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Hoegher's Rankings! (end of season)

Well, people: the 2011-2012 college football season is in the books, and I'm now dreading eight long months of non-football. Yes, I suppose there is the NFL but the Vikings are not playing currently, and that makes me sad. (Save them Christian Ponder! Please turn out to not suck!). Ahem.

Anyway, with the conclusion of the season I want to share my year-end rankings. Some slight modifications have been made, but nothing major.

JUMP

LAND JUMP. (in case of Purdue fan, please adjust last statement to tearing a knee ligament)

So, before as you can see here and here, I've posted two sets of my self-made (amateur) rankings. Efficiency (which measures only the points a team puts up relative to expectations) and Resume (which measures only the wins and losses that a team puts up, with no regard to points). I think it's interesting to see the differences that can result in the two methodology.

However, since my last post, I've decided to replace the Efficiency rankings. I felt they didn't correct for opponent strength as well as they should, and I realized that it put too much weight on a teams defensive performance. To illustrate, who cares if Team A gives up 20 pts if they can score 60 pts? Instead of Efficiency, I'm going to post my Adjusted Margin rankings. Somewhat simplified, Efficiency was calculated as Off/(Off + Def), whereas Margin is calculated as Off - Def (The "Adjusted" refers to the opponent correction).

Wait, stop going to sleep. That was boring, but I felt it deserved a short explanation. We're done now. There's some cocaine in the fridge, that should perk you up. My roommates tell me it's just baking soda, but I think I know better.

Anyway.

Resume Rankings

NCAA Team (# Top 10 played, # Top 25 played, # Top 50 played)

  1. LSU (3, 6, 9)
  2. Alabama (2, 4, 6)
  3. Oklahoma State (2, 4, 9)
  4. Arkansas (4, 5, 7)
  5. Boise State (0, 2, 5)
  6. Oregon (2, 4, 4)
  7. South Carolina (1, 4, 7)
  8. Houston (0, 2, 6)
  9. Stanford (2, 3, 4)
  10. Kansas State (2, 4, 7)
  11. Oklahoma (2, 3, 8)
  12. Baylor (2, 4, 7)
  13. TCU (1, 2, 6)
  14. Michigan (0, 2, 5)
  15. USC (2, 2, 3)
  16. Southern Mississippi (1, 1, 5)
  17. Wisconsin (1, 4, 5)
  18. Georgia (3, 5, 8)
  19. Michigan State (0, 3, 5)
  20. Virginia Tech (0, 2, 6)
  21. West Virginia (1, 2, 5)
  22. Auburn (4, 6, 9)
  23. Clemson (1, 4, 6)
  24. Northern Illinois (0, 1, 4)
  25. Penn State (2, 3, 5)
And the rest of the Big Ten:
  • 26. Nebraska (1, 5, 5)
  • 57. Iowa (0, 4, 5)
  • 59. Illinois (0, 3, 4)
  • 60. Purdue (0, 3, 4)
  • 64. Ohio State (0, 4, 7)
  • 76. Northwestern (0, 3, 5)
  • 95. Minnesota (0, 4, 5)
  • 119. Indiana (0, 3, 4)

Adjusted Margin Rankings (Adj Marg, henceforth)

NCAA Team (record*, Adj Marg) <- for reference, an average team will have an Adj Marg of ~ 0.000.**


  1. Alabama (12-1, 1.325)
  2. LSU (13-1, 1.198)
  3. Wisconsin (11-3, 1.006)
  4. Oregon (12-2, 0.921)
  5. Michigan (11-2, 0.900)
  6. Boise State (12-1, 0.818)
  7. Arkansas (11-2, 0.799)
  8. Oklahoma (10-3, 0.775)
  9. Houston (13-1, 0.767)
  10. Oklahoma State (12-1, 0.765)
  11. Stanford (11-2, 0.730)
  12. Georgia (10-4, 0.670)
  13. TCU (11-2, 0.627)
  14. Notre Dame (8-5, 0.587)
  15. Florida State (9-4, 0.548)
  16. West Virginia (10-3, 0.528)
  17. Michigan State (11-3, 0.527)
  18. USC (10-2, 0.515)
  19. South Carolina (11-2, 0.490)
  20. Temple (9-4, 0.472)
  21. Southern Mississippi (12-2, 0.470)
  22. Texas A&M (7-6, 0.468)
  23. Cincinnati (10-3, 0.456)
  24. Tulsa (8-5, 0.374)
  25. Baylor (10-3, 0.367)
And the rest of the Big Ten:
  • 31. Penn State (9-4, 0.306)
  • 33. Nebraska (9-4, 0.300)
  • 38. Ohio State (6-7, 0.261)
  • 47. Iowa (7-6, 0.154)
  • 54. Northwestern (6-7, 0.104)
  • 64. Illinois (7-6, 0.061)
  • 68. Purdue (7-6, 0.018)
  • 102. Minnesota (3-9, -0.419)
  • 107. Indiana (1-11, -0.508)
And just for the lawls, New Mexico graded out at 121st (that's worse than my generic FCS team) with an astounding Adj Marg of -1.152.

