Iowa, Alabama join the Achievement Index Top 4

Ohio State’s dramatic home loss to Michigan State Saturday night opened the door for any top team not named the Buckeyes so far as a possible playoff berth is concerned (and really, OSU isn’t out of it either).  The Buckeyes had established a stranglehold on a Top 4 spot in the actual CFB Playoff rankings and a similarly firm grip on a first tier ranking in the Achievement Index. A putrid offensive performance, fully taken advantage of by Sparty, resulted in a loss that makes these last couple of weeks so much more interesting.

In this space, Sparty’s upset combined with Oklahoma State’s home loss to Baylor actually opened up two slots in the Top 4.  The primary beneficiaries, at least for this week, were Iowa and Alabama.

The Hawkeyes are now the de facto Big 10 representative by virtue of their undefeated record, but they will of course have to win two more games to make that stick.  Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan are all lurking about, ready to pounce if Iowa slips, and certainly that is a plausible scenario with the playoff committee, should they decide that the Big 10 winner is a worthy participant in the playoff.  Here it’s not so clear as that, as each team needs help from the teams they’ve already faced.  Can Nebraska boost its own F/+ rating enough to give Sparty a boost as well?  Will Michigan’s Utah loss continue to look acceptable? These are the sorts of questions that won’t be answered until the regular season is complete.

The situation in the SEC, by comparison, is crystal clear.  Alabama is the best team there, but Florida, with one loss, can force its way into the playoff by defeating the Crimson Tide.  That’s a problem, however, as the Gators currently look barely capable of defeating FAU, let alone ‘Bama.  Still, it’s cut and dried: Alabama has by now done enough to overcome its home loss, and Florida’s resume is nearly as impressive and its own path is obvious.

The Big 12 is as insane as one might expect. Oklahoma State has emerged as the best of the bunch, because the Cowboys have the “best” loss of the group, to Baylor (who is well liked by the efficiency rankings).  Common wisdom tells us the Sooners have the best team and the best resume, and well, common wisdom is often pretty useless. So naturally the playoff committee will take it and run with it.

(This is where I roll my eyes.)

Still, the Sooners are under-ranked here … what they need is Texas to transform itself into a middling team, rather than an atrocious one.  Otherwise, I am perfectly fine with them being penalized for that loss.

But anyway, right now I’ve got it Notre Dame (1) vs. Alabama (4), and Clemson (2) vs. Iowa (3).  The Big 12 is left out, the Pac 12 is left out, and Notre Dame is left laughing all the way to the bank,

It’s a happy ending for everyone!

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. 34 team in the F/+, but it did get credit for facing Alabama, which ranks at No. 1.  In reverse, Alabama didn’t get credit for being No. 1, but did get credit for beating No. 34.  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 Nov. 22 (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 ND (10-1) 5 192.2
2 Clem (11-0) 2 195.4545455
3 Iowa (11-0) 24 216.0909091
4 Ala (10-1) 1 248
5 OkSt (10-1) 20 254.3
6 Fla (10-1) 12 259.5
7 OSU (10-1) 6 261.1
8 Bay (9-1) 7 276.2222222
9 Navy (9-1) 8 305.8888889
10 TCU (9-2) 17 357.7777778
11 Mich St (10-1) 10 368.9
12 Mich (9-2) 4 408.3333333
13 NW (9-2) 43 413.4444444
14 Temple (9-2) 36 434
15 Uga (8-3) 30 471
16 LSU (7-3) 15 523.1428571
17 Miss St (8-3) 14 544.75
18 Tenn (7-4) 16 549.8571429
19 Pitt (8-3) 38 577.125
20 Hou (10-1) 42 608.8
21 Stan (9-2) 9 626.5555556
22 Toledo (9-1) 19 629.2222222
23 FSU (9-2) 13 632.6666667
24 WKU (9-2) 25 651
25 Ole Miss (8-3) 11 669.5

I really like what Temple has achieved this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Owls were ultimately the group of five rep in the “big six” bowls. Having said that, Navy is currently the most accomplished team outside of the Power Five, meaning Navy should be getting more hype for that position than it is.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
26 OU (10-1) 3 682.6
27 BG (8-3) 28 747.5
28 Memph (8-3) 32 762.875
29 UNC (10-1) 22 774.7
30 WVU (6-4) 29 810.8333333
31 Ore (8-3) 27 831.875
32 aTm (8-3) 31 834.875
33 USC (7-4) 21 858
34 Wis (8-3) 34 860.875
35 AF (8-3) 54 890.25
36 PSU (7-4) 41 921.7142857
37 App St (8-2) 45 953.125
38 Mia (7-4) 66 973.1428571
39 BYU (8-3) 37 975.125
40 SouthMiss (8-3) 64 1005.125
41 LaTech (8-3) 51 1024
42 Utah (8-3) 23 1037.5
43 TT (6-5) 53 1059.833333
44 Ga South (7-3) 55 1081.857143
45 N. Illinois (8-3) 49 1123.625
46 UCLA (8-3) 26 1135.125
47 Aub (6-5) 59 1185.5
48 Marsh (9-2) 50 1186.111111
49 NCSt (7-4) 39 1197.142857
50 Cal (6-5) 46 1203.166667

