Oh sweet Jesus, football is upon us! After months of withdrawl and dealing with the shakes, last weekend was a welcome experience, feeling the rush of warmth as I watched the glorious gridiron events before me. Or maybe that was the whiskey I was drinking. Either way, I had a grand old time, and my favorite team is 1-0 (however it came. We won't talk about that).
Of course, this being Week One after months of offseason, not everyone was firing on all cylinders. Michigan endured a three-hour-long torture session by the hands of
an evil dwarf Nick Saban, Oklahoma almost lost UTEP (making me uneasy in the process, as Wisconsin plays them this season), and Houston helpfully welcomed Texas State to the FBS level by getting blown out. Teams will get into their rhythms and what we saw in the first week will probably not endure for the rest of the season (at least, it better not Wisconsin).
But fvck all that. I say we throw caution out the window and see how the teams stack up RIGHT NOW. Screw what we think we know. You are what your record says you are, and right now all we know is that Michigan is 0-1, Michigan State is 1-0, and Pittsburgh lost to an FCS team (yeesh, Paul Chryst). Teams will eventually sort themselves out (SPOILERS: Alabama will probably win everything), but early season chaos and fluctuations are way more fun to look at.*
*Yep, I ended a sentence with a preposition. It's a Minnesota thing. DEAL WITH IT
With all that said, to the rankings!
ERROR ERROR ERROR
Er... whoops. Okay, so there's a slight problem with results in Week One. Since my numbers are based on relative performances, and every team has had (at most) one game so far, every relative performance is rated the same. So this doesn't quite work yet.
To overcome this, I'll use the pre-season ratings of every opponent to offer a point of comparison. This has its drawbacks (Stanford is clearly not close to the same team without Luck (et al), so San Jose State is going to get boosted a bit more than is really appropriate), but it gives me ability to actually generate some rankings. For those teams that didn't play, I just used their pre-season ratings, but that actually didn't come into play here (TCU was closest at 27th).
To the rankings! (take two)
|Rank||LW||NCAA Team||Conf||Record||Adj Marg||Adj Off||rk||Adj Def||rk|
And, as always, the rest of the Big Ten:
|Rank||LW||NCAA Team||Conf||Record||Adj Marg||Adj Off||rk||Adj Def||rk|
BHGP, I stand with you.
Yes, Oklahoma State is ranked #1 here after Bielema-ing Savannah State. Savannah State may not be a very good team (244th out of 247 teams in the Sagarin Rankings), but:
1) as I am not Jeff Sagarin, all FCS teams are gathered into a single team rating (this also impacts Wisconsin, noted later), and
2) 84-0 is still 84-0. It's enough to over-come Alabama's dominating performance against Michigan, and obviously rates out better than the other white-washings of FCS teams.
And you'll notice a lot teams here that rate out highly come from FCS games. Again, this will sort itself out in the coming weeks, but it can be easy to rack up a high rating against a crappy school. Once you get on a roll, not much difference between 50 pts and 70 pts. Especially if your coach enjoys humiliating the other teams as much as a certain frat-boy coach.
WTF WISCONSIN. So these rankings aren't meant to be completely accurate (it is early in the season, after all), but a lot of teams still fall into the tiers we expect. Ohio State and Michigan State are good, Minnesota and Indiana are not-so-good. What's that? Indiana isn't the worst-rated Big Ten team? Well, who is?
[/sees Wisconsin at #104]
I'm totally reusing this picture at some point this year.
Now, as I mentioned before, every FCS team is conglomerated into one FCS-hybrid rating. Since Northern Iowa is a good FCS team, this means that Wisconsin's performance wasn't quite as bad as it may rate out, but still: THERE IS NO REASON FOR NORTHERN IOWA TO BE IN POSITION TO WIN THAT GAME. Obviously, Wisconsin wasn't the only ranked team to run into tougher-than-expected victories, as Florida (vs Bowling Green), Georgia (vs Buffalo, and ESS-EEE-CEE SPEED, etc.), Stanford (vs San Jose State), and Oklahoma (vs UTEP) will attest, but it wasn't exactly fun watching Wisconsin's offensive line get pushed around by a directional college from Iowa. If you'll excuse me, I'll be reminding myself about 2009 Iowa repeating "it'll be all right" to myself.
Nice to see you Texas State, but... keep your coat handy. You'll be shown the door soon enough. Same goes for Louisiana, Connecticut, and Utah State (among others). Part of the reason I enjoy throwing all assumptions out the window in the early weeks and just letting the teams line up as they may is because it gives us an opportunity to see several odd mid-majors in there before the rest of the season hits and the rankings just become boring permutations of BCS teams, with the odd Boise State thrown in. FIU stayed in my Top 10 for an impressively long time last year, before succumbing to Sun Belt. Does Louisiana really have the best defense in the nation? No, they just shut out a FCS team, same as Oklahoma State, Utah, and several other teams. BUT: let us enjoy this moment where Nick Saban can't come close to matching up with the Ragin' Cajuns. See? Isn't it more fun?
This is where I was going to post an unflattering picture of Nick Saban, but in the interest of keeping this post 100% Nazi free, I chose not to.
Utah, though? Yeah, you're cool. The other part I like about doing rankings like this is it can offer the opportunity to recognize up-and-coming/undervalued teams before the rest of country does. Last year, that was Southern Mississippi for me (GO ME). I didn't have Utah ranked in my pre-season Top 25, but I think they will completely justify their existence in that tier by the end of year. I also think they have a not-insignificant shot at the Pac-12 South, considering USC is one injury away from implosion and everyone else in the Pac-12 South isn't exactly inspiring awe (AP Poll: USC - 1435 pts, Utah - 34 votes, everyone else - zilch).
Angry Brian Kelly pictures are totally cool, though.
I'm also a Golden Domer apologist, and I don't think that their decimation of Navy was simply due to dominating a bad team. The Irish have talent. They did last year as well, they just pissed it down their leg in far too many games in the most in-opportune times. Now, nothing will make me happier than seeing them do that again, but I think they're going to stay true to form and fail to live up to their pre-season billing. By which I mean, they will a solidly Top 20 team because they didn't make the pre-season poll. (see, the reputation still fits)
Okay, with all that discussion, time for some picks! Last week, I went 27-2 (missing Ohio over Penn State and Michigan State over Boise State). Since these are based on my rankings, and since those rankings are a bit chaotic in these early weeks, many of these picks won't make much sense (see: Wisconsin-Oregon State). That's fine (and I STRONGLY advise against using these for any betting advice. You have been warned), it's just fun to see how well I can still make out with these (PHRASING), and when the turning point in the season comes where these predictions stop being completely off-base.
In the interest of consistency, I'll put down a "Confidence" for each pick, though again: this will not be of any real use other than to make fun of me.
And the rest of our noble teams (NOTE: noble-ness may vary):
I sincerely hope that Wisconsin-Oregon State prediction does not come to fruition. For the record, my Stupid Upset Pick is FAU over Middle Tennesse this weekend. Wish me luck!