Tagged with "Nebraska"
Week 9 College Football Rankings 2014
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN BOISE ST. CFP COLORADO ST. FLORIDA ST. LSU MARSHALL MICHIGAN ST. MISSISSIPPI ST. NEBRASKA OLE MISS OREGON West Virginia

知 going to do things a little differently this week. To avoid confusion, I知 omitting last week痴 rankings from the chart (I will discuss movement of teams in the discussion below). I知 listing my top 25 in order and to the right, I知 first listing the college football playoff top 25, followed by a mock BCS (I値l just call it BCS from now on since there is no 途eal BCS ranking anymore) ranking.

There are 36 teams that got at least some level of points under this approximated BCS system, so I値l mention those who aren稚 in my top 25 afterward.

The BCS formula can稚 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 I致e made a pretty good approximation by using the AP poll and Massey痴 渡ormal ratings.

At least we can all agree on #1.

At least we can all agree on #1.

My Top 25
Rank/team/CFP/BCS

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 , 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. , (27)
17 TCU 7 , 11
18 Kansas St. 9 , 10
19 Arizona St. 14 , 12
20 Clemson 21 , 20
boise-state-logo
21 Boise St. , (31)
22 Baylor 13 , 14
23 Oklahoma 18 , 19
24 Duke 24 , 25
WVU
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 they池e completely unranked, they池e omitted):

26. Missouri , 29
27. Ga. Tech , 34
28. Minnesota , 33
29. USC , 28
30. Louisville 25, 35
31. East Carolina 23, 22
34. Wisconsin . 30
36. Texas A&M , 26
38. Stanford , 32
40. Okla. St. , 36

Explanation and future rankings

I don稚 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. I知 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 don稚 understand how my system works won稚 be happy with these. Last week, Ole Miss was technically #1, but I just didn稚 rank them as such on my blog because I wanted to see if they would beat LSU before taking that step. I知 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 I値l explain.

The first thing I wanted to mention is they池e 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 week痴 (computer) #3, Florida St. Losing to LSU only subtracts 0.09 from Ole Miss痴 score. Ole Miss still goes from 0.04 ahead of Mississippi St. to 0.14 behind. For context, in last week痴 ratings, 0.14 was approximately the distance between #6 Oregon and #16 LSU. There just aren稚 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.痴 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. It痴 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.痴 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. I値l give a couple of examples.

When I had Alabama ahead of Auburn last week, that clearly did not mean that if both won they壇 remain in the same positions. The teams are basically in a race. If you池e ahead in a race and neither you nor your opponent fall down, you池e 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 it痴 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., it痴 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 that痴 about to change with the Auburn-Ole Miss game.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

I almost forgot to mention I知 now on twitter @TheBayouBlogger

Week 5 College Football Rankings 2014
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN COLLEGE FOOTBALL FLORIDA ST. LSU MARSHALL MICHIGAN ST. MISS ST. NEBRASKA OHIO ST. OKLAHOMA OREGON TCU TEXAS A&M

Let me know if any of you would be interesting in participating in a poll. I may start one next week if there is sufficient interest.

LSU plays Auburn this week, so if you池e interested, here is my LSU/Auburn Rivalry blog.

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Florida St. 3
3 Alabama 5
4 Oregon 4
5 Oklahoma 2
6 Miss. St. 10
7 BYU 7
8 TX A&M 6
9 UCLA 16
10 Nebraska 23
11 Ole Miss 8
12 Notre Dame 12
13 Ga. Tech 17
14 LSU 13
15 Arizona 22
16 E. Carolina 14
17 Baylor
18 Georgia 15
19 S. Carolina 9
20 Louisville
21 Okie St. 20
22 NC State 24
TCU
23 TCU
lgo_ncaa_marshall_thundering_herd
24 Marshall
25 Missouri

Full computer rankings 1-128 (as I will explain, these are not in agreement with the top 25 given above)

Out of rankings: (11) Penn St., (18) Rutgers, (19) Arkansas. (21) Washington, (25) Virginia

Explanation and future rankings

As I mentioned last week, this is my transition week into adopting all or most of my computer rankings.

I would have liked to have kept Arkansas, after its very good game against Texas A&M, and Virginia, which lost to two top-10 teams above and beat a top-20 team. I didn稚 keep them because they were not in the top 35, and I didn稚 want to deviate more than 10 spots.

