CBS Sports Blogpoll: Close Losses and Big Wins Make For Underrated Teams

Inside, you'll find the blogpoll, some musings on the offense and defense (with new fun graphs!), and an NFL thought!

This is not a power poll. I don't attempt to rank teams based on how good I think they are. I only rank teams based on their resume. What have they done? Not how talented are their payers or how other polls project them to do, but what have they done?The poll is designed to be dynamic. I try to start from scratch every week.

I do attempt to reward teams for "quality losses", while punishing them for poor performances. I do not give excessive credit for stomping horrible teams. I reward quality play, win or lose, particularly against other good teams. I am not bumping team A 10 spots and docking team B 10 spots when team A beats team B by a field goal in what was essentially an equally played game.I like to reward playing well against good teams, win or lose, and punish losing to poor teams more harshly than I reward defeating poor teams. To that end, Cincinnati and Boise will probably not climb much higher in my poll for the rest of the year.

I Reward Grinders. I reward those who play difficult schedules. Teams that play a tough team every week don't get to spend extra time preparing for their tough games, and they also don't face the attrition other teams face because they are able to pull their starters in blowouts. Fewer plays for important players reduces the chance those players will get injured.

 

Rank Team
1 Florida Very tough to differentiate them and 'Bama right now.  
2 Alabama Win over LSU was convincing, but UF did it on the road.
3 Texas Drubbed UCF.  Win over 4-loss OU is not impressive as top pelt, but Okie State and TTech triumphs look a bit better. 
4 Georgia Tech Beat Clemson, UNC, VTech, FSU, Wake, Mississippi State (killed SEC team on road) and Vanderbilt (killed SEC team on road).  No SEC team has beat down those guys like GTech did...
5 TCU Clemson win is now more impressive.  Unlike Boise, they kill everyone.
6 Cincinnati Beating UConn at home by 2 is just not going to cut it for having such a weak schedule.
7 Miami (Florida) 2 losses are to a -loss VTech team and a 3-loss Miami team, both of which have played incredibly difficult schedules.  They are GTech's only blemish, and that blemish is more like a huge gaping wound, as they beat the Jackets by 17.  #2 Schedule in the country.
8 Pittsburgh I don't think much of most of the Big East, and Pitt's schedule isn't great, but they have straight murdered everyone so far except @ NC State.  Over Cuse by 27, USF by 27, @ Louisville by 25, @ Rutgers by 7, and their only loss was by 3 points.  Blowout wins and a close loss will help you score points with me.
9 Oregon Oregon's loss to Boise seems more respectable as the Broncos keep winning, and their other blemish is at Stanford.  But Stanford is legitimately good this year, and Oregon's defensive collapse wasn't that out of line with what everyone else has done against Stanford.  Two non-blowout losses and a ton of blowout wins makes their case.
10 Boise State They beat Oregon.  And have nothing else.  The defense is definitely better than the offense.
11 Southern Cal Two road losses to bowl teams, mixed with road victories over the Big 10 champion and Bowl bound AZST.  Oh and they took care of Cal too. 
12 Arizona One of my pre-season sleeper teams.  I took Arizona over 6.5 wins and they have not disappointed.  Very good offense and defense, their only losses are @ Iowa and @ Washington on that kicked interception returned for TD.
13 Clemson Our first 3 loss team.  Clemson lost close to TCU, GTech, and Maryland.  Two of those are going to BCS games.  And their wins have been impressive, beating Miami in Miami, crushing Wake Forest by 35 (nobody else has come close), Boston College by 18 (BC has 3 losses- to VTech, Clem, and Notre Dame), and they were the first team to dominate Florida State.  This is probably one of the 10 best teams in the country and their defense is phenomenal.  I reward tough scheduling and their schedule is killer (#3 in country)
14 Virginia Tech Toughest schedule in the country, by far.  Give these guys credit for blowing out Boston College and Miami (nobody else has done it), for sticking with Bama, for beating Nebraska.  Mark them down for losing to UNC at home by 3 and GTech on the road by 7. 
15 Ohio State Tremendous defense, close losses by a single score to Purdue (who I TOLD you guys was better than their 1-4 record a while back) and USC, mixed with blowout wins over Penn State on the road and others.
16 Stanford How can you not?  Losses are cross country @ Wake 24-17, @ Oregon State 38-28, and @ Arizona 38-43.  This is a damn fine team.  Wins include (all by more than a TD Washington (20), UCLA (8), Arizona State (19), and Oregon (9). 
17 Iowa Why this low?  Win over PSU is now diminished.  And they have a ton of close wins.  They were riding almost solely on the PSU win.
18 LSU 2 close losses by 9 and 7 to the #1 and #2 teams should make them higher, but who are their quality wins?  I guess Georgia by 7 and Washington by a touchdown in a game in which they were outgained.  At home by 14 over Vandy isn't saying much when GTech drops 56 on those guys.
19 Boston College Don't think they are any good?  Losses are to VTech, Clemson, and Notre Dame before the Irish QB was hobbled.  And yes, two of those were blowouts.  They have their close wins (FSU, Wake), but also Crushed NC State by 32 and Central Michigan (good team) by 21.  BC plays tremendous defense.
20 Oregon State Losses: Cincinatti by 10, Zona by 5, and @ USC by 6.  Wins @ Cal by 17, @ AZST by 11, and Stanford by 10. 
21 Wisconsin Drubbed at home bu Iowa, and on road by Ohio State (by 17).  Crushed Purdue 37-0, beat Michigan State by 8, and that's basically it. 
22 Houston They look better because OK State keeps winning.  Weird team.
23 Texas Tech Just an insane mix of blowout wins and respectable losses (except A&M, whoa).  More of the blowout wins though.
24 North Carolina Win @ VTech is more impressive, and loss to GTech looks better all the time. 
25 Tennessee A 4-loss team?  Yep, they played Bama close and UF closer than we thought, trounced South Carolina and Georgia.  4 losses to Bama (by 2), UF (by 10), UCLA (by 5), and Auburn (by 4, pre-auburn injury fest).  Dangerous team here and they were pretty damn good under Fullmer, just some poor luck. 

