Big 12 riding high in Week 6 Achievement Index

tcuTwo teams from the Big 12 have earned their way into the Top 4 of the Achievement Index this week, as TCU and Oklahoma State each gutted out tough road wins in conference play against highly rated opponents.

Another Big 12 team, Baylor, has been given the benefit of the doubt by the pollsters and talking heads for winning big, but the level of achievement doesn’t mesh with the national impression.  The Bears have avoided losing, and if they continue to do that, they’ll be there at the end (and they will likewise face tougher competition to get there), but for now, the national media is putting the cart before the horse.  The Bears haven’t earned it.

Contrast that with the case of the Cowboys, still largely unnoticed in the national conversation.  Oklahoma State has three true road wins under its belt (vs. two for Baylor), a road win against the No. 25 team in efficiency (Baylor’s best road win = vs. No. 107), and a home win against the No. 19 team in efficiency (Baylor’s best win = vs. No. 37).  It’s no contest.

TCU is the rare case of the pollsters getting it right despite themselves.  The Horned Frogs have seen their efficiency numbers bounce around as they fight through injuries. As a result, they haven’t always passed the “eye test,” but that hasn’t prevented them from continuing to hold fairly strong in the traditional polls.  TCU has three road wins, against No. 19, No. 37, and No. 49.

The national collective will freak if two Big 12 teams make the playoff a year after the league was shut out.  We’re very far away from that happening, but a dispassionate appraisal of the current landscape suggests it’s not as outlandish a thought as it might generally be considered.

Before we get to the whole rankings, here’s the rundown of my methodology:

  1. Each team is ascribed a score derived from the combined efficiency rankings produced by the fine folks at Football Outsiders (specifically, Bill Connelley and Brian Fremeau), termed the “F/+” rankings.  The basic gist of each set of rankings that goes into this merged list — individually the “FEI” and the “S&P+ Ratings” — is to evaluate a team based on its efficiency on individual plays.  If you want a general sense of how “good” a team is, with only a few exceptions, you’re going to get an accurate reading from these.
  2. The scores pulled from the F/+ do not factor into an individual team’s ranking, however.  Rather, they provide the basis for evaluating who said team has played.  So for example, Wisconsin didn’t get any credit in regards to its own ranking for being the No. 42 team in the F/+, but it did get credit for facing Alabama, which ranks at No. 2.  In reverse, Alabama didn’t get credit for being No. 2, but did get credit for beating No. 42.  This is all about accomplishments. And for simplicity’s sake, all teams from below the FBS level got ascribed the same value: 129, which is one slot lower than the lowest FBS team (128).
  3. Basic weighting is applied such that, in general, road wins>neutral wins>home wins>bye weeks>road losses>neutral losses>home losses.  There are discrepancies such that a particularly egregious home loss can hurt a team more than two road losses, or a loss to No. 1 can actually help a team more than being off that week.  The actual weighting involved is the wild card here, as I expect I may tweak it some as we go along.  Lots of philosophical debates are involved in this process (For example: Is a road win worth more than two home wins?  And is a neutral site loss to No. 1 worse or better than a road loss to No. 8?).  These questions can go on for days, honestly, and much of it is dependent on an individual’s point of view.  I tried to go with the above approach as much as possible and applied a fair, consistent system across the board, so we’ll see where the chips fall.

And one final note … this is through games completed as of Oct. 11 (no last-minute Mac-tion additions; those will be added in due course at the conclusion of next week).  So with all that said, here we go:

1. Florida (6-0) … 81.333
2. Oklahoma State (6-0) … 94.833
3. TCU (6-0) … 109.75
4. Utah (5-0) … 113.5
5. Michigan State (6-0) … 115.75
6. Iowa (6-0) … 123.167
7. Ohio State (6-0) … 123.583
8. Notre Dame (5-1) … 131.417
9. Temple (5-0) … 140*
10. Texas A&M (5-0) … 149.5
11. LSU (5-0) … 153.333
12. Memphis (5-0) … 153.667
13. Florida State (5-0) … 159.917
14. Clemson (5-0) … 168.333
15. Toledo (5-0) … 169.333
16. Baylor (5-0) … 175.083
17. Houston (5-0) … 192.5
18. Appalachian State (4-1) … 216.417
19. Northwestern (5-1) … 245.75
20. Navy (4-1) … 360.75
21. Michigan (5-1) … 536
22. Ole Miss (5-1) … 541.167
23. Cal (5-1) … 558.5
24. BYU (4-2) … 1010.75
25. Stanford (4-1) … 1033.417

* Similar to the Baylor narrative, many of the national pundits are giving equal credit to fast starts of the non-power 5 schools in the race for a major bowl berth, while in reality, the fast starts aren’t equal at all.  Boise State and Navy may ultimately be very good choices for a big bowl, but they don’t have the resumes of their competition at present.  Temple has the early edge, with Memphis, Toledo and Houston all within striking distance.

