Simple Rating System: Where the SEC is not 1-2-3 – 11/21/2011

Last week, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Oregon all ranked in the top five of the SRS. And while all three lost this weekend as big favorites — and each of their SRS ratings dropped significantly — they had built up such a large lead over the rest of the pack that they remain in the top five. Let’s break it down:

Oklahoma State was at 67.3 but lost to Iowa State (SRS of 38.1 before the game) in Ames, Iowa by six points. How shocking was this? The SRS pegged the Cowboys last week as 26.2 point favorite while the actual point spread was 26.5. Oklahoma State played their worst game of the season, producing an SRS score of 33.7 (a -7 adjusted margin of victory against an opponent that — thanks in part to beating OSU — has an SRS score of 40.7). Oklahoma State is now at just 63.7 for the year.

Oklahoma fared a little better, as Baylor (current SRS of 49.4) is a better opponent. Losing by 7 in Waco (SRS grade for OU of 42.4) was still a better performance for the Sooners than the inexplicable 3-point home loss against Texas Tech (32.4), but the two bad performances are somewhat canceled out by the monster blowouts against Kansas State and Texas. Oklahoma dropped from 66.0 to 62.7 with the loss.

Oregon lost at home, but to a much better opponent. USC is now the 13th best team in the SRS, and not just because they took Stanford to triple overtime. The Trojans beat Notre Dame by 14 in South Bend and blew out California, Washington and Colorado. The Trojans were ugly against the good version of Arizona State, but that wasn’t even their worst performance of the season (in week 1, USC won by only two at home against Minnesota). But USC is one of the hottest teams in colege football, scoring an SRS grade of over 60 in four of their last six games. In fact, for SRS purposes, the Stanford loss was their worst game in that stretch.

Oregon put up a -7 adjusted MOV against USC, but USC’s 52.4 rating makes it a somewhat forgivable loss. The Ducks drop from 64.2 to 61.2.

Prior to the game, Oregon was at 64.2 and USC at 52.5, which suggests a point spread of 14.7 points for a game in Eugene. The actual spread was 15.5. Oklahoma was at 66.0 and Baylor at 47.8, which would put the point spread for a game in Waco at 15.2; the actual line was 17. The SRS standings below, along with the projected line for LSU/Arkansas:

