After just three weeks of college football, several facts are clear (Again!):
- Alabama is head and shoulders above all other teams. The Tide is the only team to post three consecutive A+ grades—playing performance grades of over 100—and has the widest degree of differential between itself and the next best team in the rankings—a whopping 15.62.
- The SEC is again dominant with Georgia a strong No. 2 and LSU and Auburn also in the top ten, making the SEC West again the toughest division in college football. My apologies to SEC haters. As that popular TV commercial says, “Don’t get mad, get [even].” If this continues we could get two Saban – Smart rematches, one in the SEC title game and one for all the marbles.
- Clemson is punching below its weight once again. The media and voter darlings, because of their talented roster, have not played up to their ability. While the AP poll has them at No. 3, we have them at No. 8 and behind undervalued Penn State and Washington. Yes, Washington, despite a road loss to a good Auburn team, has played better football than have the Tigers who beat overhyped Texas A&M and two little schools.
- If the playoffs happened today, the committee would get it wrong again, choosing Clemson over either Oklahoma or Ohio State.
Wisconsin had the worst weekend among ranked teams, not because they lost to an improving BYU squad at home, but because their playing grade of 53.78 might be the worst game grade ever recorded by a ranked team. Although the scoreboard said the game was close, the action on the field was dismal and embarrassing. If the Badgers can neither run nor stop the run, they cannot win.
HOWEVER, the Badgers are still ranked ahead of Notre Dame, on a three-week aggregate, even though the Irish are undefeated, because the Irish are the first ranked team to win twice—in a row—with F grades for playing performance. This week’s grade of 66.93 sets a record for lowest winning grade in the ten-year history of RPG rankings. To win a game, a team doesn’t have to play well, it only has to play relatively better than its opponent.
Notre Dame’s two winning F grades are worse than Washington’s losing grade of 80.39 in their opener at Auburn. And that’s the point of the RPG rankings: not all wins are equal and not all losses are equal. Notre Dame cannot get the same credit for a 3-0 record as is given to Alabama or Georgia, and Washington cannot take the same blame for a loss as we’ll accord to Wisconsin.
RPG ranks teams according to how good they are, proven by how well they play, and not by how pretty their won/lost record looks to “experts.”
This week LSU was added to our top ten and we apologize for not doing it sooner. The Tigers enter at No. 6, precisely where the AP poll has them.
On a different note, three weekends and 40+ hours of game watching have convinced us that the modified catch rule is working and the review booth has done an excellent job of adjudicating the rule. Game announcers, on the other hand, are still catching up with the referees and so we still occasionally hear talk about balls “moving” while waiting for a review decision. The refs have been trained; now someone should train the announcers. The game is back to what it always was before the video nerds got in the way.
Go to www.nemosnumbers.com to see how the RPG top ten compares to the AP Top Ten after we’ve graded three of the teams’ school “papers.” Alabama remains No. 1, and Tua and Kyler continue to be the two most exciting players at the college level. Find a copy of Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics to read how the RPG system calculates the numerical grades that accurately rank college football teams.