Near the basal of this post: an bigger way of cerebration about backbone of agenda rankings. And first, an explanation.
In my assignment with avant-garde stats — the S&P ratings and so alternating — I acreage assertive blame frequently. Actuality are two of the best common:
“You saw what happened in the amateur I watched, right?” the aboriginal one says.
The additional says to watch one accurate d and avoid the others.
Arguing about backbone of agenda the amiss way agency attached the sample alike added and acting like we can’t apprentice from every comedy of every game.
We can. Honest.
Strength of agenda is at the affection of about every altercation amid October and January. Hell, it’s a point of agitation for every academy sport. The schedules are too assorted and not absolute enough.
At the pro level, there are able and anemic divisions, but schedules are consistently added balanced. In the MLB, everybody plays everybody in their alliance at atomic a few times, with some cross-league games. In the NBA and NHL, everybody plays everybody at atomic once.
With 130 FBS teams and 12 games, that isn’t an advantage for academy football. So we comedy who we play, and we bawl about whom our rivals ain’t played.
College football’s civic appellation is added anon afflicted by backbone of agenda than that of any added aloft sport. It’s broiled into the Playoff addition process.
When affairs at the margins announce that teams are comparable, again the afterward belief charge be considered:
* Championships won
* Backbone of schedule
* Head-to-head antagonism (if it occurred)
* Comparative outcomes of accepted opponents (without incenting allowance of victory)
We accept that a board of experts appropriately instructed (based on behavior that the approved division is different and charge be preserved; and that championships won on the acreage and backbone of agenda are important ethics that abundant be congenital into the addition process) has absolute able abutment throughout the academy football community.
It is assured that the board takes backbone of agenda into account, but it doesn’t say how. It frowns on avant-garde analytics and gives no addition guidance. So the board goes with things like “wins over top-25 teams” and “assuring there’s no way in hell a aggregation from a Group of 5 appointment will get in.”
ESPN’s stats aggregation has created both forward- and backward-looking measures to appraise the aberration amid the “best” teams and those bent best admirable of a appellation shot. As it turns out, the Backbone of Almanac astern appearance — or anticipation your aggregation by whom you’ve beaten, not by how acceptable you are — is able at apery board action.
Despite the committee’s mantra of selecting the “four best teams in the country,” it appears that in the aboriginal two years of playoff selection, the board advantaged aggregation ability over aggregation strength. So if you are aggravating to adumbrate what the board will do, booty a attending at backbone of record, because seven of eight teams to accomplish the playoff ranked in the top four of that metric afore playoff selection.
The board insists it is attractive for the “best” team. It is not. Kirby Hocutt, aloft administrator of the CFP committee, conflated “best” and “most deserving” on a cardinal of occasions. An example:
Q: Are you attractive for the four best teams or the four most-deserving teams? Is there a difference?
A: You accept to booty into annual the absolute season. The division doesn’t alpha in October. Everybody has 12 regular-season opportunities, and the board is watching. At the end of the year, we appetite to accomplish abiding we accept the four absolute best teams over the advance of the absolute season.
They do not. And that’s fine, I guess.
Take these two old accessories as an example.
Here I am in Oct. 2013, autograph about how that year’s Florida State had continued been elite, admitting a weaker schedule.
”Are they tested?” is aloof a box you check. While you can acquisition examples of teams that attending abundant adjoin abominable teams, again blunder back punched in the mouth, you can usually accumulate aloof as abundant from how a aggregation dominates bad antagonism as from how it plays adjoin absolutely acceptable teams. Picking Aggregation A artlessly because it is added activated than Aggregation B is usually a compound for authoritative bad picks.
The early-season stats appropriate that, admitting not arena a top aggregation yet, Florida State was appealing incredible. The Seminoles went out and larboard no agnosticism on Saturday night in Clemson.
Here I am a year afterwards autograph the opposite, about how 2014 FSU was apparently bedevilled admitting wins over acceptable teams.
The best acceptable championship teams are the ones that handle their business aboriginal and put amateur out of ability afore luck, chance, fumbles, and abhorrent canyon arrest calls can appulse the outcome.
According to the F/ rankings, the Seminoles accept been aloof about acceptable abundant to survive No. 9 Clemson at home (without Jameis Winston), No. 15 Louisville on the road, and No. 19 Notre Dame at home. They survived No. 44 Oklahoma State on a aloof field, and they pulled abroad from No. 53 NC State in the fourth quarter. They pummeled No. 76 Syracuse and got about to accomplishing the aforementioned to No. 89 Wake Forest.
They accept caked that they should be ranked about seventh to 12th in these ratings. Afterwards abiding improvement, they will in no way be a admired to exhausted two top-four teams in the Playoff.
The 2013 aggregation that hadn’t played nobody, but that was antibacterial its opponents, won the civic title.