The team where I deviated the most was East Carolina. I couldn稚 justify putting them behind a Baylor team whose best win is Iowa St. Georgia has one win over an ACC team, but East Carolina has two.

South Carolina is the only two-loss team that made it, but the Gamecocks did so on the strength of their wins. Virginia痴 just weren稚 strong enough to merit consideration.

I don稚 like ranking Missouri, but they have three wins over FBS teams. Obviously one of them is a very good win. I consider Indiana a bad loss, but it will take some time for them to show up that way even if the Hoosiers are in fact bad. Indiana is 2-2, including an FCS win; but the FCS team they beat is Indiana St., who is otherwise undefeated and has a win over an FBS team. So for right now it痴 just sort of a mediocre loss. I do have Missouri a few spots below where the computer put them though.

I certainly didn稚 want to put USC (the loss to Boston College isn稚 looking so good) or Minnesota (who was destroyed by TCU) in the top 25 even though the computer had them there.

The only other team I was really reluctant to rank was Marshall, but they池e undefeated, and I couldn稚 justify putting anyone else ahead of them.

I tried with Michigan St. and Ohio St., because I certainly think either would beat Marshall; but there just isn稚 a good argument being that I知 trying to transition into the objective system. Michigan St. was the best available team; but they were 10 spots lower than Marshall, so there was really no way to justify bridging that gap. Ohio St. was even lower.

Michigan St.痴 only wins are Jacksonville St., Eastern Michigan, and Wyoming, so I don稚 think that痴 good enough. At least Marshall beat Akron (who beat Pittsburgh). I know that isn稚 much to go on, but it痴 more than Michigan St. has; and again, the formula is something to go on as well.

It痴 also more than Ohio St. has to go on. Navy and Cincinnati are just not looking like good wins right now. Cincinnati only beat Miami U. and Toledo, and Navy now has three losses after losing to Western Kentucky. Even if the Buckeyes do have better wins than Marshall does, that still doesn稚 address the loss to Virginia Tech, whose only other wins are William and Mary and Western Michigan.

Cincinnati travels to U. Miami (the one in Florida) in a couple of weeks and also plays East Carolina in November, so if they win a string of games, that will help Ohio St. of course. Two byes and two wins over MAC teams (with two FBS wins between them) doesn稚 help much right now though.

Ohio St. and Michigan St. both have decent opportunities to join the top 25 next week.

I moved the top 25 teams an average of four spots each. There are only four teams that I moved 7 or more spots up or down. I moved Arizona down 8, North Carolina St. down 7, East Carolina up 10, and Louisville up 7. I am trying to avoid any larger jumps next week.

Note that I still moved East Carolina down two spots compared to last week, I still moved Arizona up 7 spots as compared to last week, and I moved North Carolina St. up two spots as compared to last week despite a loss.

I want to go back to the teams I skipped over for a second, I値l have no problem ranking USC if they beat Arizona St. next week and are still in the computer top 25. I just think they need that additional quality win in light of Boston College losing to Colorado St.

Minnesota has a bye week, so they値l probably fall slightly on their own. If their past opponents are still good enough for them to stay in the top 25, I will probably still put them there. TCU plays Oklahoma, and Michigan travels to Rutgers, so we shall see. The Gophers are 22nd in the computer formula right now, so if they stay 22nd, that won稚 bother me anyway.

I知 not 100% sure that next week won稚 be another transition week, but I知 leaning toward going to the computers exclusively or almost exclusively (sometimes I slightly rearrange the very top teams in early October) next week. I take serious issue with a relatively small number of the results for this point in the season.

I predict I will stick to the computer rankings in full after the games of October 18. Alabama plays Texas A&M that day. Auburn is idle, but in the two weekends before their bye (i.e., this coming weekend and the following weekend) they play LSU and Mississippi St. Mississippi St. is idle the week of the 18th as well, but not before playing Texas A&M and Auburn. Florida St. plays Notre Dame on the 18th. Oregon plays UCLA on the 11th (which could also make or keep UCLA #1), followed by Washington on the 18th.

Nebraska plays Michigan St. this Saturday, but I doubt they can get enough points in the next three weeks under any combination of wins and losses by the other teams I mentioned. The Huskers are idle on the 11th and play Northwestern on the 18th.

