Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 8_1

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

As of the end of Saturday's games, these are the Compu-Picks top 15 and bottom 10 (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 1.00 25 1
2 8 Oklahoma Big 12 0.90 6 4
3 4 Oregon Pac-12 0.84 29 2
4 2 Florida SEC 0.81 15 6
5 3 Kansas State Big 12 0.80 21 3
6 14 Texas Tech Big 12 0.69 11 13
7 6 Louisiana State SEC 0.59 22 18
8 7 Oregon State Pac-12 0.59 23 17
9 20 Texas A&M SEC 0.59 10 29
10 5 Notre Dame Indep 0.58 32 10
11 13 South Carolina SEC 0.58 26 15
12 23 Texas Big 12 0.54 16 40
13 12 Florida State ACC 0.51 58 7
14 17 Stanford Pac-12 0.50 19 39
15 9 Southern California Pac-12 0.45 61 9
16 11 Mississippi State SEC 0.45 78 5
17 10 Georgia SEC 0.39 51 16
76 24 Ohio MAC -0.10 124 23
115 Eastern Michigan MAC -0.54 103 105
116 Tulane C-USA -0.56 56 121
117 South Alabama Sun Belt -0.59 112 104
118 Buffalo MAC -0.59 73 119
119 Idaho WAC -0.60 84 117
120 Memphis C-USA -0.61 104 108
121 Hawaii Mountain West -0.69 43 124
122 Akron MAC -0.70 115 111
123 New Mexico State WAC -0.82 119 120
124 Umass MAC -0.95 118 123

This week's extra table will be the top 15 rated wins so far this year. 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.

Rank Team Conf Week Opp Name Loc Score OppScore OT
1 Oklahoma Big 12 7 Texas NEUTRAL 63 14 NO
2 Oregon Pac-12 4 Arizona HOME 49 0 NO
3 Oklahoma Big 12 6 Texas Tech AWAY 41 20 NO
4 Alabama SEC 3 Arkansas AWAY 52 0 NO
5 Florida SEC 8 South Carolina HOME 44 11 NO
6 Kansas State Big 12 4 Oklahoma AWAY 24 19 NO
7 Kansas State Big 12 8 West Virginia AWAY 55 14 NO
8 Alabama SEC 2 Western Kentucky HOME 35 0 NO
9 Texas Big 12 3 Mississippi AWAY 66 31 NO
10 South Carolina SEC 6 Georgia HOME 35 7 NO
11 Alabama SEC 8 Tennessee AWAY 44 13 NO
12 Alabama SEC 1 Michigan NEUTRAL 41 14 NO
13 Texas A&M SEC 5 Arkansas HOME 58 10 NO
14 Texas Tech Big 12 7 West Virginia HOME 49 14 NO
15 Texas Christian Big 12 7 Baylor AWAY 49 21 NO

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 15 / bottom 10 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) This week I added a special row in the table for Ohio. I'm sorry, but them being in the BCS top 25 is a complete and absolute joke. This is a team that has played an absolute joke of a schedule (Penn St, Marshall and four teams in the bottom 10 of 1-A, including each of the bottom three). And even against that joke of a schedule, they've barely held on in game after game after game, with their only win of more than 10 points being against New Mexico St, and major struggles against each of UMass, Buffalo and Akron in successive weeks. The simple truth is that Ohio's resume isn't top 25 and really isn't even anywhere close to top 25.

5) If you want a good indication of the fact that it's a Big 12 and SEC world in 2012, just look at the top 15 wins. One by Oregon, and the other 14 are all from those two leagues. Also worth noting: two of the top three wins are by Oklahoma. Those are a huge part of why Compu-Picks is so high on them. Two blowout wins over strong opponents makes a BIG impression.

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

Oklahoma is a classic "Compu-Picks values things differently than voters" team. Blowout wins and a close loss against a nasty schedule = Compu-Picks likes them better than most.

Texas Tech is in the same situation. Their loss was ugly, of course, but the rest of their resume is stellar. They've had a few tough games, no truly awful 1-A opponents, and have generally been dominant.

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 has two ugly losses, but that Ole Miss really stands out on the list of the best performances of the year, and is a big part of why they're rated so highly. In general, they've done reasonably well against a very tough schedule compared to almost all of their neighbors above and below their power rating.

You can basically copy and paste the A&M note here: Stanford has played a much tougher schedule than the three teams directly below them, to the point where even though there's only a three-spot difference in rank, it's actually a full 0.11 score difference, which is pretty material. Stanford has three very solid peformances to their record: a win over USC and blowout wins over Duke and Cal. Even factoring in the bad showing at Washington, the overall resume is enough to push them over a couple teams that the BCS has put above them.

7) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the BCS: Notre Dame, USC, Mississippi St, Georgia, and Ohio.

Is Notre Dame really a top five team? At least so far, their schedule doesn't stack up against a number of top ten teams, and they haven't been dominant enough to make up for it (with struggles against Purdue, Michigan, Stanford and BYU). They also don't have any one true elite performance on the resume. Their best rated game, the blowout of Miami, doesn't even make the top 25 wins right now, while each of the Compu-Picks top five (and seven of the top ten) teams possess at least one win rated in the top fifteen. In a lot of ways, this team reminds me of the 2002 version, finding ways to win against OK but not great opposition... and then at some point they stop finding ways to win. If I had to guess, that point will be their upcoming trip to Norman.

USC has been nicely dominant (at times), but against a schedule that isn't remotely impressive. The real heft is yet to come, with Arizona, ASU, UCLA and of course Oregon and Notre Dame still on tap. But so far the resume simply doesn't suggest top ten status. Not with a loss at Stanford and struggles at Syracuse, Utah and Washington. Either they drastically raise their level of play, or this is looking like a 9 win season, or maybe even worse.

Miss St has been a great story (and had a number of dominant wins), but their schedule is simply far too weak to support a ranking of #11. They also struggled far too much against Troy and Kentucky; when you lack anything close to a marquee opponent, you either need to blow everyone out or you invite scrutiny and scepticism. Right now that scepticism is showing itself with a line of over 21 points at Bama.

Georgia simply isn't a top ten team. They got blown out by South Carolina, they struggled against Buffalo, Tennessee and Kentucky (and even their Mizzou win was far less dominant than the score suggests). The closest thing to an elite performance on their resume is a blowout win over Vandy, and while that's nice, when that's the feather in your cap, you don't have a very pretty hat.

Ohio was already covered above. No real need to rehash the details.

8) 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

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

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