As you all know, the RPG system grades the playing performance of college teams in actual games. It calculates a numerical grade representing how well each team played given the strength of the competition. It does not follow any mechanical process of moving teams up or down based upon wins and losses. The grades are similar to the numerical grades students receive on tests.
At the moment, only eleven teams are graded. They are the eleven teams ranked in the top ten by either the AP or the Coaches. When we see which other teams deserve to be graded, we will add them to the list.
This week Alabama played a supposedly elite team in Florida State and Michigan played a supposedly ranked team in Florida. Following injuries and dismal performances we now know that both teams are frauds but FSU is still ranked in the top ten and Florida is still ranked in the top 25. Why is that? Because the polls start with a preconception and then apply a mechanical process of demoting losers a few positions in the next rankings.
Alabama played well against the best competition and therefore received the highest grade. Michigan played respectably and received a respectable ‘B’. USC played the third best competition–a top 50 opponent–and after struggling through three quarters plus, earned a middle ‘B’ grade.
Everyone else played cupcakes. Only Oklahoma State earned an ‘A’ grade for a win against the weak kids on the playground. Either the coaches and AP voters didn’t catch the game or they just defaulted to their preseason preconceptions and left the Cowboys at No. 10 or No. 11 in their rankings. Actually the Cowboys played the second best this weekend and are ranked No. 2 as a result.
Ohio State was the only other team to play a top 100 opponent and they did it on the road. After sleepwalking through the first half, the Buckeyes showed how could they can be and may be the rest of the season. But we didn’t hand them the No. 2 position in the rakings based upon potential–they’ll have to earn that. They received a high ‘B’ for their effort, placing them No. 3 in our rankings. If they play up to their potential, they will earn higher grades in future games, but for now they’re stuck with what they actually accomplished.
Penn State, Wisconsin, Washington, Oklahoma and Clemson played teams ranked lower than one hundred (out of 130). Had they played perfectly, their wins would still not have had the value of the wins described above against better competition. Washington stunk up all of New Jersey in their game at Rutgers and received an ‘F’ grade barely better than Florida State’s losing grade. There are supposed “experts” who believe that an ugly win is still a win as valuable as all others but we don’t subscribe to that unsophisticated theory. In judging how good a team is, each win must have a specific value and ugly wins, like Washington’s, don’t measure up to “pretty” wins like those of Oklahoma State.
Despite gaudy scores, the other four teams graded out at middle ‘B’ (Penn State) to middle ‘C’ (Wisconsin which, like Ohio State, played only one half of football). If these teams play as well against better competition down the line, their grades will improve.
The biggest head-scratcher of the weekend–apart from Florida and Florida State remaining in the top 25–was Clemson’s meteoric ascension to the No. 3 position in both polls. In our rankings Clemson received an undistinguished ‘C’ for dusting defenseless Kent State. It’s likely that the voters see Kelly Bryant as a Deshaun Watson clone and expect Clemson 2017 to be as good as Clemson 2016. When they are as good, they’ll earn better grades from us than they received this week and they’ll earn a higher position in our rankings. They have a great chance to show just how good they are against Auburn next weekend. Until then, Clemson is ahead only of Wisconsin, Washington and the Seminoles because they only played better than Wisconsin, Washington and Florida State.
So, the voters grossly undervalued Oklahoma State and grossly overvalued Clemson. Next weekend will bring fresh controversies. That’s why we love college football.