For many of the teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, this weekend marked the quarter pole of their regular seasons. Only a handful of teams have already taken their bye weeks, and we are starting to see a concretization of the hierarchy that should mark college football over the next few months.
Of course, I use the word “should” there deliberately, for the beauty of college football is that even the most logical of predictions are never guaranteed to play out according to chalk. To try to better evaluate teams, we’ve combined the Pigskin Rating System numbers (renamed the DOCTS Score in the table below) with a weighted scale based on the adjusted margin of victory system used in last year’s Top 128 column. In this fashion we can more accurately evaluate both the talent level of the players and coaches, the raw offensive and defensive statistics achieved on the field, as well as the real significance of the results that happen from Saturday to Saturday.
After their victory over Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday night, Ole Miss tops the revamped PRS team rankings on the strength of both their Landshark defense that held teams to low scoring totals in the first two games of the season and their high-powered offense that scored 43 points on the vaunted Crimson Tide defense. Of course, we were in this position last year as well when it came to the Rebels, but this year the team seems better positioned to wreak havoc thanks to an SEC West that seems wracked by parity this season.
What will that mean for the College Football Playoff? Right now, the top four teams that would get in right now according to the Pigskin Rating System are Ole Miss, USC (despite the loss against Stanford), Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Will those four teams actually represent the field come December when the final selections are released? It is highly unlikely that all four teams will be there, but we can probably count on at least two of them reaching the playoff. The Rebels and defending champion Ohio State have both looked solid enough to remain unblemished at this point of the year, and their resumes will only get stronger moving forward.
For now, here are some other notable snippets about this week’s rankings:
- The addition of adjusted margin of victory helped balance the rankings some — while Georgia and Ole Miss are justified inclusions, Alabama and USC remained in the rankings after a loss — though the lack of data points still allows for some random inclusions high in the rankings. As was already mentioned, the Trojans remain in the top four despite the loss to the Cardinal at home. The adjustment has kept teams like Arkansas, whose DOCTS Score put them 13th in the country but is rated 37th after the addition of adjusted margin of victory, from benefitting too much from preseason perceptions.
- The highest rated team in each conference isn’t always who you might suspect. While Ole Miss, USC, and Ohio State are not surprising inclusions as the best in the SEC, Pac-12, and Big Ten respectively, the other two Power Five conferences are somewhat in flux. The Big 12 leaders aren’t Baylor and TCU, as you might expect, but rather Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. In the ACC, two-time defending champ Florida State is superseded by the Georgia Tech team it beat in the conference championship game last year. And in the Access Bowl hunt, teams like Middle Tennessee and Buffalo merit greater praise than Temple or Boise State. Therein lie some of the vagaries that will continue to weigh out as more games are played.
You can scroll through the full rankings below, including the breakdown of each category calculated in the Pigskin Rating System. To brush up on the methodology used in the rankings, click here.