Re-Imagining the NASCAR Chase

It is rare that a Reddit post got me thinking – but as someone who is utterly fascinated by NASCAR’s difficulty settling on a proper championship playoff format, I was genuinely intrigued by this question:

If we were to re-imagine the Chase, what would you be looking for?  Suppose let’s set some ground rules:

  • It should be simple – one of the big issues I have with the Chase is that the points are confusing.  NASCAR uses wins and points in such a way that seeding when the playoffs start can be hard to follow.  Which leads me to the next rule.
  • There is a playoff – saying “run the 36 races” does not work.  The series wants to race in the fall – with the sports competition out there, it makes sense for the series to give its later races some extra oomph.  If you are charging real prices, it is hard to have a year where the field is out of luck.
  • Winning during the season matters – NASCAR wanting wins to be the goal of any race is commendable.
  • Make consistency matter – older point systems did not reward winning enough – but we still like the idea that consistently cranking out Top 10s is inherently valuable.  The tortoise and the hare can get to the same place by very different means.
  • The winner should not be arbitrary – the playoff should be exciting, and it’s okay that a Cinderella comes true now and again.  But the top drivers during the year should generally work out.

Using these rules, this “alternate reality” works like this (assuming we keep 36 races):

  • The points system is based on F1.  However, we stretch the points system to capture the Top 20 finishers.  (F1 only gives points to the Top 10, but their fields are half the size)
    • 60 points for 1st, 45 points for 2nd, 38 points for 3rd
    • 35 points for 4th, 32 for 5th,  29 for 6th down to 20 points for 9th
    • 10th is 18 points, 11th 16 points and so on down to 4 points for 17th
    • 3 points for 18th, 2 points for 19th, 1 point for 20th
    • 6 bonus points for most laps led.
  • The regular season encompasses the first 32 races.  One of the issues with the Chase is that it is too long.  This plan makes the Chase quicker and more impactful.
  • The playoffs are much more inclusive than currently – realistically, every driver out there should have a chance at the Cup.  Instead of watching a 43 car race where only a subset are aiming for the big prize, simplify things.
    • 3 races before the final.  No points reset
    • Points are quadrupled.  So 240 points for a playoff win, and 24 points for most laps.  These should all be the largest money races too.
    • The Top 40 drivers start the playoffs.  This means that pretty much getting a few Top 20 finishes gets you on the board.
    • The field is cut to 30 drivers after 1 races, 25 drivers after the 2nd race and then down to 20 drivers to qualify for the Cup Finals.
    • There is one points reset before Miami.  We use the PGA Tour reseed model.  The Top 5 drivers can win the Cup with a win in Miami.  A winner outside of the Top 20 could win the Cup too, but he/she needs higher ranked drivers to stumble.

Now, this system allows for a guy who had one good result – a road course specialist perhaps – have a chance to win the title.  This is true, but to do that the driver would have to basically sweep the Playoff and then win the final.  It’s just not something which can practically happen – but at least someone can enter the playoff thinking it is possible.

To see how this could have played out, we looked at how the 21st century would have played out with this points system.  Obviously the drivers would have driven a lot differently – especially in the final race – if the points system were different, but still interesting.  (when I refer to “won” the final, I use the highest finish among the 20 qualified drivers …)

Year Leader Entering Playoff Top 5 Entering Final Final Winner (rank entering) Champion
2001 Jeff Gordon (+268) Jeff Gordon, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart, Dale Jarrett Sterling Marlin (2) Sterling Marlin
2002 Tony Stewart (+77) Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth Kurt Busch (1) Kurt Busch
2003 Ryan Newman (+100) Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon Bobby Labonte (9) Jimmie Johnson
2004 Jimmie Johnson (+12) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch Greg Biffle (19) Jimmie Johnson
2005 Tony Stewart (+142) Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin Greg Biffle (2) Greg Biffle
2006 Jimmie Johnson (+9) Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon Greg Biffle (14) Jimmie Johnson
2007 Jeff Gordon (+180) Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch Matt Kenseth (3) Matt Kenseth
2008 Carl Edwards (+15) Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle busch, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin Carl Edwards (1) Carl Edwards
2009 Jimmie Johnson (+52) Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart Denny Hamlin (2) Denny Hamlin
2010 Kevin Harvick (+24) Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer Carl Edwards (4) Carl Edwards
2011 Kyle Busch (+26) Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick Tony Stewart (1) Tony Stewart
2012 Jimmie Johnson (+78) Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth Jeff Gordon (12) Jeff Gordon
2013 Jimmie Johnson (+28) Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr Denny Hamlin (18) Matt Kenseth
2014 Jeff Gordon (+4) Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski Kevin Harvick (1) Kevin Harvick
2015 Kevin Harvick (+18) Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski Kyle Busch (6) Kevin Harvick
2016 Kevin Harvick (+73) Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin Jimmie Johnson (6) Jimmie Johnson

