Simple Rating System – Week 10: Where LSU — and ‘Bama — continue to lead the pack

Last week, I discussed how the simple rating system could be an easy-to-understand and effective predictive ranking system. This week, I’ll be updating the ratings after the week 10 results, and providing an update on each conference. As always, special thanks to Dr. Wolfe who publishes the game scores for every NCAA and NAIA game each week.

The SRS assigns equal weight to each game, so by week 10, the weekly fluctuations are not significant. Still, here are the current SRS standings as of today:

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
1.   LSU                  SEC   9   22.6     46.1     68.7     9-0
2.   Alabama              SEC   9   23.6     43.6     67.2     8-1
3.   Oklahoma             B12   9   20.6     45.8     66.4     8-1
4.   Oklahoma St          B12   9   20.3     45.8     66.1     9-0
5.   Stanford             P12   9   27.2     37.7     64.9     9-0
6.   Oregon               P12   9   20.6     41.5     62.1     8-1
7.   Boise St             MWC   8   23.3     37.5     60.8     8-0
8.   Wisconsin            B10   9   22.8     37.6     60.3     7-2
9.   Texas A&M            B12   9    7.3     48.2     55.5     5-4
10.  Michigan             B10   9   14.7     40.5     55.2     7-2
11.  Texas                B12   8   10.9     44.2     55.1     6-2
12.  Arizona St           P12   9   11.7     42.4     54.0     6-3
13.  Houston              CUS   9   24.3     29.1     53.4     9-0
14.  Notre Dame           IND   9    9.2     43.8     53.1     6-3
15.  Missouri             B12   9    5.1     47.5     52.6     4-5
16.  Georgia              SEC   9   11.9     40.7     52.6     7-2
17.  Southern Cal         P12   9    7.8     44.2     51.9     7-2
18.  Nebraska             B10   9   10.2     41.3     51.5     7-2
19.  South Carolina       SEC   9    8.7     42.8     51.4     7-2
20.  Clemson              ACC   9   12.1     39.3     51.4     8-1
21.  Arkansas             SEC   9   12.3     38.5     50.9     8-1
22.  Florida St           ACC   9   15.7     34.8     50.5     6-3
23.  Kansas St            B12   9    4.9     45.4     50.4     7-2
24.  TCU                  MWC   9   15.9     34.3     50.3     7-2
25.  Michigan St          B10   9    8.9     41.2     50.1     7-2
26.  Baylor               B12   8    3.1     46.4     49.4     5-3
27.  Penn State           B10   9    8.4     40.9     49.3     8-1
28.  Cincinnati           BgE   8   16.1     33.1     49.2     7-1
29.  Southern Miss        CUS   9   16.6     32.6     49.1     8-1
30.  Virginia Tech        ACC   9   11.9     36.8     48.7     8-1
31.  Ohio State           B10   9    6.4     41.8     48.2     6-3
32.  Miami FL             ACC   9    7.6     40.2     47.8     5-4
33.  Georgia Tech         ACC   9   12.7     35.0     47.7     7-2
34.  Florida              SEC   9    4.2     43.4     47.7     5-4
35.  Toledo               MAC   9    7.9     39.1     47.0     5-4
36.  Tennessee            SEC   9    0.2     46.5     46.7     4-5
37.  Mississippi St       SEC   9    7.5     38.4     45.9     5-4
38.  Iowa                 B10   9    8.9     36.9     45.9     6-3
39.  West Virginia        BgE   9    8.1     37.8     45.8     6-3
40.  Illinois             B10   9    6.2     39.6     45.8     6-3
41.  Utah                 P12   9    2.7     42.7     45.4     5-4
42.  Auburn               SEC   9   -0.3     45.0     44.7     6-3
43.  Washington           P12   9    0.4     44.2     44.6     6-3
44.  Tulsa                CUS   9    4.7     39.8     44.5     6-3
45.  Temple               MAC   9   12.5     31.8     44.3     5-4
46.  South Florida        BgE   8    7.0     37.2     44.2     4-4
47.  North Carolina       ACC   10   3.8     39.8     43.5     6-4
48.  Vanderbilt           SEC   9    0.2     42.6     42.8     4-5
49.  Rutgers              BgE   9    6.5     36.3     42.8     6-3
50.  Texas Tech           B12   9    1.4     40.6     42.1     5-4
51.  California           P12   9    2.9     39.1     42.0     5-4
52.  Arizona              P12   9   -6.3     47.9     41.6     2-7
53.  Pittsburgh           BgE   9    0.2     41.2     41.4     4-5
54.  San Diego St         MWC   8    5.9     35.1     41.0     5-3
55.  Nevada               WAC   8    4.9     36.0     40.9     5-3