Rk   Team                 Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      Rec
1.   LSU                  SEC   11   24.4     40.5     64.8     11-0
2.   Alabama              SEC   11   23.0     41.4     64.4     10-1
3.   Oklahoma St          B12   11   20.0     43.8     63.7     10-1
4.   Oklahoma             B12   10   17.8     44.9     62.7      8-2
5.   Oregon               P12   11   18.5     42.7     61.2      9-2
6.   Stanford             P12   11   20.0     39.5     59.5     10-1
7.   Wisconsin            B10   11   22.5     35.9     58.3      9-2
8.   Boise St             MWC   10   19.9     37.8     57.7      9-1
9.   Michigan             B10   11   16.0     40.6     56.6      9-2
10.  Texas A&M            B12   11    9.4     45.5     54.9      6-5
11.  Arkansas             SEC   11   15.3     38.1     53.4     10-1
12.  Houston              CUS   11   26.0     27.1     53.0     11-0
13.  Southern Cal         P12   11    8.8     43.6     52.4      9-2
14.  Missouri             B12   11    5.6     46.0     51.6      6-5
15.  Texas                B12   10    7.2     44.4     51.5      6-4
16.  Notre Dame           IND   11    9.7     41.1     50.8      8-3
17.  Michigan St          B10   11   12.3     38.5     50.8      9-2
18.  Georgia              SEC   11   13.0     37.7     50.7      9-2
19.  TCU                  MWC   11   15.6     34.5     50.1      9-2
20.  Kansas St            B12   11    4.7     45.4     50.1      9-2
21.  Baylor               B12   10    3.9     45.6     49.4      7-3
22.  Arizona St           P12   11    8.3     40.8     49.0      6-5
23.  South Carolina       SEC   11    9.4     39.5     48.9      9-2
24.  Nebraska             B10   11    6.7     41.9     48.6      8-3
25.  Florida St           ACC   11   12.9     34.9     47.7      7-4
26.  Virginia Tech        ACC   11   11.0     36.6     47.6     10-1
27.  Penn State           B10   11    7.1     40.2     47.3      9-2
28.  Miami FL             ACC   11    6.2     39.7     45.9      6-5
29.  Tulsa                CUS   11    9.2     36.3     45.5      8-3
30.  Utah                 P12   11    4.9     40.5     45.4      7-4
31.  Clemson              ACC   11    8.0     37.2     45.2      9-2
32.  Florida              SEC   11    4.5     40.1     44.6      6-5
33.  Iowa                 B10   11    6.8     37.8     44.6      7-4
34.  Toledo               MAC   11    8.9     35.4     44.3      7-4
35.  Ohio State           B10   11    4.4     39.9     44.3      6-5
36.  West Virginia        BgE   10    8.0     36.2     44.1      7-3
37.  Cincinnati           BgE   10   10.8     33.3     44.1      7-3
38.  California           P12   11    3.7     40.1     43.7      6-5
39.  South Florida        BgE   10    7.2     36.3     43.5      5-5
40.  Georgia Tech         ACC   11   10.0     33.4     43.5      8-3
41.  Southern Miss        CUS   11   13.5     29.8     43.4      9-2
42.  Illinois             B10   11    2.0     41.3     43.3      6-5
43.  Rutgers              BgE   11    8.0     35.0     42.9      8-3
44.  Tennessee            SEC   11   -2.0     44.5     42.5      5-6
45.  North Carolina       ACC   11    3.4     39.1     42.5      6-5
46.  Mississippi St       SEC   11    2.0     40.3     42.3      5-6
47.  Vanderbilt           SEC   11    1.8     40.2     42.1      5-6
48.  Temple               MAC   11   12.5     29.4     41.9      7-4
49.  Brigham Young        IND   11    7.7     33.6     41.3      8-3
50.  Iowa St              B12   10   -4.8     45.5     40.7      6-4
51.  Pittsburgh           BgE   10    1.2     39.4     40.6      5-5
52.  Louisiana Tech       WAC   11    5.3     35.2     40.5      7-4
53.  Northern Illinois    MAC   11    8.0     32.4     40.4      8-3
54.  Washington           P12   11   -2.7     42.8     40.1      6-5
55.  Arkansas St          Sun   11   11.9     27.7     39.6      9-2
56.  Auburn               SEC   11   -1.5     41.1     39.6      7-4
57.  Northwestern         B10   11    3.8     35.8     39.6      6-5
58.  San Diego St         MWC   10    3.4     36.0     39.4      6-4
59.  Texas Tech           B12   11   -3.4     42.8     39.4      5-6