Thoughts?  Who is too high?  Too low?  Why?  Who did we leave off?  Why?

 

Offense and Defense Rankings

As you know, the Fremeau Efficiency Index comes out each week and it's probably the best set of ratings available.  Here's this week's link

As usual, we fashioned graphs showing where FSU and other notable teams rank. Click to enlarge.

Fei_offense_11

So FSU's offense went from 4th to 6th.  Why?  Part of it is that, as you'll see, Clemson's defense is incredible.  So the offensive performance had more turnovers and fewer punts than expected but the offensive output was about what we expected.  Also, NC State's defense stiffened up, as did Miami's and Georgia Tech's, so FSU's performance against them looks better.  Let it be known that Christian Ponder led this offense to 6th best in the country. 

Now the defense...

Fei_defense_11

Well how about that, # 94!  That's an improvement of 4 spots?  So why did it happen?  Miami's offense looks great so the drubbing they put on FSU doesn't look quite as bad.  South Florida put points on WVU, which helps some, and BYU scored 50+ again so the performances of those guys against FSU's defense aren't quite as impressive as they once were.

Here's what you have to remember.  Every team Florida State has played, has posted their best offensive game of the year, against Florida State.  Miami's best offensive game was FSU.  BYU's?  FSU.  USF?  FSU.  BC?  FSU.  GT?  FSU.  UNC?  FSU.  NCST?  FSU.  Clemson?  FSU

Fsu_defense_suck_table_11

Clemson_yards_per_play_medium

On a side note, # 94?  Look at the teams around FSU:

80 Northern Illinois
81 New Mexico State
82 Bowling Green
83 Louisiana Monroe
84 Ball State
85 Houston
86 Kansas State
87 Syracuse
88 Western Michigan
89 Washington State
90 Troy
91 Illinois
92 Arkansas State
93 Rutgers
94 Florida State
95 Southern Mississippi
96 Fresno State
97 San Diego State
98 Louisiana Lafayette
99 Indiana
100 Memphis
101 Stanford
102 Florida International
103 New Mexico
104 Rice
105 UTEP
106 Tulane
107 Toledo
108 Colorado State
109 Iowa State
110 UAB
111 North Texas
112 San Jose State
113 UNLV
114 Utah State
115 Nevada
116 Hawaii
117 Eastern Michigan
118 Idaho
119 Western Kentucky
120 Florida Atlantic

Here's an excerpt from a former Division 1 defensive player:

What overall will we take from this? First off, I cannot believe how bad FSU's defense really played. What is so surprising is that they are that bad with those athletes. FSU is fast defensively and incredibly athletic. The problem appears to lie with fundamentals and coaching.

Compare the talent of FSU's defense to the teams on that list and it's clear to see that FSU's defensive staff is the worst in the country.  Every single one of those teams would kill for FSU's defensive talent because it would be a huge upgrade in talent.

Finally, an NFL note for those of you in survivor pools.  Dont' be afraid to take Miami.  Tampa Bay got incredibly lucky to beat Green Bay last weekend.  Here's thow they scored their 5 touchdowns:

 

Here's how TB scored last week:

1st TD: setup by INT return to within GB 15 yard line

2nd TD: blocked FG returned for TD

3rd TD: setup by 80+ yard kickoff return to within GB 15 yard line

4th TD: legitimate long drive, with TD scored on 4th down

5th TD: INT return

Can we say not repeatable skill?

Also, I rarely buy into emotional BS, but Tampa was incredibly jacked for that game and it was actually a sell out. Guys I know at the game said the atmosphere was the best in probably two years.

 

And that's it

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