Ridley’s Bowl Primer Part 3 – The Main Course

main-course

Just like a beautiful steak, the remaining bowl games will leave us on the couch with our pants unbuttoned.

Due to me not properly planning out my writing schedule, this main course is going to be just meat and potatoes, no filler. I’ll be presenting the lines without commentary, which for some of you is probably preferred.

Before we get into the remaining picks, I wanted to give a quick update on where my projections have landed so far. My picks are currently 12-7 (not good, but not horrific) with some falling almost perfectly (CSU-WSU, ECU-Ohio, ND-Rutgers) and others landing out in left field (BSU-OSU, Fresno-USC, Buffalo-SDSU). So I guess what I’m saying is, you’re getting what you paid for.

Now onto the final picks!

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Mississippi State (-1.5) Over Rice

Chick-fil-A Bowl

Texas A&M (-8) Over Duke

TAXSLAYER.com Gator Bowl

Georgia (-11) Over Nebraska

Heart of Dallas Bowl – Presented By PlainsCapital Bank

North Texas (-13.5) Over UNLV

Outback Bowl

LSU (-4) Over Iowa

Capital One Bowl

Wisconsin (-6) Over South Carolina

*(This goes against my general rule of never picking a Big Ten team over a quality SEC team)

Rose Bowl Game Presented By Vizio

Stanford (-6) Over Michigan State

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Baylor (-19) Over UCF

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Alabama (-15) Over Oklahoma

AT&T Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State (-.5) Over Missouri

Discover Orange Bowl

Ohio State (-2) Over Clemson

BBVA Compass Bowl

Houston (-12.5) Over Vanderbilt

GoDaddy Bowl

Ball State (-10.5) Over Arkansas State

Vizio BCS National Championship

Florida State (-21) Over Auburn

Ridley’s Rankings Week 16 – Bowling Season

2014BCSBowlsWith the regular season finalized (save for the Army-Navy Classic), I’m going to switch things up a bit from the usual format. Instead of giving commentary on the top 25 teams, I’ll be presenting a grid of all the FBS teams. (If you want facts that are still mostly accurate, you can find my last two rankings here and here.) I’ll also do a quick rundown of the conference rankings as well as provide some (hopefully) interesting facts to help prepare you for Bowl Season.

Speaking of Bowl Season, my goal this year, time willing, is to provide a full primer for all the bowl games, including anticipated victory margin. This will be my first attempt at finding out whether my normalized victory margin is worth the time or just a bunch of useless math. With Bowl Season kicking off in 13 short days, I hope to have part one of the primer issued by Friday.

But before we get to the bowls, let’s take a moment to talk about the dominance of Florida State this season. In my tertiary research, I was unable to come across any team that even approached Florida State’s point differential of +550. To put that number in perspective, the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, who Bill Connelly calls the best team in the last 40 years, scored only 512 points the entire season. The Seminoles have reached their ridiculous level of preeminence by boasting the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense and the top-ranked scoring defense. Using my previously-mentioned scoring system, I have Jimbo Fisher’s team as 21-point victors come January 6th. Simply put, they are not to be trifled with.

Now, onto the conferences … Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 15 – Championship Week

OSU-FSU

Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher are one win away from a BCS title bid.

For the third time in four weeks, an unbeaten (and potential championship contender) has gone down, clearing up the national title picture. This week, Alabama fell from the ranks of the undefeated thanks to one of the greatest finishes in college football history. For those of you living under a rock for the last six days, the Crimson Tide decided to kick a 57-yard field goal with one second left when knotted at 28. Bama’s kick fell short, with Chris Davis catching it about nine yards deep in the end zone. After evading a few defenders and tiptoeing down the sideline, Davis easily trotted into the end zone, delivering an Iron Bowl win to Auburn and likely eliminating Alabama from the BCS National Championship.

Now we’re left with just two unbeaten teams from major conferences: Florida State and Ohio State. The Seminoles seem to all but have a spot in the national title game as their ACC Championship opponent is a surprising 10-2 Duke. The Blue Devils have won eight straight after dropping back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh, but will likely offer little resistance against a complete FSU squad. With Jameis Winston now being cleared of sexual assault allegations, Florida State fans should all but purchase their tickets to Pasadena.

The Buckeyes face a much more difficult challenge in the form of Michigan State. The Spartans finished the regular season fourth in points allowed per game, thanks to five contests in which they didn’t allow a touchdown. However, their schedule was third easiest in the top 25, a big reason why they are several slots below their BCS mark in these rankings. Even with their defensive rankings being taken with a grain of salt, Sparty should give the Buckeyes one of their biggest challenges of the season. Will Urban Meyer’s team rebound from a narrow victory over Michigan in the Big Game, or did the Wolverines identify flaws their intra-state brethren can use to win the Big Ten?

