Now that nine weeks of the college football season have come and gone we are starting to move closer towards determining the nation’s most elite football team. The weekly BCS rankings have come out and, per usual, brought a heaping helping of controversy alongside with them. A particular instance of controversy would be Notre Dame trailing Kansas State despite a tough schedule and defeating a common opponent by more than Bill Snyder’s Wildcats. Yes, controversy reigns supreme in college football, particularly in the computer rating systems that get constantly berated by the general public. One reason for controversy; the systems in use are not allowed to take margin of victory into consideration when tallying their individual calculations, frequently making them disagree with the “eye test.” So, in order to give a better idea of how teams are actually performing on the field I created my own rating system in the mold of Ken Pomeroy’s basketball ratings so that margin of victory can be used in evaluations.
This system may be difficult to understand to those who aren’t familiar with a Pythagorean Rating System, but it’s really not very difficult to comprehend. The more in-depth rules can be found here if you’re so inclined, but a more condensed version is as follows. My system measures tempo-free scoring margin, meaning teams who play slow or fast aren’t punished or rewarded for doing so, this is important when using scoring margin. The system measures the ratio of points scored/allowed, not actual margin. FCS games are de-emphasized. And finally strength of schedule is taken heavily into consideration.
The nation’s elite:
Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide just keep doing what they’ve been doing all season long, and that is crushing the hopes and dreams of innocent peasants everywhere. Alabama has suplexed every team in their path and are constantly taking new applicants to be their next punching bag. In terms of adjusted score against an average opponent (what my system measures), Alabama would beat the theoretical average team 41.7-8.6 in a 12 possession game, a full touchdown more than the next best team.
#2 Florida State
Despite a one point road loss to N.C. State, the Seminoles have decimated everyone else in their path. Florida State is a prime example of why the 2014 playoff is needed now. One measly point is all that separates Florida State from being the consensus #2 team in the human polls, but they’ll have to settle for being #2 in my ratings.
#3 Notre Dame
The Irish are back despite your personal feelings toward them and they are doing so with a devastating defense and a much improved offense. Is this really surprising though? Last season, if it weren’t for turnovers deep in their opponents’ red-zone in two games, the Irish would likely finished 10-2 on the regular season. So it’s not surprising, to me at least, that Notre Dame is among the nation’s best this season.
The next tier:
#4 Oklahoma, #5 Florida, #6 Kansas State, #7 Oregon
This group of teams is honestly interchangeable in terms of whom would win in a theoretical match-up, it may just depend on the day as to who would be victorious. All four have a case for being the best of the bunch. Oklahoma has only lost to two elite teams (albeit at home) and Florida has only lost once in a close game. Kansas State and Oregon are undefeated, but Kansas State’s defense leaves a little something to be desired and Oregon’s best win comes over Arizona. Truthfully these teams have performed very similarly despite what their records say, so it’s difficult to choose any real clear cut favorite here.
The bottom tier:
Gene Chizik (pictured above) Auburn, #105 Kentucky, and #122 Colorado
Perhaps there are no better examples of teams who have fallen harder in terms of performance than the three listed above. Auburn, fresh off a national championship two years ago can’t even buy a win against Vanderbilt. Colorado, a team that took home the 1990 national title, is making their case for worst power conference team of all-time (and making a resounding argument I may add). While Kentucky hasn’t recently won a national title like these two programs, the nosedive in terms of performance is undeniable and can only be described by this 7 second video. From 5 straight bowl games to #105 in the country in less than two years, there are very few plunges that can match Kentucky’s. But thankfully, Auburn is here to soften the blow.