56.  Northern Illinois    MAC   9    6.5     34.3     40.8     6-3
57.  Louisiana Tech       WAC   9    3.1     37.7     40.8     5-4
58.  Arkansas St          Sun   9   10.8     29.8     40.6     7-2
59.  Virginia             ACC   9    3.7     36.7     40.4     6-3
60.  Northwestern         B10   9    1.2     39.0     40.2     4-5
61.  Brigham Young        IND   9    3.2     36.9     40.1     6-3
62.  SMU                  CUS   9    4.7     35.4     40.0     6-3
63.  UCLA                 P12   9   -6.1     45.9     39.9     5-4
64.  Air Force            MWC   9    2.8     36.4     39.2     5-4
65.  Louisville           BgE   9    1.0     38.0     39.0     5-4
66.  Iowa St              B12   9   -6.1     44.9     38.9     5-4
67.  Ohio U.              MAC   9   10.4     28.4     38.8     6-3
68.  Utah St              WAC   8    4.7     34.1     38.8     3-5
69.  North Carolina St    ACC   9    0.3     37.4     37.7     5-4
70.  Purdue               B10   9   -1.7     39.3     37.6     4-5
71.  Wake Forest          ACC   9    0.1     37.4     37.5     5-4
72.  Western Michigan     MAC   9    4.1     33.4     37.5     5-4
73.  Navy                 IND   9   -0.2     37.7     37.5     3-6
74.  Syracuse             BgE   9   -0.2     37.0     36.8     5-4
75.  Hawai`i              WAC   9    5.6     30.9     36.5     5-4
76.  Washington St        P12   9   -2.6     38.1     35.6     3-6
77.  Connecticut          BgE   9    0.5     35.1     35.6     4-5
78.  Oregon St            P12   9   -9.2     44.7     35.5     2-7
79.  Central Florida      CUS   9    6.8     27.9     34.8     4-5
80.  Marshall             CUS   9   -5.7     39.7     34.0     4-5
81.  Miami OH             MAC   9   -1.1     34.8     33.7     4-5
82.  Wyoming              MWC   8   -0.8     34.1     33.4     5-3
83.  Kentucky             SEC   9   -6.8     40.1     33.3     4-5
84.  Maryland             ACC   9   -9.7     42.7     33.1     2-7
85.  Louisiana-Lafayette  Sun   10   4.7     28.1     32.8     8-2
86.  Florida Int'l        Sun   9    2.4     30.3     32.7     5-4
87.  Mississippi          SEC   9   -9.9     42.6     32.7     2-7
88.  UTEP                 CUS   9   -1.3     33.9     32.6     4-5
89.  Bowling Green        MAC   9   -1.1     33.5     32.4     4-5
90.  Fresno St            WAC   9   -7.1     39.1     32.0     3-6
91.  Ball St              MAC   10  -5.4     37.1     31.8     6-4
92.  San José St          WAC   9   -6.5     37.8     31.3     3-6
93.  East Carolina        CUS   9   -6.0     36.8     30.8     4-5
94.  Army                 IND   9   -1.1     31.8     30.7     3-6
95.  Minnesota            B10   9  -13.0     43.7     30.7     2-7
96.  Rice                 CUS   9  -10.8     41.1     30.3     3-6
97.  Duke                 ACC   9   -7.9     38.2     30.3     3-6
98.  Boston College       ACC   9   -8.3     38.4     30.1     2-7
99.  Kansas               B12   9  -17.2     47.2     30.0     2-7
100. Colorado             P12   10 -17.5     46.3     28.8     1-9
101. Western Kentucky     Sun   9   -2.1     30.9     28.8     5-4
102. Indiana              B10   10 -12.3     40.8     28.6     1-9
103. Louisiana-Monroe     Sun   9   -5.2     33.8     28.5     2-7
104. Eastern Michigan     MAC   9   -3.1     31.5     28.4     5-4
105. Idaho                WAC   9   -7.6     34.8     27.2     2-7
106. Kent St              MAC   9  -10.7     37.8     27.1     3-6
107. Buffalo              MAC   9  -10.4     37.3     26.9     2-7
108. North Texas          Sun   9  -11.7     38.4     26.8     3-6
109. New Mexico St        WAC   9   -7.1     33.7     26.5     3-6
110. Central Michigan     MAC   10  -6.8     32.3     25.5     3-7
111. Middle Tennessee St  Sun   8   -6.1     31.0     24.9     2-6
112. Colorado St          MWC   8   -5.4     28.6     23.2     3-5
113. Troy                 Sun   8  -11.4     34.5     23.1     2-6
114. UNLV                 MWC   8  -19.1     39.9     20.8     2-6
115. Florida Atlantic     Sun   8  -19.4     37.0     17.6     0-8
116. Alabama-Birmingham   CUS   9  -19.2     36.7     17.4     1-8
117. Akron                MAC   9  -16.7     33.3     16.6     1-8
118. Tulane               CUS   10 -12.6     28.4     15.8     2-8
119. Memphis              CUS   9  -16.0     29.9     13.9     2-7
120. New Mexico           MWC   9  -26.6     38.9     12.3     0-9