Some observations from alternate history

  • It puts a lot of emphasis on winning Miami.  Only 4 times in 15 years does the champion not win.  Now, you would imagine the leaders would run up front more and try harder in this scenario (and with a smaller field there would be more space for that sort of driving).
  • Jimmie Johnson’s excellence is again highlighted – yes he only wins the Cup four times in this imaginary world, but he is in the Top 5 (the “win without help” group) 11 straight years and 12 of the last 14.
  • Now is it fair that in a year like 2001 or 2007 that a guy with an enormous lead lose?  No – but it is something you sign up for with a playoff.  And each of those drivers still had the best odds of any of the Final 20 to win the cup. (about 25%)

Anyway, thought it would be fun for a look.

2016 NCAA Football Standings #5 – (post-Week 7)

Well, Alabama and Ohio State did themselves good with high quality road wins.  Tennessee clearly did not help themselves, although Alabama as a loss counts less.  But the focus this week should be on Ohio State, who had piled up their record against some pretty underwhelming competition – so registering a comeback win at Madison did their candidacy a world of good.  The rest of the standings are here:

W L Pts Scale SOS Rank
1 Alabama 7 0 0.5856 1.000 0.5856 6
2 Clemson 7 0 0.5558 0.975 0.5558 12
3 Texas A&M 6 0 0.5257 0.949 0.5257 18
4 Ohio State 6 0 0.5120 0.938 0.5120 24
5 Michigan 6 0 0.4535 0.888 0.4535 51
6 Nebraska 6 0 0.4294 0.867 0.4294 63
7 West Virginia 5 0 0.4194 0.859 0.4194 72
8 Western Michigan 7 0 0.4134 0.854 0.4134 78
9 Washington 6 0 0.3831 0.828 0.3831 87
10 Boise State 6 0 0.3798 0.825 0.3798 88
11 Tennessee 5 2 0.3317 0.785 0.6174 3
12 Florida State 5 2 0.3229 0.777 0.6086 4
13 Stanford 4 2 0.3106 0.767 0.6439 1
14 Louisville 5 1 0.2957 0.754 0.4624 41
15 Wisconsin 4 2 0.2905 0.750 0.6238 2
16 North Carolina 5 2 0.2716 0.734 0.5573 11
17 Baylor 6 0 0.2538 0.718 0.2538 128
18 Utah 6 1 0.2422 0.709 0.3851 85
19 Colorado 5 2 0.2422 0.709 0.5279 16
20 Houston 6 1 0.2413 0.708 0.3841 86
21 Arkansas 5 2 0.2315 0.700 0.5172 23
22 Florida 5 1 0.2312 0.699 0.3979 80
23 Oklahoma 4 2 0.2283 0.697 0.5616 9
24 South Florida 6 1 0.2087 0.680 0.3516 105
25 Wake Forest 5 2 0.2034 0.676 0.4891 34
26 Arizona State 5 2 0.2033 0.676 0.4890 35
27 Navy 4 1 0.1976 0.671 0.3976 81
28 Troy 5 1 0.1932 0.667 0.3599 97
29 Penn State 4 2 0.1878 0.662 0.5212 20
30 Memphis 5 1 0.1859 0.661 0.3526 103
31 Auburn 4 2 0.1840 0.659 0.5173 22
32 USC 4 3 0.1756 0.652 0.6042 5
33 Toledo 5 1 0.1486 0.629 0.3153 116
34 Appalachian State 4 2 0.1347 0.617 0.4681 38
35 Central Michigan 5 2 0.1339 0.617 0.4196 70
36 Pittsburgh 5 2 0.1328 0.616 0.4185 74
37 LSU 4 2 0.1282 0.612 0.4616 43
38 Miami-FL 4 2 0.1271 0.611 0.4604 44
39 San Diego State 5 1 0.1233 0.608 0.2899 122
40 Virginia Tech 4 2 0.1131 0.599 0.4464 53
41 NC State 4 2 0.1130 0.599 0.4463 54
42 Washington State 4 2 0.1004 0.588 0.4337 59
43 Wyoming 4 2 0.0853 0.575 0.4187 73
44 BYU 4 3 0.0775 0.569 0.5060 25
45 Georgia 4 3 0.0759 0.568 0.5045 26
46 Eastern Michigan 5 2 0.0664 0.559 0.3521 104
47 Georgia Tech 4 3 0.0641 0.557 0.4926 32
48 Tulsa 4 2 0.0618 0.556 0.3952 82
49 Ole Miss 3 3 0.0543 0.549 0.5543 13
50 Oklahoma State 4 2 0.0464 0.542 0.3797 89
