Just a bunch of random effluvia to share from the football side of the office…

  • Teams which have improved from their initial ELO-Following Football rating in August: Cincinnati (14 points, from 43 down to its current 29!), Georgia Southern (10, 46 to 36), Appalachian State (technically 9, from 31 to 22…but they played on Tuesday, beating ArkSt big and dropping to a rating of 20 already this week!), Syracuse (9, 35 to 26), Kansas (9, 45 to 36), Hawaii (9, 49 to 40), and (insanely), Alabama, already starting with the lowest rating of 7, has dropped nine points and currently sits with the rating of negative 2!
  • Alabama would be seven-point favorites on a neutral field against ANYONE in college (Ohio St is second with a rating of 5). Clemson and Georgia have the third-place ratings of 8 (so they’d be ten point underdogs to ‘Bama), Penn St’s next at 9, then Oklahoma at 10, and Notre Dame and Washington at 12, with Michigan (13) and Miami-FL (14) rounding out our current top ten.
  • The numbers for ‘Bama’s starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa are insane: No interceptionseighteen touchdowns and only twenty-five incompletions. His six games so far have all been in the top 30 on the QBR of ALL quarterback performances this year. And what’s more, he hasn’t even played in a fourth quarter this seasonIf we actually HAD the set-up in our fantasy “Relegation Leagues”, we’d be moving Alabama up to the NFL in 2019.
  • For comparison, the best rating in the Group of Five belongs to UCF, which is down to a rating of 17. You might be surprised to know that the second best rating among those conferences is Fresno State‘s 20 (although Appalachian State will drop to 20 as well when the new ratings emerge next weekend).
  • The Bison of North Dakota State continue to have the best rating among all FCS schools, and they’d be fourth among Group of Five schools at 21! The only other such schools even in the twenties are their arch rivals IN conference, South Dakota State, at 27, and their arch rivals OUT of conference, James Madison, which dropped to 28 after losing to Elon by three last Saturday. (Elon’s down to 38, putting them in the top 20.)
  • Among the FCS teams which have improved the most from their initial rating (with the caveat that I’ve made some adjustments in the FCS numbers, so these are the functional changes), the most impressive is Princeton, which is basically seventeen points improved from our initial placement of the Tigers. Rhode Island isn’t far off that, currently fifteen points better than they were thought to be. (Which was based on last year’s performance and the expected changes over the summer.) Dartmouth is 11 points better, and Indiana State’s the latest Missouri Valley team to improve dramatically, ten points lower than their starting point. 
  • What about the other direction? Who’s proven to be LESS accomplished than they were expected to be? The four teams we talk the most about among the Power Five teams this season – Florida State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Arkansas – have all experienced significant rises in their ELO-FF ratings: Arkansas and Nebraska by seven points (31 to 38 and 30 to 37, respectively); UCLA has risen eight points (26 to 34), and Florida State eleven points (26 to 37, although they were up to 38 the previous week). Now, Florida Atlantic has proven to be simply average this season, so they’ve dropped from 22 to 32 (ten points). 
  • But Louisville takes the prize They’ve gone from a Heisman team to a Heimlich team, coughing up games they had in the bag, saddled with an unethical coach they can’t buy out and a team that doesn’t show any positive signs. They’ve moved from a starting rating of 21 all the way to 35 (a fourteen point degradation), and there’s no reason to think that after their bye week next Saturday (they’re two-TD underdogs to Boston College this week!), they’ll be magically ready to take on Syracuse or even Wake Forest, much less Clemson. 
  • In the FCS, the biggest drops come from Valparaiso (11 points), New Hampshire (10), and Southern Utah (10). Arkansas-Pine Bluff has moved the equivalent of eight points, while seven point movers include Delaware State, Furman, and the U of San Diego, the defending Pioneer League champ. 
  • I’ve also been tracking the biggest upsets of the season, as judged by the rating differences and point spreads from the ELO-Following Football numbers. So, not surprisingly, number one is Old Dominion over Virginia Tech during week 4, gaining their only win (49-35) over a ranked Power conference team. They were forty point underdogs at the time; if it wasn’t for the circuit breakers in the ELO-FF equations, that game would’ve caused an eight point rating change for each team (subtracted from ODU, added to VaTech). 
  • Before this season, in four years of doing this, I hadn’t seen more than one upset beyond a twenty point spread; any such game in our pre-season predictions was automatically called a “win”, because it was that certain. Yet, only halfway through the season, we’ve already seen EIGHT such games (plus two more 30+ spreads that went to overtime before the favorite pulled it out!) Here they are…
    • Morgan State (+36) over NC A&T 16-13, week 4.
    • Butler (+33) over Youngstown State, 23-21, week 1.
    • Portland State (+32) over Montana, 22-20, week 6.
    • Brigham Young (BYU) (+27) over Wisconsin, 24-21, week 3.
    • Akron (+23) over Northwestern, 39-34, week 3.
    • Cincinnati (+20) over UCLA, 26-17, week 1. (That wouldn’t even have been an upset today, given what we know now!)
    • Elon (+20) over James Madison, 27-24, week 6.
    • PLUS, Oklahoma v Army (+31) went to OT at 21 before the Sooners won in Wk 4, and South Dakota St v Indiana St (+31) went to OT at 51 in week 6 before SDSU won with a field goal. 
  • I was looking through the Sagarin ratings the other day (Alabama’s number one there, too – and North Dakota State would be in the top 30 even if they were an FBS school, in Sagarin’s eyes. [Ours too.]). They had the weighted means for each conference as well, which is something I only do with our numbers at the end of the season. Here’s their perspective on the 23 division one conferences…
    • Power FiveSEC (80.92), Big 12 (78.70), Big Ten (77.50), Pac 12 (76.14), and the ACC (75.02).
    • Group Of FiveAmerican (67.05), Mountain West (64.76), MAC (60.83), Sun Belt (58.07), surprisingly above Conference USA (57.41).
    • FCS Tier I (multiple bid conferences)Missouri Valley (58.67, higher than two FBS conferences!), Colonial (51.41), Big Sky (49.44), SoCon (45.14), and Southland (41.66).
    • FCS Tier II (single bid conferences)Ohio Valley (43.04), Big South (35.86 – about 34 including the two entering teams), Northeast (30.63), Patriot (29.84), and the Pioneer (19.82), which is composed of teams from across the country which want to play D1 basketball but don’t offer football scholarships. So essentially, they play D3 football at the D1 level; Butler beating Youngstown St was more miraculous than their basketball run a few years ago!
    • FCS non-tournament conferencesIvy League (44.56, fifth overall!), MEAC (31.92), and SWAC (27.30).
    • I haven’t done the averages for the ELO-Following Football ratings, but their averages would be pretty close to these in ordering…. Wait a second… OK, I just did the math. It’s really close to what Sagarin has: FBS) SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, ACC, and Big Ten, but the last three are very close [within half a point]. THEN American, MWC, MAC, Sun Belt, and C-USA, just like the Sagarin numbers. FCS) The Missouri Valley was actually higher than THREE FBS conferences, and was closer to the MWC than the MAC!, Then we have the CAA, the Big Sky, and SoCon, just like Sagarin does. We also have the Ivy League and Ohio Valley above the Southland, and a jump to the Big South, the Patriot before the MEAC and the NEC (all within about a point), and finally the SWAC and the PioneerNot much difference, so it probably wasn’t worth the calculator time. But hey, there it is…

Hey, thanks for joining us for all the eclectic effluvia that we effort to educate you with, friends! Thanks for listening!

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