Let’s take a look at the SRS and conference records for each of the 11 conferences:

ACC

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
20.  Clemson              ACC   9   12.1     39.3     51.4     8-1
22.  Florida St           ACC   9   15.7     34.8     50.5     6-3
30.  Virginia Tech        ACC   9   11.9     36.8     48.7     8-1
32.  Miami FL             ACC   9    7.6     40.2     47.8     5-4
33.  Georgia Tech         ACC   9   12.7     35.0     47.7     7-2
47.  North Carolina       ACC   10   3.8     39.8     43.5     6-4
59.  Virginia             ACC   9    3.7     36.7     40.4     6-3
69.  North Carolina St    ACC   9    0.3     37.4     37.7     5-4
71.  Wake Forest          ACC   9    0.1     37.4     37.5     5-4
84.  Maryland             ACC   9   -9.7     42.7     33.1     2-7
97.  Duke                 ACC   9   -7.9     38.2     30.3     3-6
98.  Boston College       ACC   9   -8.3     38.4     30.1     2-7

The ACC is rarely strong at the top, but the conference is usually deep. This year neither adjective is appropriate, and the out-of-conference results have been ugly. The ACC has only two notable out-of-conference wins: Miami over Ohio State and Clemson over Auburn. Meanwhile, Oklahoma (FSU), Stanford (Duke), Notre Dame (Wake Forest), Kansas State (Miami), Cincinnati (N.C. State), Southern Miss (Virginia), West Virginia (Maryland ), Temple (Maryland), Northwestern (Boston College), Syracuse (Wake Forest), Central Florida (Boston College) and…. Richmond (Duke) have taken out various members of the ACC.

Still, the top members of the conference are respectable if not dominant. Clemson is 5-1 and atop the Atlantic Division, while Virginia Tech is the only team with one loss in the Coastal. FSU and Wake Forest are hot on Clemson’s heels, but Clemson’s 35-30 win over the Seminoles likely knocks them out of contention. Wake Forest also beat Florida State 35-30, and controls its own destiny in the Atlantic. The Tigers and Demon Deacons face off this weekend, in a de facto Atlantic Division championship game (a Clemson win clinches the division; a Wake win and a victory over Maryland sends them all the way to…. Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game.) As expected, the SRS strongly favors Clemson this weekend.

Similarly, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech face off in a key game to decide the fate of the Coastal Division. Virginia, with a win over Georgia Tech already, controls its own destiny as well: they host the Hokies on November 26th.

Florida State has come on in recent weeks, making FSU, Clemson and Virginia Tech the cream of an inconsistent conference. Odds are, the latter two face off in Charlotte, with the winner almost certainly earning the right to face off against the Big East champ in the Orange Bowl.

Big 10

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
8.   Wisconsin            B10   9   22.8     37.6     60.3     7-2
10.  Michigan             B10   9   14.7     40.5     55.2     7-2
18.  Nebraska             B10   9   10.2     41.3     51.5     7-2
25.  Michigan St          B10   9    8.9     41.2     50.1     7-2
27.  Penn State           B10   9    8.4     40.9     49.3     8-1
31.  Ohio State           B10   9    6.4     41.8     48.2     6-3
38.  Iowa                 B10   9    8.9     36.9     45.9     6-3
40.  Illinois             B10   9    6.2     39.6     45.8     6-3
60.  Northwestern         B10   9    1.2     39.0     40.2     4-5
70.  Purdue               B10   9   -1.7     39.3     37.6     4-5
95.  Minnesota            B10   9  -13.0     43.7     30.7     2-7
102. Indiana              B10   10 -12.3     40.8     28.6     1-9

