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Hoegher's Rankings and Picks: WEEK TWO

So glad college football is back. Also very glad my team didn't almost cough up a game to a massive underdog this year. I guess Danny O'Brien was just trying to be a trendsetter, that's all it was.

EDIT: AP Poll rankings now added to picks section.

THE RANKINGS

rk LW NCAA Team Conf Record Rating Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
1 61 Washington Pac-12 1-0 1.863 2.207 3 0.180 9
2 36 GeorgiaTech ACC 1-0 1.728 1.692 9 0.072 2
3 34 Baylor B12 1-0 1.495 1.667 11 0.217 12
4 4 Oklahoma B12 1-0 1.465 1.103 47 0.038 1
5 2 Oregon Pac-12 1-0 1.449 1.595 15 0.217 12
6 1 Alabama SEC 1-0 1.414 1.776 6 0.326 20
7 39 Tennessee SEC 1-0 1.383 1.088 48 0.072 2
8 82 Duke ACC 1-0 1.383 1.087 49 0.072 2
9 50 Louisville Amer 1-0 1.368 1.587 16 0.270 16
10 22 Wisconsin B10 1-0 1.352 1.051 53 0.076 7
11 29 Cincinnati Amer 1-0 1.302 1.455 25 0.255 15
12 27 Michigan B10 1-0 1.301 1.643 12 0.345 22
13 5 FloridaState ACC 1-0 1.279 1.751 8 0.420 25
14 74 BowlingGreen MAC 1-0 1.252 1.282 33 0.212 11
15 6 OklahomaState B12 1-0 1.240 0.979 64 0.107 8
16 32 Arizona Pac-12 1-0 1.229 0.846 72 0.072 2
17 8 LSU SEC 1-0 1.150 2.236 2 0.842 49
18 52 UCLA Pac-12 1-0 1.033 1.682 10 0.584 35
19 69 SanJoseState MWC 1-0 1.032 0.580 94 0.072 2
20 80 Maryland ACC 1-0 1.011 1.394 29 0.429 26
21 17 SouthCarolina SEC 1-0 0.978 1.085 51 0.288 17
22 16 Texas B12 1-0 0.974 1.312 32 0.411 24
23 11 NotreDame Ind. 1-0 0.929 0.916 67 0.237 14
24 53 NorthCarolinaState ACC 1-0 0.900 1.119 45 0.355 23
25 47 Miami ACC 1-0 0.891 1.009 58 0.303 18

And the rest of the Big Ten:

rk LW NCAA Team Conf Record Rating Adj Off rk Adj Def rk
41 37 Northwestern B10 1-0 0.439 1.627 13 1.119 77
45 30 MichiganState B10 1-0 0.370 0.764 82 0.480 28
51 19 PennState B10 1-0 0.300 0.826 76 0.579 34
53 78 Minnesota B10 1-0 0.262 1.425 27 1.130 78
55 14 OhioState B10 1-0 0.226 1.198 41 0.963 59
59 51 Iowa B10 0-1 0.150 1.131 44 0.977 62
84 18 Nebraska B10 1-0 -0.449 1.073 52 1.585 102
89 90 Indiana B10 1-0 -0.562 1.764 7 2.532 122
104 70 Purdue B10 0-1 -1.089 0.309 118 1.270 89
108 184 Illinois B10 1-0 -1.138 1.015 57 2.459 121

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

A reminder that these rankings are (mostly) useless in the first few weeks. When you consider that I don't factor in coaching changes, returning players, FCS team differences, etc. ALONG with small sample size stuff, you're going to get some weird results early in the season. Washington is probably not the best team in the nation (or even close). Similarly Oregon State is probably not the worst team in the nation (though losing to FCS teams twice in the last three years is a troubling trend).

A lot of that probably has to do with flaws in my metrics, but teams also develop a lot through the season. 2007 Michigan lost to Appalachian State (HA!) and got murdered against Oregon the following week. Yet, they still ended up with 9 wins and beat Florida (arguably a Top-5 team that year [LINK], despite the four losses). That still blows my mind.

However, you can still get a good start on placing teams in their correct tiers and start detecting season trends (if you know where to start). Last year, I had had Utah State and Texas A&M ranked highly in the early year rankings. If I were smart enough, I would've picked them out sooner as quality candidates. Since it's still the first week, I'm liable to be completely wrong, but for example...

Nebraska, y'all need to do something about your defense. I thought Nebraska got a little too much hate last year on their defense. They weren't great, but they really only gave up a lot of yards against good offenses (Georgia scored 38 pts/gm for example), and they also had the misfortune of breaking the dam against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Again, not great, but more hate than they really deserved.