60.  Virginia             ACC   11    4.3     35.0     39.3      8-3
61.  Nevada               WAC   10    4.4     34.8     39.2      6-4
62.  Arizona              P12   11   -6.0     44.8     38.8      3-8
63.  UCLA                 P12   11   -4.2     42.8     38.6      6-5
64.  Wake Forest          ACC   11    1.7     36.1     37.9      6-5
65.  Louisville           BgE   11    1.5     36.0     37.5      6-5
66.  North Carolina St    ACC   11    1.5     35.6     37.1      6-5
67.  Ohio U.              MAC   11   10.8     26.1     36.9      8-3
68.  Utah St              WAC   10    4.8     32.0     36.8      5-5
69.  Air Force            MWC   11    3.5     33.1     36.7      6-5
70.  Western Michigan     MAC   11    4.0     32.7     36.7      6-5
71.  Washington St        P12   11   -2.1     38.5     36.4      4-7
72.  Navy                 IND   11    0.7     35.5     36.3      4-7
73.  Purdue               B10   11   -2.5     38.7     36.2      5-6
74.  SMU                  CUS   11    0.6     35.5     36.1      6-5
75.  Oregon St            P12   11   -7.5     42.7     35.2      3-8
76.  Syracuse             BgE   10   -2.5     36.5     34.0      5-5
77.  Central Florida      CUS   11    5.0     28.9     33.9      4-7
78.  Wyoming              MWC   10    2.3     30.9     33.2      7-3
79.  Connecticut          BgE   10   -1.3     34.4     33.2      4-6
80.  Florida Int'l        Sun   11    5.8     27.3     33.1      7-4
81.  Hawai`i              WAC   11    3.0     30.0     33.0      5-6
82.  Miami OH             MAC   11   -1.5     33.6     32.0      4-7
83.  Boston College       ACC   11   -6.1     37.8     31.7      3-8
84.  Louisiana-Lafayette  Sun   11    3.6     27.4     31.1      8-3
85.  Fresno St            WAC   11   -5.2     36.1     30.9      4-7
86.  Kentucky             SEC   11   -8.5     39.4     30.9      4-7
87.  San José St          WAC   11   -5.3     36.2     30.8      4-7
88.  Ball St              MAC   11   -4.9     35.6     30.7      6-5
89.  UTEP                 CUS   11   -3.0     33.1     30.2      5-6
90.  Mississippi          SEC   11  -13.6     43.7     30.0      2-9
91.  East Carolina        CUS   11   -4.9     34.7     29.8      5-6
92.  Duke                 ACC   11   -8.0     37.7     29.6      3-8
93.  Marshall             CUS   11   -6.9     36.4     29.5      5-6
94.  Minnesota            B10   11  -14.3     43.8     29.5      2-9
95.  Maryland             ACC   11  -11.7     41.3     29.5      2-9
96.  Western Kentucky     Sun   11   -3.0     31.7     28.7      6-5
97.  Bowling Green        MAC   11   -4.2     32.9     28.7      4-7
98.  Kansas               B12   11  -18.1     46.6     28.4      2-9
99.  Louisiana-Monroe     Sun   11   -3.3     31.5     28.2      3-8
100. Army                 IND   11   -4.5     32.6     28.1      3-8
101. Colorado             P12   12  -15.8     43.4     27.6     2-10
102. Kent St              MAC   11   -5.5     32.6     27.2      5-6
103. Rice                 CUS   11   -9.7     36.8     27.1      4-7
104. Eastern Michigan     MAC   11   -2.3     28.9     26.6      6-5
105. Buffalo              MAC   11   -6.6     32.6     26.0      3-8
106. Indiana              B10   11  -14.5     39.9     25.5     1-10
107. North Texas          Sun   11  -10.0     35.0     25.0      4-7
108. Idaho                WAC   11   -9.7     34.5     24.8      2-9
109. New Mexico St        WAC   11   -8.4     32.7     24.4      4-7
110. Colorado St          MWC   10   -7.2     30.7     23.6      3-7
111. Central Michigan     MAC   12   -9.4     32.4     22.9      3-9
112. Troy                 Sun   10   -7.5     30.3     22.8      3-7
113. Middle Tennessee St  Sun   10  -10.0     29.7     19.7      2-8
114. Alabama-Birmingham   CUS   11  -14.9     33.8     18.9      3-8
115. UNLV                 MWC   10  -18.5     35.9     17.5      2-8
116. Tulane               CUS   12  -14.7     29.3     14.6     2-10
117. New Mexico           MWC   11  -22.8     35.7     12.9     1-10
118. Florida Atlantic     Sun   10  -20.7     33.5     12.8     0-10
119. Memphis              CUS   11  -14.5     26.6     12.1      2-9
120. Akron                MAC   11  -19.2     30.2     11.0     1-10