Oklahoma is back at #10, but they have a decent combination of games in the next three weeks: TCU, Texas, and Kansas St.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

LSU Football: The Big Picture
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA AUBURN FLORIDA FLORIDA ST. LSU MIAMI MICHIGAN MISS ST. NEBRASKA OHIO ST. OKLAHOMA OREGON TENNESSEE TEXAS

I had a couple more LSU thoughts. I never fully process everything the first night. As you may know, LSU has not had an undefeated season since 1958. Now that I致e seen two national championships, really my long-term hope as a fan is to see another, so the first loss will always be somewhat frustrating.

There has been a game or two every season going back as long as I remember where I get intensely frustrated with the coaches and so forth. I was going to detail several of them, but I decided it would be pointless griping to do so. Hopefully it won稚 happen again this season even if there are losses. I think I gave an adequate explanation of why I felt that way in the post-game blog.

I do have some hope that this season can turn out well. Some of the prognosticators have already written LSU off as a contender, but how many one-loss teams have been written off for the two-team playoff (aka BCS) only to come back into the picture or even to play in the title game? There was a one-loss team just about every year.

Of course, in 2007 we had a one-loss team many did write off at #1 (Ohio St.) and a two-loss team at #2 (LSU) going into the championship. If they have to finish with one loss to make the playoff, that means they have to win nine in a row to do so. I certainly wouldn稚 put money on that, but I would be less surprised by that than I was by everything that happened in the 2011 calendar year.

Les Miles and LSU after the Tigers won the SEC Championship in 2011.

Les Miles and LSU after the Tigers won the SEC Championship in 2011.

To paraphrase the Mark Twain quote, the reports of LSU痴 long-term demise are greatly exaggerated.

I知 not worried about it yet. The last time I was worried about it was 2009 when LSU lost to Houston Nutt痴 unranked Ole Miss Rebels. Disastrous time management and Les Miles instructing quarterback Jordan Jefferson to spike the ball had caused time to run out on LSU痴 final possession at the Ole Miss 6-yard line (Final score: Ole Miss 25, LSU 23), not that they really deserved to win anyway. That was LSU痴 8th loss in 20 games. Rather than spiraling downward from there, LSU has gone 47-10 since the 2009 season ended. If you池e winning over 80% playing the type of competition LSU typically plays, you池e doing something right.

However, a long-term decline is inevitable. I don稚 think a single early-season loss to a veteran dual-threat quarterback is a sign it痴 all going to hell in a hand-basket, but at some point LSU is not going to be a serious title threat for a while. It will even happen to Alabama. Saban may have to retire, but it will happen. It wasn稚 that long ago that Alabama had no serious national-title-contending teams for a decade or so. When they did win in 1992, it was their first national championship since 1979.

Anyway, if LSU has peaked, it has still been a period of success to be extremely proud of. Compare the Tigers to other top programs from around 2003 (the year of LSU痴 first national championship since that 1958 undefeated team I mentioned).

Seasons with losses of four games or more since 2003 (inclusive):
LSU 2, with two BCS championships, one runner-up in the same period.
Ohio St. 2, with two BCS runners-up
Oklahoma 2, with one BCS runner-up
Oregon 4, with one BCS runner-up
USC 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up (and one AP title)
Texas 4, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida 5, with two BCS championships
Auburn 6, with one BCS championship, one runner-up
Florida St. 7, with one BCS championship
Michigan 7
Miami 8
Nebraska 9

LSU has won two national championships since the last time either Oklahoma or Ohio St. won one, so I wouldn稚 switch places with them either.

Tennessee had won a national championship in 1998, just 5 years before LSU won in 2003, but the Vols haven稚 had a season with fewer than four losses since 2004. They had a decent run in 2007, but the loss to LSU in the SEC championship game (after Les Miles told everyone to have a great day) was Tennessee痴 fourth. That痴 certainly an example of a program I hope LSU is not similar to in the foreseeable future.

Alabama wasn稚 really a relevant team in the early 2000s, but they致e had 4 seasons with four losses or more in case you wanted to know, all from 2003 to 2007. Of course, since then the Tide has had three BCS championships and two Sugar Bowl berths.

Tennessee and Alabama were the only programs that won a major national title from 1992 forward that I did not include on the list above. I included Oregon, which hasn稚 won any, but they arguably should have made the BCS championship game in 2001 and have been a consistently strong program since, so I thought they deserved inclusion.

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow mywordpress siteor my page onfacebook.

Week 4 College Football Rankings 2014
Category: NCAA
Tags: ALABAMA ARKANSAS AUBURN BYU FLORIDA ST. GEORGIA TECH MISSISSIPPI ST. NEBRASKA NCSU OKLAHOMA OLE MISS OREGON RUTGERS S CAROLINA

(Logos are posted for teams that are new to the rankings for the year.)

