Compu-Picks 2012 Analysis: Week 10_1

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

As of the end of Saturday's games, these are the Compu-Picks top 25 and bottom 20 (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 11 1
2 3 Oregon Pac-12 0.88 24 2
3 2 Kansas State Big 12 0.80 18 3
4 6 Florida SEC 0.73 5 12
5 12 Oklahoma Big 12 0.70 7 14
6 4 Notre Dame Indep 0.67 20 9
7 15 Texas A&M SEC 0.67 12 13
8 11 Oregon State Pac-12 0.63 6 26
9 7 Louisiana State SEC 0.58 9 29
10 8 South Carolina SEC 0.57 17 16
11 5 Georgia SEC 0.55 34 11
12 10 Florida State ACC 0.53 60 4
13 14 Stanford Pac-12 0.50 30 19
14 13 Clemson ACC 0.49 48 7
15 19 Southern California Pac-12 0.46 31 28
16 22 Texas Tech Big 12 0.46 8 45
17 17 Texas Big 12 0.44 28 33
18 5* Ohio State Big Ten 0.40 66 8
19 NR Oklahoma State Big 12 0.39 13 46
20 18 UCLA Pac-12 0.37 44 24
21 NR Arizona State Pac-12 0.37 26 43
22 NR Brigham Young Indep 0.34 36 38
23 NR Utah State WAC 0.34 73 10
24 21 Mississippi State SEC 0.33 39 36
25 NR Arizona Pac-12 0.31 1 69
26 16 Nebraska Big Ten 0.30 35 42
34 20 Louisiana Tech WAC 0.25 114 6
37 23 Rutgers Big East 0.22 95 18
40 24 Northwestern Big Ten 0.20 54 37
42 9 Louisville Big East 0.19 93 21
45 25 Toledo MAC 0.17 87 31
105 . Army Indep -0.42 108 91
106 . Florida International Sun Belt -0.43 101 98
107 . Texas-El Paso C-USA -0.43 75 104
108 . Colorado State Mountain West -0.44 81 102
109 . Central Michigan MAC -0.45 97 103
110 . Illinois Big Ten -0.45 40 120
111 . Miami (Ohio) MAC -0.47 104 99
112 . Buffalo MAC -0.48 71 112
113 . Alabama-Birmingham C-USA -0.52 98 106
114 . Colorado Pac-12 -0.52 32 122
115 . Tulane C-USA -0.60 106 111
116 . Eastern Michigan MAC -0.61 94 115
117 . Memphis C-USA -0.61 96 114
118 . Southern Mississippi C-USA -0.62 88 118
119 . South Alabama Sun Belt -0.63 118 108
120 . Idaho WAC -0.66 90 119
121 . Akron MAC -0.68 113 117
122 . Hawaii Mountain West -0.74 58 123
123 . New Mexico State WAC -0.85 119 121
124 . Umass MAC -0.90 110 124

This week's extra table will be an update of the top performances posted two weeks ago. This week I'm showing the top 25 instead of just the top 15. I'm going to try and cycle through various potentially interesting outputs through the year; 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 Notre Dame Indep 9 Oklahoma AWAY 30 13 NO
3 Oregon Pac-12 4 Arizona HOME 49 0 NO
4 South Carolina SEC 6 Georgia HOME 35 7 NO
5 Florida SEC 8 South Carolina HOME 44 11 NO
6 Alabama SEC 3 Arkansas AWAY 52 0 NO
7 UCLA Pac-12 10 Arizona HOME 66 10 NO
8 Texas A&M SEC 10 Mississippi State AWAY 38 13 NO
9 Alabama SEC 2 Western Kentucky HOME 35 0 NO
10 Kansas State Big 12 9 Texas Tech HOME 55 24 NO
11 Alabama SEC 9 Mississippi State HOME 38 7 NO
12 Kansas State Big 12 8 West Virginia AWAY 55 14 NO
13 Texas Big 12 3 Mississippi AWAY 66 31 NO
14 Alabama SEC 7 Missouri AWAY 42 10 NO
15 Alabama SEC 8 Tennessee AWAY 44 13 NO
16 Georgia SEC 9 Florida NEUTRAL 17 9 NO
17 Georgia SEC 4 Vanderbilt HOME 48 3 NO
18 Kansas State Big 12 4 Oklahoma AWAY 24 19 NO
19 Louisiana State SEC 2 Washington HOME 41 3 NO
20 Alabama SEC 1 Michigan NEUTRAL 41 14 NO
21 Oregon State Pac-12 7 Brigham Young AWAY 42 24 NO
22 Oklahoma Big 12 6 Texas Tech AWAY 41 20 NO
23 Louisiana State SEC 8 Texas A&M AWAY 24 19 NO
24 Oregon Pac-12 10 Southern California AWAY 62 51 NO
25 Texas A&M SEC 5 Arkansas HOME 58 10 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 top and bottom teams (top 25 / bottom 20 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 thirteen 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.
After week 9 (0-6): Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio St, Louisville - Notre Dame came very close to losing to below-average Big East team, but for the purposes of this analysis, a win is a win. LSU lost... but if you think a close loss to the #1 team in the country is "getting exposed"... I'm sorry, but I just can't help you.

