Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 9_1

Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 9_1

Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: rating the top and bottom teams in college football after week nine

As of the end of Saturday's games, these are the Compu-Picks top 20 and bottom 15 (plus a couple extras). Remember that this is a predictive model, designed to pick games and show how good a team actually is. Its results can be very different from what you'll see elsewhere. The workings of the model are confidential (it is, after all, designed to make winning picks), but I'm happy to answer questions about the models' results.

Rank BCS Rank Team League Score Schedule Rank * Result Rank
1 1 Alabama SEC 1.03 20 1
2 4 Oregon Pac-12 0.88 29 2
3 2 Kansas State Big 12 0.82 22 3
4 12 Oklahoma Big 12 0.73 4 15
5 3 Notre Dame Indep 0.72 21 5
6 7 Florida SEC 0.72 7 8
7 16 Texas A&M SEC 0.60 16 17
8 11 Oregon State Pac-12 0.60 8 22
9 5 Louisiana State SEC 0.56 24 16
10 18 Texas Tech Big 12 0.55 6 38
11 8 South Carolina SEC 0.54 25 18
12 9 Florida State ACC 0.53 62 4
13 14 Stanford Pac-12 0.50 19 34
14 6 Georgia SEC 0.49 35 13
15 17 Southern California Pac-12 0.48 40 12
16 23 Texas Big 12 0.43 26 39
17 22 Arizona Pac-12 0.42 2 55
18 15 Mississippi State SEC 0.41 42 20
19 24 Oklahoma State Big 12 0.41 28 31
20 13 Clemson ACC 0.40 60 10
21 6* Ohio State Big Ten 0.37 66 11
42 10 Louisville Big East 0.17 81 28
109 Colorado Pac-12 -0.47 31 122
110 Virginia ACC -0.47 69 110
111 Florida International Sun Belt -0.48 98 102
112 Army Indep -0.53 109 100
113 Buffalo MAC -0.54 65 117
114 South Alabama Sun Belt -0.54 102 107
115 Alabama-Birmingham C-USA -0.56 80 114
116 Eastern Michigan MAC -0.57 94 111
117 Southern Mississippi C-USA -0.58 72 120
118 Tulane C-USA -0.60 97 113
119 Idaho WAC -0.63 89 118
120 Memphis C-USA -0.64 99 115
121 Hawaii Mountain West -0.70 57 123
122 Akron MAC -0.72 117 116
123 New Mexico State WAC -0.82 121 121
124 Umass MAC -0.91 113 124

This week's extra table will be an update of the league ratings posted two weeks ago. I'm going to try and cycle through various potentially interesting outputs (last week was league ratings); let me know if there's something in particular that you might like to see in future versions of this article.