On paper, there’s a big divide between the ‘halves’ and ‘halve-nots’ in the conference. But Northwestern upended Nebraska a week after Minnesota shocked Iowa. Dr. Saturday broke down the conference’s championship race last week; since then, Penn State had a bye week and a reprehensible scandal; Nebraska’s loss to Northwestern may give Michigan State the Legends division; Michigan’s loss will likely prove fatal, while Nebraska will need help and to navigate a difficult schedule to reach Indianapolis. Iowa’s win puts them in the thick of the race; the Hawkeyes host Michigan State in a monster matchup this weekend. An MSU win puts them in fantastic position, and they look like the favorites — they end the season against Indiana and Northwestern — to win the Legends Division.

On the field, Penn State has been ugly but effective, with the Nittany Lions’ only loss this season coming to Alabama. But a team that is 8-1 but 27th in the SRS is a team that is nowhere as good as its record. For PSU, two out of three at home against Nebraska, at Ohio State and in Wisconsin would give them the Leaders Division, but that is a tall task. As a Penn State alumnus, I’m far too disgusted to say anything positive about the football program this week. Wisconsin likely wins the Leaders Division, setting up an exciting rematch in Indianapolis against Michigan State. Last year, Michigan State had the best record in the conference but its fans were infuriated when Wisconsin — a team they beat in the regular season — went to the Rose Bowl. The same thing may happen again this year. According to the SRS and the naked eye, the Badgers are the best team in the conference and likely to end the year in Pasadena.

On another note: Indiana is in the pole position for “worst team in a BCS conference” and not just according to the SRS. Indiana is 1-9, with its lone win coming by only 17 against an FCS school (Colorado is the only other Big Six school with just one win, which came against Colorado State). The Hoosiers have lost to a Sun Belt school (North Texas), a MAC school (Ball State) and Virginia. With Minnesota off the schedule this season, Indiana’s only hope for an FBS win comes in the season finale at home against Purdue.

Big 12

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
3.   Oklahoma             B12   9   20.6     45.8     66.4     8-1
4.   Oklahoma St          B12   9   20.3     45.8     66.1     9-0
9.   Texas A&M            B12   9    7.3     48.2     55.5     5-4
11.  Texas                B12   8   10.9     44.2     55.1     6-2
15.  Missouri             B12   9    5.1     47.5     52.6     4-5
23.  Kansas St            B12   9    4.9     45.4     50.4     7-2
26.  Baylor               B12   8    3.1     46.4     49.4     5-3
50.  Texas Tech           B12   9    1.4     40.6     42.1     5-4
66.  Iowa St              B12   9   -6.1     44.9     38.9     5-4
99.  Kansas               B12   9  -17.2     47.2     30.0     2-7

The Big 12 teams have strong SOS ratings throughout, as 1) 7 of the 10 teams are very good; 2) each school is playing 9 conference games; and 3) they have played some respectable non-conference games. Texas A&M has played the hardest schedule in college football; combined with blowout victories (average MOV in wins = 22.0) and close losses (average MOV in losses = -7.0), and A&M ranks high in the SRS despite an unimpressive 5-4 record.

But the real story of the conference is the way Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have dominated every opponent, with few exceptions. Their Bedlam showdown should be fantastic. Why does the SRS have OU slightly ahead of OSU?

Oklahoma’s been a bit better defensively. Consider that in the five common Big 12 games – against Kansas, KSU, Mizzou, Texas and Texas A&M — Oklahoma State won all five by an average score of 47-30; OU won all five by an average score of 48-21. The Texas Tech loss kills OSU in the SRS — OU earned a 35.1 in that game, by far the lowest by either team this season — but Oklahoma also has two monster games (+86.1 in a 55-17 Texas drubbing and +84.4 when the Sooners blew out Kansas State) that Oklahoma State can’t touch. With the unfortunate news that Ryan Broyles is out for the season, a week after after losing running back Dominique Whaley to a broken ankle — I’d have to make the Cowboys a favorite, especially with the game in Stillwater. The implications are enormous: an OSU win almost certainly sends them to the Sugar Bowl for the BCS National Championship Game. An Oklahoma win will give them their fifth Big 12 title in six years, and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl…. perhaps against Boise State. Again.

