First Playoff 4 *should* be Michigan State, Notre Dame, Memphis and Clemson (Week 9 Achievement Index)

I’ve run the numbers, and they tell me the playoff committee is batting .250, at least in terms of rewarding the teams that are currently the most deserving.

That’s an important distinction, as some look at this system as trying to pick the best teams, which just COMPLETELY misses the point and COMPLETELY devalues the regular season.  Why play the games if you aren’t going to use them in evaluating teams?

When the committee put Alabama into its initial set of rankings, it created a firestorm of controversy, due primarily to the fact that Alabama had a loss and plenty of other teams didn’t.  The Tide was getting a pass.

Well, yes and no.  It’s true the Tide is getting a pass right now, and it’s indeed okay to call the committee out for this, but it’s not just about the record … it’s about who the Tide has beaten and lost to.

Notre Dame slid into my Top 4 this week.  The Irish have a better collection of wins on the whole than Alabama, but they also have a “better” loss, to the No. 1 efficiency team in the country Clemson, on the road. Alabama’s loss came at home to No. 15.

Put in that context, I appreciate my ranking better than the committee’s. And the rest of the Achievement Index makes sense too, especially for the teams that missed the Top 4.

LSU has played fewer games than everyone else.

Baylor’s schedule strength is bad.

Florida’s only loss is better than anyone else not named Notre Dame.

Contrast that with the committee, who ignored LSU’s lighter slate (if you don’t suit up, you can’t lose … this is worth a ding, whether anyone else wants to acknowledge it or not), refused to give Florida the Alabama treatment (despite the Gators having a much better case for it), and … well, I have no idea what they were trying to accomplish with their Baylor ranking.

Like I said, I like my system better.

Before we get to this week’s rankings, here once again is 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. 23 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. 23.  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. 25 (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:

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
1 Mich St (8-0) 14 190.5
2 Notre Dame (7-1) 5 193
3 Memphis (8-0) 21 203.625
4 Clemson (8-0) 1 207.75
5 Florida (7-1) 11 210.5714286
6 TCU (8-0) 10 210.625
7 Ohio St (8-0) 6 212.375
8 Iowa (8-0) 13 235.125
9 Okla St (8-0) 22 239.75
10 Houston (8-0) 25 251
11 Utah (7-1) 18 251.8571429
12 LSU (7-0) 3 257.5714286
13 Temple (7-1) 35 274.5714286
14 App St (7-1) 36 283.7142857
15 Toledo (7-0) 29 308.8571429
16 Baylor (7-0) 7 310.5714286
17 Alabama (7-1) 2 338.8571429
18 Wisconsin (7-2) 23 383.7142857
19 Texas A&M (6-2) 26 397.6666667
20 Navy (6-1) 24 410.3333333
21 Nwestern (6-2) 43 416.3333333
22 Ole Miss (7-2) 15 441
23 Stanford (7-1) 12 498.5714286
24 Penn St (7-2) 40 510.8571429
25 Miss St (6-2) 16 515.3333333

If there’s one piece of the puzzle that will make people question the whole thing, it’s the elevation of teams like Toledo and Appalachian State. And I get it. But I think by the end of the year it will self-correct, and even if it doesn’t, you’re still talking accomplishments, not who would win on a neutral field. I’m okay with their placement for now.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
26 BYU (6-2) 37 516
27 Michigan (6-2) 4 546
28 Bowl Green (6-2) 33 604.1666667
29 Florida St (7-1) 20 635
30 W Kentucky (7-2) 30 642.4285714
31 Georgia (5-3) 45 663.8
32 USC (5-3) 9 711.8
33 Marshall (8-1) 50 712.375
34 Pittsburgh (6-2) 44 721.5
35 Boise St (7-2) 38 802
36 Cal (5-3) 31 819.8
37 Tx Tech (5-4) 54 843
38 Oklahoma (7-1) 8 864.7142857
39 Ga South (6-2) 59 883.8333333
40 Miami (5-3) 51 971.4
41 N Carolina (7-1) 34 1023.285714
42 UCLA (6-2) 27 1030.166667
43 W. Mich (5-3) 64 1145.6
44 Utah St (5-3) 47 1242.2
45 LaTech (6-3) 39 1256.333333
46 S Miss (6-3) 67 1295.666667
47 Tennessee (4-4) 17 1304.25
48 Duke (6-2) 28 1328.333333
49 Cincinnati (5-3) 52 1402.6
50 NC St (5-3) 41 1415.4