League Rating OOC Schedule Rating Home/Away/Neutral Splits OOC vs Top 5 OOC vs 6-15 OOC vs 16-35 OOC vs 36-62 OOC vs 63-89 OOC vs 90-109 OOC vs 110-119 OOC vs Bottom 5
Big 12 0.37 -0.08 13 / 8 / 0 0 - 1 0 - 0 1 - 1 3 - 1 7 - 0 5 - 1 1 - 0 0 - 0
SEC 0.34 -0.10 22 / 7 / 3 0 - 0 0 - 0 2 - 3 6 - 4 5 - 0 5 - 0 5 - 0 2 - 0
Pac-12 0.26 0.09 14 / 11 / 1 0 - 1 0 - 1 6 - 4 3 - 1 4 - 1 3 - 1 0 - 0 1 - 0
Indep 0.12 -0.01 14 / 12 / 0 1 - 0 1 - 1 2 - 1 2 - 6 5 - 1 3 - 1 0 - 1 1 - 0
Big Ten 0.07 -0.13 27 / 12 / 1 0 - 4 0 - 1 2 - 3 4 - 1 5 - 3 9 - 1 4 - 1 2 - 0
Big East -0.03 -0.14 12 / 13 / 0 0 - 0 0 - 2 0 - 0 4 - 4 3 - 4 1 - 1 5 - 0 1 - 0
ACC -0.03 -0.06 14 / 12 / 2 0 - 2 0 - 1 0 - 3 1 - 6 4 - 1 3 - 1 4 - 1 1 - 0
Mountain West -0.13 -0.01 12 / 18 / 1 0 - 1 0 - 2 1 - 6 1 - 7 0 - 4 5 - 0 3 - 0 1 - 0
Sun Belt -0.13 0.03 7 / 19 / 0 0 - 4 0 - 2 0 - 4 1 - 3 2 - 3 0 - 0 4 - 0 3 - 0
WAC -0.14 -0.07 8 / 14 / 0 0 - 0 0 - 3 0 - 2 2 - 1 2 - 3 6 - 2 1 - 0 0 - 0
MAC -0.26 -0.07 12 / 25 / 0 0 - 0 0 - 2 2 - 5 1 - 6 4 - 5 3 - 2 5 - 1 1 - 0
C-USA -0.33 0.05 21 / 20 / 0 0 - 1 0 - 3 1 - 12 0 - 9 1 - 8 2 - 1 1 - 0 2 - 0
League Rating Bowl Record OOC vs AQ's OOC vs Non-AQ's OOC vs Big 12 / SEC OOC vs Pac-12 OOC vs ACC / Big East / Big Ten OOC vs Sun Belt / MWC / WAC OOC vs CUSA / MAC
Big 12 0.37 0 - 0 5 - 2 12 - 2 1 - 0 0 - 1 4 - 0 7 - 0 5 - 2
SEC 0.34 0 - 0 4 - 5 21 - 2 0 - 1 2 - 0 2 - 4 10 - 2 11 - 0
Pac-12 0.26 0 - 0 6 - 4 11 - 5 1 - 2 0 - 0 5 - 1 6 - 4 3 - 0
Indep 0.12 0 - 0 10 - 4 5 - 7 1 - 0 2 - 2 7 - 2 3 - 3 2 - 4
Big Ten 0.07 0 - 0 6 - 9 20 - 5 1 - 2 1 - 3 4 - 1 5 - 1 14 - 3
Big East -0.03 0 - 0 6 - 7 8 - 4 2 - 0 0 - 1 4 - 6 2 - 0 6 - 4
ACC -0.03 0 - 0 5 - 11 8 - 4 1 - 4 0 - 1 4 - 5 3 - 2 4 - 0
Mountain West -0.13 0 - 0 3 - 11 8 - 9 0 - 3 3 - 4 0 - 4 4 - 5 2 - 2
Sun Belt -0.13 0 - 0 3 - 14 7 - 2 2 - 10 0 - 1 1 - 3 0 - 0 7 - 2
WAC -0.14 0 - 0 3 - 5 8 - 6 0 - 2 1 - 1 2 - 2 5 - 2 2 - 3
MAC -0.26 0 - 0 8 - 17 8 - 4 1 - 4 0 - 1 7 - 12 3 - 2 1 - 1
C-USA -0.33 0 - 0 1 - 22 6 - 12 1 - 11 0 - 2 0 - 9 5 - 10 1 - 1

Some thoughts on the list:

1) Please note that AA games are NOT counted for these ratings. This includes the schedule rankings. At some point later this year, I will post an adjusted schedule list that does account for the AA games, but they are not ready at this time. Please keep this in mind when looking at the schedule rankings, since a "true" schedule ranking would note these games.

2) One consistent theme that pops up when I've done these analyses the past few years is that Compu-Picks gives a lot more weight to schedule strength and dominance than does the BCS, and a lot less weight to simple W/L record and head to head. The same thing is true this time around.

3) As usual, I'm only posting the Compu-Picks ratings for the very top and bottom teams (top 20 / bottom 15 this week), and will slowly expand the list as the season goes on. The reason I do this is that the teams at the very top and very bottom have largely separated themselves by now, while the teams on the next tier can largely be jumbled together.

4) Again this year I'm tracking the "Compu-Picks Curse" a bit more carefully. Below is the list of the teams that the system thought overrated each week (* means a bye/AA game or a game against someone else the model didn't like). So far teams have been exposed in three of seven potential games.