Big East

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
28.  Cincinnati           BgE   8   16.1     33.1     49.2     7-1
39.  West Virginia        BgE   9    8.1     37.8     45.8     6-3
46.  South Florida        BgE   8    7.0     37.2     44.2     4-4
49.  Rutgers              BgE   9    6.5     36.3     42.8     6-3
53.  Pittsburgh           BgE   9    0.2     41.2     41.4     4-5
65.  Louisville           BgE   9    1.0     38.0     39.0     5-4
74.  Syracuse             BgE   9   -0.2     37.0     36.8     5-4
77.  Connecticut          BgE   9    0.5     35.1     35.6     4-5

Cincinnati’s worst game of the season — by far, in SRS speak — was in Knoxville, a 45-23 loss in week two. But Cincinnati beat N.C. State by 30 and shutout Miami (Ohio) 27-0, while going undefeated in conference play. USF has managed to go 0-4 in conference play, losing three of those games by a combined 9 points. Louisville is the only other Big East team without two losses, but the Cardinals aren’t good enough yet to make noise in this conference. West Virginia has stumbled too often this season, and a 26-point loss at Syracuse registers as an unfathomable 13.8 on the SRS. Cincinnati and Virginia Tech played an unwatchable game in one of the least intriguing Orange Bowls ever; we may see a repeat in two months. If Cincinnati can handle West Virginia this weekend, the conference will be all but wrapped up.

Conference USA

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
13.  Houston              CUS   9   24.3     29.1     53.4     9-0
29.  Southern Miss        CUS   9   16.6     32.6     49.1     8-1
44.  Tulsa                CUS   9    4.7     39.8     44.5     6-3
62.  SMU                  CUS   9    4.7     35.4     40.0     6-3
79.  Central Florida      CUS   9    6.8     27.9     34.8     4-5
80.  Marshall             CUS   9   -5.7     39.7     34.0     4-5
88.  UTEP                 CUS   9   -1.3     33.9     32.6     4-5
93.  East Carolina        CUS   9   -6.0     36.8     30.8     4-5
96.  Rice                 CUS   9  -10.8     41.1     30.3     3-6
116. Alabama-Birmingham   CUS   9  -19.2     36.7     17.4     1-8
118. Tulane               CUS   10 -12.6     28.4     15.8     2-8
119. Memphis              CUS   9  -16.0     29.9     13.9     2-7

Houston’s SOS has been pathetic, which is why no one is championing their cause despite the 9-0 record. But the Cougars are going to face some difficult competition soon. After a warmup against Tulane, Houston’s final two games come against SMU and Tulsa. If Case Keenum and company can with those games, the Conference USA Championship Game, likely against Southern Miss, will be another difficult hurdle.

But crown the Cougars just yet. Tulsa is also undefeated in the conference — their three losses came against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State — and hosts Houston in the final week of the season. The Golden Hurricane could knock Houston from being a possible BCS “Buster” to not even qualifying for the C-USA Championship Game. Tulsa’s losses are entirely forgivable, which means Tulsa-Houston is one of the hidden gems left on the college football schedule. Last year, Tulsa won in Houston with Keenum on the sidelines, while in 2009, Houston scored 9 points in the final 21 seconds for a miraculous 46-45 victory.

Independents

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
14.  Notre Dame           IND   9    9.2     43.8     53.1     6-3
61.  Brigham Young        IND   9    3.2     36.9     40.1     6-3
73.  Navy                 IND   9   -0.2     37.7     37.5     3-6
94.  Army                 IND   9   -1.1     31.8     30.7     3-6

Notre Dame’s only a couple of plays away from 8-1, and seem to be making progress under Brian Kelly. The Irish still have a chance to make a difference this season, as they face Stanford in Palo Alto on November 26th. Navy won at least 8 games every season from 2003 to 2010, but the Midshipmen will need to beat SMU (and San Jose State and Army) to be bowl eligible this year.

Mid-Atlantic

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
35.  Toledo               MAC   9    7.9     39.1     47.0     5-4
45.  Temple               MAC   9   12.5     31.8     44.3     5-4
56.  Northern Illinois    MAC   9    6.5     34.3     40.8     6-3
67.  Ohio U.              MAC   9   10.4     28.4     38.8     6-3
72.  Western Michigan     MAC   9    4.1     33.4     37.5     5-4
81.  Miami OH             MAC   9   -1.1     34.8     33.7     4-5
89.  Bowling Green        MAC   9   -1.1     33.5     32.4     4-5
91.  Ball St              MAC   10  -5.4     37.1     31.8     6-4
104. Eastern Michigan     MAC   9   -3.1     31.5     28.4     5-4
106. Kent St              MAC   9  -10.7     37.8     27.1     3-6
107. Buffalo              MAC   9  -10.4     37.3     26.9     2-7
110. Central Michigan     MAC   10  -6.8     32.3     25.5     3-7
117. Akron                MAC   9  -16.7     33.3     16.6     1-8

