College Football is now officially in full swing. After 4 weeks of play, fans, teams, and experts alike are starting to gauge elite teams, pretenders, and squads that point blank aren’t very good. Like clockwork, every single season is draped in controversy when BCS rankings start spitting out results and fans clamor that their team isn’t ranked high enough. Rinse and repeat. But, there’s a problem with the BCS formula, it averages many computer rankings that account for many things, but not scoring margin. A growing trend in the world of ratings is accounting for margin of victory and also removing pace of play from the equation. I decided to use the same techniques that Basketball Statistician, Ken Pomeroy, uses for his ratings to create my own College Football rating system. (Using Baseball Statistician, Bill James’, Pythagorean Win Expectancy Model). It sounds complex, but it’s really not.
Some things to look for when viewing and evaluating teams.
1. This system rates teams based upon tempo free scoring margin, meaning teams who play up-tempo styles aren’t rewarded for inflated scoring margins. (Think Oregon and Oklahoma State, naturally they would have larger margins of victory than would a slow paced team of equal skill). The numbers in the first two columns are simply points scored/allowed divided by possessions, putting every team on the same scale.
2. This system does not measure actual margin of victory, it measures the ratio between offense and defense. By doing this actual margin is de-emphasized.
3. Defense is more valued than offense. This also combats inflated offensive numbers. Think of it this way, a team that outscores opponents 100-10 would be predicted to win 99% of their games while a team that outscores their opponents 190-100 would only be predicted to win 78% of their games. Equal scoring margins, but the first team is better because opposing teams can’t score, meaning greater chance of victory. There’s too much evidence in CFB that suggests defense wins more often than offense.
4. Games against FCS opponents are de-emphasized to prevent inflated margins.
5. Strength of schedule and location of game are accounted for. Using last year as an example, UCF’s 41-0 win over Memphis compared to Alabama’s 38-14 win over Arkansas. Without strength of schedule UCF’s win over a pitiful Memphis would look better than Alabama’s win over a very good Razorback squad. Once SOS was accounted for UCF v. Memphis came to an adjusted score of 38-7 while Alabama’s win over Petrino’s Hogs came to an adjusted score of 43-6. So it’s better to beat good teams by a smaller margin than bad teams by a greater margin. Location of game is accounted for by giving extra credit for winning on the road and taking away credit for losing at home.
(Note that in the below rankings SOS is not accounted for just yet as teams’ margins won’t be accurate until at least week 6 when “cupcake syndrome” is erased by real competition.)
-Also keep in mind that since I cannot accurately account for strength of schedule currently and teams have only played limited games the initial numbers look a little sketchy for some teams. So use your best judgement. They’ll correct themselves as the season progresses. Would anybody really suggest that Texas Tech is #4, Texas- San Antonio is #31, or Indiana is #44? No. So be extremely cautious until those teams play some real opponents.
If you have any further questions Tweet me @SchuetteKSR
Sorry for boring you, but without further ado, here are this season’s initial ratings.