After week 7 (0-2): Florida, Notre Dame - no wins, but BYU came close at South Bend
After week 8 (3-2): Notre Dame, USC, Mississippi St, Georgia, and Ohio - Notre Dame had a very impressive win at Norman, Georgia beat a very good Florida team (though that game was UGLY), but USC lost to unranked Arizona, Ohio lost to 3-4 Miami(OH), and Miss St got annihilated at Bama.

5) Perhaps the most glaring controversy in the ratings above is that Notre Dame has been placed below Oklahoma, despite a convincing 17-point win in Norman. There are a few reasons for this, but the #1 reason is simple: Purdue. Purdue is a below-average team in a below-average Big Ten, and the Irish barely held on against them. Take that game away, and they're solidly above the Sooners... but the game happened, and it hurts the Irish's rating.

The second reason is schedule as a whole. Notre Dame's schedule has been okay, but isn't rated anywhere near the top. Oklahoma's is (at least, if you discount the AA game - Compu-Picks ignores all AA games for both schedule and results calculations). That makes a really big difference; in this case, the difference in schedule (barely) trumps the difference in performance.

A third point is that these two resumes actually resemble each other in terms of power ratings much more than is obvious. Last week I posted top wins, with Oklahoma's blowout of Texas near the top. Notre Dame's 17-point win at Norman currently rates as similar quality to Oklahoma's Red River win (the difference in margin roughly equals the difference in difficulty). Similar, the worst performances (for Oklahoma, the loss to Notre Dame; for Notre Dame, the squeaker win over Purdue) also rate similarly. The nitty gritty of the rest of the games doesn't compare quite as easily, but as a whole, it actually balances out pretty well in terms of power ratings per game.

Of course, it's also pretty obvious that the difference between the two is currently really small (0.73 vs 0.72 is basically nothing), but I thought it appropriate to discuss this difference in some detail.

6) If you compare the current league ratings to what was shown two weeks ago, a few things become fairly obvious:
The Big 12 and SEC are much closer than before - this is largely on the Big 12 as the SEC's overall rating stayed at 0.34, while the Big 12's dropped from 0.42 to 0.37. The Big 12's margin over the SEC is basically gone at this point.
The decline in the Big 12's rating - This is of course partially due to Oklahoma's 17-point loss to Notre Dame, but it's also due to a general decline in the ratings of their other OOC opponents. Some have gone up (most notably Arizona and SMU), but more have gone down (most notably Maryland, Iowa, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas St, Virginia and Wyoming).
The Pac-12 has closed much of the gap between them and the top two leagues - since no new OOC games have been played since then, it's due to opponent adjustments, with most of the league's opponents now looking better today than they did after week 7. This isn't just the obvious example of Notre Dame, it's also BYU (who had 3 games vs the Pac-12), Arkansas St, Colorado St, Fresno St, Oklahoma St, Syracuse, and Utah St. Each of these teams has materially improved their ratings, and that has flowed through to the Pac-12.
The MAC's improvement - no longer rated the single worst league in 1-A, the MAC has actually jumped over CUSA by a fairly decent margin. There are number of things underlying it, but the biggest is that the league went 3-2 non-conference in the last two weeks, logging big wins over Cincy and Rutgers, as well as having league bottom-feeder Eastern Michigan beat Army. And, of course, East Carolina (one of CUSA's best teams) getting hammered at home by Navy made an impact as well.

7) If you look a the "OOC vs Top 5" and "OOC vs 6-15" lists, you can see that there are STILL no leagues with top 15 non-conference wins (Independents aren't actually a league), and that the Big 12, SEC and Pac-12 have combined for a total of three games against the current top fifteen. This is indicative of the fact that for whatever reason, this year has had a major dearth of interesting non-conference games.

This is partially because Alabama-Michigan turned into "Michigan is a major disapointment this year" instead of the better Oregon-LSU game from last year. And it's also because programs like Oregon, Texas, Georgia, Ohio St and West Virginia have lightened up on the OOC slates compared to usual. And it's also because some of the surprise teams of the year, like Kansas St and Texas Tech, are notorious cupcake schedulers. But while there are many reasons for this state of affairs, the unfortunate result is that meaningful points of comparison between the best leagues, especially at the highest level, have been in very short supply.