Rank/team/previous
1 Auburn 1
2 Oklahoma 3
3 Florida St. 4
4 Oregon 2
5 Alabama 5
6 TX A&M 6
7 BYU 10
8 Ole Miss 9
9 S Carolina 11
miss st
10 Miss. St.
11 Penn St. 12
12 Notre Dame 8
13 LSU 7
14 E. Carolina 15
15 Georgia 13
16 UCLA 17
Ga Tech
17 Ga. Tech
rutgers
18 Rutgers
ark_logo
19 Arkansas
20 Okie St. 25
21 Washington
22 Arizona 23
Nebraska Logo 1972
23 Nebraska
NCSUFootball
24 NC State
25 Virginia 19

Out of rankings: (14) Pittsburgh, (16) Boston Coll., (18) Va. Tech, (20) USC, (21) Louisville, (22) Ohio St., (24) Missouri

Explanation and future rankings

I知 putting this at the bottom because it痴 probably too boring and technical for many of you, but I do get questions about these things often.

Just to get to the point, what I知 going to do is make next week (and possibly the following week) a transitional period. I will compute and publish my computer rankings, but I won稚 use those for my official top 25 right away. I値l try to ease into that. For instance, if I don稚 have a team ranked this week, but they池e #10 in the computer ratings after next week, I will put them between #15 and #20, then maybe if they池e still #10 the following week, it won稚 be as dramatic to actually rank them #10. Or maybe they値l lose, and it won稚 be a seesaw from unranked to #10 to #20-something.

I致e already made some changes in anticipation of what may happen in moving toward that system. I gave very little weight to any preseason preconceptions about given teams or their opponents.

I did my best to do the ratings above fairly, but it has gotten difficult, and that痴 why I can no longer use a fully subjective system going forward. I continue to second-guess myself and remain unsatisfied.

There are a lot of conflicting motivations at this point. I知 still moving from 鄭re you going to be a good team? to 展hat have you proven? At the same time, I don稚 want to put a team in the top 25 based on an early-season scheduling quirk and have that team get blown out. It will take some time before the teams that look good in games and teams that look good based on objective measures line up.

There is a team like this every year. In 2011, Stanford didn稚 really play anyone until October 22, then they played three of the next four against ranked teams and the fourth game was against Oregon St. on the road (which is rarely an easy win). Then the Cardinal still had to play Notre Dame (who was also ranked at the time) later on in November. This was the year they played in the Fiesta Bowl despite losing big to Oregon.

Anyway, getting back to this year, Florida St. is a good example of some of the difficulties. The Seminoles are not even in the top 10 based on wins and losses that have happened so far this season (a loose description of what my computer rankings consider). They beat Clemson, who I really believe is a good team, and Oklahoma St., who might be a good team also, but that doesn稚 do it at this point. Clemson doesn稚 look any better than Northwestern because the Tigers are winless against FBS competition (but both Clemson and Northwestern have an FCS win). Florida St. doesn稚 get credit for beating an unsuccessful (so far against Division I anyway) FCS team, nor do they get credit for a bye week. So that leaves Oklahoma St. The Cowboys have a somewhat respectable win over UTSA, but beating the team who beat UTSA is hardly something to hang your hat on.

Oddly enough, Florida St. has a good chance to improve its rating by beating North Carolina St., who I do not believe is a good team, but three FBS wins at this point over teams with four combined FBS wins makes them look good for the moment. All three of those teams are probably well below average, but that won稚 be clear until later.

There is a preliminary step in the process where I get initial ratings of teams between 0 and about 7. So if right now, North Carolina St. is 6 and Clemson is 1, maybe in a couple weeks, they値l both be 3.5, and at the end of the season Clemson might be about 5 and North Carolina St. about 2. So Florida St. might get similar credit for the two wins combined for the rest of the season even if neither team ends up anything like what has shown up so far.

It helps Florida St. that Clemson will likely get a wins of some quality by playing North Carolina and North Carolina St. in the next two weeks. Oklahoma St. isn稚 playing a great team in Texas Tech, but that will be an opportunity for them to add some substance to their resume.

The other major contenders already rate highly. Alabama, Oklahoma, Auburn, and Oregon all rate in the top 7 of the current computer ratings. Florida St. is still in the top 20 though.

