As Captain Jack Sparrow (played by Johnny Depp/Keith Richards in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean) said after watching an enemy pirate's body turned into a skeleton by the moonlight, "That's interesting." I'm glad my talk was last week and I don't have to explain why Penn State is ahead of Southern Cal and Virginia Tech is still ranked above Miami. Actually, the logic is simple, I'd just rather not give it to a large group of football fans. Both Tech and Miami have one loss. The computer has no clue how inferior Tech looked Saturday, and gives Tech a slight edge based on strength of schedule and point differential. As for Penn State and Southern Cal, is it more impressive to beat Wisconsin or Stanford (which earlier this year lost to UC-Davis)?
While I'm being defensive (as opposed to the usual offensive stance, I suppose), let me go ahead and address unbeaten Alabama still mired at #11. There's an interesting game we fans play. Tech looked bad against Miami, right? How about a team that didn't score an offensive touchdown against Mississippi State? Or that put up all of 6 points on Tennessee (well, Notre Dame only got 41 on the Vols)? We forgive Alabama because they won; Tech, however, lost. But, the point of computer ratings is to give an objective rating whose criteria are clear and precise and can be used as possible points of view. So that's what we've got here. It is at least "interesting" in a macabre way that this system still puts Tech ahead of Miami.
Which is the best conference this year? That's always good for a loud argument, especially when the SEC is not the answer. The SEC seems to be the knee-jerk response, but it's been several years since the conference was strong top to bottom. And that's what cost Auburn last year and might cost Alabama this year. Objectively, their unbeaten record is only worth #11 this year: their last 4 games have been against Ole Miss, Tennessee, Utah State and Miss State -- I know a lot of teams that would go through that stretch 4-0. So the ratings have 5 SEC teams in the top 22 and 7 in the top 42, but the other 5 are in the bottom 50. The ACC has 10 of its 12 teams in the top 41, and I don't think that that is far from the mark on the ACC's strength. I do suspect that the computer gives the Big 10 a little extra credit: 4 in the top 10 seems too much, although I won't argue with 9 in the top 39. It's not clear at all what's meant by "best conference" (most great teams? fewest bad teams? most obnoxious coaches? most balance?) but the ratings here suggest an order of Big 10, ACC, Big 12, SEC, Pac 10.
The WAC is decided on Thursday night, 3 big games in the SEC, Southern Cal visits Cal, the site of its last loss over two years ago, and the Bowdens have their annual family meeting to decide whether Bobby stays top 20 or Tommy keeps his job. The following predictions are straight from the ratings with 4 points added to the home team.Fresno State by 9 over Boise State (2 enjoyable teams; neat matchup for Thursday night)
|81||San Diego St||36.45|
|116||New Mexico St||19.43|