This week: Alabama was perfect again, Clemson was imperfect again, a play-by-play announcer made the comment that proves experts don’t know what they’re talking about, and I told you so.
Last week the USC Trojans were ranked No. 12 by the RPG, ahead only of pitiful LSU and Florida State. I bashed the Trojans in my blog post but really I was bashing the poll voters who had placed them at No. 5 in a display of traditional thinking over logical thinking. The Trojans were headed for a smackdown and they received it in Pullman, Washington at the hands of enigmatic Coach Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars. I told you so. The USC Trojans managed to play even worse than LSU which unexplainably lost at home to the Troy Trojans.
Clemson fans will be upset again at the cold-hearted RPG ranking system but while their win over Virginia Tech on the road was valuable, it wasn’t done with the same aplomb displayed by their elite competition. Clemson faced third down on 16 of its 24 series, posted 4 three-and-outs, and failed to score when handed the ball in Hokie territory. Clemson’s win graded out at 88.49 but Alabama, Washington, Ohio State, Georgia and Florida State earned higher grades. The Tigers are in elite company and they’re not keeping up.
Clemson did rise two spots in our rankings and a major reason was that Penn State didn’t play particularly well, either, and fell behind the Tigers in the rankings. Oh, yes, the final score looked good, 45-14 over Indiana at home, but the Hoosiers gave the Nittany Lions every break in the book and a few extra for good measure. Penn State missed two field goals, scored only once in three tries when handed the ball in Indiana territory, converted only 5 of 15 third down attempts, and racked up 5 three-and-outs. Their grade of 82.47 was better only than Wisconsin’s, which had to recover an onside kick to preserve its win, and Oklahoma State’s, which scored a desperation TD to emerge victorious in Lubbock. Oh, and it was better than the grades given to the weekend losers.
The result is that Washington, Ohio State and Oklahoma State are underrated in the polls while Georgia and Clemson are overrated.
Last, but not least, as the second half of the Florida State – Wake Forest game got underway, the play-by-play announcer told viewers that Wake Forest had outplayed Florida State in the first half despite trailing on the scoreboard. This is not possible. Football is not a stupid game with stupid rules. If a team is leading on the scoreboard it is because it has outplayed its opponent in some way not understood by the announcer. Wake Forest had missed a PAT and on two possessions inside FSU territory had only managed field goals. Meanwhile, FSU had scored ten points on its two possessions in Wake territory. Teams do not win games by piling up useless yards and first downs. They win games by scoring points. The announcer was deceived by traditional statistics and his eyeballs. The RPG system doesn’t use traditional statistics; it uses statistics that measure how points get scored or prevented. And, of course, it doesn’t watch games on TV. Although it wishes it could.
Influenced by the polls, we added TCU to our rankings this week. The Horned Frogs weren’t ranked in the preseason polls by either the press or the coaches but would have been in our top five after their opening game performance had we been ranking them back then. The polls trail far behind the RPG rankings in identifying either good teams or bad teams. TCU has deserved a spot in our top ten every week this year and now we’ve made it public. They’re at No. 4, ahead of several media darlings.
This week’s ranking are published at http://nemosnumbers.com/football-rankings/. Have a great week!