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Hoegher's Rankings and Picks: WEEK ONE

SO CLOSE, Y'ALL. So close to the return of football. I'm currently sitting on my couch watching the Vikings DERP their way across the field against the 49ers, which is a poor substitute. Maybe watching Wisconsin inevitably have a closer-than-expected win against Massachusetts next week won't fully quench my thirst, but it will be REAL football, and that's all the matters.

DISCLAIMER: I do these rankings for fun. I like to think they aren't completely without merit (I did win the OTE bowl competition last), but I won't pretend there aren't flaws. Feel free to tell me where those faults are :)

THE RANKINGS

I might as well post my complete pre-season Top 25. I mean, isn't the whole point of college football - to rank things in groups of a quarter-hundred? It's the American way, dammit!

NOTE: As it is still summer and games have yet to, ya know, actually happen, LW refers to where those teams ended up ranked in my final rankings of the 2012-13 season. So... "last winter."

rk LW NCAA Team Conf Proj Rec Rating Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
1 1 Alabama SEC 12-0 1.244 1.582 2 0.357 1
2 2 Oregon Pac-12 11-1 0.918 1.816 1 0.779 26
3 5 Florida SEC 10-2 0.847 1.318 14 0.509 2
4 12 Oklahoma B12 9-3 0.766 1.485 5 0.687 15
5 3 FloridaState ACC 11-1 0.742 1.368 10 0.627 7
6 8 OklahomaState B12 9-3 0.706 1.549 4 0.788 28
7 7 Georgia SEC 9-3 0.673 1.442 6 0.740 22
8 15 LSU SEC 8-4 0.651 1.261 19 0.628 8
9 4 TexasAM SEC 9-3 0.630 1.558 3 0.868 41
10 19 USC Pac-12 10-3 0.625 1.303 16 0.681 14
11 6 NotreDame Ind. 9-3 0.624 1.122 41 0.553 3
12 14 Stanford Pac-12 9-3 0.621 1.253 21 0.647 11
13 35 BoiseState MWC 11-1 0.607 1.190 32 0.615 5
14 20 OhioState B10 10-2 0.606 1.290 17 0.687 16
15 31 TCU B12 8-4 0.596 1.145 39 0.591 4
16 22 Texas B12 8-4 0.577 1.312 15 0.729 20
17 11 SouthCarolina SEC 8-4 0.555 1.182 34 0.651 12
18 17 Nebraska B10 10-2 0.535 1.356 11 0.801 31
19 24 PennState B10 9-3 0.531 1.114 43 0.621 6
20 9 OregonState Pac-12 9-3 0.523 1.237 25 0.720 18
21 13 Clemson ACC 9-3 0.514 1.397 9 0.853 39
22 27 Wisconsin B10 9-3 0.490 1.249 23 0.759 24
23 10 KansasState B12 8-4 0.447 1.260 20 0.805 32
24 53 VirginiaTech ACC 9-3 0.413 1.095 46 0.704 17
25 23 BYU Ind. 8-4 0.397 1.040 58 0.674 13

And the rest of the Big Ten:

rk LW NCAA Team Conf Proj Rec Rating Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
27 18 Michigan B10 8-4 0.383 1.213 28 0.826 35
30 46 MichiganState B10 8-4 0.341 0.934 75 0.635 9
37 25 Northwestern B10 7-5 0.290 1.185 33 0.890 46
51 76 Iowa B10 6-6 0.181 0.898 83 0.735 21
70 69 Purdue B10 4-8 -0.051 0.980 64 1.031 74
78 72 Minnesota B10 5-7 -0.131 0.822 92 0.945 58
84 103 Illinois B10 4-8 -0.153 0.776 102 0.917 53
90 77 Indiana B10 3-9 -0.217 1.081 48 1.318 114

For a primer on what goes into these, see here. Some thoughts...

Yes, Louisville is missing from that list. No, I don't feel bad about it. This has been repeated ad nauseam elsewhere, but Louisville really wasn't that great last year. Unfortunately (fortunately?), Teddy Bridgewater decided playing without broken limbs was a lot more fun and Louisville scored a surprisingly easy upset over Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Bring back a Heisman-candidate quarterback, let the off-season hype build to a boil, and you've got the stage set for a USC (part deux) situation.

Now, there's a key difference in that Louisville doesn't face nearly the schedule that Kiffin 'N Kompany did last year, and you'll notice there aren't any other Big EAst C-USA American conference teams placing in my Top 25 either. But even with that benefit, Cincinnati is actually my top-rated Anti-Communism Conference member. In fact, Louisville even falls to third, behind Rutgers (if that seems strange, remember that you don't produce an eyesore like the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl without pairing a bad offense with a damn good defense... guys, Rutgers is going to be perfect for the Big Ten).

To their credit, I haven't fully taken into account what the return of Teddy Bridgewater means, so Louisville's almost certainly going to outperform whatever projections I had for their offense. And if Louisville can manage to make it past a Week 7-8 stretch against Rutgers and Central Florida (both at home, by the by), they pretty much only have the final against Cincinnati to decide their Latter-Day Felicity Conference* fate. That's a BCS bowl bid and (as Louisville showed last year) sometimes that's all you need.

* Please tell me someone got that. I put a lot of effort into that reference.