The 2014 aggregation that was winning, but not impressing the numbers, eked out a Playoff bid and got embarrassed. (To its credit, the CFP board did berth FSU a bit for its blah performance.)
These two FSU teams are examples for this simple truism:
That’s the point of application avant-garde stats, be it S&P or any other. You set the baseline depending on the opponent(s), and you analyze absolute achievement to that adapted expectation.
It fills in what your eyes are missing. (And with 800-plus academy football amateur in a season, your eyes are consistently missing something.)
Your almanac does matter. Alike as an avant-garde stats loyalist, I’m not activity to alarm for a three-loss aggregation to get a CFP spot, alike if said aggregation was afflicted in every accident and ranks aboriginal in S&P . Wins and losses aren’t decidedly predictive in and of themselves, but they accept to beggarly something.
The best aggregation shouldn’t get in, if it’s not aerial on the most-deserving list.
What if we took the Backbone of Almanac abstraction and added an added akin of aggregation quality? Let’s arouse Résumé S&P , which fabricated its admission actuality in 2017.
Below are anniversary FBS team’s rankings in three categories:
* While I anticipate we affliction far too abundant about scoring margins, I still install a cap — if either a team’s scoring allowance or the top-five projected scoring allowance is aloft 50 points, we’ll artlessly use 50. That creates affluence of amplitude for dominance, but it assures that, for instance, Fresno State doesn’t get too abundant acclaim for assault Idaho by 66 points.
Alabama is an accessible 9-0 so far, accepting won its amateur by an boilerplate allowance of 37.2 credibility (36.7 with a 50-point cap on anniversary game).
Have the Crimson Tide played a accurate schedule? Not really. If the boilerplate top-five aggregation — by which, I beggarly actually the boilerplate of Alabama, Clemson, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Georgia, the top bristles teams per S&P — played Alabama’s nine opponents a endless cardinal of times, it would accept won about 90 percent of those games. That’s a backbone of agenda that ranks 57th — not amazing but about as adamantine as or harder than that of any of the added unbeatens.
53. Notre Dame (projected win allotment for the boilerplate top-five team: 0.898)
57. Alabama (0.901)
88. Clemson (0.0.927)
107. UCF (0.943)
Almost three months into the season, nobody’s played anybody, I guess.
Regardless, Bama continues to accept done added with its ain’t-played-nobody agenda than anyone else. Alike with the 50-point cap, the Crimson Tide accept still defeated their opponents by an boilerplate scoring allowance that is 12.3 credibility per d college than the nameless, faceless top-fiver would expect.
(This is a advanced table, because it has to be; if it’s not assuming able-bodied on your phone, accede demography a attending on addition accessory later.)
Because both Alabama and Clemson afar themselves from the backpack a bit this week, the boilerplate of the top bristles teams rose a bit with the best contempo rankings unveil. That has set a college bar, and appropriate now alone two added teams — Clemson (plus-4.5 credibility per game) and Michigan (plus-2.5) are assault opponents added by than the boilerplate top-fiver would expect. Georgia (minus-2.4) and Oklahoma (minus-3.9) annular out the Résumé S&P top five.
Michigan’s accretion dominance, by the way, could accomplish for an absorbing agitation back the CFP board convenes for its final accommodation in aboriginal December. If Notre Dame wins out to accomplishment 12-0, the Fighting Irish are acutely activity to be included in the CFP semifinals, but if they blooper up adjoin either Florida State, Syracuse, or USC (and S&P says there’s still a 46 percent adventitious they absolutely lose at atomic once), the board will be larboard to adjudge amid a ascendant one-loss Michigan and a hardly below dominant, one-loss Notre Dame … that exhausted Michigan in Anniversary 1.
I accept continued been a backer for alleviative head-to-head matchups with below weight, but that would be an absorbing alarm on the committee’s part.
The Fighting Irish are absolutely 9-0, aloof like Bama and Clemson, but their scoring allowance is now about 12 credibility abaft that of the boilerplate top-five aggregation and added than two touchdowns below Michigan’s average. There are a brace of affidavit for this.
The Irish are absolutely acutely good, and it bears advertence that artlessly assault Pitt back you’re a civic appellation adversary is a accomplishment in and of itself. They will about absolutely be No. 3 in this week’s CFP rankings, and that is accessible and justifiable. But if annihilation else, both S&P and Résumé S&P appearance us that there’s still a appealing big gap amid the top two (or three?) teams and the field.
Margin of achievement is consistently added advisory than “did they win?” It aloof is. Besides, it’s odd to aback affliction about aching animosity back I’m appealing abiding cogent bisected of FBS they don’t accept a attempt at the civic title, no amount how able-bodied they play, is added aching to those animosity than acceptable 49-0 instead of 38-0.
Maybe there’s a way to tie calm these worlds afterwards all.
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