51 Minnesota 4 2 0.0448 0.541 0.3782 91
52 Air Force 4 2 0.0247 0.524 0.3581 99
53 Old Dominion 4 2 0.0201 0.520 0.3535 102
54 MTSU 4 2 0.0164 0.517 0.3497 106
55 TCU 4 2 0.0159 0.517 0.3493 107
56 UCLA 3 4 0.0130 0.514 0.5845 7
57 Iowa 5 2 0.0122 0.513 0.2979 120
58 Maryland 4 2 0.0047 0.507 0.3380 110
59 Idaho 4 3 0.0023 0.505 0.4308 62
60 Western Kentucky 4 3 -0.0006 0.503 0.4280 65
61 Akron 4 3 -0.0114 0.493 0.4172 75
62 California 3 3 -0.0283 0.479 0.4717 36
63 Kansas State 3 3 -0.0354 0.473 0.4646 39
64 Temple 4 3 -0.0431 0.467 0.3855 84
65 Indiana 3 3 -0.0432 0.466 0.4568 47
66 Kentucky 3 3 -0.0453 0.465 0.4547 48
67 Northwestern 3 3 -0.0462 0.464 0.4538 50
68 Vanderbilt 3 4 -0.0464 0.464 0.5250 19
69 Louisiana Tech 4 3 -0.0538 0.457 0.3748 92
70 Army 4 2 -0.0563 0.455 0.2771 125
71 Syracuse 3 4 -0.0695 0.444 0.5019 28
72 Southern Miss 4 3 -0.0697 0.444 0.3589 98
73 Texas 3 3 -0.0737 0.441 0.4263 67
74 Georgia Southern 3 3 -0.0747 0.440 0.4253 68
75 Texas Tech 3 3 -0.0804 0.435 0.4196 71
76 Boston College 3 3 -0.0856 0.430 0.4144 77
77 Oregon 2 4 -0.0871 0.429 0.5796 8
78 UCF 3 3 -0.0926 0.425 0.4074 79
79 Duke 3 4 -0.1073 0.412 0.4641 40
80 Colorado State 3 4 -0.1142 0.406 0.4572 46
81 Ball State 4 3 -0.1216 0.400 0.3070 118
82 UTSA 3 3 -0.1364 0.387 0.3636 95
83 Cincinnati 3 3 -0.1433 0.381 0.3567 100
84 Connecticut 3 4 -0.1442 0.381 0.4272 66
85 South Carolina 2 4 -0.1489 0.377 0.5177 21
86 South Alabama 3 3 -0.1513 0.375 0.3487 108
87 East Carolina 2 4 -0.1623 0.365 0.5044 27
88 Ohio 4 3 -0.1635 0.364 0.2651 127
89 New Mexico 3 3 -0.1656 0.362 0.3344 112
90 Tulane 3 3 -0.1661 0.362 0.3339 113
91 Missouri 2 4 -0.1675 0.361 0.4991 29
92 Michigan State 2 4 -0.1709 0.358 0.4957 31
93 Oregon State 2 4 -0.1741 0.355 0.4926 33
94 Rutgers 2 5 -0.1754 0.354 0.5388 14
95 Arizona 2 5 -0.1880 0.344 0.5263 17
96 Mississippi State 2 4 -0.1958 0.337 0.4708 37
97 Purdue 3 3 -0.2018 0.332 0.2982 119
98 UNLV 3 4 -0.2023 0.331 0.3692 94
99 North Texas 3 3 -0.2029 0.331 0.2971 121
100 Texas State 2 4 -0.2044 0.330 0.4623 42
101 Hawaii 3 4 -0.2095 0.325 0.3619 96
102 Utah State 2 4 -0.2126 0.323 0.4541 49
103 SMU 2 4 -0.2143 0.321 0.4524 52
104 Virginia 2 4 -0.2309 0.307 0.4358 58
105 Illinois 2 4 -0.2377 0.301 0.4289 64
106 LA-Monroe 2 4 -0.2417 0.298 0.4250 69
107 Marshall 2 4 -0.2501 0.291 0.4166 76
108 Arkansas State 2 4 -0.2796 0.266 0.3871 83
109 Notre Dame 2 5 -0.2822 0.264 0.4321 60
110 Nevada 3 4 -0.2898 0.257 0.2816 124
111 New Mexico State 2 4 -0.2936 0.254 0.3731 93
112 FIU 3 4 -0.2994 0.249 0.2720 126
113 Georgia State 1 5 -0.3007 0.248 0.5327 15
114 LA-Lafayette 2 4 -0.3116 0.239 0.3550 101
115 Other 10 88 -0.3376 0.217 0.5603 10
116 Bowling Green 1 6 -0.3602 0.197 0.4969 30
117 Kansas 1 5 -0.3871 0.175 0.4463 55
118 Kent State 2 5 -0.3917 0.171 0.3226 114
119 Charlotte 2 5 -0.3927 0.170 0.3216 115
120 Fresno State 1 6 -0.3983 0.165 0.4589 45
121 San Jose State 2 5 -0.4015 0.162 0.3128 117
122 Northern Illinois 1 6 -0.4146 0.151 0.4426 56
123 Iowa State 1 6 -0.4261 0.141 0.4310 61
124 Massachusetts 1 6 -0.4777 0.098 0.3794 90
125 Florida Atlantic 1 6 -0.5104 0.070 0.3468 109
126 Miami-OH 1 6 -0.5225 0.060 0.3346 111
127 UTEP 1 5 -0.5458 0.040 0.2876 123
128 Rice 0 6 -0.5633 0.025 0.4367 57
129 Buffalo 1 5 -0.5928 0.000 0.2405 129