If you missed last week’s rankings while Oregon Sports News enjoyed the holidays, you can find them on my blog. If you’re wondering where all these numbers come from, a general explanation can found here.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – With Alabama falling to Auburn and the Seminoles running over the Gators, FSU’s developed a substantial lead in the rankings. In fact, their lead is so large that even with a narrow loss, they would likely stay in the top two, if not retain the number one spot.
  2. Ohio State (89.20) – No debate here about putting a one-loss team above an undefeated Buckeyes squad. A win over Michigan State will let the BCS period ironically close without any controversy. Should they lose? Pandora’s Box will come crashing open. Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 14 – Getting Catfished

CatfishingIn the Internet Era, our lives have undoubtedly changed. Sports are now 24/7/365 businesses. News becomes stale in five minutes. A person can buy everything they could ever possibly want or need (and things that qualify as neither) all while sitting on their couch. Hell, even social interaction and dating has changed. With Facebook, you can keep in touch with friends without ever really saying a single word to them. Websites like Match and Cupid.com, or for those with more … um, adult preferences, Craigslist, you can search for single people in your area, strike up conversations, develop a connection and trust and practically fall in love with someone without ever meeting face to face.

Of course, as with most things on the Internet, you can’t take everything in online dating at face value. One of the biggest gifts (and curses) of the Internet is the anonymity that it provides. While most don’t go far enough to exploit this in a malevolent manner, there are a choice few who use the cloak of the web to exploit others, especially in the arena of online dating. Thanks to a couple of siblings in New York City, this practice has come to be known as catfishing. Catfishers purposely pose as someone their not — usually attractive males or females — to lure in unsuspecting victims into emotional and/or explicit online relationships to either find companionship or, frankly, get their jollies.

I bring this up because I’m beginning to feel that I was recently catfished. Not by some buxom blonde online (I’m happily married), but rather by the explosive Baylor Bears. I was led to believe the Bears were this once-in-a-lifetime catch, something I would tell my grand-kids about. In fact, last week I even went so far as to put Baylor as my second-ranked team, trailing only Florida State. How did Baylor handle my new-found trust? They laid an elephant-sized egg on national television to conference rival, Oklahoma State. Now I’m left feeling duped and exposed; used and disregarded. It turns out that my new Kate Upton was actually just a Sarah Jessica Parker.

For an explanation of  how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – Nothing changed for the Seminoles this week as they laid waste to the Idaho Vandals, 80-14. As someone who has seen the Vandals play more times than a sane person would admit to, I must say I’m completely surprised U of I scored during meaningful football (i.e. the first half). Next up is Florida, who is coming off a lost to FCS foe, Georgia Southern.  Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 13 – Things Get Wacky

Baylor

Baylor’s frequent trips to the end zone have them boasting the number two ranking.

Before we announce this week’s rankings, let’s attempt to do a blind case study and see how much perception shapes reality, shall we?

  • Team A and Team B are both undefeated. Team B has played a tougher schedule but Team A has blown out more teams.
  • Team A: Beats a team that was previously ranked for several weeks by 25+ points.
  • Team B: Wins by less than 15 points over a team that must win out to become bowl eligible.

Which is the better team right now?

If you guessed that Team A was Baylor and Team B was Alabama, well, pat yourself on the back and buy yourself a Coke. If you caught on to our not-so-blind case study, you probably also caught on to why I brought it up.

This week, after several weeks of inching closer and closer, Baylor has finally usurped Alabama for the coveted second position in the Rankings. If you’ve been following the Rankings, you likely have noticed that Baylor keeps gaining and gaining on the Crimson Tide. Bama was able to produce a strong win over LSU last week, but Baylor countered with a dominating performance over the 10th-ranked Sooners. On Saturday, Baylor beat down a Red Raiders team that had been ranked for the previous seven weeks while Alabama came away with a 20-7 victory over 4-6 Mississippi State. It’s not illogical to say Baylor’s last two weeks deserve more credit.

It’s not only these rankings that think Baylor has been impressive over that time (or the season as a whole); the BCS has as well. Since the Week 11 BCS rankings were announced, Baylor has reduced its distance behind Alabama by half. Only Auburn has seen its BCS stock rise quicker than Baylor’s during that time. But with only two weeks left, it’s a moot point as Alabama WILL play for the BCS national championship, should they win out and Baylor will cross its fingers hoping it’s 2014 team is as strong as its current.