Arkansas continues to rise, but the SRS remains skeptical about the wisdom of including the Hogs with the other powerhouses of the SEC. The projected spread is 11.5 on a neutral field or 14.5 in Baton Rouge; the actual point spread opened with LSU as a 13.5-point favorite. Remember that the SRS assigns equal weight to each game, but it’s worth noting that Arkansas’ best three games of the season all came in the last three weeks, beating South Carolina by 16, Tennessee by 42 and Mississippi State by 27. I’m a little surprised the point spread didn’t really reflect Arkansas’s hot performance of late, but history tells us we are far more likely to get burned putting more weight into a three-game stretch than giving such a streak too little significance.

Let’s also look at the SRS by conference:

Rk   Team                 Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      Rec
25.  Florida St           ACC   11   12.9     34.9     47.7      7-4
26.  Virginia Tech        ACC   11   11.0     36.6     47.6     10-1
28.  Miami FL             ACC   11    6.2     39.7     45.9      6-5
31.  Clemson              ACC   11    8.0     37.2     45.2      9-2
40.  Georgia Tech         ACC   11   10.0     33.4     43.5      8-3
45.  North Carolina       ACC   11    3.4     39.1     42.5      6-5
60.  Virginia             ACC   11    4.3     35.0     39.3      8-3
64.  Wake Forest          ACC   11    1.7     36.1     37.9      6-5
66.  North Carolina St    ACC   11    1.5     35.6     37.1      6-5
83.  Boston College       ACC   11   -6.1     37.8     31.7      3-8
92.  Duke                 ACC   11   -8.0     37.7     29.6      3-8
95.  Maryland             ACC   11  -11.7     41.3     29.5      2-9
7.   Wisconsin            B10   11   22.5     35.9     58.3      9-2
9.   Michigan             B10   11   16.0     40.6     56.6      9-2
17.  Michigan St          B10   11   12.3     38.5     50.8      9-2
24.  Nebraska             B10   11    6.7     41.9     48.6      8-3
27.  Penn State           B10   11    7.1     40.2     47.3      9-2
33.  Iowa                 B10   11    6.8     37.8     44.6      7-4
35.  Ohio State           B10   11    4.4     39.9     44.3      6-5
42.  Illinois             B10   11    2.0     41.3     43.3      6-5
57.  Northwestern         B10   11    3.8     35.8     39.6      6-5
73.  Purdue               B10   11   -2.5     38.7     36.2      5-6
94.  Minnesota            B10   11  -14.3     43.8     29.5      2-9
106. Indiana              B10   11  -14.5     39.9     25.5     1-10
3.   Oklahoma St          B12   11   20.0     43.8     63.7     10-1
4.   Oklahoma             B12   10   17.8     44.9     62.7      8-2
10.  Texas A&M            B12   11    9.4     45.5     54.9      6-5
14.  Missouri             B12   11    5.6     46.0     51.6      6-5
15.  Texas                B12   10    7.2     44.4     51.5      6-4
20.  Kansas St            B12   11    4.7     45.4     50.1      9-2
21.  Baylor               B12   10    3.9     45.6     49.4      7-3
50.  Iowa St              B12   10   -4.8     45.5     40.7      6-4
59.  Texas Tech           B12   11   -3.4     42.8     39.4      5-6
98.  Kansas               B12   11  -18.1     46.6     28.4      2-9
36.  West Virginia        BgE   10    8.0     36.2     44.1      7-3
37.  Cincinnati           BgE   10   10.8     33.3     44.1      7-3
39.  South Florida        BgE   10    7.2     36.3     43.5      5-5
43.  Rutgers              BgE   11    8.0     35.0     42.9      8-3
51.  Pittsburgh           BgE   10    1.2     39.4     40.6      5-5
65.  Louisville           BgE   11    1.5     36.0     37.5      6-5
76.  Syracuse             BgE   10   -2.5     36.5     34.0      5-5
79.  Connecticut          BgE   10   -1.3     34.4     33.2      4-6
12.  Houston              CUS   11   26.0     27.1     53.0     11-0
29.  Tulsa                CUS   11    9.2     36.3     45.5      8-3
41.  Southern Miss        CUS   11   13.5     29.8     43.4      9-2
74.  SMU                  CUS   11    0.6     35.5     36.1      6-5
77.  Central Florida      CUS   11    5.0     28.9     33.9      4-7
89.  UTEP                 CUS   11   -3.0     33.1     30.2      5-6
91.  East Carolina        CUS   11   -4.9     34.7     29.8      5-6
93.  Marshall             CUS   11   -6.9     36.4     29.5      5-6
103. Rice                 CUS   11   -9.7     36.8     27.1      4-7
114. Alabama-Birmingham   CUS   11  -14.9     33.8     18.9      3-8
116. Tulane               CUS   12  -14.7     29.3     14.6     2-10
119. Memphis              CUS   11  -14.5     26.6     12.1      2-9
