John Roberts College Football

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Week Fifteen: Tuesday

My Rankings

These are my final rankings of the regular season. I spent a large majority of last week breaking down teams and determining where they should be ranked. I'll get into more details of why some of the jumps took place in a moment. But first, here is my final 2005 Top 25. The previous rank is in parentheses.

1. USC 12-0 (1)
2. Texas 12-0 (2)
3. Penn State 10-1 (3)
4. Ohio State 9-2 (6)
5. Auburn 9-2 (9)
6. Oregon 10-1 (7)
7. Notre Dame 9-2 (8)
8. Georgia 10-2 (12)
9. LSU 10-2 (5)
10. Miami, FL 9-2 (10)
11. Virginia Tech 10-2 (4)
12. West Virginia 10-1 (13)
13. Alabama 9-2 (14)
14. Florida 8-3 (15)
15. Louisville 9-2 (17)
16. TCU 10-1 (16)
17. UCLA 9-2 (11)
18. Texas Tech 9-2 (18)
19. Florida State 8-4 (--)
20. Boston College 8-3 (21)
21. Wisconsin 9-3 (--)
22. Michigan 7-4 (19)
23. Georgia Tech 7-4 (20)
24. Northwestern 7-4 (--)
25. Clemson 7-4 (22)

Dropped Out: South Carolina 7-4 (23), Iowa 7-4 (24), Fresno State 8-3 (25)

Fresno State dropped out for losing to Louisiana Tech. South Carolina and Iowa dropped out (and Oklahoma got left off) because there are only 25 spots. Florida State had to be ranked (after all, they have beaten two Top Eleven teams and the number 20 team in my rankings), and Wisconsin has a better record than Michigan and beat them on the field. Northwestern (other than a loss to Arizona State) has played very well and won head-to-head against Iowa. Clemson beat South Carolina head-to-head. That was finally how the final two spots were filled, with Oklahoma being on the outside looking in, but just barely. It was very tough to rank just 25 teams when there are at least 28 deserving teams. I didn't even go into the other teams that were considered but quickly dropped from consideration.

The other big jump without playing came from Auburn, who jumped from nine to five. They passed LSU and Virginia Tech, both losers this weekend. Yes, LSU has a head-to-head win over Auburn, but Auburn beat Georgia and Georgia beat LSU. All those teams have the same number of losses, and Auburn played both teams in road games and only lost in overtime. They jumped Notre Dame because I decided that Auburn was a more impressive two loss team than the Irish. They jumped Oregon because...well, I'll get into the Oregon case in a minute.

Thoughts on the Rankings and the BCS Bowls

The situation is this. Notre Dame and Ohio State received automatic at large bids to the BCS this season. Ohio State was the highest ranking team not to get an automatic bid and was ranked in the Top Four. That means they get an automatic bid. Notre Dame was ranked in the Top Six of the BCS, which means (just like it does for all teams not in BCS conferences) that they get an automatic bid.

So who should Oregon be mad at? I understand why Oregon is upset. They feel like they got left out, and the fact that most people thought they were going to be left out before the upsets on Saturday made it possible for those two bids to become automatic does not sit well with them. Still, the team the Ducks should be mad at is Ohio State. They are the team that is ranked ahead of them in the rankings. Notre Dame got in because of the same rule that got Utah into the BCS a year ago, a rule that happens to make a lot of sense for all the non-BCS conference teams except for Notre Dame. But still, it is a rule that is at least somewhat fair. The rule that got Ohio State in was fair too, but if enough people had ranked Oregon ahead of Ohio State, then it wouldn't have been an issue. The villian last year was Texas for sneaking ahead of California in the rankings. The team that pulled "a Texas" this year is Ohio State, not Notre Dame.

Still, the Oregon fans are more mad at Notre Dame. I guess that they feel that losing to Michigan State is an unforgivable sin. They lost in overtime at home. Is that really that much worse than beating California in overtime? Well, maybe. Is that really that much worse than beating Fresno State at home by three...the same Fresno team that just lost to Nevada and Louisiana Tech? Well, maybe. Is that really that much worse than beating a 4-7 Washington State by three? I don't know. Is that really that much worse than only beating a 3-8 Arizona team by seven? Again, I don't know. Oregon beat zero ranked teams this year. Notre Dame beat one. I'll give Oregon that either Fresno State or California can be counted as a ranked team. Still, they have only beaten an equal number of ranked teams to Notre Dame. The complaint against Notre Dame has been their schedule, but where are the Ducks big wins. Houston, Fresno State, Arizona State, and California are all going to bowl games. Michigan, BYU, and Navy are all going to bowl games from Notre Dame's schedule. The schedules are virtually equal in my opinion, with a slight edge going to Oregon. Oregon lost by 32 at home to USC. Notre Dame lost by three at home to USC. Big edge to Notre Dame. Oregon has one loss, Notre Dame has two. Edge to Oregon. Notre Dame pounded opponents, Oregon slipped by them. Edge to Notre Dame. Oregon beat Stanford by 24. Notre Dame beat Stanford by 7. Big edge to Oregon. Oregon beat Washington by 24. Notre Dame beat them by 19. Call that a push. The two teams are fairly equal. That's why they are ranked right next to each other in my rankings. I give the ever so slight edge to Oregon, but the Ducks fans don't have too much of a case against the Irish, despite what they seem to think.

I saw a ranking on a USC site a couple of weeks ago featuring ranking the teams based on how bad their losses were and how many they had. In these rankings, Texas Tech was number ten, and Notre Dame was left off altogether. (It only went through number ten.) Apparently, this was claiming that Texas Tech had better losses than Notre Dame. Now, Texas Tech had lost to Oklahoma State and Texas. Notre Dame had lost to Michigan State and USC. Michigan State is better than Oklahoma State, but let's go ahead and call those two equal losses. So Notre Dame's three point loss to USC was worse than Texas Tech's 35 point loss to Texas? What does this mean? Shockingly, since Texas Tech was ranked ahead of Notre Dame, it should mean that this USC fan thinks that Texas is clearly superior to USC. If a 35 point loss is not as bad as a three point loss, I don't understand the philosophy. Plus, if the Big Twelve is so weak, as many Pac-10 observers like to point out, then the ranking is just as crazy. Of course, he did have USC ahead of Texas in his rankings. I realize that anyone can make a list of rankings and put them on an internet message board. Still, many people out there seem to be overly critical of the Irish and not so quick to judge on other teams.

Imagine that this was a playoff system. We all seem to think that things will get cleared up by having a playoff system. OK, so who is number four in a four team playoff this year? Ohio State? Auburn? Notre Dame? Georgia? Oregon? Suppose we have an eight team system with six BCS conference champs getting in automatically. Who gets left out? Oregon? Auburn? Notre Dame? Ohio State? Suppose it was an eight team system where just the top eight teams get in. Who gets left out? Notre Dame? Georgia? LSU? Virginia Tech? Miami? Auburn? Oregon? It is a messy situation, and unlike in basketball, where the 65th or 66th team in the tournament has little shot to win the whole tournament, the eighth or ninth best team would clearly have a shot to win the tourney in football. I am not necessarily an advocate of this system, but I am also not necessarily an advocate of a playoff.

In conclusion, it may appear today that I am defending the Irish. I am not. If the BCS were awarding bowl picks not based on which match-up will draw the most money, Ohio State, Auburn, or Oregon would be the two picks. But Notre Dame is a solid team that is getting beat on by people left and right. Do they deserve a BCS bid? Probably not. Could they beat Ohio State? Yes, they could. Could Oregon or Auburn beat Ohio State? Yes, they could. Is it fair? Probably not.

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