Hi, Oregon!  We’ve missed you.  Welcome back to the land of the living.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
51 USF (7-4) 35 1296
52 Ark St (7-3) 73 1334.857143
53 Ark (6-5) 18 1550.166667
54 W. Mich (6-5) 61 1663.666667
55 WSU (8-3) 44 1715.5
56 ASU (6-5) 58 1716.666667
57 SDSt (8-3) 48 1723.875
58 Lville (6-5) 47 1730.333333
59 Minn (5-6) 60 1846.8
60 Cinci (6-5) 65 1964.833333
61 C. Mich (6-5) 62 1995.666667
62 Ariz (6-6) 81 2039.833333
63 Ohio (7-4) 78 2182.571429
64 Uconn (6-5) 75 2225.833333
65 Illinois (5-6) 67 2341.8
66 Boise (7-4) 57 2458.571429
67 UtSt (6-5) 56 2463.166667
68 M Tenn (6-5) 83 2471.333333
69 Akron (6-5) 85 2582.333333
70 ECU (5-6) 69 2601.6
71 Ind (5-6) 63 2699.2
72 Ken (5-6) 87 2768.4
73 Duke (6-5) 72 2827.5
74 Mizz (5-6) 71 2830.6
75 Tulsa (5-6) 92 2839

Look at Terry Bowden there at Akron; he’s got the Zips bowl eligible.  And I never scoff at that: There are a lot of teams out there still shooting for that mark.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
76 Wash (5-6) 33 2847.6
77 K-State (4-6) 77 2871.5
78 Texas (4-6) 86 3158.5
79 Rut (4-7) 103 3240.25
80 VaTech (5-6) 52 3506.2
81 CSU (6-5) 76 3613.833333
82 Vand (4-7) 79 3751
83 UVA (4-7) 82 3936.25
84 Neb (5-6) 40 4034.6
85 ODU (5-6) 118 4115.2
86 Nev (6-5) 98 4181.166667
87 UNM (6-5) 99 4340.333333
88 SouthAla (5-5) 106 4469
89 IowaSt (3-8) 74 4544.333333
90 Buff (5-6) 90 4594.4
91 SJ St (5-6) 93 4716.6
92 FIU (5-7) 110 5061.8
93 Syr (3-8) 84 5298.333333
94 Colo (4-8) 96 5765.25
95 WF (3-8) 94 5982.666667
96 GT (3-8) 70 6787.666667
97 Rice (4-7) 123 6808.75
98 BC (3-8) 68 7173.666667
99 UTEP (4-7) 125 7634
100 ULL (4-6) 100 7989

Georgia Tech gives me a sad face.

Rank Team Record F/+ AI
101 Maryland (2-9) 80 8116
102 SoCar (3-8) 88 8387.333333
103 Ga St (4-6) 97 8539
104 Fresno (3-8) 111 8584.333333
105 Ball St (3-8) 107 8921.333333
106 Tulane (3-8) 119 8967
107 Troy (3-7) 95 9188
108 KentSt (3-8) 108 9504.666667
109 UNLV (3-8) 105 9639.333333
110 Tx St (3-7) 114 10601.66667
111 NM St (3-7) 117 10793
112 Idaho (3-8) 115 10830.66667
113 OregSt (2-9) 109 11218
114 Pur (2-9) 89 11718.5
115 Miami Oh (3-9) 112 12130
116 UTSA (3-8) 104 12732
117 SMU (2-9) 102 14770.5
118 Umass (2-9) 101 18922
119 Hawaii (2-10) 121 21022.5
120 FAU (2-9) 91 21191
121 Char (2-9) 122 22462
122 Army (2-9) 113 25870.5
123 KU (0-11) 126 33100
124 UNT (1-10) 128 39592
125 La-Mon (1-10) 120 40237
126 Wyo (1-10) 116 45844
127 UCF (0-11) 127 50590
128 E. Mich (1-10) 124 51206

My eyes start to glaze over when I look at the teams in this group.  What I will say is based on efficiency, Maryland should be doing better than it is; it’s probably fair to call the Terps one of the unluckiest teams in the country.

Week 11 rankings
Week 10 rankings
Week 9 rankings
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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