8) It's interesting that someone has finally "surpassed" Colorado for the title of worst AQ team: Virginia. In fairness, it's rated as basically a dead heat (and Illinois isn't much further ahead), but it's still interesting. UVA has lost to bad team after bad team (including a horrific blowout loss to a train wreck Georgia Tech team), but (as shown by an informal twitter survey I did last night when I asked people to guess the newly rated worst AQ team), no one thought of them as particularly close to bottom of the barrel (teams guessed before them included Illinois, Auburn, Kentucky, Kansas, Purdue, BC, USF and Wazzu). I think it's because they have been given perception credit due to their win over Penn St. The problem with that is Penn St isn't very good, and a one-point home win over a mediocre team isn't nearly enough to hide all of their other warts.

9) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the BCS: Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech.

There's a reasonable argument to have Oregon outside the top 2, so long as you completely don't care about margin and dominance. They've faced the relatively light part of their schedule, so it's understandable that they've dropped to the 4 spot. That said, they've been ridiculously dominant game in and game out, even with a pretty consistent tendency to pull the starters early on in routs (something that Compu-Picks does not consider). Even though they aren't currently ranked in the top 2, they've been consistently playing like a top 2 team, and unless they start to drop their level of play, they'll move back up soon enough.

Oklahoma remains a classic "Compu-Picks values things differently than voters" team. Blowout wins, losses only to elite opponents (and one of them was very close) = Compu-Picks likes them better than most.

Texas A&M is much the same story, though here it's more clearly the schedule playing a big part than their specific game results (though a dominant wins against SMU and Arkansas certainly help).

Texas Tech has lost two blowouts against elite opponents, and has done exceedingly well against everyone else. Call me crazy, but that strikes me as a resume much better than 18th.

10) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the BCS: Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio St, Louisville.

Notre Dame was discussed above, so I won't rehash it.

Why does Compu-Picks rate LSU materially below the BCS? There are a few reasons, but #1 is Auburn. That is a really bad team, and LSU barely held on against them. That's a huge wart for a team that's supposed to be top five. They also struggled against a South Carolina team that's good but definitely not great (especially on the road), and the Florida loss looked a bit worse after the Gators' bad showing in the Cocktail Party. Overall, their best-rated performances are the 5-point win at A&M and the home blowout of Washington. Those are really good performances. The rest aren't nearly as much. The Tigers' good but not great overall resume is why they're currently 10 point home underdogs to #1 Alabama.

Georgia now (finally) has a good performance to at least build an argument that they're a top ten team, but they still got hammered by South Carolina, struggled heavily against Tennessee AND Kentucky, and didn't exactly annihilate an awful Buffalo team. There are more warts here than quality compared to what you should expect from a top 10 team, much less a team ranked sixth (which I hope we can all agree is silly . Even though their next few 1-A games are just against Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia Tech, don't be stunned if they get pushed hard at least once, and maybe even drop one of them. It's also more than a little weird that in the rock-paper-scissors relationship of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, the team who had the close win and the blowout loss is ranked highest of the three.

Clemson is rated 13th by the BCS without a single elite performance, or honestly even a single very good performance. They've rode a bad schedule (so far they've played only quality opponent Florida St, who beat them) to a gaudy record... and it's not even like they really dominated this schedule. 7 point win over Auburn, 14 point win over BC... those just aren't great results. Their best result are either their 21-point home win against 4-loss Virginia Tech or 29-point road win at 4-loss Wake Forest. To put things in perspective, their upcoming game at Duke may be the second-toughest game they've had to date. Clemson in the top ten is quite simply ridiculous. Beating up on Wake isn't enough to move up 5 slots in the rankings, even if a number of other teams slipped up.