To turn these into playoff berths – we look at the six champs:

  • SEC –  Alabama (1)
  • ACC – Clemson (2)
  • Big 12 – West Virginia (7)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (4)
  • Pac 12 – Washington (9)
  • Group of Five – Western Michigan (8)

Clearly the Big Ten and the SEC look awfully strong and we could very easily justify two teams from either conference based on results to date.  But again, the committee has placed a very large emphasis on winning a conference – an emphasis which needs to be respected.  So, an unbeaten West Virginia gets the nod – although Texas A&M as a 2nd SEC team makes a lot of sense.

  • Fiesta Bowl  (National Semifinal #1): Alabama v West Virginia
  • Peach Bowl (National Semifinal #2): Clemson v Ohio State
  • Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M v Baylor
  • Rose Bowl: Michigan v Washington
  • Orange Bowl: Florida State v Nebraska
  • Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan v Tennessee

2016 NCAA Football Standings #4 – (post-Week 6)

And so, #1 holds for the first time since we started this thing.  Clemson trucks along as their wins over Troy and Auburn keep looking better, and Louisville’s profile goes up with Florida State’s win at Miami.  Alabama’s road win at Arkansas trump A&M’s thriller over Tennessee.

W L Pts Scale SOS Rank
1 Clemson 6 0 0.6001 1.000 0.6001 4
2 Alabama 6 0 0.5402 0.951 0.5402 17
3 Texas A&M 6 0 0.5390 0.950 0.5390 19
4 Michigan 6 0 0.4597 0.886 0.4597 44
5 Tennessee 5 1 0.4200 0.854 0.5867 8
6 Boise State 5 0 0.4058 0.842 0.4058 72
7 Ohio State 5 0 0.3961 0.834 0.3961 78
8 West Virginia 4 0 0.3834 0.824 0.3834 88
9 Western Michigan 6 0 0.3807 0.822 0.3807 90
10 Washington 5 0 0.3768 0.819 0.3768 92
11 Wisconsin 4 1 0.3764 0.818 0.5764 9
12 Nebraska 5 0 0.3630 0.807 0.3630 100
13 Florida State 4 2 0.3449 0.793 0.6782 1
14 Miami-FL 4 1 0.2981 0.755 0.4981 33
15 Louisville 4 1 0.2974 0.754 0.4974 34
16 Arizona State 5 1 0.2838 0.743 0.4505 52
17 Stanford 3 2 0.2733 0.734 0.6733 2
18 Baylor 5 0 0.2602 0.724 0.2602 128
19 Wake Forest 5 1 0.2530 0.718 0.4196 60
20 Virginia Tech 4 1 0.2530 0.718 0.4530 50
21 Georgia 4 2 0.2289 0.698 0.5622 13
22 Houston 5 1 0.2269 0.697 0.3936 81
23 Navy 4 1 0.2181 0.690 0.4181 62
24 Florida 4 1 0.2178 0.689 0.4178 63
25 Troy 4 1 0.2114 0.684 0.4114 69
26 Colorado 4 2 0.2083 0.682 0.5416 15
27 North Carolina 4 2 0.2020 0.676 0.5354 21
28 South Florida 5 1 0.2010 0.676 0.3677 97
29 Auburn 4 2 0.1918 0.668 0.5251 24
30 Air Force 4 1 0.1918 0.668 0.3918 82
31 Penn State 4 2 0.1842 0.662 0.5175 26
32 Utah 5 1 0.1840 0.662 0.3506 108
33 Oklahoma 3 2 0.1743 0.654 0.5743 10
34 Appalachian State 3 2 0.1696 0.650 0.5696 12
35 Arkansas 4 2 0.1676 0.648 0.5009 32
36 Maryland 4 1 0.1574 0.640 0.3574 104
37 NC State 4 1 0.1550 0.638 0.3550 105
38 Toledo 4 1 0.1508 0.635 0.3508 107
39 San Diego State 4 1 0.1354 0.622 0.3354 111
40 MTSU 4 1 0.1321 0.620 0.3321 113
41 Memphis 4 1 0.1297 0.618 0.3297 116
42 Ole Miss 3 2 0.1199 0.610 0.5199 25
43 Tulsa 4 1 0.1195 0.609 0.3195 119
44 USC 3 3 0.1105 0.602 0.6105 3
45 LSU 3 2 0.0971 0.591 0.4971 35
46 Wyoming 4 2 0.0922 0.587 0.4255 58
47 Pittsburgh 4 2 0.0852 0.581 0.4185 61
48 Central Michigan 4 2 0.0820 0.579 0.4153 65
49 UCLA 3 3 0.0720 0.571 0.5720 11
50 Akron 4 2 0.0706 0.570 0.4039 74