26. Pittsburgh (4-1) … 1342.5
27. Georgia Southern (4-1) … 1407
28. Boise State (5-1) … 1604.833
29. Georgia (4-2) … 1608.333
30. Kentucky (4-1) … 1754.083
31. Mississippi State (4-2) … 1844.833
32. Utah State (3-2) … 2147.583
33. Penn State (5-1) … 2443.333
34. Louisiana Tech (4-2) … 2519.417
35. Ohio (5-1) … 2570.583
36. Arizona State (4-2) … 2617
37. Air Force (3-2) … 2679.667
38. Western Kentucky (5-1) … 2698.75
39. Marshall (5-1) … 2853.833
40. East Carolina (3-3) … 3316.25
41. Alabama (5-1) … 3484.5*
42. Arizona (4-2) … 3562.5
43. Duke (5-1) … 3692.833
44. Minnesota (4-2) … 3768
45. Illinois (4-2) … 3869.667
46. Kansas State (3-2) … 3930.75
47. Miami (3-2) … 4129.583
48. Texas Tech (4-2) … 4213.75
49. Oregon State (2-3) … 4691.333
50. West Virginia (3-2) … 4758.333

* Alabama continues to be weighted down by its home loss, but the Crimson Tide is also struggling to acquire elite wins.  Wisconsin and Georgia (and to a lesser degree, Arkansas) have seen their efficiency rankings lose steam in recent weeks, diminishing the Tide’s resume in the process.

51. Wisconsin (4-2) … 5120.75
52. Indiana (4-2) … 5293.083
53. UCLA (4-1) … 5313
54. Missouri (4-2) … 5453.5
55. Syracuse (3-2) … 5561
56. Oklahoma (4-1) … 6826.167*
57. USC (3-2) … 7338.5
58. North Carolina (4-1) … 7370.333
59. Northern Illinois (3-3) … 7858
60. Auburn (3-2) … 8246.667
61. Iowa State (2-3) … 8549.333
62. Tulane (2-3) … 8645.333
63. N.C. State (4-2) … 8652
64. Western Michigan (2-3) … 9035.333
65. Virginia (1-4) … 9108
66. Washington (3-2) … 9128.917
67. Tennessee (3-3) … 9464.333
68. Florida International (3-3) … 9545
69. Rice (3-3) … 9861.5
70. UConn (3-3) … 10234.667
71. Tulsa (3-2) … 10742.083
72. San Jose State (3-3) … 11340.667
73. Georgia Tech (2-4) … 11579.333
74. Ball State (2-4) … 11602.167
75. Cincinnati (3-2) … 12133.75

* Oklahoma is now the second-lowest one-loss team in the rankings, sitting below teams like Oregon State, Syracuse and Indiana.  The moral of the story: Don’t lose to Texas.

76. Bowling Green (4-2) … 12351.917
77. Texas (2-4) … 12543.667
78. Southern Miss (3-3) … 13095.333
79. Virginia Tech (3-3) … 13219.25
80. Vanderbilt (2-3) … 13564.917
81. South Alabama (3-2) … 13576.333
82. Central Michigan (2-4) … 13813.667
83. Maryland (2-4) … 14671
84. Arkansas State (2-3) … 15246.667
85. Louisville (2-3) … 15612.75
86. Arkansas (2-4) … 15644.5
87. South Florida (2-3) … 15835
88. Wake Forest (3-3) … 16505.917
89. Middle Tennessee (2-4) … 16835
90. Oregon (3-3) … 16842.75
91. UMass (1-4) … 17749
92. Colorado (3-3) … 18088.5
93. Boston College (3-3) … 18556.667
94. Akron (3-3) … 18660.833
95. Nebraska (2-4) … 19224.333
96. Kent State (2-4) … 19283.333
97. Louisiana-Monroe (1-4) … 19808
98. South Carolina (2-4) … 20295.833*
99. New Mexico (3-3) … 20489.583
100. Rutgers (2-3) … 20749.333

* Steve Spurrier resigned this week.  Looking at the overall record and perhaps more pointedly, the team’s lack of actual on-field accomplishment (to the tune of a No. 98 achievement ranking), it’s not hard to understand feelings of burnout and frustration taking hold in Columbia.

101. Louisiana-Lafayette (2-3) … 21948
102. Hawaii (2-4) … 24928
103. Fresno State (1-5) … 25043
104. Miami, Ohio (1-5) … 25593
105. UNLV (2-4) … 26500.167
106. UTEP (2-4) … 27252.25
107. Old Dominion (2-3) … 27867.167
108. Washington State (3-2) … 27815.417*
109. Texas State (1-4) … 28508
110. San Diego State (3-3) … 28592.167
111. Colorado State (2-4) … 29000.75
112. Idaho (1-4) … 30358
113. Troy (1-4) … 31408
114. Buffalo (2-3) … 31515.917
115. Charlotte (2-3) … 32468.25
116. Nevada (3-3) … 33438
117. Purdue (1-5) … 34743
118. UTSA (1-5) … 35010.667
119. SMU (1-5) … 43442.333
120. Kansas (0-5) … 47965
121. Army (1-5) … 51859.167
122. Florida Atlantic (1-4) … 55775.5
123. New Mexico State (0-5) … 57165
124. North Texas (0-5) … 62465
125. Georgia State (1-4) … 67024.25
126. Central Florida (0-6) … 72500
127. Eastern Michigan (1-5) … 78909.583
128. Wyoming (0-6) … 81050

* Mike Leach and co. have managed the near impossible feat of earning a winning record AND a bottom fifth placement in the Achievement Index (sandwiched between noted powers Old Dominion and Texas State).  For that to happen, the lows have to be incredibly low, and the highs have to be … low as well.  That’s what a win in Eugene is suddenly worth.  These are strange days.

Week 5 rankings
Week 4 rankings
Week 3 rankings

Week 2 rankings

As always, let me know your thoughts and feel free to share with friends, family, and special persons of import.  See any errors in record/placement?  Probably a typo since I did most of this by hand, but I’d appreciate hearing about it anyway … I might have goofed up something in the rankings themselves.

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