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College Hotline - My AP top-25 ballot: The impact of back-loaded schedules

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. RSSBot

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    Highlights from the ballot …

    A difficult stretch for ballot compilation (outlined last week) got much tougher when my No. 1 team, Utah, got run out of the Coliseum, leaving a bevy of flawed resumes to choose from.

    Four teams on last week’s ballot lost (Utah, Texas A&M, Florida State and Cal), while six more were idle (Florida, Michigan, TCU, Notre Dame, Iowa and Arizona State).

    I considered six teams for the top spot: LSU, Clemson, Michigan State, Florida, Alabama and Ohio State, and eventually — it was probably dawn on the east coast — settled on Alabama.

    The Crimson Tide has what I view this week as a marked edge in strength of schedule and quality wins.

    Clearly, there isn’t an obvious choice at this point in a turbulent season, leaving the AP poll to the whims of individual voter philosophy. Here’s the central issue as I see it: The teams that have looked the best have, for the most part, played the weakest schedules.

    To illustrated the situation — the difficulty of making apples-to-apples comparisons — let’s examine Alabama and Baylor using one of the evaluation exercises I employ as we get deeper into the season (it’s worthless in September).


    The Bears have flattened everyone they’ve player and could well end up being a playoff team and perhaps the champion (depending on Seth Russell’s neck, of course).

    But look and the number of wins for each of Baylor’s seven opponents, with a zero for the FCS team:

    0: Lamar
    0: Kansas
    1: SMU
    2: Iowa State
    3: West Virginia
    4: Rice
    5: Texas Tech

    That’s an average of 2.1 wins per opponent — awful in terms of SOS, awful in terms of quality wins and the prime reason Baylor’s schedule is 101st in the Sagarins. It’s the final week of October, after all.

    Now, Alabama:

    1: UL-Monroe
    3: Middle Tennessee
    3: Arkansas
    3: Tennessee
    5: Georgia
    5: A&M
    6: Wisconsin
    6: Ole Miss

    That’s an average of 4 wins per opponent. Alabama’s foes have, week after week after week, had double the number of wins as Baylor’s opponents. (Bama’s SOS is 8th in Sagarin, btw.)

    Again: We’re using two ends of the spectrum to illustrate the challenge in compiling the ballot with wild variances in the quality of schedules.

    At what point do SOS and quality wins trump won-loss record?

    This deep into the season, I’m reluctant to slot one team over another if there is a two-loss difference in record (5-2 over 7-0, for instance). But when there’s a one-loss difference and a marked disparity in SOS/quality wins, I have no problem slotting, say, 6-1 over 7-0.

    *** Larger point:

    While I don’t have hard evidence year-over-year for the past decade, it seems that in the era of high TV ratings and massive media contracts, the networks have increased their efforts to backload schedules. November isn’t only the pressure-packed stretch run, after all, it’s also sweeps month.

    That means the best games in the best conferences — and I’m not including the traditional end-of-season rivalries — are late in the year: Michigan State-Ohio State, LSU-Alabama, Florida State-Clemson, Stanford-Oregon … all in November.

    Or consider the Big 12, where TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have yet to play each other.

    That makes for late-season drama, for sure. But it also makes for many a soft schedule in September and October.

    *** Removed from the ballot: Arizona State and Toledo

    *** Added to the ballot: Mississippi and UCLA

    Here we go …

    1. Alabama
    2. Clemson
    3. LSU
    4. Michigan State
    5. Florida
    6, Ohio State
    7. Stanford
    8. Notre Dame
    9. Baylor
    10. Memphis
    11. Utah
    12. Michigan
    13. TCU
    14. Iowa
    15. Oklahoma
    16. Mississippi
    17. Texas A&M
    18. Oklahoma State
    19. UCLA
    20. Florida State
    21. Pittsburgh
    22. Wisconsin
    23. BYU
    24. Cal
    25. Temple

    The post My AP top-25 ballot: The impact of back-loaded schedules appeared first on College Hotline.

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    by Jon Wilner
     

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