Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blogpoll: When There's Nothing Left to Burn, You Have To Set Yourself on Fire Edition

1 Ohio State --
2 Southern Cal --
3 Michigan 1
4 Florida 1
5 LSU 5
6 Boise State 1
7 Louisville 6
8 Arkansas 2
9 Auburn --
10 Oklahoma 8
11 Notre Dame 6
12 Wisconsin 4
13 West Virginia 3
14 Virginia Tech 3
15 Tennessee 4
16 Wake Forest 6
17 Rutgers 6
18 Nebraska 3
19 Georgia Tech 7
20 Brigham Young --
21 Hawaii 2
22 California 2
23 Texas A&M 3
24 Texas 10
25 Oregon State 1
Dropped Out: Boston College (#15), Houston (#25).
The general theme of this week's blogpoll is torching the pretenders who hobbled on the big stage at the end of the year. And, yes, when there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.

It's interesting how the difficulty of ranking teams changes over the course of the year. At the beginning of the season, you can mostly wing it on your prejudices, the small sample size of games you can easily keep in your head, plus the stray head-to-head matchup which neatly form a heirarchy of teams. As the year progresses, you have to start judging quality of wins, quality of losses, subjectively judge "improvement", and deal with agonizing circuitous victory chains (LSU beat Arkansas, Arkansas beat Auburn, Auburn beat LSU. All teams have two losses now. Auuuughh!!! Fightinamish angry! Fightinamish smash things!)

Making a blogpoll: Half art, half primate destroying computer with a cattle femur.

As we get to this late part of the season with its crazy and inconsistent data sets, you lose the luxury of having an objective resume-based system and more or less have to turn it into pure opinion, especially with the bottom 15 of the rankings. At this point in time, I think there's a pretty solid consensus between the top five or eight teams, but then you delve into a muckety-muck of also-rans, all of whom have had brief moments of glory combined with some collosal failures and glaring weaknesses exposed by the teams in the top of the pack. At the end of the day, you have to suck it up and go with your gut with their rankings. Some more subtext:

  • Two teams have shown they're the best of the best. Michigan, I love you guys, but what USC has accomplished this season makes it impossible to deny them of the crown for best one-loss team. A big hat tip to USC's Athletic Director, who, sensing that the team would draw the typical criticisms from east coast media types for playing in a "soft conference", just went out and scheduled (and beat the pine tar out of) Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. All three of their out of conference games were teams that have a shot to be in a BCS bowl.

    Brian @ mgo did the heavy lifting and broke down the resumes of the three contenders for the number two slot, and there's really no logical way to argue against the Trojans being in that number two spot.

  • LSU + Auburn + Arkansas = Pollster Insanity. No clue what to do with them... all 3 teams beat each other and all have two losses. I had to go to the dreaded "win when it counts" axiom to break this nutbuster. Forgive me, polling gods.

  • I can't in good conscience rank Wisconsin above Notre Dame. I'm trying to be as realistic as possible with ranking the Irish, who have taken care of business with their lesser foes, but really haven't made a statement in a big game all year (or, perhaps more appropriately, have made loud, embarassing statements in their big games this year). With that in mind, I have moved up teams that have proven a bit more, but after taking another look at Wisconsin's schedule, I simply cannot put Wisconsin ahead of Notre Dame. The Badgers' best win? Penn State, which happens to be Notre Dame's second best win. And whereas the Badgers scraped by a 13-3 victory, the Irish mangled and disfigured the Nittany Lions to the tune of 41-3 before the second string came in. The Badgers' second best win is Purdue, which is the Irish's third best win, and the margin of victory is pretty much the same (save for cosmetic touchdowns). After that, Wisconsin's slate is like a who's who of rural midwest liberal arts colleges. Say what you will about Sagarin's rankings, the 85th toughest schedule is the 85th toughest schedule, no matter how you slice it.

    If Wisconsin played a few more football games and a few less ultimate frisbee games, maybe it's a different story.

  • As you can see, Western Illinois' football team was not up to the challenge. Hell, they didn't even bring pads or footballs to the game.

  • And, again, a shit salad at the bottom. Why do they even make a "Top 25"? Is it that painfully important to honor the 25th best team in the country when everybody after about 20 or so is completely interchangeable? I shall never know.

So there you have it. Enjoy.

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At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Oklahoma jumped 8 spots because it beat OK State? Because the two teams that beat them (Texas and Oregon) lost? Just because they got into the Big12 Championship Game doesn't mean they should jump... but they seem to have everywhere.

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Yant said...

I'm sorry, but I can't accept a computer ranking system that will put TWO three-loss teams in the top ten (Cal and Tennessee). Do losses mean anything to Saragin?

At 1:27 AM, Anonymous captaineclectic said...


Part of why losses mean nothing to Sagarin, undoubtedly, is that a team's total number of losses is an especially poor predictor of a team's likelihood to win any given game. Margin of victory is a stronger corollary.

At 8:51 AM, Blogger gwzimm said...

I hate polls. I hate sportswriters much more, tho.

There was some asshole on the NBC website starting up the "ND doesn't belong" chant again, saying that ND should decline a BCS invitation in favor of, get this: BYU.

And to think they PAY these cock wobblers to write this shit!

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are clearly the MOST overrated team in the land. Given that, no wonder you don't join a conference. Why should you? Every year you can look forward to a BCS type payout (shared w/ no one) to complement you bloated TV purse. Just remember you have beaten no one and lost 2 to real teams, big. The media loves you. Its good to be the king.

At 4:14 PM, Blogger gwzimm said...

You're right anonomous, why would ND ever want to associate with a conference when they can play a national schedule, have their own TV network, and recruit nationally? Would it be better to associate with some conference, and to what point?

Look...in recent years or in the near future, ND has played or will play teams like Washington, Wash. State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Texas, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Oklahoma, LSU, Ga. Tech, Fla. State, and of, course, the local bog 10 riff-raff, Mich, MSU, Penn St., & Purdue.

Now, would you really think ND should give that and their bowl connections up for a season of big weekends in such places like Bloomington, Champaign, Iowa City, Madison, or a country field somewhere in Pennsylvania plus a handful of Div 1AA schools?

The only reasons such former independents like Penn State, FSU, Miami, So. Carolina, and others joined a conference was because they HAD to. ND doesn't.

Yep, anon, by god, it IS good to be the king.

At 4:23 PM, Blogger gwzimm said...

Based on the AP & Coach's poll, it seems assured that Fla. will play OSU in the championship game & that will be a rout. BUT, I don't think a skunkbear-OSU rematch would be right.


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