*I'm including the win/loss records just for comparison and to note the peculiarities, even though they don't factor into the score.
** Okay, actually slightly more due to FCS games being included.

Discussion Topics!

The SEC is good, yes. But they may benefit from playing each other. No one's denying that LSU and Alabama were the class of the nation this year. By almost any measure you can come up with, they rocked. However, the Resume rankings (which I think better approximate the thinking of human pollsters) show a clear bias for the SEC with 4 in the Top 7 (vs 4 in the Top 12 for the Adj Marg rankings). The Big 12 gets some of the same biases, though I think it's more prevalent in the SEC (because that BCS Championship was awful, so screw the SEC). It's also clear that the Big Ten suffers the opposite of this effect. They aren't quite as bad as is thought, but no one cares if you performed well against opponents, they care if you won or lost. The relative parity of the Big Ten vs the SEC really hammers this through. Also, though I don't have a way to measure this, I think Alabama grades out last in the "fun to watch" rankings.*** I've been lamenting Wisconsin's streak of close losses the past couple years, but I think I'd almost rather have that than whatever transpired Monday night (I was also drunk, so my memory may be hazy).
***Okay, second to last. New Mexico can't be fun at all.

Notre Dame, Florida State, Temple, Texas A&M and Tulsa picked unfortunate moments of their season to suck. All of them grade out significantly better (using Adj Marg) than their records would reflect. In Notre Dame and Texas A&M's case, it's at least partially due to facing a heavy slate of opponents, though we know they had... ahem. Other issues. Tulsa falls in this category of an unfortunate opponent slate as well (they actually had more wins than I predicted them to have), but such is life. It probably doesn't help to have Houston and Southern Mississippi actually playing well this year.

Yes, Wisconsin and Michigan are too high in Adj Marg. No, I don't know why that is either. I'm sorry. Well, at least in Wisconsin's case, I can somewhat understand. We had an awesome offense, and while I thought our defense was sub-par, these rankings say SCOREBOARD and leave it at that. Michigan, I'm at a loss. They were good, but I don't recall them ever playing at an elite level, more playing close games and pulling them out in the end (Notre Dame, Ohio State, Virginia Tech). If I had to guess, I'd say their non-conference slate is under-rated in the general public view, and they benefited from not playing an FCS school.

I'm discussing the Adj Marg rankings much more than I am the Resume rankings. Yes, I am. Sorry, that's how it is. It's partly due to the fact that I think the Resume rankings approximate the thinking of the human polls, and so they're superfluous (oh, good word me!). It's also partly because I just don't think they're that... good. My Adj Marg (and Efficiency for that matter) rankings are much better predictors of game results than the Resume rankings (I nearly won Bowl Mania using my Adj Marg ratings, damn you Arkansas State!). I really just include them because I enjoy seeing the differences and the hidden insights they offer. I'm much less of a "win is all that matters" guy than I used to be, but I do believe that certain teams perform better under pressure (they seem to be all the teams I don't cheer for). And while I don't know of a good way to measure that with numbers, I think the Resume rankings can offer interesting points of comparison.

Concluding Thoughts

I don't want football to end. On the one hand, it will probably help me study better. On the other hand, FOOTBAW. However, I've really enjoyed making these posts, and I know that they must have been amazing, since no one really wants to correct me on anything ;-)
IRREGARDLESS: I have ~ 6 years of these rankings on file on my computer that I really hope doesn't break soon, and I think I'll try to make some semi-regular posts using these rankings as references. It's very interesting to see the trends over time (SPOILER: Ohio State feel off a cliff this year), and I'll try to incorporate those into some 2012 Big Ten Season Preview posts. Y'all are free to comment and criticize as you see fit :)
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