The order shuffled at the top, but while three of the four find themselves in different positions the names in the the first four slots remain the same. Below the nominal bracket contenders, though, the shakeup in spots five and below continues apace.
We are a little over a week away from getting to see how these rankings compare to the College Football Playoff selection committee’s valuation of the playoff contenders. Will the pool of human selectors have a different idea of which teams merit consideration than we’ve seen the numbers spit out?
It is always a fun question, especially when the selection process is purely subjective and impossible to quantify. But instead of expounding too much up top, let’s dive right in and look at some notable snippets about this week’s rankings:
- Maybe the Pigskin Rating System knew something about Utah and Florida State after all. I have been skeptical about where the rankings have put undefeated teams like the Utes and Seminoles while elevating three-loss teams like USC. But after the Trojans knocked off Utah, I find myself happy that I haven’t tweaked with the formula to get a more “logical” result… something that must always be taken into account when looking at any “objective” system that is designed to calculate a team’s quality. The PRS is just one of hundreds (if not thousands) of computer-calculated rankings out there in the ether of the internet, and I don’t claim to have all the answers. It is merely a fun way to calculate relative strength of the 127 FBS teams based on factors I’ve found to be relevant over a decade of writing about the sport.But every computer system is only as objective as the variables it chooses to use, and humans must ultimately make the decisions of what goes in and what gets left out of the equation. As we pass the halfway pole of the 2015 season, the Week 8 PRS rankings are instructive in what they can tell us about a calculative system of rating college football teams.
- Were we still operating under the BCS system, a team like Houston would be in position to claim a BCS Buster spot thanks to their rise up to 12th in the rankings. Boise State is lurking at 15th despite holding two losses, while Bowling Green and Appalachian State are also in the top 25. Notable in their absence from the top 25 are undefeated AAC schools Temple (31st) and Memphis (35th).
- Head-to-head results are often dampened when plugging numbers into any computerized ranking system. The addition of adjusted margin of victory, after all, can only do so much to accentuate specific results. With that in mind, though, it is still jarring to see several teams sitting above schools to whom they have lost. Alabama (4th) is directly above the Ole Miss squad (5th) that knocked them off in Tuscaloosa. Stanford (10th) is two spots behind a USC team (8th) that has two more losses in addition to a 41-31 head-to-head defeat against the Cardinal — and in the LA Coliseum, no less. Perhaps most egregiously, Michigan State (29th) is not only undefeated and outside the top 25, but also far behind a Michigan side (7th) that they defeated in Ann Arbor and that also has a second loss on its record.
- How would the first round look if a 16-team playoff was seeded off the PRS numbers? Here is the breakdown of matchups, where higher seeds would host games on campus:
- #16 Florida (SEC/6-1, 6.8 PRS) at #1 Baylor (Big 12/7-0, 8.3 PRS)
- #15 Boise State (MWC/6-2, 6.8 PRS) at #2 Oklahoma (Big 12/6-1, 8.2 PRS)
- #14 LSU (SEC/7-0, 7.0 PRS) at #3 Ohio State (Big Ten/8-0, 8.2 PRS)
- #13 Oklahoma State (Big 12/7-0, 7.1 PRS) at #4 Alabama (SEC/7-1, 8.1 PRS)
- #12 Houston (AAC/7-0, 7.1 PRS) at #5 Ole Miss (SEC/6-2, 7.8 PRS)
- #11 Notre Dame (IND/6-1, 7.2 PRS) at #6 Clemson (ACC/7-0, 7.7 PRS)
- #10 Stanford (Pac-12/6-1, 7.3 PRS) at #7 Michigan (Big Ten/5-2, 7.6 PRS)
- #9 TCU (Big 12/7-0, 7.4 PRS) at #8 USC (Pac-12/4-3, 7.4 PRS)
- 12 undefeated teams remain among the 127 full FBS members. Yet even within a projected 16-team playoff field, there would be several notable snubs of teams that have so far been perfect in 2015. Two –#19 Iowa and #29 Michigan State — represent either an anomalous result or a potential baked-in bias against the Big Ten. (I’m prone to believe the former, given the same numbers are plugged in for every team in every conference.) Meanwhile, three Group of Five schools — #26 Toledo, , #31 Temple, and #35 Memphis — are also receiving little love from the PRS calculations despite reaching the second half of the season without a defeat.
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.