For an explanation of  how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – At this point, I’m almost out of superlatives to describe the Seminoles. They absolutely desecrated Syracuse on Saturday, notching their fifth victory o f 48 points or more.
  2. Baylor (94.29) – The Bears defense hasn’t been as solid since entering Big 12 play, but their offense is still outstanding, averaging 57.0 points in conference games. Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 12 – A Clearer Picture

Oregon-at-Stanford

Stanford’s victory over Oregon helped clear up the BCS title picture.

An anticipated Thursday came and went, leaving contenders and hopefuls in its wake. From the debris rose a clearer picture to the national championship. With the Ducks falling to Stanford for a second consecutive year, we now have two teams that control their own destiny; though there are teams with semi-legitimate gripes, should they be left out.

We are now left with just four undefeated AQ teams in college football, falling into two different categories: The Contenders (Alabama, Florida State) and The Hopefuls (Ohio State, Baylor). Alabama and Florida State both face a favorable regular season slate before they square off in their respective conference championship. Win out and they find themselves in Pasadena. Trip up and we’ll have a very interesting situation on our hands.

Should one stumble, there are two, or possibly three teams with legitimate claims at a title shot. Ohio State, which is running roughshod on the (I can’t believe I’m saying this) under-appreciated Big Ten; Baylor, who’s playing at a historic offensive pace (complimented with an almost equally impressive defense); and Stanford, who’s schedule has been one of the toughest in the nation and just beat the number-three team in the country. Should Michigan State fall,and lower the quality of the Big Ten Championship, and Stanford impressively beat a highly-ranked UCLA team in the Pac-12 Championship, the BCS formula may give the edge to the one-loss Cardinal.

As many college football fans know, with the BCS, anything is possible.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – The Noles sit on top again after a thorough thrashing of Wake Forest. All that stands between Jumbo Fisher’s team and an undefeated regular season are Syracuse, Idaho (well, they mostly lay down) and Florida.
  2. Alabama (96.63) – Nick Saban is back at the deuce, thanks to Stanford’s defensive effort against Oregon. The Tide also gained a decent chunk of ground this weekend with a decisive victory over the Bayou Bengals. Up next is a disappointing Mississippi State squad. Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 11 – Must-See TV

Bryce Petty

Bryce Petty leads the nation’s best offense against the Sooners in a primetime Thursday night match-up.

Usually in this space I like to recap what happened over the weekend and explain how it translates into the rankings. Due to this weekend having an absolute dearth of quality match-ups (even Florida State versus Miami was a letdown), I decided it’s better to leave the past where it is and look forward to the future.

This Thursday night, college football fans and sports bars across America will be given a special treat. We have the privilege of watching two Thursday night match-ups that feature four BCS top-10 teams facing off in games that could not only influence their conference titles but also change the national championship landscape.

In Palo Alto, we’re sure to see another epic slugfest between the Oregon Ducks and their newest nemesis, the Stanford Cardinal. Last year, the Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ hopes of reaching the BCS National Championship, upsetting Oregon in Eugene 17-10. This week, the Feathered Fury will seek redemption when they travel to Northern California. A win would almost guarantee a Pac-12 North title and also give them the resume boost they need to reclaim a top-two spot in the BCS rankings. Should Stanford come away with a victory, they’ll take a leg up in the Pac-12 North and make an argument that they should be considered for a national championship berth.

Down in Waco, Texas, the high-octane Bears of Baylor will play host to Big 12 rival, Oklahoma. We’ve talked about the Bears’ offensive exploits in this column before. They have put up 59 points or more in six of their seven contests and have an average winning margin of 48 points. However, they haven’t faced a defense as good as Oklahoma’s yet. The Sooners are allowing just 18.8 points a game, 14th best in the country. Even if they do manage to contain the Bears, Oklahoma may not have the offensive firepower to score enough on the nation’s sixth-best defense.

Unfortunately for the Bears, even a blowout against the Sooners won’t be enough to push them into the title conversation. They currently sit sixth in the BCS, .1780 points behind second-ranked Florida State. To reach the BCS Championship, they would need to somehow over come the winner of Oregon/Stanford, Ohio State and either Florida State or Alabama. While neither of those situations are likely, a Bears win will go a long way towards netting them their first BCS bowl game.

For an explanation of  how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – The Seminoles gained a good chunk of ground with their easy win over a previously-unbeaten Hurricane team. That distance will be put to the test this week, with the Ducks facing the Cardinal, as well as Alabama playing host to 13th-ranked LSU. Even a lopsided win against 4-5 Wake Forest won’t do much to fend them off.
  2. Oregon (94.80) – The idle Ducks may have lost ground to the Seminoles, both in these rankings and the BCS, but they’ll easily make it up if they can take care of business against the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
  3. Alabama (94.68) – Should the Ducks win big and the Tide struggle (but still win) against LSU, we very well could see Oregon overtake both FSU and Bama for the number-one spot in the BCS rankings. Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings Week 10 – Three’s Company

marcus-mariota-bcs

Marcus Mariota helped the Ducks close the gap with a big win over UCLA.