Nothern Illinois and Toledo are atop the MAC with 4-1 records, and NIU’s exciting 63-60 win last week over Toledo gives them the tiebreaker in the MAC-West. The Rockets have had a tough four loss season: Toledo lost games in Columbus and against Boise State; a wrong call led to a 33-30 loss to Syracuse, and that was before losing the shootout to the Huskies. Ohio and Miami have the best records in the MAC-East, and the two play on the final week of the MAC regular season. Temple lost by 4 to Penn State, in addition to close losses on the road against Ohio and Bowling Green. Outside of an ugly game against Toledo, the Owls have played pretty well this season (by MAC standards, of course).

Mountain West

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
7.   Boise St             MWC   8   23.3     37.5     60.8     8-0
24.  TCU                  MWC   9   15.9     34.3     50.3     7-2
54.  San Diego St         MWC   8    5.9     35.1     41.0     5-3
64.  Air Force            MWC   9    2.8     36.4     39.2     5-4
82.  Wyoming              MWC   8   -0.8     34.1     33.4     5-3
112. Colorado St          MWC   8   -5.4     28.6     23.2     3-5
114. UNLV                 MWC   8  -19.1     39.9     20.8     2-6
120. New Mexico           MWC   9  -26.6     38.9     12.3     0-9

Boise State still must beat TCU and win at San Diego State, but it would be nothing short of shocking if the Broncos don’t finish 12-0. Boise State’s best win by SOS was against Georgia, of course; but the SRS was even more impressed by beating Toledo by 25 on the road (+73.0) and winning on the road by 50 against Fresno State (+70.5). BSU’s last two games were its weakest, as beating UNLV by only 27 (+47.8) and struggling with Air Force (37-26; +47.2) did not help Boise State get the style points it desperately needs.

Subjectively? I think Boise State could have beaten Auburn last season; the 2010 Broncos were a fantastic team. This year, I don’t think they would have a very good chance against LSU. But it’s almost certainly a moot point, as Boise State is unlikely to finish in the top two of the BCS. Boise State won’t end up in the Orange Bowl, so they’re likely playing one of Alabama, LSU or Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl or Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl (where OU could end up even if it loses to Oklahoma State). That will be must-see TV.

Pac-12

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
5.   Stanford             P12   9   27.2     37.7     64.9     9-0
6.   Oregon               P12   9   20.6     41.5     62.1     8-1
12.  Arizona St           P12   9   11.7     42.4     54.0     6-3
17.  Southern Cal         P12   9    7.8     44.2     51.9     7-2
41.  Utah                 P12   9    2.7     42.7     45.4     5-4
43.  Washington           P12   9    0.4     44.2     44.6     6-3
51.  California           P12   9    2.9     39.1     42.0     5-4
52.  Arizona              P12   9   -6.3     47.9     41.6     2-7
63.  UCLA                 P12   9   -6.1     45.9     39.9     5-4
76.  Washington St        P12   9   -2.6     38.1     35.6     3-6
78.  Oregon St            P12   9   -9.2     44.7     35.5     2-7
100. Colorado             P12   10 -17.5     46.3     28.8     1-9

Stanford and Oregon are elite teams, and their matchup is the game of the week this weekend. Both teams are still alive for the BCS Championship, but need Oklahoma to beat Oklahoma State. The SRS likes Stanford, but that game should be every bit as exciting as LSU-Alabama was (or, as was supposed to be, depending on your view).

In the Pac-12 South, USC is ineligible to win the division, so Arizona State and UCLA are the only teams in contention for the role of ‘sacrificial lamb’ in the P12 Championship Game. UCLA is not very good — and that’s being nice — but pulled off an incredible upset against Arizona State, and now holds the tiebreaker. Games against Utah and Colorado are potential wins, which means the rivalry game against USC could be for the division crown. But I don’t think the Bruins are anywhere near good enough to run the table, which will give the Stanford/Oregon winner a much better opponent (key for the computer ratings) in the Championship Game in Arizona State. Of course, this means it’s still possible that the chips fall in place for a UCLA-Iowa Rose Bowl.

