Sunday, December 6, 2015

Playoffs

Earlier today the college football playoff committee released their final rankings.  These rankings determined the teams that qualify for the second ever playoffs: Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma.  The rankings also have other implications, sending Iowa to the Rose Bowl and qualifying Houston for a major bowl game.

In a not quite equally anticipated revealing, I'm now displaying the final SORTACUS rankings of the year.  I've just posted the top 25, since very few of the teams lower ranked played games last weekend.  If you have complaints, bottle them in.

For the new readers who aren't familiar, SORTACUS is a computer rankings system developed by me in association with Andy Meisner.  It's based entirely off of wins and losses, ignoring margin of victory.  That makes it particularly effective at determining the most deserving teams.  In previous posts I've covered more on the math behind SORTACUS, and my thoughts on a college football playoff.

Top 25

Rank Team Record Rating
1  Clemson 12-0 25.28
2  Alabama 11-1 23.85
3  Michigan St 12-1 22.29
4  Iowa 11-1 21.25
5  Ohio St 11-1 20.45
6  Oklahoma 11-1 20.40
7  Stanford 11-2 20.07
8  Notre Dame 10-2 18.75
9  Northwestern 9-2 17.94
10  Houston 11-1 17.69
11  TCU 9-2 16.13
12  Oklahoma St 9-2 15.84
13  Mississippi 8-3 15.11
14  Florida 10-3 15.07
15  Michigan 9-3 14.96
16  Navy 8-2 14.89
17  LSU 8-3 14.85
18  Oregon 8-3 14.57
19  Florida St 9-2 13.52
20  North Carolina 9-2 13.18
21  Memphis 8-3 13.00
22  Utah 9-3 12.11
23  Temple 10-3 11.81
24  Wisconsin 9-3 11.32
25  Baylor 8-3 11.28

The Playoffs

SORTACUS follows the national trend and picks the top four teams as Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and ... IOWA?!?!?!

That's right, even with a loss to the Spartans last night the Hawkeyes still stack up favorably against other one loss options like Ohio State and Oklahoma.  Despite early gripes about the Iowa schedule, the rise of Northwestern and Wisconsin plus the addition of Michigan State in the championship game have eliminated that issue in SORTACUS's eyes.

One potential issue with the SORTACUS philosophy is that it values all games equally.  In general I feel that's true.  Conference championship games may be a reasonable exception though.  The Hawkeyes had a fair shot last night, and despite a hard fought battle they couldn't pull it out.  Instead of Michigan State having to potentially face Iowa again, it might be more interesting to see the Sooners have a shot.

Of course, it's also possible that the Hawks faced an uphill battle ever since being unranked in the pre-season, something they couldn't quite overcome.  There is definitely a case for Kirk Ferentz and company to feel bitter.  Still, I won't lose many tears over the upcoming once in a lifetime Iowa-Stanford Rose Bowl matchup.  See you all there!
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