So what I知 going to do is release my first computer ratings next week (a week earlier than originally planned), but I知 still going to do subjective ratings for next week and possibly the week after that. They just won稚 be purely subjective. Let痴 say the winner of Miss. St. and Texas A&M comes out #1. I might move Miss. St. up to #5 or A&M up to #3 or #4, but I wouldn稚 rank either #1, at least not for a couple more weeks.

It痴 also possible I値l do another transition week after October 4. In other words, the subjective ratings may overlap with the computer ratings for a couple of weeks, but what I feature here will be the subjective ratings.

Also, sometimes for the first few weeks of the computer rankings, I change the top 5 of what I post here. I always make clear what those changes are, and I never make any subjective changes on my ratings site. I try to keep any subjective preferences off of that site.

Although that Missouri had a good chance to win the SEC for a while in the championship game last year, I知 still glad I didn稚 take the leap and make them #1. They should never have been regarded as the top team to beat in the country last year. I also wouldn稚 want to take that step early on for A&M, Miss. St., Arizona, N.C. St., or UCLA. On the other hand, if one of those teams is undefeated and rises to the top a month from now or more, I知 not going to alter anything.

Earlier rankings:
Preseason
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

...For earlier access to my blogs, archives, etc., you can follow mywordpress siteor my page onfacebook.

More on LSU痴 Start and Understanding FCS Games
Category: NCAA
Tags: APPALACHIAN ST. COLLEGE FOOTBALL EASTERN KENTUCKY FURMAN LES MILES LSU MCNEESE ST. NEBRASKA SAM HOUSTON ST. TOWSON UL-MONROE

I partly thought of some of the points of discussion below based on reading a blog from B.O.B. here. There is a group of FCS teams that deserves respect. He singled out one of them in his blog, but I elaborate on a few more examples. LSU used to avoid playing any FCS opponents, and I'm certainly in favor of avoiding the mediocre or bad ones, but I think it can be a really good experience to play ones that are among the best of their subdivision. So that's what I meant in the comments about the teams being better to play than the likes of Southern and Grambling. I wasn't talking about seeking out some recruting edge. LSU has routinely played in-state FBS opponents (they play one on Saturday, in fact), so I really don't think they're more worried about Southern and Grambling. The better FCS teams give different looks and expose weaknesses. I think they're more difficult to plan for in some ways. In LSU's case, there is usually not a serious risk of losing, but all it takes is a bad game and for the FCS team to be particularly good and it could happen. Michigan was a program in much better shape than it is now and had an otherwise successful year when it lost to Appalachian St.

Before I post my other thoughts on that topic, I gave some more thought to his divisions there. Most of them are good, but I wouldn't put the Texas teams with the Southern California teams. That doesn't make sense tradtionally or geographically. The traditional teams to group together are the Pac-8. So that's the Pac-12 minus Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Arizona St., all of whom are much closer to Texas than the Southern California teams are. Utah is the only one that comes within a couple hundred miles of being as far. The four relatively new Pac-12 teams also in general have more experience playing the relevant Texas teams. I can also tell you that the Southern California teams want it the way I'm suggesting as well because they would not agree to the Pac-12 divisional alignment unless it was guaranteed they would both play all three of the other California teams every year. I don't think they really care whether they play Arizona or Washington teams, but it even seems to me (at least if you talk to USC fans) that the Oregon opponents are a bigger deal than the Arizona ones. Anyway, here's my regularly scheduled blog...

This isn稚 the main thing I知 going to write about, but I heard it after I published my blog about the LSU-Wisconsin game. Since Les Miles took over at LSU, the Tigers are 22-21 when trailing in the fourth quarter, the only team in the FBS to have a winning record during that span (apparently, they don稚 count the last-second loss to Clemson as 鍍railing in the fourth quarter; but no one else comes close regardless). Miles is also back above the 80% mark as head coach of the Tigers. After winning 85% in his first three seasons, Miles winning percentage had fallen to 77.3% after the 2009 season. The Tigers are attempting to finish with double-digit wins for the fifth consecutive year since then. It would be Miles 8th overall in 10 seasons.

By comparison, Nick Saban won 75% of his games at LSU and had two double-digit-win seasons in five years, falling just short of a third on the last play of his stint at LSU. I understand Saban didn稚 take over a program in the same shape; but he was still considered a strong success overall, so building on his tenure is still something to be proud of. Not many coaches can step into a situation like that and improve it, so Miles deserves a good deal of credit.

