Monday, November 24, 2014

SORTACUS playoff update

Last week The Taste returned for the first time in a couple years to help determine which teams most deserve to be in the four team college football playoffs.  I'm running the rankings anyway, so I'll likely continue to post the results.  For now I won't give details of the system (someday maybe) but last week has some insight.  Or you can ask Andy Meisner.

Top 25

SORTACUS creates rankings using Bayesian statistics and FBS wins and losses.  Score doesn't matter, PPG doesn't matter, beating UNI doesn't matter, location doesn't matter.  Those last two are not necessarily on purpose, but just because I'm lazy.  Below are the rankings through November 22nd, along with record against FBS teams and SORTACUS rating.


Rank Team Record Rating
1  Florida St 10-0 23.32
2  Alabama 9-1 21.71
3  Mississippi St 9-1 20.88
4  Oregon 9-1 20.55
5  TCU 8-1 19.70
6  UCLA 9-2 18.18
7  Ohio St 10-1 17.52
8  Marshall 10-0 17.48
9  Baylor 8-1 16.86
10  Auburn 7-3 15.75
11  Arizona 9-2 15.43
12  Kansas St 7-2 15.28
13  Georgia 8-2 15.11
14  Michigan St 8-2 14.54
15  Mississippi 7-3 14.49
16  Colorado St 9-1 14.18
17  Arizona St 8-2 13.35
18  Missouri 8-2 12.90
19  Oklahoma 8-3 12.81
20  Boise St 9-2 12.66
21  Georgia Tech 8-2 12.24
22  Wisconsin 8-2 12.22
23  Clemson 7-3 11.19
24  Texas A&M 6-4 10.93
25  LSU 6-4 10.77

The top few teams held strong this past week, with Mississippi's loss to Arkansas the only upset impacting potential playoff teams.  The top 5 from last week hold strong, and match (with a slight rearrangement in the top 4) the committee's top 5.  Things diverge a little from there though.

How Much Does Record Matter?

UCLA, Ohio State, Marshall, and to some extent Auburn are an interesting set of teams to compare.  They all have a different number of losses, but their disparate schedule strengths make evaluation difficult.  Auburn has fought through the weekly gauntlet in the SEC West.  UCLA has been waging through a tough PAC-12 that has knocked out quality teams such as Stanford and Utah.  Ohio State is in the Big Ten, but this version of the conference is one of the weakest of all time.  Finally, Marshall has been dominating a string of nobodies.

What does the committee find valuable?  Marshall's unjustifiable absence from the top 25 would indicate it's strength of schedule.  But if that's the case, UCLA and maybe even Auburn should be ahead of an Ohio State team that is somehow sneaking it's way into the playoff discussion.  The way it's currently playing out the Buckeyes might reach the top 4 largely on their reputation.

How Is My Team Doing?

Maryland:  35th, rating of 6.34
Stanford:  47th, 3.59
Iowa:  52nd, 2.88
Northwestern:  64th, 0.46
Iowa State:  93rd, -6.73
Purdue:  94th, -7.18
New Mexico:  109th, -11.11
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