16.  Notre Dame           IND   11    9.7     41.1     50.8      8-3
49.  Brigham Young        IND   11    7.7     33.6     41.3      8-3
72.  Navy                 IND   11    0.7     35.5     36.3      4-7
100. Army                 IND   11   -4.5     32.6     28.1      3-8
34.  Toledo               MAC   11    8.9     35.4     44.3      7-4
48.  Temple               MAC   11   12.5     29.4     41.9      7-4
53.  Northern Illinois    MAC   11    8.0     32.4     40.4      8-3
67.  Ohio U.              MAC   11   10.8     26.1     36.9      8-3
70.  Western Michigan     MAC   11    4.0     32.7     36.7      6-5
82.  Miami OH             MAC   11   -1.5     33.6     32.0      4-7
88.  Ball St              MAC   11   -4.9     35.6     30.7      6-5
97.  Bowling Green        MAC   11   -4.2     32.9     28.7      4-7
102. Kent St              MAC   11   -5.5     32.6     27.2      5-6
104. Eastern Michigan     MAC   11   -2.3     28.9     26.6      6-5
105. Buffalo              MAC   11   -6.6     32.6     26.0      3-8
111. Central Michigan     MAC   12   -9.4     32.4     22.9      3-9
120. Akron                MAC   11  -19.2     30.2     11.0     1-10
8.   Boise St             MWC   10   19.9     37.8     57.7      9-1
19.  TCU                  MWC   11   15.6     34.5     50.1      9-2
58.  San Diego St         MWC   10    3.4     36.0     39.4      6-4
69.  Air Force            MWC   11    3.5     33.1     36.7      6-5
78.  Wyoming              MWC   10    2.3     30.9     33.2      7-3
110. Colorado St          MWC   10   -7.2     30.7     23.6      3-7
115. UNLV                 MWC   10  -18.5     35.9     17.5      2-8
117. New Mexico           MWC   11  -22.8     35.7     12.9     1-10
5.   Oregon               P12   11   18.5     42.7     61.2      9-2
6.   Stanford             P12   11   20.0     39.5     59.5     10-1
13.  Southern Cal         P12   11    8.8     43.6     52.4      9-2
22.  Arizona St           P12   11    8.3     40.8     49.0      6-5
30.  Utah                 P12   11    4.9     40.5     45.4      7-4
38.  California           P12   11    3.7     40.1     43.7      6-5
54.  Washington           P12   11   -2.7     42.8     40.1      6-5
62.  Arizona              P12   11   -6.0     44.8     38.8      3-8
63.  UCLA                 P12   11   -4.2     42.8     38.6      6-5
71.  Washington St        P12   11   -2.1     38.5     36.4      4-7
75.  Oregon St            P12   11   -7.5     42.7     35.2      3-8
101. Colorado             P12   12  -15.8     43.4     27.6     2-10
1.   LSU                  SEC   11   24.4     40.5     64.8     11-0
2.   Alabama              SEC   11   23.0     41.4     64.4     10-1
11.  Arkansas             SEC   11   15.3     38.1     53.4     10-1
18.  Georgia              SEC   11   13.0     37.7     50.7      9-2
23.  South Carolina       SEC   11    9.4     39.5     48.9      9-2
32.  Florida              SEC   11    4.5     40.1     44.6      6-5
44.  Tennessee            SEC   11   -2.0     44.5     42.5      5-6
46.  Mississippi St       SEC   11    2.0     40.3     42.3      5-6
47.  Vanderbilt           SEC   11    1.8     40.2     42.1      5-6
56.  Auburn               SEC   11   -1.5     41.1     39.6      7-4
86.  Kentucky             SEC   11   -8.5     39.4     30.9      4-7
90.  Mississippi          SEC   11  -13.6     43.7     30.0      2-9
55.  Arkansas St          Sun   11   11.9     27.7     39.6      9-2
80.  Florida Int'l        Sun   11    5.8     27.3     33.1      7-4
84.  Louisiana-Lafayette  Sun   11    3.6     27.4     31.1      8-3
96.  Western Kentucky     Sun   11   -3.0     31.7     28.7      6-5
99.  Louisiana-Monroe     Sun   11   -3.3     31.5     28.2      3-8
107. North Texas          Sun   11  -10.0     35.0     25.0      4-7
112. Troy                 Sun   10   -7.5     30.3     22.8      3-7
113. Middle Tennessee St  Sun   10  -10.0     29.7     19.7      2-8
118. Florida Atlantic     Sun   10  -20.7     33.5     12.8     0-10
52.  Louisiana Tech       WAC   11    5.3     35.2     40.5      7-4
61.  Nevada               WAC   10    4.4     34.8     39.2      6-4
68.  Utah St              WAC   10    4.8     32.0     36.8      5-5
81.  Hawai`i              WAC   11    3.0     30.0     33.0      5-6
85.  Fresno St            WAC   11   -5.2     36.1     30.9      4-7
87.  San José St          WAC   11   -5.3     36.2     30.8      4-7
108. Idaho                WAC   11   -9.7     34.5     24.8      2-9
109. New Mexico St        WAC   11   -8.4     32.7     24.4      4-7