51 UCF 3 2 0.0563 0.558 0.4563 47
52 Old Dominion 4 2 0.0535 0.556 0.3869 86
53 Georgia Tech 3 3 0.0516 0.554 0.5516 14
54 Washington State 3 2 0.0438 0.548 0.4438 55
55 Idaho 3 3 0.0324 0.539 0.5324 22
56 Eastern Michigan 4 2 0.0311 0.538 0.3644 99
57 BYU 3 3 0.0301 0.537 0.5301 23
58 Kansas State 3 2 0.0299 0.537 0.4299 57
59 Oklahoma State 4 2 0.0294 0.536 0.3627 101
60 Indiana 3 2 0.0166 0.526 0.4166 64
61 Texas Tech 3 2 0.0152 0.525 0.4152 66
62 TCU 4 2 0.0098 0.520 0.3431 110
63 Georgia Southern 3 2 -0.0059 0.507 0.3941 79
64 California 3 3 -0.0193 0.497 0.4807 37
65 Southern Miss 4 2 -0.0196 0.496 0.3138 120
66 Iowa 4 2 -0.0381 0.481 0.2952 122
67 Ohio 4 2 -0.0394 0.480 0.2939 123
68 Boston College 3 3 -0.0397 0.480 0.4603 43
69 South Alabama 3 2 -0.0409 0.479 0.3591 103
70 Kentucky 3 3 -0.0444 0.476 0.4556 48
71 Tulane 3 2 -0.0681 0.457 0.3319 114
72 Minnesota 3 2 -0.0686 0.457 0.3314 115
73 Oregon 2 4 -0.0787 0.448 0.5880 6
74 Rutgers 2 4 -0.0797 0.447 0.5869 7
75 Louisiana Tech 3 3 -0.0877 0.441 0.4123 68
76 Oregon State 2 3 -0.0930 0.437 0.5070 30
77 Michigan State 2 3 -0.0939 0.436 0.5061 31
78 Army 3 2 -0.0953 0.435 0.3047 121
79 Colorado State 3 3 -0.0961 0.434 0.4039 73
80 Hawaii 3 3 -0.1005 0.431 0.3995 76
81 Texas State 2 3 -0.1048 0.427 0.4952 36
82 Western Kentucky 3 3 -0.1091 0.424 0.3909 83
83 Purdue 3 2 -0.1141 0.420 0.2859 125
84 Ball State 3 3 -0.1236 0.412 0.3764 93
85 South Carolina 2 4 -0.1261 0.410 0.5406 16
86 Connecticut 3 3 -0.1304 0.406 0.3696 96
87 East Carolina 2 4 -0.1308 0.406 0.5359 20
88 Cincinnati 3 3 -0.1348 0.403 0.3652 98
89 Duke 3 3 -0.1400 0.398 0.3600 102
90 Mississippi State 2 3 -0.1422 0.397 0.4578 45
91 Arizona 2 3 -0.1433 0.396 0.4567 46
92 Texas 2 3 -0.1479 0.392 0.4521 51
93 Vanderbilt 2 4 -0.1520 0.389 0.5147 28
94 Missouri 2 3 -0.1531 0.388 0.4469 54
95 Syracuse 2 4 -0.1583 0.384 0.5084 29
96 Temple 3 3 -0.1649 0.378 0.3351 112
97 UTSA 2 3 -0.1891 0.359 0.4109 70
98 Northwestern 2 3 -0.1903 0.358 0.4097 71
99 Utah State 2 4 -0.1924 0.356 0.4742 40
100 Nevada 3 3 -0.2090 0.342 0.2910 124
101 New Mexico State 2 3 -0.2120 0.340 0.3880 85
102 North Texas 3 3 -0.2154 0.337 0.2846 126
103 Virginia 2 3 -0.2156 0.337 0.3844 87
104 LA-Lafayette 2 3 -0.2168 0.336 0.3832 89
105 SMU 2 4 -0.2184 0.335 0.4482 53
106 New Mexico 2 3 -0.2496 0.309 0.3504 109
107 Charlotte 2 4 -0.2532 0.307 0.4135 67
108 Georgia State 1 4 -0.2610 0.300 0.5390 18
109 UNLV 2 4 -0.2777 0.287 0.3890 84
110 Marshall 1 4 -0.2839 0.282 0.5161 27
111 Notre Dame 2 4 -0.2913 0.276 0.3754 94
112 Other 10 87 -0.3053 0.264 0.5916 5
113 LA-Monroe 1 4 -0.3234 0.249 0.4766 38
114 Kent State 2 4 -0.3432 0.233 0.3235 117
115 FIU 2 4 -0.3464 0.231 0.3202 118
116 Northern Illinois 1 5 -0.3572 0.222 0.4761 39
117 Bowling Green 1 5 -0.3620 0.218 0.4713 41
118 Arkansas State 1 4 -0.3653 0.215 0.4347 56
119 Fresno State 1 5 -0.3783 0.205 0.4550 49
120 Kansas 1 4 -0.3784 0.205 0.4216 59
121 Illinois 1 4 -0.4063 0.182 0.3937 80
122 Iowa State 1 5 -0.4336 0.160 0.3997 75
123 Massachusetts 1 5 -0.4372 0.157 0.3961 77
124 Florida Atlantic 1 5 -0.4544 0.143 0.3789 91
125 San Jose State 1 5 -0.4801 0.122 0.3532 106
126 Rice 0 5 -0.5376 0.075 0.4624 42
127 Buffalo 1 4 -0.5439 0.070 0.2561 129
128 UTEP 1 5 -0.5506 0.065 0.2827 127
129 Miami-OH 0 6 -0.6304 0.000 0.3696 95