THAT SAID: I mentioned somewhere that Nebraska giving up 30+ pts to Wyoming would make them pretty much the worst defense in the nation via my amateur numbers. 34 pts later, we have a problem. And unlike certain point totals (cough, Minnesota, cough), those weren't born out of weird special teams stuff. The Cowboys put up 602 yards on 8.1 yds/play, which is in-excuseable for any defense, much less one that used to house Ndamakong Suh. We already have an Indiana in this conference, we don't need another.

Welcome to another season of an over-rated Ohio State. I don't expect this to be reflected in the polls come Tuesday (EDIT: I wrote this on Monday, looks like I was right. I'M SO CLAIRVOYANT, Y'ALL), because the general rule is teams won't move down with anything other than a loss, but a 40-20 game against Buffalo (a team I had 104th coming into the season) is not the kind of performance that the #2 team in the country should put up. (It's not reflective of a 56th ranked team either, but I've already noted that these early season ranking come with a lot of sodium particles. And it's worth noting that both F/+ (12th) and Sagarin (13th) have Ohio State a fair step behind the humanoid minds)

Granted, that score was aided by a pick-six (Michigan State aside, most teams don't really rely on those for their offensive output), and Ohio State shut down the Buffalo run game (2.1 yds/car on the day). I guess you could also point out that Ohio State was up 23-0 before the end of the first quarter. But Buffalo closed the game to within 10 pts halfway through the 2nd quarter, which is leaves plenty of game left for things to go awry for the Buckeyes. At the end of the day, Ohio State is still undefeated and not likely to drop any slots in the polls. So my complaints are likely to fall on deaf ears :)

Bowling Green is your 2013 mid-major darlings. Not to take anything away from Fresno State, which beat a decent Rutgers team. But that was a home game at night, and Fresno State failed to cover their spread anyway. Bowling Green, however, absolutely smacked Tulsa around, and Tulsa is a pretty decent team that should contend for the C-USA crown. Northern Illinois has the BCS bid, and maybe they'll start to look a bit better when they're playing MAC teams as opposed to Iowa, and maybe Bowling Green's performance is just a mirage aided by Tulsa's turnover of players, but right now I'd lean on the Falcons for MAC-tion supremacy. Indiana, you're on notice.

The 1990's Rutgers Memorial Award for Ineptitude is currently headed up by a strong opening take from South Florida, who got destroyed by a thing called McNeese State. Given the rash of FCS upsets the past weekend, this is basically just a list of those teams unlucky enough to fall victim:

#126 - South Florida

#124 - Oregon State

#122 - Connecticut

#118 - Iowa State

#109 - Kansas State

Illinois, you just managed to stay out of the bottom five. Consider yourself lucky in that regard.

THE PICKINGS

WOOF. A reminder that using these in any fashion for wagers will only result in losing you money. I was hoping to be a bit better last week, but it's going to be especially true now. So don't get hopped up about any of the projections here: they are purely for giggles and whimsy.

Lines taken from BetOnline here, as of 2013-09-04. Home teams highlighted in blue.

Overcat Underdog Proj Winner Conf Line Hoegh Pick vs Spd
#12 Florida Miami Miami 57% 3.0 -2.2 Miami
Houston Temple Houston 99% 3.0 30.8 Houston
BowlingGreen KentState BowlingGreen 99% 8.0 45.0 BowlingGreen
#2 Oregon Virginia Oregon 99% 22.0 24.8 Oregon
UtahState AirForce UtahState 64% 9.5 4.6 AirForce
#15 Texas BYU Texas 99% 7.5 34.2 Texas
#13 OklahomaState UTSA OklahomaState 99% 26.5 34.8 OklahomaState
OregonState Hawaii Hawaii 99% 27.0 -42.1 Hawaii
#5 Stanford SanJoseState SanJoseState 79% 26.5 -11.0 SanJoseState
Duke Memphis Duke 99% 6.0 50.6 Duke

And the Big Ten. What a crappy week of games.

Overcat Underdog Proj Winner Conf Line Hoegh Pick vs Spd
Indiana Navy Navy 88% 13.0 -15.5 Navy
PennState EasternMichigan PennState 99% 24.0 29.8 PennState
Cincinnati Illinois Cincinnati 99% 8.0 65.2 Cincinnati
#3 OhioState SanDiegoState OhioState 99% 28.0 58.0 OhioState
#17 Michigan #14 NotreDame Michigan 77% 4.0 9.9 Michigan
MichiganState SouthFlorida MichiganState 99% 23.0 74.8 MichiganState
Minnesota NewMexicoState Minnesota 99% 15.5 39.7 Minnesota
#22 Nebraska SouthernMississippi Nebraska 81% 28.5 11.9 SouthernMississippi
#19 Northwestern Syracuse Northwestern 64% 12.0 4.8 Syracuse

My Stupid Upset Pick of the Week is Arkansas State (+12.5) over Auburn. Enjoy the week, y'all!

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