When we put out these rankings, we often focus on how they sort out the top teams in the sport. It is a natural inclination, all too common. There’s a reason most people only put out top 25 lists, after all… and it isn’t just because it is time-consuming to put together a list like this one.
But having data like this can allow us to glean even greater insights when things go entirely south for a team, like they did today for North Texas. Playing at home against FCS Portland State — a Big Sky school that went 21-36 over the previous five seasons before hiring a new head coach before this season — the Mean Green floundered early and often as they fell to a 45-0 deficit by halftime and needed a late touchdown to be spared the total ignominy of a shutout in a 66-7 drubbing. It sent North Texas to 0-5 in the standings and led to the termination of head coach Dan McCarney.
Has North Texas really been that bad, though? To be honest, they’ve probably been worse than dead last nationally, if FCS teams were accounted for in this ranking. (We might test something like that out at some point this season if time permits.) Given the vagaries of the formula, McCarney’s long run of experience and a difficult schedule have been propping up abysmal performances on both sides of the ball. Wyoming, Massachusetts, and UCF also enjoy such a bump this season, as less variable data points stabilize and fortify records and statistical marks that speak of ineptitude.
The truth is that, even were I to extend the power rankings to a full Division I listing, things like coaching and schedule strength would still serve as an equalizer, and the addition of the adjusted margin of victory equation into the algorithm further helps to stabilize that number. That said, though, there is never going to be one definitively perfect way to rank these teams; the Pigskin Rating System is merely one way in which I’ve tried to create as unbiased as possible a way to weight performance and talent to determine the best teams of a given season. Enjoy them for what they are, and don’t take them too seriously… for we are all here for a finite period, as McCarney can attest.
Here are some other notable snippets about this week’s rankings:
- Who gets left out in a four-team playoff this week? Baylor retakes the top spot after demolishing Kansas on Saturday, and a pair of SEC West teams that have already squared off against one another occupy the second and third spots. Rounding out the four-team field is a Big Ten school, but instead of defending champion Ohio State we instead see their Maize and Blue rivals from That School Up North in the spot opposite Baylor. Michigan has blossomed after the opening loss at Utah… what is interesting to note, though, is that Utah might be the team that has been most snubbed by the formula this week. The Buckeyes have hardly played like one of the top teams in the nation, while Utah already owns wins over Michigan, Oregon, and now a California team that was undefeated prior to the trip to Salt Lake City. (More damning is the fact that the Utes wouldn’t even make a 16-team playoff based off PRS rankings.)
- Here is how the first round would look if a 16-team playoff was seeded off the pure numbers, with higher seeds hosting games on campus:
- #16 LSU (SEC/5-0, 6.4 PRS) at #1 Baylor (Big 12/6-0, 8.3 PRS)
- #15 Florida State (ACC/5-0, 6.4 PRS) at #2 Ole Miss (SEC/5-1, 8.0 PRS)
- #14 Oklahoma (Big 12/4-1, 6.4 PRS) at #3 Alabama (SEC/5-1, 7.8 PRS)
- #13 UCLA (Pac-12/4-1, 6.5 PRS) at #4 Michigan (Big Ten/5-1, 7.7 PRS)
- #12 Florida (SEC/6-0, 6.7 PRS) at #5 USC (Pac-12/3-2, 7.5 PRS)
- #11 TCU (Big 12/6-0, 6.9 PRS) at #6 Ohio State (Big Ten/6-0, 7.2 PRS)
- #10 Notre Dame (IND/5-1, 6.9 PRS) at #7 Boise State (MWC/5-1, 7.1 PRS)
- #9 Texas A&M (SEC/5-0, 6.9 PRS) at #8 Stanford (Pac-12/4-1, 7.0 PRS)
- Aside from Utah, who defeated Michigan and has the chance to knock off two other teams in this bracket (USC and UCLA), a few other teams have a legitimate case to argue that they have been snubbed. Other notable absences from this list include undefeated teams like Clemson (who knocked off #10 Notre Dame) and Oklahoma State. One could also include mid-major schools like Houston and Toledo that have built up a viable resume that includes Power Five challenges.
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.