5) Since obviously one of the big points of contention right now is how to rate and rank the top four unbeaten teams, I've created a breakout article specifically looking at those four teams, explaining why Alabama is the best of the four, Notre Dame the worst, and what exactly separates Oregon and Kansas St (at this point, it isn't much).

6) The top x wins list isn't quite as Big 12 and SEC-centric as it was two weeks ago, but it's still very much focused on those two leagues. This shouldn't be terribly surprising, given previous commentary about those two being the best leagues in 2012.

7) After a brief foray into "there's actually an AQ worse than Colorado" territory, Virginia wins a blowout and the Buffs continue to be awful. Back to normality.

8) I'm going to say a special word about Arizona, because they really exemplify what Compu-Picks sees. In 1-A games, they're 4-4, which most people glance and assume they must not be worth noting. Except those eight games have been completely brutal, with the easiest of them being Toledo and Washington (not terribly brutal home games, but when those are your relative cupcake games, life kind of sucks). They faced five teams ranked in the BCS top 20 (#3 Oregon, #11 Oregon St, #14 Stanford, #18 UCLA and #19 USC), plus another (Oklahoma St) who can't be far off the top 25 (the AP Poll had them 31st and the Coaches Poll 29th for reference).
And what has Arizona done against this schedule? They went 1-4 against the BCS top 25, with two very close losses, and 3-0 against everyone else (including two blowout wins). Is that a top 25 resume? Maybe, maybe not, but it's silly that W/L record has been so emphasized and schedule so de-emphasized that they got no coaches' poll votes and almost no AP poll votes.
"Arizona beat Toledo so should be ranked above them" is a silly argument (especially since it was such a close game), but is there anyone out there who honestly thinks that Toledo has proven themselves capable of going 2-4 against Oregon, Oregon St, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Oklahoma St with two of those losses nailbiters? I mean, the Rockets barely held off Eastern Michigan and Buffalo (two bottom 20 teams) as well as Wyoming (who isn't much better).
There's something inherently broken about how college football almost completely devalues schedule strength, and Arizona is a fantastic example of this.

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

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, Arkansas and now Miss St certainly help).

Texas Tech has lost two blowouts against elite opponents, one game to Texas, and has done exceedingly well against everyone else. Call me crazy, but that strikes me as a resume better than 22nd.

10) The following teams are ranked materially lower by the model than the BCS: Georgia, Ohio St (AP Rank 5th), Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, Rutgers, Northwestern, Louisville, Toledo.

Georgia almost splits into two teams. "Good Georgia" beat up Mizzou, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and beat Florida. They're a legitimate top 5 team and national title contender. However, there's another team to consider. "Bad Georgia" struggled against Buffalo, barely held off Tennessee and Kentucky, and got blown out by South Carolina. "Bad Georgia" has no business being in the top 25, much less top 10, much less top 5.
And it's interesting that Georgia's ranking of 5th basically ignores "Bad Georgia." Four out of their nine performances this year showed a team that was a total fraud to be in the top ten, much less top five, and yet here they are, as if those bad games never happened. Very strange.

Ohio St's AP ranking is just a joke. They've faced a schedule far weaker than any top-ranked team outside of Louisville, and they haven't dominated it at all. Close wins over Cal, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan St... really? This is a top 10 resume? Their achievements are a dominating win over Nebraska and not losing. Their second-rated performance was a 12-point win at a mediocre Penn St team (who lost to Ohio AND Virginia). Their resume has absolutely no heft to justify their absurd ranking. 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.

Ohio St (AP Rank 5th), Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, Rutgers, Northwestern, Louisville, Toledo. Nebraska has two losses (one a blowout), barely held off Wisconsin, Michigan St and Northwestern, and their shining moments were a blowout over Arkansas St and winning by 14 against Michigan. They're not a top 20 team.

Louisiana Tech has played an absolutely awful schedule and lost (though a close loss) to the only decent team they've faced. They also barely held off bad Houston and Virginia teams. Not a top 25 team.

Northwestern has played a mediocre schedule, has lost twice, and struggled vs Syracuse, Minnesota, and BC. Their best performance was a 10-point home win against Vandy. A top 25 team should call that sort of performance around average, not the shining moment of the season.

Rutgers, Toledo and Louisville are all cakewalk schedule frauds. Louisville is lucky to be undefeated despite a joke schedule. Toledo competed nicely at Arizona but gave it back against Wyoming, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Buffalo. And Rutgers had a decent win at Arkansas but actually gagged at home to Kent. None of those three are top 25 teams, and the only one you can even try to justify as top 25 is Louisville (and they're ranked in the top 10, just a complete joke).

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

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