Hoegher's Rankings: WEEK THE FINAL

And thus ends the college football season. I'm somewhat mixed about this. For one, Wisconsin wasn't the worst team this year, but we were still a far cry from the quality of the last few squads. Mediocre quarterback play does not a fun viewing make, and I have to deal with that on too many other days of the week with the Vikings. Second, I waste far, far too much time during these fall weekends with all the wonderful pigskin on television. My productivity improves immensely when I don't feel obligated to check out what Fresno State and Air Force are up to this weekend.

On the other hand, college football is the best. I'm going to miss you, even if you only bring boring Alabama excellence sometimes. DON'T LEAVE US IT'S TOO SOON.

Rank LW NCAA Team Conf Record Adj Marg Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
1 1 Alabama SEC 13-1 1.364 1.674 4 0.310 1
2 2 Oregon Pac-12 12-1 1.106 1.872 1 0.766 31
3 3 TexasAM SEC 11-2 1.020 1.821 2 0.801 36
4 4 FloridaState ACC 12-2 0.892 1.409 12 0.517 5
5 6 Georgia SEC 12-2 0.851 1.541 8 0.689 19
6 7 OklahomaState B12 8-5 0.841 1.599 7 0.758 28
7 5 Florida SEC 11-2 0.791 1.228 30 0.436 3
8 8 NotreDame Ind. 12-1 0.737 1.129 44 0.392 2
9 9 KansasState B12 11-2 0.721 1.380 14 0.659 17
10 12 Clemson ACC 11-2 0.702 1.601 6 0.899 54
11 11 OregonState Pac-12 9-4 0.701 1.313 21 0.612 11
12 10 Oklahoma B12 10-3 0.663 1.390 13 0.727 24
13 13 SouthCarolina SEC 11-2 0.649 1.257 26 0.608 10
14 15 Nebraska B10 10-4 0.598 1.509 9 0.912 56
15 16 LSU SEC 10-3 0.568 1.220 33 0.653 15
16 18 OhioState B10 12-0 0.542 1.358 17 0.816 39
17 17 Stanford Pac-12 12-2 0.540 1.048 59 0.509 4
18 21 ArizonaState Pac-12 8-5 0.531 1.349 18 0.819 40
19 19 Michigan B10 8-5 0.526 1.224 31 0.698 21
20 20 Texas B12 9-4 0.524 1.324 20 0.800 35
21 14 USC Pac-12 7-6 0.523 1.245 27 0.721 23
22 25 UtahState WAC 11-2 0.492 1.060 56 0.568 9
23 29 Baylor B12 8-5 0.481 1.650 5 1.169 95
24 27 Northwestern B10 10-3 0.477 1.297 22 0.820 41
25 24 PennState B10 8-4 0.441 1.090 49 0.649 14

And the rest of the Big Ten:

Rank LW NCAA Team Conf Record Adj Marg Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
28 26 Wisconsin B10 8-6 0.424 1.124 47 0.700 22
51 50 MichiganState B10 7-6 0.236 0.754 97 0.518 6
69 66 Purdue B10 6-7 -0.061 1.011 61 1.072 78
71 75 Minnesota B10 6-7 -0.089 0.756 96 0.845 44
73 73 Iowa B10 4-8 -0.096 0.727 105 0.823 42
77 74 Indiana B10 4-8 -0.126 1.219 34 1.344 111
99 99 Illinois B10 2-10 -0.377 0.571 123 0.948 60

Some thoughts before we embrace the cold dark months of nothing-ness...

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you I am better than you at college football. Specifically, regarding the picking of games. As you can see here, I have empirical proof of that fact. I admit, I was getting a little worried during the regular season when my picks were only good sporadically. I like to think that this hobby of mine has some legitimacy, instead of being pulled completely out of my ass. Fortunately, like Nick Saban during bowl season, give me enough time and I'll wipe the floor with any opponent (except for that 2.0% of ESPN entries that posted better scores than I did). I also went 19-14-2 against the spread (57%), which I'm pretty happy with. Apologies for the lack of modesty, but I have enough embarrassments in life. I toot my horn when I can.

Along this note, I'm going to abandon keeping track of "weighted" rankings for teams. You'll notice I put an entry labeled as such in the Bowl Prediction group, and (though it also performed better than any of your entries, BWAHAHAHA) it didn't match up the the "standard" picks. In my opinion, the college football season has too few games to make any consistent determination of "momentum" week-to-week. Obviously, major injuries to a roster will have some impact (think Dennis Dickson in 2007), but I think those are too few to offer real value.

ALL HAIL UTAH STATE, CLASS OF THE UNDER-CARDS. First, I want to offer some apologies to the Aggies. Early in the year, they had been rating out pretty high in my Excel sheets, and all I had to say was "that's nice, but that'll sort itself out soon enough." I continued saying that even after the near upset of my beloved Badgers (mostly because I did not think the Badgers were as good as they turned out to be, yes I know 8-6 and all), even going as far as to promote Utah over them. That was wrong of me and I apologize.

Utah State was clearly the best mid-major this year (and thank you to SMU for bringing Fresno State down a notch otherwise I would have felt a bit embarrassed right now), and - even more remarkably - they had an incredibly solid defense to thank for it. In my anecdotal experience, small schools (not named Boise State or TCU, who don't really count) almost always find their strength from an innovative/solid offensive attack and really just try to hold on for dear life when the other team takes the field. Think 2011 Houston, 2007 Hawaii, Pre-Big East Louisville, 2012 Louisiana Tech, etc. So major props to the Aggies for fielding a Top 10 defensive outfit, even when weighed against the lack-luster WAC. Shame you lost your coach, but we'll take good care of him. I promise!

Looking ahead to next year briefly... I have a pet theory regarding over-achieving teams that I've recently begun to formulate. Normally, a team that over-achieves in one season (comparing record to actual performance) can be expected to regress the next season. West Virginia and USC this year are two good examples. They both had solid 10 digit win seasons last year, and were promoted highly coming into 2012. But shaky defense (and a lack of depth for USC) brought them back down from their lofty heights and goals, such that both of them posted 7-6 seasons.

However, it's my belief that an over-achieving team that also has a good coach will defy this trend and instead raise their level of play to match their record, instead. Bill Snyder's Wildcats this year are an excellent example. They were widely considered to be over-rated coming into 2012, and they said "to heck with that," and come in at 9th in my final rankings, nearly making the title game in the process. Chris Petersen (circa 2006) also comes to mind here, though I don't have the exact numbers to look at right now for support.

Looking at my final 2012 numbers then: Ohio State, Louisville, and Northwestern (to a lesser extent) all fit this profile. Ohio State was my single luckiest team of the 2012 season, Louisville still doesn't crack my Top 25, and Northwestern hangs out in the fringes despite posting its first 10 win season in over 15 years. So while my 2013 projections won't reflect it (Louisville and Northwestern will certainly not crack my pre-season Top 25, Ohio State will likely be hanging out in the mid-teens), I'm going to go ahead and guess those teams will make those projections look foolish come next January. We'll see if this pet theory of mine holds water.

Stay strong, friends. It's only... God, more than 200 days away. AGONY.

- hoegher

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