisville, Virginia, and U. Miami should pick them up a bit relative to Ole Miss.
Alabama plays LSU and Mississippi St. on the 8th and 15th, respectively, but next week they have a bye week, and on the 22nd they play Western Carolina (while Florida St. will play Boston College that week).
Once again, Auburn is a potential one-loss team that Florida St. may have trouble catching. Florida St. could be no better than third if both Auburn and Mississippi St. win out. Auburn would have a bye week during the championships in that scenario, but a win over Georgia to go along with the SEC West wins would still be difficult to overcome. If South Carolina and Kansas St. win the rest of their games, Auburn would have a very large number of points from those as well.
My computer ratings are a lot more fluid than the polls. Iíll give a couple of examples.
When I had Alabama ahead of Auburn last week, that clearly did not mean that if both won theyíd remain in the same positions. The teams are basically in a race. If youíre ahead in a race and neither you nor your opponent fall down, youíre not guaranteed to finish ahead.
Also, I said that teams playing tough opponents can pass up Marshall. Even though LSU was 9 spots behind, they did just that with the win over Ole Miss. Granted, many teams would have to win two games instead of one to make that distance, but itís not as difficult to move up as it would be in the polls. Nebraska was 7 spots behind Marshall and also passed up the Herd by beating Rutgers.
Marshall has a bye next week so will most likely be passed up by even more teams. Michigan St. is also idle, but then Sparty will have a good chance the next week against the Buckeyes.
In addition to Kansas St., itís also helped the SEC West that Boise St. (beaten by Ole Miss) and West Virginia (beaten by Alabama) have continued to move up. Both are now in the top 25. Wisconsin (beaten by LSU) is one of the next 10 teams out.
Also, SEC West teams have now swept three of the top five SEC East teams, Kentucky, Florida, and South Carolina. Georgia has the only win against the SEC West by any team in college football from outside of the SEC West, but the Bulldogs will play Auburn in a couple of weeks. Missouri has yet to play an SEC West team. Not that it helps much, but Tennessee was also swept by the SEC West, and Vanderbilt lost one and has one to play (against Miss. St.).
The top five teams of the SEC West are still undefeated against all outsiders. As mentioned, there are some really quality wins over those outsiders. LSU is the only one of the five who has lost twice within the group, but thatís about to change with the Auburn-Ole Miss game.
I almost forgot to mention Iím now on twitter @TheBayouBlogger
LSU plays Florida this week, so if youíre interested, here is my LSU/Florida Rivalry blog.
Dak Prescott evades an Auburn defender last year. I rank the two teams #1 and #3 going into their game Saturday.
1 Auburn 1
2 Florida St. 2
3 Miss. St. 6
4 Ole Miss 11
5 Arizona 15
6 Notre Dame 12
7 Ga. Tech 13
8 TCU 23
9 UCLA 9
10 Alabama 3
11 Marshall 24
12 Oregon 4
13 Nebraska 10
14 TX A&M 8
15 Oklahoma 5
16 Mich. St. Ė
17 Baylor 17
18 Missouri 25
19 Penn St. Ė
20 Minnesota Ė
21 Ohio St. Ė
22 Arizona St. Ė
23 Louisville 20
24 UC-Berkeley Ė
25 Florida Ė
Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in agreement with the top 25 given above)
Out of rankings: (7) BYU, (14) LSU. (16) E. Carolina, (18) Georgia, (19) S. Carolina, (21) Okie St.. (22) NC State
Explanation and future rankings
I only made two adjustments to my computer ratings to make this top 25. One was to keep Florida St. at #2. They actually were #2 in the computer rating last week, but the big points by undefeated Ole Miss, Miss. St., and Arizona teams them all ahead of the Seminoles. I still think itís too early to put any of them #2 though.
If the Bulldogs win next week, I may even put them #1. If Ole Miss and Auburn win, they may be 1 and 2, but then Florida St. would have a chance to get back in the top 2 with a win over Notre Dame the following week. In that scenario, I may again keep Florida St. #2 pending the outcome of the game against the Irish.
The other adjustment was to keep UCLA at #9. It just doesnít look right to lose to an unranked team and move up. They were #1 in the computer ratings last week.
I may make similar minor adjustments next week (I mentioned one possibility), but after the following week, I plan to just follow the computer rating to the letter.
In total, 7 of my top 11 teams lost of the 9 possible. There were three games where top-11 teams were playing one another, so thatís why there were only 9 possible losses. The only survivor against a team ranked below #15 was Florida St. Auburn was also a survivor, but LSU was #14 going into last week. (More on LSU below.)