To turn these into playoff berths – we look at the six champs:

  • SEC –  Alabama (2)
  • ACC – Clemson (1)
  • Big 12 – West Virginia (8)
  • Big Ten – Michigan (4)
  • Pac 12 – Washington (10)
  • Group of Five – Boise State (6)

Clearly the Big Ten and the SEC look awfully strong and we could very easily justify two teams from either conference based on results to date.  But again, the committee has placed a very large emphasis on winning a conference – an emphasis which needs to be respected.  This week’s Final Four come from the Top 6 teams in the list, which seems solid.  I fully expect Boise State and Western Michigan to drift off as the middling league slates roll on.  The true road games might not be able to offset it.

  • Peach Bowl  (National Semifinal #1) Clemson v Boise State
  • Fiesta Bowl (National Semifinal #2): Alabama v Michigan
  • Sugar Bowl: Texas A&M v West Virginia
  • Rose Bowl: Ohio State v Washington
  • Orange Bowl: Florida State v Tennessee
  • Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan v Wisconsin

2016 NCAA Football Standings #3 – (post-Week 5)

Well, the USC-UCLA-Washington gauntlet ended with a thud for Stanford.  After one week at the top, Stanford slips to #7.  While there are other unbeaten teams below them, Stanford’s very tough schedule keeps the loss from being excessively damaging.  Winning the Pac-12 as a one-loss team is still very much on the radar.  Ohio State did nothing wrong to drop from #2 aside from adding Rutgers to their resume (as well as Bowling Green seeming to be really awful).  But Clemson had the best win of the week and with Auburn’s last couple of weeks (and Troy being 4-1) and their schedule actually shapes up quite well.