Ohio St's AP ranking is just a joke. They've faced an even worse schedule than the Tigers, and while they haven't lost, that really is the only thing they've achieved, since they certainly haven't dominated the slate. 7-point win over 3-5 Cal, 14-point win over 1-7 UAB, 1-point win over 5-4 Michigan St, 3-point win over 3-5 Indiana, 7-point win over 3-5 Purdue. Their best achievements were beating up on 6-2 Nebraska and winning by 12 at 5-3 Penn St (who, we should remember, lost to both Ohio and a truly atrocious Virginia team). This is a team that has benefitted massively from a down Big Ten and a really weak non-conference schedule (especially since their one AQ opponent, Cal, is way down this year). Against any kind of quality schedule, they'd have had at least one loss and very likely more.

And Louisville is at #10 even worse than Ohio St at AP #6. Their best opponent by far has been 5-2 Cincinnatti, who they barely held off. Meanwhile they also won by just 5 against UNC, 7 against 1-8 FIU (whose only win was in overtime against awful Akron and who has gotten thumped by Duke, and Louisiana-Lafayette), 4 against 0-8 USM (teams who beat them much more convincingly include Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Boise, Marshall and Rice), 10 against 4-4 Pitt, and 2 against 2-6 USF. There's a pattern here of consistently mediocre performances that result in wins almost entirely because their opponents haven't been much good. Unfortunately, this isn't really going to change, as the two toughest opponents left are Syracuse and Rutgers.

11) This isn't directly to do with the list, but here are some fun lists of results:

@ Stanford 21, USC 14
@ Washington 17, Stanford 13
USC 24, @ Washington 14

@ Miami 44, NC St 37
@ NC St 17, Florida St 16
Florida St 33, @ Miami 20

@ South Carolina 35, Georgia 7
@ Florida 44, South Carolina 11
Georgia 17, Florida 9

If you try to apply "head to head is the only thing that matters" logic to this list, your head will explode. You can tease out certain information from these lists (USC and Florida St had closer losses than wins, therefore they get a bonus; Washington and Miami had both games at home, therefore they get a demerit, etc.), but what it really does is highlight that each of these results was JUST ONE GAME. To properly evaluate a team, you need to evaluate the whole resume, not pretend that a single result means everything and the rest almost nothing just because of head to head "logic". That's why Compu-Picks doesn't give ANY special consideration to head to head results. You are what your resume says you are. Period.

Technical notes about the lists:

1) Conference ratings are straight averages of all of the teams in the league. There is no "central averaging" (like Sagarin does), or over-weighting the top teams, or anything like that. Such approaches would yield different numbers, and could potentially change the order of some of the leagues.

2) Games against AA teams are not counted. There are many good arguments both for and against counting such games (see this link for an interesting analysis of the issue). I have elected not to count these results in the Compu-Picks model. As is the case almost every year, this means that one or two especially surprising AA upsets don't make it into the numbers, skewing the results to a fair degree for a couple of teams. I believe that this is a more than acceptable tradeoff given the substantial issues that counting AA games would create, but you are certainly welcome to disagree with my decision on this matter.

3) As mentioned here, the purpose of this system is to make picks, not to create a list used for rankings. As such, I evaluate the system solely on the basis of how good a job it does making picks. I do not evaluate the system on the basis of whether or not it agreed with AP polls, BCS rankings, the BCS computers, or any other such list out there. In fact, the system has a long and established history of being substantially different than those sources. I am fine with these differences. To be honest, I publish these lists because I find them interesting and thought-provoking, and because I believe it is a good thing to introduce an approach that doesn't simply regurgitate the same avenues of thinking as you can find in most places.

4) The system is noisy, especially earlier in the year. This is why I start with only the top and bottom few, and slowly expand the list. While I believe that the numbers are reasonable, I certainly accept that they're not perfect. If you believe that a specific team is over- or under-ranked, you may well be right. I bring this up because if you're going to criticize the system for being wrong about a team, I'd appreciate it if you explain why you think the system is substantially wrong, rather than just marginally so (if it's just one or two slots off, especially well before the end of the year, I'd consider that well within a reasonable error range).

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

Questions, comments or suggestions? Email me at cfn_ms@hotmail.com

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