The best thing about the pre-season is everyone's still perfect. Of course, that dream dies soon enough for most, but for now: hope springs eternal. With that in mind, I thought I'd try and keep a running list of those teams that have the best shot at winning out (at least, according to my nebulous set of calculations). Because I am a man with limited time and resources (i.e. I'm lazy), home/away status for remaining games is not taken into account. Neither is moxie, for that matter. SPOILERS: Alabama leads the pack.

Team Conf Proj Rec Und % Next Game
Alabama SEC 12-0 72% VirginiaTech
Oregon Pac-12 11-1 38% FCS
BoiseState MWC 11-1 31% Washington
FloridaState ACC 11-1 15% Pittsburgh
NorthernIllinois MAC 10-2 14% Iowa
Florida SEC 10-2 10% Toledo
OhioState B10 10-2 10% Buffalo
Cincinnati Amer 10-2 8% Purdue
Nebraska B10 10-2 6% Wyoming
Oklahoma B12 9-3 5% LouisianaMonroe

Yes, Alabama is listed as having a 72% chance of running the table. That seems high, especially since Alabama hasn't been able to do that during their last two championship runs, and both those losses were dealt by teams that Alabama has to play this year (I'm not naming them, because you know who they are). The thing is, those are pretty much the only teams with a pulse (relative to Nick Saban's death machine, that is) that Alabama plays.

Seriously, look at their schedule. Outside of the Mad Hatter and Johnny Autograph, does anyone else look like a challenge? Granted, the SEC Championship isn't counted among those odds (to say nothing of the BCS Championship), so 72% is obviously misleading. Still, no one else is even close. Super excited for the 2015 ritual sacrifice, y'all!

Obligatory BCS/Big Ten Bowl Bids Guesstimation Exercise

For the most part, I'm going to stick with what my pseudo-scientific projections give me, but I reserve the right to make tweaks as I see fit.

BCS: Alabama vs Florida State

Rose: Ohio State vs Oregon

Orange: Oklahoma vs Nebraska

Sugar: Georgia vs USC

Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs Cincinnati

Capitol: Wisconsin

Outback: Michigan State

BWW: Michigan

Gator: Northwestern

Texas: Iowa

It took every fiber of my being to not put Wisconsin in that Rose Bowl slot there. Be proud of my objectivity. Northwestern, don't feel bad, Excel just doesn't like you very much. Microsoft doesn't contribute to the bowl bid decision process anyway.

NOTE: If I messed up something with the bowl selection order, let me know so I can cry to myself in shame.

The 1981 Northwestern Memorial Award for Ineptitude. Perhaps I'm a disaster voyeur, but I really enjoy watching an absolute train wreck of a football team (well, when it's other teams than my own). Last year, that role was filled by Colorado, who somehow still managed to scrape together a single victory, ruining my best hopes and dreams of futility. Your early "leaders" (mid-majors exempt, and that includes Memphis):

115 - Colorado (2-10 projected record)

110 - Washington State (2-10)

96 - Wake Forest (4-8)

The Pac-12, our nation's finest athletic conference.

THE PICKS

Now for the fun part: making in-accurate predictions about game results and posting them on the Interwebs so everyone can laugh at you later. (WARNING: any attempt to use these in aiding your totally-not-illegal gambling addiction will almost certainly result in a loss of your monetary assets.)

Lines taken from BetOnline here, as of 2013-08-25. Home teams highlighted in blue.

Overcat Underdog Proj Winner Conf Line Hoegh Pick vs Spd
Mississippi Vanderbilt Mississippi 54% 3.0 1.3 Vanderbilt
#5 Georgia #8 Clemson Georgia 63% 2.0 4.5 Georgia
#12 LSU #20 TCU LSU 55% 4.5 1.5 TCU
Utah UtahState Utah 63% 3.0 4.2 Utah
#9 Louisville Ohio Louisville 77% 20.0 10.2 Ohio
#6 SouthCarolina NorthCarolina SouthCarolina 68% 11.0 6.1 NorthCarolina
#13 OklahomaState MississippiState OklahomaState 82% 12.5 12.6 OklahomaState
#1 Alabama VirginiaTech Alabama 97% 19.5 23.3 Alabama
Washington #19 BoiseState BoiseState 88% 3.5 -15.9 BoiseState
#11 FloridaState Pittsburgh FloridaState 83% 10.5 13.1 FloridaState

And the Big Ten:

Overcat Underdog Proj Winner Conf Line Hoegh Pick vs Spd
Iowa NorthernIllinois NorthernIllinois 56% 3.0 -1.8 NorthernIllinois
PennState Syracuse PennState 84% 8.5 13.3 PennState
#2 OhioState Buffalo OhioState 99% 35.5 29.8 Buffalo
#17 Michigan CentralMichigan Michigan 94% 31.5 20.1 CentralMichigan
MichiganState WesternMichigan MichiganState 89% 27.0 16.2 WesternMichigan
#23 Wisconsin Massachusetts Wisconsin 99% 44.5 43.5 Massachusetts
Minnesota UNLV Minnesota 81% 14.0 11.8 UNLV
Cincinnati Purdue Cincinnati 81% 10.5 11.8 Cincinnati
#18 Nebraska Wyoming Nebraska 99% 28.0 28.0 Nebraska
#22 Northwestern California Northwestern 73% 6.0 8.3 Northwestern

I've tried to make it pretty clear how to read that table, but feel free to ask for an explanation if you desire. Currently, those guesses don't take into account home/away status, but I'm tracking that by myself so that may change in future weeks.

My Stupid Upset Pick of the Week is Boise State (+3.5) over Washington. Enjoy the return of football, y'all :)

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