W L Pts Scale SOS Rank
1 Clemson 5 0 0.5588 1.000 0.5588 6
2 Texas A&M 5 0 0.5030 0.956 0.5030 16
3 Tennessee 5 0 0.4790 0.937 0.4790 21
4 Alabama 5 0 0.4480 0.913 0.4480 35
5 Ohio State 4 0 0.4234 0.894 0.4234 40
6 Western Michigan 5 0 0.4161 0.888 0.4161 43
7 Stanford 3 1 0.4034 0.878 0.6534 2
8 Miami-FL 4 0 0.4016 0.877 0.4016 50
9 Michigan 5 0 0.3754 0.856 0.3754 63
10 Houston 5 0 0.3455 0.833 0.3455 79
11 Nebraska 5 0 0.3426 0.830 0.3426 82
12 West Virginia 4 0 0.3358 0.825 0.3358 85
13 Boise State 4 0 0.3349 0.824 0.3349 86
14 Wisconsin 4 1 0.3262 0.817 0.5262 12
15 North Carolina 4 1 0.2818 0.783 0.4818 20
16 Washington 4 0 0.2800 0.781 0.2800 107
17 Air Force 4 0 0.2710 0.774 0.2710 109
18 Louisville 4 1 0.2582 0.764 0.4582 33
19 Maryland 4 0 0.2400 0.750 0.2400 120
20 Colorado 4 1 0.2267 0.739 0.4267 38
21 Baylor 5 0 0.2070 0.724 0.2070 126
22 Arkansas 4 1 0.2045 0.722 0.4045 47
23 Florida State 3 2 0.1940 0.714 0.5940 3
24 Troy 4 1 0.1777 0.701 0.3777 60
25 Wake Forest 4 1 0.1770 0.700 0.3770 61
26 Florida 4 1 0.1753 0.699 0.3753 64
27 Arizona State 4 1 0.1594 0.687 0.3594 72
28 Oklahoma 2 2 0.1552 0.683 0.6552 1
29 Georgia 3 2 0.1355 0.668 0.5355 10
30 UCLA 3 2 0.1344 0.667 0.5344 11
31 Georgia Southern 3 1 0.1262 0.661 0.3762 62
32 Appalachian State 3 2 0.1250 0.660 0.5250 13
33 Utah 4 1 0.1170 0.653 0.3170 93
34 South Florida 4 1 0.1152 0.652 0.3152 94
35 Tulsa 3 1 0.0992 0.639 0.3492 77
36 Virginia Tech 3 1 0.0931 0.634 0.3431 81
37 Navy 3 1 0.0896 0.632 0.3396 84
38 Ole Miss 3 2 0.0720 0.618 0.4720 25
39 Georgia Tech 3 2 0.0711 0.617 0.4711 26
40 Penn State 3 2 0.0701 0.616 0.4701 28
41 MTSU 4 1 0.0662 0.613 0.2662 111
42 Auburn 3 2 0.0631 0.611 0.4631 31
43 LSU 3 2 0.0581 0.607 0.4581 34
44 NC State 3 1 0.0576 0.607 0.3076 101
45 Eastern Michigan 4 1 0.0482 0.599 0.2482 116
46 Central Michigan 3 2 0.0469 0.598 0.4469 36
47 San Diego State 3 1 0.0374 0.591 0.2874 103
48 Texas Tech 3 1 0.0359 0.590 0.2859 104
49 Southern Miss 4 1 0.0313 0.586 0.2313 122
50 Memphis 3 1 0.0201 0.577 0.2701 110
51 UCF 3 2 0.0185 0.576 0.4185 42
52 Akron 3 2 0.0036 0.564 0.4036 48
53 Toledo 3 1 0.0031 0.564 0.2531 114
54 California 3 2 -0.0072 0.556 0.3928 55
55 USC 2 3 -0.0085 0.555 0.5915 4
56 Pittsburgh 3 2 -0.0165 0.549 0.3835 57
57 Texas State 2 2 -0.0170 0.548 0.4830 19
58 Minnesota 3 1 -0.0198 0.546 0.2302 123
59 Indiana 3 1 -0.0323 0.536 0.2177 125
60 Oklahoma State 3 2 -0.0334 0.535 0.3666 67
61 Old Dominion 3 2 -0.0495 0.523 0.3505 75
62 South Carolina 2 3 -0.0510 0.521 0.5490 9
63 Army 3 1 -0.0528 0.520 0.1972 128
64 Wyoming 3 2 -0.0560 0.518 0.3440 80
65 South Alabama 3 2 -0.0598 0.515 0.3402 83
66 Michigan State 2 2 -0.0660 0.510 0.4340 37
67 Idaho 2 3 -0.0775 0.501 0.5225 14
68 Boston College 3 2 -0.0792 0.499 0.3208 91
69 Western Kentucky 3 2 -0.0863 0.494 0.3137 95
70 Kansas State 2 2 -0.0902 0.491 0.4098 45
71 TCU 3 2 -0.0906 0.490 0.3094 97
72 Cincinnati 3 2 -0.0909 0.490 0.3091 99
73 BYU 2 3 -0.1124 0.473 0.4876 18
74 Texas 2 2 -0.1178 0.469 0.3822 58
75 Rutgers 2 3 -0.1223 0.465 0.4777 22
76 Ohio 3 2 -0.1244 0.464 0.2756 108
