Note to Clemson and Washington State: Do not schedule games on Friday the 13th. I have too many Clemson friends to say “I told you so,” so I’ll just say I wasn’t surprised that the Tigers were upset by Syracuse. Overrated all season long by the supposed “experts” Clemson was a fat target waiting for someone to play above their heads and knock them off. As for Washington State, maybe they thought Freddy Krueger was hiding in Berkeley because they didn’t show up at all. The Cougars posted the lowest losing grade of the season by any of our ranked teams. The experts had over-ranked the Cougars after they defeated USC but we knew that USC is a weak team and not a conquest worth bragging about.
Speaking of which, the Trojans posted the lowest winning grade of the season by any of our ranked teams, a grade so low that Clemson, Washington and Auburn posted higher grades in their losses! The RPG system grades a team’s playing performance without regard to the outcome, win or loss. The Trojans got a “W” because Utah received a lower grade but relative to other ranked teams, USC played worse than all but Washington State this weekend. USC escaped with a win because Utah failed on a two-point conversion when an extra point would have sent the game to overtime. The experts rewarded USC with a two-position promotion in their polls while we kept them at No. 15 in our rankings.
That would have been last in our rankings were it not for a promise we had made last week to add LSU back–at No. 16–if they beat Auburn. They did come from behind to surprise Auburn so USC does have one team ranked behind it. Now the experts are enamored with Miami, a team that has had Lady Luck on its side two weekends in a row. They kicked a last minute field goal to nip Georgia Tech at home and the experts thought that worth a three-position promotion to No. 7 or No. 8 depending on the poll you follow. Miami is at No. 13 in our rankings, behind Michigan, Oklahoma and Auburn, and we’re still waiting for them to play a good game.
If Friday the 13th was a night of massacres, Saturday the 14th was a lackadaisical walk in the park for highly ranked teams. We handed out only one “A” grade and it went to the Ohio State Buckeyes who clobbered Nebraska on the road. The experts are still punishing the Buckeyes for losing to Oklahoma–they’re at No. 6 in the polls–but the RPG system knows the Buckeyes have played the best football every week since that stumble. They’ve climbed over weak performances by other ranked teams to reach No. 2 in our rankings. Although the Buckeyes have played a string of weak teams, they’ve “covered the spread” to earn good grades. The RPG system discounts wins against weak teams but the Buckeyes have outplayed the discounts to earn their good grades. On Saturday, the Buckeyes scored on their first eight possessions, all on the long field, and only failed to score on one last possession when they were running out the clock and having mercy on the vanquished Cornhuskers. The Buckeyes ran 45 plays on first down and only 13 times did they face third down. They converted 10 of the third downs plus two fourth downs so they only gave up the ball once. That is an “A” performance.
Meanwhile, teams like Wisconsin and Georgia have not outplayed the discounts applied to the weak teams they’ve defeated. The Badgers turned in the second lowest winning grade of the weekend in a sloppy game on a sloppy field against Purdue. They were promoted to No. 5 in the polls but they fell to No. 8 in our rankings. In a home game against hapless Missouri, Georgia scored at will but gave up embarrassing, long TD passes to the Tigers. That is not an “A” performance.
You can see the weekly rankings and all the week seven playing performance grades at http://nemosnumbers.com/football-rankings/. By the way, ESPN calls this week eight rather than seven because they count the weekend in August when teams you didn’t watch played games that didn’t involve ranked teams. There were no polls published that weekend but rather than count poll weeks, ESPN starts in-season polls with week two of games. Weird.