USC would probably be in the Top 4 right now if the Trojans were undefeated. But they’re not, so hello No. 32.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
51 Auburn (4-4) 69 1421.75
52 W Virginia (3-4) 32 1461
53 Oregon (5-3) 53 1486.8
54 N. Illinois (5-3) 62 1568
55 Air Force (5-3) 70 1583.4
56 Arizona (5-4) 87 1771.2
57 Ark St (5-3) 85 1788.8
58 Louisville (4-4) 46 1824
59 Illinois (4-4) 68 1872.5
60 Minnesota (4-4) 65 1917.5
61 Arizona St (4-4) 61 2054.75
62 SD St (6-3) 55 2061.666667
63 C. Mich (5-4) 56 2064.4
64 Tulsa (4-4) 81 2097
65 Kentucky (4-4) 89 2208.25
66 Arkansas (4-4) 42 2213.75
67 USF (4-4) 66 2304.75
68 Wash (4-4) 19 2392
69 Wash St (5-3) 60 2545
70 Kansas St (3-4) 75 2550
71 Rice (4-4) 119 2597.5
72 E Carolina (4-5) 71 2719.5
73 Ohio (5-3) 76 2744.8
74 Indiana (4-4) 63 2843.75
75 Texas (3-5) 78 3016

West Virginia is the highest ranked team with a losing record, which when you look at the team’s losses, makes a great deal of sense.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
76 Va Tech (4-5) 48 3052
77 Missouri (4-4) 74 3119.25
78 Virginia (3-5) 84 3146.333333
79 Rutgers (3-5) 100 3476
80 Iowa St (3-5) 72 3749.5
81 Buffalo (4-4) 90 3779.25
82 UConn (4-5) 79 3872.5
83 Ga Tech (3-6) 57 4050.666667
84 Vandy (3-5) 73 4213.666667
85 Syracuse (3-5) 77 4339
86 SJ St (4-4) 103 4430.5
87 Maryland (2-6) 83 4457.5
88 M Tenn (3-5) 92 4500
89 Troy (3-5) 95 4815.666667
90 S Carolina (3-5) 86 4894
91 Kent St (3-5) 110 5048.666667
92 FIU (4-5) 98 5078
93 N Mexico (4-4) 112 5084.5
94 Akron (3-5) 88 5121
95 Colorado (4-5) 93 5249
96 Boston Coll (3-6) 58 5350
97 ODU (3-5) 122 5383.333333
98 UTEP (4-4) 128 5411
99 Nevada (4-4) 97 5443.5
100 Tulane (2-6) 115 5856

A lot of Tulane observers are down on their team, and understandably, but the Green Wave has faced a brutally tough schedule. If the team isn’t beaten down at this point, there are wins to be had over the final month.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
101 Nebraska (3-6) 49 5917.666667
102 Wake Forest (3-6) 94 6000
103 S Alabama (3-4) 109 6045.666667
104 UL-Laf (3-4) 102 6216.333333
105 Colorado St (3-5) 82 6694.333333
106 Ball St (3-6) 101 6949.666667
107 Purdue (2-6) 80 7747
108 Texas St (2-5) 111 8242
109 Oreg St (2-6) 107 8443
110 Fresno (2-6) 120 8887
111 UNLV (2-6) 99 10967
112 Hawaii (2-7) 117 11608
113 Ga St (2-5) 108 14032.5
114 Idaho (2-6) 116 14058
115 Charlotte (2-6) 123 14297.5
116 Army (2-6) 105 15180.5
117 FAU (2-6) 91 16478.5
118 UMass (1-7) 96 24464
119 La-Monroe (1-7) 113 24727
120 KU (0-8) 126 25420
121 SMU (1-7) 104 25981
122 UTSA (1-7) 106 29388
123 Miami Oh (1-8) 121 29817
124 N Texas (1-7) 127 31868
125 NM St (1-7) 124 33758
126 Wyoming (1-8) 118 37691
127 UCF (0-9) 125 38170
128 E. Mich (1-8) 114 38418

Kansas is the bottom power 5 team in the rankings (and has been for some time), but the runner-up for that “honor” is Oregon State. It’s been a tough transition in Corvalis (thanks to a mostly empty cupboard).

Week 8 rankings
Week 7 rankings

Week 6 rankings

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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