Fun With Numbers: Measuring Competitiveness

<p class=txt>Was looking at a big page of numbers yesterday and wanted to see if anything was there. There was..... <BR><br> Ever since I was about 9 years old, one of my favorite parts of the newspaper has been the college football log -- the section which lists roughly 100 schools, the schedules, and the scores of all the games that have been played. And at about this point in the season, there's enough to look at that you can try to come up with some conclusions.

. Back then, I'd try to look at the records and records of opponents to see what Ohio State's chances would be of beating Michigan in November.
Anyways, since Cal's played all of their games very close this season, I wanted to see in how many cases Cal gave opponents their toughest game and compare how they've done to a few other teams in the Pac-10. We'll call this the Competitive Rating -- if a team gives all of its opponents their toughest home and road games, they would have a 1.0 rating.
Toughness (the word that I'll use interchangeably with competitiveness) is measured strictly by point differential. The scale starts at one end with a big loss, then goes small loss, then small win then big win. For example, Baylor lost at Cal by 48 points, which makes it Baylor's toughest road game. Because most teams haven't played more than three road or home games, no team will have extremely high numbers.
Doing a few Pac-10 teams, the competitive ratings show:

WSU - 1.2

CAL - 1.25

USC - 1.28

Oregon - 1.8

Arizona St. - 2.16

Oregon St. - 2.2

Stanford - 2.8
Now you can't use this as an overall rating because of the differences in strength of schedule. But only USC has a set of six games that's as tough as Cal's six games, and the Bears have hung in every one. Even if Cal were to exclude the Baylor and NMSU games, their rating would actually DROP to 1.12!
My guess is that teams with new coaches that overachieve usually do so with a number of peaks and valleys -- upsets and close games with a sprinkling of blowout losses. That it hasn't happened to Cal is probably the most impressive part of its record thus far and is a testament to work that the coaching staff is doing to keep the team on an even keel and have them mentally prepared week after week.
Even though the two games were losses, at the end of the year, keeping Air Force and WSU very close in back-to-back games given the nuttiness of their offenses may be one of the most impressive accomplishments of this year's team.

Baylor - toughest road game

NMSU - 2nd toughest road game

Michigan State - toughest home game

Air Force - toughest road game

Washington St. - 2nd toughest road game

Washington - toughest home game

USC - toughest home game

UCLA - toughest road game.
Let's assign them 1 point for each toughest game and 2 points for the 2nd toughest game. That would give them 10 points, or a 1.25 average.
Moving on:


Nevada - 2nd toughest road game

Idaho - Not included in log, game excluded

Ohio State - toughest home game

Montana State - not included in log, game excluded

Cal - toughest home game

Southern Cal - toughest road game

Stanford - toughest home game
Out of the five games that we can include, they have four toughest games and 1 2nd toughest. This would give them 6 points and a 1.2 average.

Auburn - toughest road game (for the sake of this exercise, I'm counting OT games as ties)

Colorado - toughest home game

Kansas St - 2nd toughest home game

Oregon St. - toughest road game

Washington St - toughest home game

Cal - toughest away game

Washington - toughest away game
Seven games, 9 points, for a 1.28 average.

Missisippi St - toughest road game

Fresno St. - 3rd toughest road game

Idaho- not included in log, game excluded

Portland State - not included in log, game excluded

Arizona - toughest home game

UCLA - 2nd toughest home game

Arizona St. - 2nd toughest road game
Five games, 9 points, for a 1.8 average

Nebraska - 5th toughest home game

E. Washington - not in log, excluded

Central Florida - not in log, excluded

San Diego St. - 2nd toughest home game

Stanford - worst road game

North Carolina - 2nd toughest road game

Oregon St - 2nd toughest road game

Oregon - toughest home game
Six games, Top Stories