I don稚 have too much to say about the Sam Houston St. game itself, but although LSU won extremely easily, that was not necessarily the expected result.

Ameer Abdullah's great run with 20 second left saved Nebraska from potential embarrassment.

Ameer Abdullah痴 great run with 20 seconds left saved Nebraska from potential embarrassment.

After the Nebraska-McNeese St. game (if you missed it, Nebraska scored the winning touchdown with 20 seconds left with the Cowboys essentially one tackle away from forcing overtime), I want to talk a bit about FCS opponents. They really vary. A number of the scores were pretty close. Of course, you also have your 70-point wins against such opponents as well.

Sam Houston St. went to the FCS championship game in the 2012 season, so they could have been among the best teams this season. I was looking at the margins Sam Houston St. won by that season. They won seven games by 35 points or more and beat Southeast Louisiana, 70-0. I think there is as much of a gap between the top and bottom of FCS as there is of FBS. Maybe Sam Houston isn稚 as high on the scale this season; but the team they lost to in that championship game, North Dakota St., seems to be about the same after the Bison痴 34-14 win over Iowa St. So I don稚 think there is a real appreciation of that.

Most people dismiss the opposition right off the bat. I know a Kansas St. fan who just assumed North Dakota St. was nothing to worry about last year, for instance. There is a general lack of appreciation of the fact that if you play a playoff-level FCS team, there is a good chance that team will be clearly better than a low-level FBS team.

One of those teams that is routinely toward the bottom of the FCS is Nicholls St. (which just lost to Arkansas , 73-7), but even they have a recent win over an FBS school. They beat Western Michigan last year, but when they played would-be bowl teams, the results were more predicable: losses to Oregon, 66-3, and to ULL, 70-7.

Anyway, I致e noticed the quality of FCS opponents on LSU痴 schedule of late. The Tigers played Furman last year, and while that痴 not typically one of the top FCS teams (although they are competitive in one of the top FCS conferences), they still did a decent job. LSU only led by four at halftime and didn稚 lead by more than 11 until less than 17 minutes remained in the game. The Paladin defense folded after that, and LSU ended up winning by 32; but that was still a better exercise than Kent St., whom LSU led 31-7 in the second quarter, or UAB, whom LSU led 35-7 in the second quarter last season. LSU let both teams back into the game a little bit before pulling away, but I don稚 think that痴 the same kind of pressure.

In 2012, LSU blew out Idaho, 63-14, but then struggled to beat Towson, 38-22, two weeks later. Towson failed to make the playoffs that year despite only losing twice in FCS play, but they advanced to the FCS finals last year (they also lost to the Bison of NDSU) after again only losing two games in FCS play. They played no FBS opponents last season, however.

A similar combination of results took place in 2010 when LSU beat McNeese St., 32-10, after trailing in the second quarter and leading only 16-10 after halftime. The Tigers then went on to beat ULM, 51-0, later that season. LSU plays ULM next week, by the way.

LSU had only played an FCS opponent twice in the previous six seasons, both times being against Appalachian St. In the first meeting in 2005, the Tigers, who would win the SEC West, only led the Mountaineers 14-0 after three quarters before pulling away slightly in the fourth to win, 24-0. Appalachian St. at one point drove to the LSU 15 while it was still 14-0 (before missing a field goal), so the game was in doubt for a long time despite the lack of points. The Tigers had easier wins that season @Mississippi St., @Vanderbilt, @Ole Miss, and in the bowl game against Miami. LSU also blew out North Texas at home by more than twice that margin in that season.

So if I wanted to give LSU a test in a given year, I壇 pick a top-20 FCS team over a bottom-20 FBS team every time. Just something to keep in mind.

Also, McNeese wasn稚 the only team with a good result last week. Eastern Kentucky got the only win (over Miami U.), but there were some others that were in doubt fairly late. Stony Brook gave Connecticut all they could handle. Rutgers only beat Howard by 13. Eastern Washington was neck-and-neck with Washington the whole game, falling short by only 7 points. Southern Mississippi only beat Alcorn St. by 6, and UNLV only beat Northern Colorado by a single point.

Finally, I don稚 think Missouri St. made Oklahoma St. too nervous, but I thought it was interesting that the Bears only lost by 17 after the Cowboys were a touchdown short of beating Florida St. in Week 1.

By the way, LSU plays McNeese St. and Eastern Michigan next season. I would not be surprised if they had more trouble with McNeese St.

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