Last week, we saw Florida State take a decisive lead in the Rankings (yes, I’m pretentious enough to capitalize my own rankings) after routing rival Clemson in Death Valley. The win gave the Seminoles two straight victories over ranked opponents by a combined margin of 114-14. These accomplishments easily outweighed those of Alabama and Oregon, who, at the time, had faced two ranked teams total, winning those contests by a combined 28 points. Although formidable, the feats of these two were easily trumped by the Seminoles. Of course, the caveat was there is still a lot of football to be played, with the meat of both schedules coming up.

On Saturday, Oregon began a slate of what could be three ranked teams in four games (Arizona will undoubtedly be rank if they win their next three contests), beginning with the 12th-ranked UCLA Bruins at home. As I predicted in the Oregon Sports News version of this article, Oregon cruised to a victory with 28 unanswered points in the second half. Now the Ducks face their toughest game of the year, squaring off against the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal next Thursday night on ESPN. (For those of you wondering, the Redskins and Vikings will be on NFL Network that night, playing something that looks like a cross between football, tag and hide-and-seek.)

Alabama, in the meantime, will have to put up its fair share of style points. The Crimson Tide easily toppled the Volunteers on Saturday. Now the top-ranked BCS team has this weekend off as they prepare for a showdown against the Tigers of LSU. This match-up lost a lot of its luster after the Bayou Bengals were upset in Oxford, but outside of the Iron Bowl, this is the Crimson Tide’s only remaining challenge. With Florida State facing Miami (FL) this weekend, Alabama will have to put on a dominating performance if they expect to gain on the high-flying Seminoles. As Halloween approaches, we’ve got the closest three-team race in the tracking of these Rankings. Top-ranked Florida State barely held off Oregon by 0.02 points and leads third-place Alabama by a mere 0.61 points creating a true three-way race for the top spot. With just over a month left to play, we may be in for quite a treat.

For an explanation of  how these rankings work and what all these numbers mean, click here.

The Rankings

  1. Florida State (100.00) – For the second straight week, the Seminoles are the pace-setters for the Rankings. The seventh-ranked Hurricanes come into Doak Campbell Stadium this week after narrowly escaping losses against inferior opponents North Carolina and Wake Forest. If history is any indication of how this will go, the Seminoles should win in a rout.
  2. Oregon (99.98) – The Ducks just fell behind the Seminoles after pulling away from the Bruins in the second half. They now have 11 days to prepare for their most difficult challenge of the year: defeating the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
  3. Alabama (99.39) – Like the Ducks, the Crimson Tide are also on a bye this weekend, meaning a win by Florida State will only add to the gap the other two have to make up. Luckily for Alabama, they have LSU and an overachieving Auburn team still left to play. Continue reading

Ridley’s Rankings: Using Math to Rank NCAA Football

nick-saban-2

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide Start Out Number One.

If you’re a follower of the Hour of Power Blog, these rankings will be old hat to you. However, if you’re new to this blog (which has been admittedly neglected the last month), here’s the run down: Over the last three years, I’ve worked on perfecting a mathematical formula to try and rank every FBS football team in America (including you, Georgia State!). This algorithm includes everything from winning percentage, strength of schedule, quality wins, narrow victories and even point differential, which is new this year. While all the stats are objective, the ways I incorporate them are not. I’ve weighted certain aspects higher than others, depending on how valuable I feel they are for judging a team’s performance to date.

These rankings, like those spit out by the BCS computers, take time to become accurate as the effect of small sample size is lessened each week. So, that, not sheer laziness, is why we’re starting these just prior to Week 7.

Without further ado, I present the annual release of Ridley’s Rankings (with the normalized score in parentheses):

  1. Alabama (100.00) – No surprise that Alabama comes in at number one. The Crimson Tide has already faced two ranked teams, with possibly three more (including the SEC Championship) on the docket. Beating #6 Texas A&M at their home field provided a big boost for ‘Bama, as did their average winning margin of 25 points per game.
  2. Florida State (96.19) – FSU’s absolute demolition of the then-ranked Terrapins last weekend helped push them up the rankings into the two spot. The strong starts by Pittsburgh and Boston College make Florida State’s resume that much better.
  3. Clemson (95.46) – Two ACC teams in the top three? Oh the humanity! Clemson’s victory over Georgia looks better and better each week. Beating teams by 28 points a week is nothing to be ashamed of either. Continue reading