Iím going to talk about new teams in the top 25 and old teams that fell out. I think itís pretty obvious why South Carolina (losers to Kentucky) and North Carolina St. (losers to Clemson) fell out. Some teams only moved into the rankings because 12 teams ahead of them lost.
BYU fell all the way out after losing to Utah St. That wasnít based on past opponents so much (although Texas didnít help), but Utah St. (#87 going into the week) is a bad loss at this point, so having a bad loss this early makes you sink like a stone. Virginia is still a quality win though.
East Carolinaís loss to South Carolina continues to drag them down. Also, the Pirates essentially have zero points to show for the last two weeks (a bye and a win over SMU). Virginia Tech won, but they beat North Carolina (another prior opponent of East Carolina), so that didnít help much.
Georgia also lost to South Carolina, so that is hurting them as well. Also, Tennesseeís loss wasnít helpful either.
Oklahoma St. is having issues with prior opponents, and Saturdayís win over Iowa St. (which only has one win) didnít help much. Texas-San Antonio has struggled, and Texas Tech lost yet again as well. Florida St. is still a respectable loss, but itís not really more respectable than it was already.
Michigan St. is back after finally getting a good win over Nebraska, nothing controversial there. Their land grant rivals (Penn St.) might be more of a mystery, but Akron, Rutgers, Northwestern, and Central Florida all won last week, and of course some higher teams suffered losses.
There isnít much analysis required for Minnesota, Ohio St., and Arizona St. Minnesota was idle, so they didnít really have points added, but it still helped a lot that TCU (the team they lost to) beat Oklahoma. The other two also had fairly decent wins.
Cal is probably the worst 4-1 team, but their only loss is to undefeated Arizona. Even though the Colorado and Washington St. wins werenít pretty and the Bears have allowed 144 points in their last 9 quarters, a win is a win. The Pac-12 schedule is a decent boost as well. Iíll mention Florida below.
I donít factor in margin of victory, so you might wonder why LSU fell so far. The Tigers had two wins over otherwise-unbeaten teams (ULM and Wisconsin) going into the week, but both lost. LSU does still have an extremely good schedule (#12 in FBS average), but itís very difficult to be in the top 25 with two losses this early, and the ULM and Wisconsin losses made it impossible. Also, an average FBS opponent would have given more points than Sam Houston St.
Iíve already given my thoughts about LSU in the past few blogs, but this was a very good article about what is important in this season at this point.http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/90273/developing-talent-the-key-now-for-lsu?ex_cid=espnapi_public
Forget winning the SEC West. Sure, competitive divisions like that can theoretically have a two-loss champion, but they need to just put it out of their minds completely. It should be a relaxed atmosphere where if you can upset Alabama, Ole Miss, or whoever, thatís great, but just play a good game. We didnít do that against Auburn, it was like the worse it got the more afraid LSU was of making it even worse. Even though Auburn is in playoff position and could easily be overshadowed with just one slip-up, they played more like a team with nothing to lose than LSU did.
My one disagreement with the author in the piece above is I donít think you settle on one quarterback. If one of them plays a bad half, take him out. The only decent drives were orchestrated by Jennings in the last game (the touchdown drive was essentially one good play rather than a well-orchestrated drive) and by Harris in the previous game. Neither one should have stayed in. We donít have to pick next yearís quarterback until next year. If they both get an equal number of snaps this year, then you have even more to go on in picking the quarterback for next year.
I think itís far worse to wrongly settle on a quarterback and stubbornly refuse to make a change. Thatís what happened in the 2012 title game. Maybe they wouldnít have gotten any points with Lee (who had struggled in the first game against Alabama), but you canít do worse than 0. Saturday was only one of two times since then (the other being @Alabama last year) that LSU lost by more than one possession.
As mentioned, LSU plays Florida next week. They also have two quarterbacks. Will Muschamp benched one of them to provide an offensive spark, and it worked. I donít know if he put a better QB in the abstract in, and he probably doesnít either, but he made a change to see if it would help against a given team in a given situation and it did. I suspect the second quarterback will do better against LSU based on his skill set (at least they might not be shut out for three quarters); but if not, Iím sure Muschamp will put the other guy back in.
The Gators snuck into my top 25 because the Kentucky win was strengthened when the Wildcats beat South Carolina. The one-point win at Tennessee got them some points as well. I think beating a team like that on the road would be something for LSU to be proud of. There will be a lot of unhappy people if they donít win; but like the ESPN article says, there is a lot of potential for the future either way.
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