SEC

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
1.   LSU                  SEC   9   22.6     46.1     68.7     9-0
2.   Alabama              SEC   9   23.6     43.6     67.2     8-1
16.  Georgia              SEC   9   11.9     40.7     52.6     7-2
19.  South Carolina       SEC   9    8.7     42.8     51.4     7-2
21.  Arkansas             SEC   9   12.3     38.5     50.9     8-1
34.  Florida              SEC   9    4.2     43.4     47.7     5-4
36.  Tennessee            SEC   9    0.2     46.5     46.7     4-5
37.  Mississippi St       SEC   9    7.5     38.4     45.9     5-4
42.  Auburn               SEC   9   -0.3     45.0     44.7     6-3
48.  Vanderbilt           SEC   9    0.2     42.6     42.8     4-5
83.  Kentucky             SEC   9   -6.8     40.1     33.3     4-5
87.  Mississippi          SEC   9   -9.9     42.6     32.7     2-7

No surprise here: the SRS still considers LSU and Bama as the top two teams in the country (although the Sooners and Cowboys are hot on their heels). Alabama scored a 61.7 on the SRS against LSU, which is actually better than they did when they let up against Kent State and North Texas. LSU scored a 74.2, which still trailed the 75.7 and 75.1 performances against Tennessee and Oregon, respectively. The rest of the SEC, however, is much less impressive. In theory, Arkansas could force a three-way tie in the SEC-West by beating LSU, and would be the favorite to advance to the SEC Championship Game based on the tiebreakers (based in part on the BCS ratings). But the idea of Arkansas winning at Tiger Stadium — the SRS would make LSU a 20-point favorite — is difficult to entertain right now.

Alabama is fantastic and would probably be a pick-em in a hypothetical rematch against the Tigers. But unless Stanford and Oklahoma State lose, ‘Bama has little chance of reaching the National Championship Game. A Sugar Bowl battle against Boise State, Oregon, or Oklahoma State, if it works out that way, would be a great substitute for fans.

Sun Belt

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
58.  Arkansas St          Sun   9   10.8     29.8     40.6     7-2
85.  Louisiana-Lafayette  Sun   10   4.7     28.1     32.8     8-2
86.  Florida Int'l        Sun   9    2.4     30.3     32.7     5-4
101. Western Kentucky     Sun   9   -2.1     30.9     28.8     5-4
103. Louisiana-Monroe     Sun   9   -5.2     33.8     28.5     2-7
108. North Texas          Sun   9  -11.7     38.4     26.8     3-6
111. Middle Tennessee St  Sun   8   -6.1     31.0     24.9     2-6
113. Troy                 Sun   8  -11.4     34.5     23.1     2-6
115. Florida Atlantic     Sun   8  -19.4     37.0     17.6     0-8

Western Kentucky isn’t any good — we’re about to find out how not any good they are against LSU this weekend — but hats off to the Hilltoppers for winning five straight games, all in conference. Arkansas State (5-0) and Louisiana-Lafayette (6-1) battle it out this weekend, with the winner having the inside track to winning the Sun Belt. But WKU has only Troy and North Texas left, which means the Hilltoppers could actually end the season 7-1 in conference play. If they do that, and Arkansas State loses to the Ragin Cajuns this weekend, then all three teams could end the season tied for first in the conference.

Most likely? The Red Wolves handle their business at home against Louisiana-Lafayette. Arkansas State lost to two BCS schools on the road — Illinois and Virginia Tech — but emerged victorious against everyone else. The SRS pegs them as an 11-point favorite this weekend, nearly matching the opening line of 10.5.

WAC

Rk   Team                Conf   G   MOV      SOS      SRS      W-L
55.  Nevada               WAC   8    4.9     36.0     40.9     5-3
57.  Louisiana Tech       WAC   9    3.1     37.7     40.8     5-4
68.  Utah St              WAC   8    4.7     34.1     38.8     3-5
75.  Hawai`i              WAC   9    5.6     30.9     36.5     5-4
90.  Fresno St            WAC   9   -7.1     39.1     32.0     3-6
92.  San José St          WAC   9   -6.5     37.8     31.3     3-6
105. Idaho                WAC   9   -7.6     34.8     27.2     2-7
109. New Mexico St        WAC   9   -7.1     33.7     26.5     3-6

The WAC wasn’t bad last year, with Boise State, Colin Kaepernick and the good version of Hawaii. This year, the conference has been barely worth following. Nevada lost by 49 to Oregon but only by 1 in Lubbock, which probably doesn’t help Oklahoma’s argument that the Sooners are better than the Ducks. Nevada also lost to Boise State in what is now a non-conference game, which makes the Wolf Pack undefeated in conference play. Louisiana Tech is the only other team without multiple WAC losses, which makes their trip to Reno on November 19th the premier WAC matchup of the season. Take from that what you will.