I know no one cares about the Big East, but that is an ugly conference right now. In the Big East, five teams have two losses, Connecticut has three and USF and Syracuse have four. The tiebreaking possibilities are maddening to figure out. Cincinnati started 3-0 in conference play but lost the last two weeks. Still, with games left against Syracuse and Connecticut — the apparent dregs of the conference — Cincinnati is likely to get to 5-2. Rutgers is 4-2 with only UCONN left on the schedule. West Virginia could also get to 5-2 with wins over Pittsburgh and USF, as could Louisville if the Cardinals beat USF. CBS projects Louisville to win the conference, which is notable because the Cardinals lost by 4 at home against Marshall, by 7 at home against Florida International, by 7 at home against Pittsburgh, by 7 in North Carolina and by 11 in Cincinnati. And they beat FCS Murray State by only 12. Congratulations, Orange Bowl.

Last week

The biggest win of the weekend goes to Michigan. The Wolverines crushed Nebraska 45-17, worth 73.1 in the SRS. Iowa State (70.7), Baylor (69.7) and USC (68.2) come in second, third and fourth with their huge upset victories. LSU rounds out the top five, in a humiliating 52-3 victory in Oxford (68.0) where Les Miles began kneeling the ball with five minutes left.

Worst of the week? Akron is #120 in the SRS and just 1-10 this year. But even that doesn’t excuse a 51-10 thrashing in Buffalo. Among BCS schools, Colorado comes up with the worst game of the week (45-6 loss to UCLA) just a week after being college football’s biggest overachiever.

Can we avoid an all-SEC championship game?

Probably not. LSU and Alabama are the top two teams according to just about everyone, although the SRS thinks the gap is probably narrower than some would like us to believe. An LSU loss to Arkansas would make everything murky, but would seem to guarantee (barring a Georgia victory in the SEC Championship Game) an all-SEC BCS National Championship game. The only question there would be which two teams would make it?

LSU would have the best strength of schedule (beating Oregon and West Virginia) but the most recent loss. Arkansas has been the least dominant of the trio (Arkansas has won three games by five or fewer points and beat Troy by only 10 at home; LSU’s smallest non-Alabama win was by 13 against Oregon; Alabama’s smallest margin of victory was 16 in State College) but would have the longest winning streak and would have played both LSU and Alabama on the road. Alabama falls in the middle: they would have lost neither most recently or least recently; they have been more dominant than Arkansas but faced an easier schedule than LSU. The Crimson Tide would likely have the best points differential in the three round robin games, but also the weakest SOS overall (among non-common opponents between Alabama and Arkansas, Texas A&M and South Carolina would trump Penn State and Florida).

Personally, I’d go LSU #1, Arkansas #2 and Alabama #3 if we were to rank them in terms of which team had the best season (which would be the criteria I would use to rank teams for polls). For predictive purposes, it would likely be Alabama #1, LSU #2 and Arkansas #3 following a Razorback victory, with the gap between Arkansas and LSU being much wider than that between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers. Following an LSU loss, Alabama would probably be the clear best team in the country in terms of SRS, but that would be based muhc more on margin of victory than strength of schedule.

And if LSU beats Arkansas

The media seems to think we are locked in to an Alabama-LSU national championship game if both teams win out. Do any other teams deserve a chance?

