Sunday Aug 30, 2009

It's Football Season! Schmidt Computer Rankings Have a New Home

The calendar says it is almost September, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting cooler.  It must be football season!  And with football season comes me spending my weekends trying to get my computer ratings going again.

This year, rather than muddling up this blog with the occasional entry on my computer's ratings, I've created a computer ratings blog that I'll do my best to diligently keep updated each week.  I've already posted last years season ending college ratings and the NFL will be there soon.

Go take a look and let me know what you think! 

Saturday Nov 08, 2008

Alabama is a Fraud

Ok, perhaps not a complete fraud, but certainly not (IMHO) a deserving #1 in the college football rankings. How could an undefeated team be a fraud you ask?

To start, lets look at their schedule. Of their 10 opponents, only 4 even have winning records. This results in an opponents percentage of only 0.518 even with the losses to Alabama factored out. Further, Alabama's out of conference schedule was Clemson (4-5), Tulane (2-7), Western Kentucky (2-8), and Arkansas State (4-5).

Compare this with the opponents winning percentages for the other undefeated teams and Alabama falls behind Texas Tech (0.602) and Utah (0.576) and only ahead of Boise State (0.468) and Ball State (0.387). At least Utah went out of conference against Oregon State (6-3) and Boise State against Oregon (7-3). Alabama's opponents winning percentage also falls behind 1-loss contenders Texas (0.693), Florida (0.610), Southern California (0.539), and Oklahoma (0.539). So they clearly haven't played the toughest schedule and if someone like Southern Cal is going to get dinged for a weak schedule it would seem that Alabama should too.

But a team shouldn't be penalized for having a poor schedule if they soundly defeat the poor teams and do play well in their games against better teams. And this is where Alabama falls down a bit. In a home game, they only beat a 2-7 Tulane team by 14, they eked out a 3 point win again at home against Kentucky, and eked out another 4 point win again at home against Mississippi. Their two significant wins are against Georgia by 11 and a weaker than normal LSU by 6. And Georgia got walloped by 39 and LSU by 30 against Florida, and LSU, at home, was able to beat a 3-6 Mississippi State by only 10 and Georgia was able to beat Kentucky by only 4. So, Alabama isn't soundly defeating some not so good teams and their only 2 significant wins were not that impressive.

Compare this again with their undefeated competition and you see Texas Tech soundly defeating all their poor opponents (closest win 16, others in 20's and above) and has beat a 1-loss Texas in a close game, walloped an 8-2 Oklahoma State by 36, and a 6-4 Kansas by 42. Similarly 1-loss Oklahoma, Texas, and Southern Cal, and Florida have clearly handled poor competition and aside from their 1 loss each, good competition as well.

Now of course, those 1-loss teams have, well, 1 loss, so doesn't Alabama staying unblemished trump these other failings? To a degree yes, but clearly there is a point where it doesn't (see Utah, Boise State, and Ball State) so why should Alabama be any different? I think it is clear that based on the data one can't justifiably put Alabama ahead of Texas Tech but using the same logic as is used for not putting Utah or Boise State ahead of Oklahoma, Florida, Texas, and Southern Cal one could argue Alabama shouldn't be ahead of them either.

For an objective look at who should be ranked where, see my computer ratings which have Texas Tech #1 but some surprises after that.

Now, thankfully time will tell, especially with Alabama having to face Florida in the SEC Championship, so either my skepticism will be proven right or Alabama will have the opportunity to show they deserve a BCS championship game berth. Of course, they have two more poor/average teams to reinforce my analysis above before that (3-6 Mississippi State and 5-5 Auburn).

Sunday Oct 05, 2008

College and NFL Football Thoughts and Rankings

I am a big sports fan, as has probably been apparent from some of my blog entries, and as such am into football. I've generally been a fan of the AFC, particularly the AFC West having grown up and lived most of my life on the west coast, and as you would expect am also a Pac-10 fan.

In addition to being a fan and watching a lot of games, my inner geek gets the better of me and I dust off my computer ratings each year and have done so yet again and you can see them here. I've actually been doing them fairly regularly since 1991 when I got started after Georgia Tech's disputed championship as I thought there should be a way to objectively determine who is #1. I used Jeff Sagarin's ratings as my inspiration but have worked to tune my system to both have ratings that pass the "smell test" but also ones that do well in predicting games against the spread.

Over the years, I added in doing ratings for the NFL too and have toyed with doing them for college basketball, but it is most entertaining to look at the college ratings as that is where there is no playoff and one can argue for hours on end who is #1.

The current college ratings have Oklahoma #1, Missouri #2, Penn State #3, and USC #4. Going into this weekend Dallas was #1 in the NFL despite their loss with Tennessee close behind at #2.

In addition to doing ratings and weekly predictions, my system is able to project final records. Interestingly there are six (!) teams projected to finish the college season undefeated and in the NFL Tennessee is projected to finish 14-2 ahead of a bevy of teams at 12-4. It is still early though so things can certainly change.

So, take a look and let me know what you think.

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