  • Brandon Kirkpatrick

    The idea of Arkansas winning at LSU is not as far fetched as you might think. The Hogs have a history of playing LSU close, regardless of the two teams records and are finally getting healthy on the defensive side of the ball.

  • 4.0 Point Stance

    I’m kind of surprised at how good the SEC comes off in these rankings. There’s a lot of chatter of this being a down year and the SEC being a two team league, but the top ten teams all rank in the top fifty. Ole Miss and Kentucky are blindingly bad though, which I think really hurts the perception of the SEC depth.  I think the Big XII is better, barely, so far (although Kansas may be worse than even Ole Miss), but odds are that’ll be up for dispute until the MNC game.

  • Chase Stuart

    I was surprised,, too.  But LSU beat Oregon, Arkansas beat A&M, ‘Bama beat Penn State, LSU crushed West Virginia, Tennessee crushed Cincinnati on the positive side of the ledger; if I have my math right, the SEC has only four non-conference losses: Georgia against Boise State, Auburn against Clemson, Ole Miss against BYu and Kentucky against Louisville.  That’s a pretty good group of losses, where it was only one your top six teams — and it came against an undefeated team — another loss was against a one loss team, and the other two were by the two bottom-feeders of the conference.

    There are 10 non-conference games left for the SEC.  We still have UGA-GT, UF-FSU and USC-Clemson to get a sense on the conference as a whole.  Western Kentucky-LSU, Lousiana Tech-Ole Miss and Vanderbilt-Wake round out the schedule, unless you are excited for Alabama/Georgia Southern, Auburn-Samford, Florida-Furman and South Carolina-The Citadel.

    To date, the SEC has faced 8 FCS schools + New Mexico, 6 Sun Belt schools, 4 each from the WAC, Conference USA and the Big East, three MAC schools, and each of the independents except the only good one.  But of the other five, PSU, Oregon, A&M, Clemson and Boise State are respectable.  Technically, none of those five games were home, although four of them took place in the SEC’s footprint.

    A 34-4 record OOC is pretty nice, even with a mostly cupcake schedule.  I think the three big ACC matchups (sorry, Wake/Vandy) will tell us a bit more about the depth of the conference.  There’s no doubt about LSU/Bama, and Georgia’s OOC game didn’t tell us all that much.

  • Chase Stuart

    Fair points. Arkansas’s hurt in the SRS not just by the ‘Bama loss, but by somehow only beating Troy by 10 and winning in Oxford by just five. Those two games are pretty difficult to reconcile, especially the game against Ole Miss (Arksansas was up bigger early against Troy).

    But Arkansas’s history does look promising against the Tigers.  I’m sure the spread will be much lower than 21, but that just might mean Arkansas is overrated.  Arkansas is a very good team — probably in the same tier as a team like A&M — but I think LSU is in a totally different tier.  Will be a great game, of course.

  • Robert Maxwell

    SEC Down year?  Yes, there are some coaches in transition.  However, these guys may have a lot to say about the current strength of the conference:

    Tyler Bray, John Brantley, Greg Childs, Justin Hunter, Marcus Lattimore,  Knile Davis, Steven Garcia, Chris Relf, Emory Blake, Ronald Powell, Jeff Demps, Trovon Reed…

    ie expected major contributors that sat on the bench through most of the season due to injuries or other OTF issues.  (this list doesn’t even include linemen)  The SEC hasn’t gone anywhere.

  • asimperson

    Great read! Just a small nitpick: the MAC is the Mid-American Conference, not the Mid-Atlantic.

  • asimperson

    Great read! Just a small nitpick: the MAC is the Mid-American Conference, not the Mid-Atlantic.

  • Chase Stuart

    Ah, good catch! Glad to hear you enjoyed the article.  It would be odd if Central Michigan played their games in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Chase Stuart

    Ah, good catch! Glad to hear you enjoyed the article.  It would be odd if Central Michigan played their games in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Mrvp

    Really good read. I’m just starting to get my head around this and how you can apply this in Excel (I had a different way of doing things using other people’s data but I think it’s great when you can derive your numbers from first principles rather than working with other people sets as you actually understand what the number tells you).

  • Mrvp

    Really good read. I’m just starting to get my head around this and how you can apply this in Excel (I had a different way of doing things using other people’s data but I think it’s great when you can derive your numbers from first principles rather than working with other people sets as you actually understand what the number tells you).