Houston

Houston blew out SMU this weekend, 37-7, giving the Cougars 61.6 SRS points, their second biggest game of the season. Playing Tulsa and Southern Miss will improve the Houston’s strength of schedule, but even at 13-0 you can’t justify putting the Cougars in the championship game. They are closer to Hawaii 2007 than any of the great Boise State, TCU or Utah teams. Even this edition of Boise State would have had a hard time making it even if the Broncos were undefeated, and BSU has had a much more difficult schedule than Houston. Tulsa, Louisiana Tech or UCLA will end up being the best win for Houston. Simply put, Houston would not have beaten enough good teams or any great teams. And let’s not forget, Houston beat UCLA by only 4 points at home and only squeaked by Louisiana Tech and UTEP.

Virginia Tech

At 12-1 with an ACC Championship Game win over Georgia Tech, the Hokies would probably get some love. But Virginia Tech is 26th in the SRS for a reason: the Hokies aren’t very good. Virginia Tech scheduled meekly out of conference, which makes Miami or Clemson (in the title game) the best win by the Hokies this season. A miserable slate of OOC games and no Florida State makes Virginia Tech a non-starter, in my opinion.

Stanford

Unless Oregon loses to Oregon State, the Cardinal will not get a chance to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game. An 11-1 Stanford team would be impressive, but would have nowhere near the cache of an 11-1 Alabama team. Putting aside the losses for each team, Stanford would have beaten USC, Notre Dame and … Cal? Alabama would have Arkansas, Penn State, and Florida as a more impressive set of heads. And I doubt voters would overlook the fact that LSU easily handled Oregon and Oregon destroyed Stanford, while Alabama and LSU went into overtime. Stanford is four spots behind Alabama right now, and beating Notre Dame and even UCLA again won’t be enough to jump a one-loss Alabama.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys are the only legitimate team the voters could get behind to prevent an LSU-Bama rematch. Realistically, this seems incredibly unlikely. But if the voters are truly anti-rematch, this is where their energies should go. It won’t get much notice, but the Cowboys are still the #2 team in the country in the computer ratings. Only a low showing in the polls (#6) leaves them at #4 in the BCS, behind the SEC West trio.

Oklahoma State losing to Iowa State is inexcusable, but beating Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Missouri, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor and Tulsa is impressive. The problem for the Cowboys? A&M, Missouri and Texas are top 15 teams according to the SRS but just a combined 18-14. Six of those losses were against Oklahoma or Oklahoma State; three more were to Kansas State, another OSU victim. Another two were by Missouri over Texas and Texas A&M. That leaves just Missouri’s loss to Baylor (another good team OSU crushed), A&M’s 3-point loss to Arkansas and Missouri’s overtime loss to Arizona State.

Would the voters spend that much time thinking about this? Probably not. But the Big 12 has five top-15 teams in the SRS and two more in the top 25. With a nine-game conference schedule, those teams have beaten up on each other, but that doesn’t make Oklahoma State’s (potential) 8-1 conference record less impressive.

The question would become: is losing to LSU at home in overtime and beating Arkansas, Penn State, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State more or less impressive than beating Oklahoma, Kansas State and Baylor at home, winning on the road against Texas A&M, Missouri and Texas and losing on the road against Iowa State? I think it’s closer than most SEC fans would like to admit. I think there’s almost no chance at all of the Cowboys actually jumping Alabama, even with a blowout win over Oklahoma. If you go by worst loss, the choice is clear. But if you go by best collection of wins, it’s equally clear. If the anti-rematch crowd wants to throw its support anywhere, the best move would be to ignore Houston, Virginia Tech and Stanford and rally around the Cowboys.

Again, this is speculation. The overwhelmingly likely scenario is an SEC title game between two teams from the SEC West. But if LSU obliterates Arkansas (making Alabama’s best win look worse) and Oklahoma State can blow out the Sooners, it’s at least reasonable to wonder who is more deserving between the Cowboys and Crimson Tide. Also, keep an eye on Conference USA this weekend. If Tulsa can upset Houston, that would bump up both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (which would make an eventual OSU victory even more impressive). A Penn State loss to Wisconsin and Florida loss to Florida State will hurt Alabama, too. If all of those things happen, Oklahoma State would certainly have had as impressive a season as the Crimson Tide. But remember, the Cowboys are already #2 in the computers. For Pistol Pete to go to the BCS Championship Game, the voters will have to make it so.

  • Mjas

    Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and MICHIGAN ahead of Arkansas? This makes me want to PUKE

  • mccook2002

    I would take issue with the assertion that the Big East is an ugly conference, ratings-wise. Frankly, it is a thoroughly mediocre conference, its top team with a 36 ranking and its bottom team is ranked 79. No other league is so firmly rooted in the middle of your ratings.

  • Foste015

    “ in terms of which team had the best season” , What does this way of thinking mean? The team that overachieved? Trying to figure out why that would put Arkansas over Alabama in your mind despite Alabama killing Arkansas by 20 points.

  • Chase Stuart

    I would base having the best season on having beaten the best teams.  Beating LSU (for Arkansas) would be equivalent to beating Arkansas (for Alabama).  But after that, beating Texas A&M and South Carolina would trump beating Penn State and Florida.  Both beat UT, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, MSU, Auburn (assuming Bama wins), which just leaves some OOC patsies as the remainder of the schedule.

    So it would come down to saying who accomplished more, the team that beat LSU, A&M and USC while losing to Alabama or the team that beat Arkansas, PSU and Florida while losing to LSU.   Alabama’s the better team — their MOV confirms that — but Arkansas would have the more impressive wins, in my opinion.

  • Chase Stuart

    Michigan’s season has been pretty impressive.  I’m surprised to see them there, but I get it.

    Arkansas is somewhat unfairly penalized here for not steamrolling some weak competition.  I could see ignoring those games and watching their SRS rise.  But beating Ole Miss and Vandy by a combined 8 points is horrible.  Alabama beat them by 52-7 and 34-0. That, along with beating a bad Troy team by only 10 and scheduling New Mexico and Missouri State drag down their SRS rating.

  • Chase Stuart

    Ugly retracted, mediocre asserted.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    Well think of it this way. Texas Tech won, but I think everyone would agree that Oklahoma has had the better season.

  • Anon

    Agreed – Michigan is a very respectable team, but their loss to Michigan State was a resounding one. Can’t see how MSU isn’t ranked ahead of their big brother.

  • Cicatrizatic

    “Virginia Tech isn’t very good”

    Assuming the SRS captures all of the criteria for assessing the quality of a football team – why is being #26 “not very good”. And VT’s most impressive win is Georgia Tech.

  • Chase Stuart

    Being 26 isn’t very good for purposes of being in the discussion for the BCS NCG.

  • Foste015

    Makes sense fair enough, especially when a possible Arkansas defeat of LSU in Baton Rouge.

  • Cicatrizatic

    Then why not say – “the Hokies are 26th for a reason, they’re not elite”

    How is strength of schedule calculated for purposes of the SRS? I think you had mentioned some way of filtering out the original team’s ranking to get to the ‘true’ rating

  • Mr.Charisma

    Despite being an SEC homer, I thought this was a great read.

  • tellysmoes

    I would still leave ugly in there. They’re mediocre compared to all college football teams. They’re ugly for an AQ conference.

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  • Anonymous

    Good read. I think LSU will beat down Arkansas. Their OL and DL are just physically overpowering and Ark’s lines are average. I am an Ole Miss guy and in comparing the two it is clear LSU is 3 touchdowns better than Ark.   I think LSU wins a rematch with ALA. I also think WISC beats PSU and Fla St beats Fla. If the pokes can beat the Sooners, I suspect the voters will push OKLA St to No. 2.

    I am hoping our administration will wise up and hire Leach or someone out of the Air raid system. That may equalize things.

  • Rclsu17

    I am a big LSU fan and I feel that they have the rctoughelst schedule in the country. Arkansas will be the 3rd top 5 team in the country that they wrcill facerclsu17@bell. They will run the table beating 9 ranked teams (including beating Bama twice) on their way to a 14-0 record and a National Championship. The 2011 Tigers will be called one of the greatest college teams of all-times.

    Bad news for next year’s opponents, LSU is very young. Eight sophomores start on defense and their 3rd QB Mettenberger is better than this year’s starters.

  • Guest

    I dare you to keep Texas A&M in the top 25.

  • http://www.barcodefor.us barcode maker

    Virginia Tech does not deserve to be at 26, they deserve better. They played well after all.

  • HokieHomer

    “At 12-1 with an ACC Championship Game win over Georgia Tech, the Hokies would probably get some love. ”Just wanted to point out that this is impossible with the current ACC division alignment. Did you mean to put Florida State here?