77 Vanderbilt 2 3 -0.1260 0.463 0.4740 23
78 Oregon 2 3 -0.1263 0.462 0.4737 24
79 Kentucky 2 3 -0.1290 0.460 0.4710 27
80 Mississippi State 2 2 -0.1362 0.455 0.3638 68
81 East Carolina 2 3 -0.1392 0.452 0.4608 32
82 Arizona 2 2 -0.1407 0.451 0.3593 73
83 Tulane 3 2 -0.1416 0.450 0.2584 113
84 Ball State 3 2 -0.1530 0.441 0.2470 117
85 Syracuse 2 3 -0.1763 0.423 0.4237 39
86 LA-Monroe 1 3 -0.1914 0.411 0.5586 7
87 Utah State 2 3 -0.1926 0.410 0.4074 46
88 Iowa 3 2 -0.2011 0.404 0.1989 127
89 Louisiana Tech 2 3 -0.2061 0.400 0.3939 52
90 Missouri 2 3 -0.2063 0.400 0.3937 53
91 Hawaii 2 3 -0.2085 0.398 0.3915 56
92 Temple 3 2 -0.2086 0.398 0.1914 129
93 Washington State 2 2 -0.2142 0.393 0.2858 105
94 Northwestern 2 3 -0.2191 0.390 0.3809 59
95 Illinois 1 3 -0.2358 0.376 0.5142 15
96 New Mexico State 2 3 -0.2363 0.376 0.3637 69
97 SMU 2 3 -0.2402 0.373 0.3598 70
98 Connecticut 2 3 -0.2404 0.373 0.3596 71
99 Marshall 1 3 -0.2492 0.366 0.5008 17
100 New Mexico 2 2 -0.2503 0.365 0.2497 115
101 Virginia 2 3 -0.2651 0.353 0.3349 87
102 Purdue 2 2 -0.2675 0.352 0.2325 121
103 LA-Lafayette 2 3 -0.2709 0.349 0.3291 88
104 Colorado State 2 3 -0.2745 0.346 0.3255 90
105 UNLV 2 3 -0.2799 0.342 0.3201 92
106 Oregon State 1 3 -0.2815 0.341 0.4685 29
107 Duke 2 3 -0.2938 0.331 0.3062 102
108 Fresno State 1 4 -0.3325 0.301 0.4675 30
109 Nevada 2 3 -0.3372 0.297 0.2628 112
110 Other 10 87 -0.3454 0.290 0.5515 8
111 Kansas 1 3 -0.3530 0.284 0.3970 51
112 Notre Dame 2 3 -0.3597 0.279 0.2403 119
113 North Texas 2 3 -0.3742 0.268 0.2258 124
114 Bowling Green 1 4 -0.3851 0.259 0.4149 44
115 Florida Atlantic 1 4 -0.3976 0.249 0.4024 49
116 UTSA 1 3 -0.4012 0.247 0.3488 78
117 Georgia State 0 4 -0.4257 0.227 0.5743 5
118 Charlotte 1 4 -0.4272 0.226 0.3728 65
119 San Jose State 1 4 -0.4332 0.221 0.3668 66
120 FIU 1 4 -0.4461 0.211 0.3539 74
121 UTEP 1 4 -0.4498 0.208 0.3502 76
122 Northern Illinois 1 4 -0.4726 0.191 0.3274 89
123 Kent State 1 4 -0.4898 0.177 0.3102 96
124 Massachusetts 1 4 -0.4907 0.176 0.3093 98
125 Iowa State 1 4 -0.4920 0.175 0.3080 100
126 Buffalo 1 3 -0.5097 0.161 0.2403 118
127 Rice 0 5 -0.5785 0.108 0.4215 41
128 Arkansas State 0 4 -0.6069 0.085 0.3931 54
129 Miami-OH 0 5 -0.7155 0.000 0.2845 106

To turn these into playoff berths – we look at the six champs:

  • SEC – Texas A&M (2)
  • ACC – Clemson (1)
  • Big 12 – West Virginia (12)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (5)
  • Pac 12 – Washington (16)
  • Group of Five – Western Michigan (6) (Boise State wins with more true road wins right now)

Now, there are a lot of SEC teams at the top, with Tennessee and Alabama in the top 4.  However, we do expect this to sort out in the future – and we know the committee has taken conference champs very seriously.  The real question is whether the committee would take it seriously if the best credible champ was a Group of Five.  For now let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.  Western Michigan’s three true road wins over Northwestern, Illinois and Central Michigan take the day for now.  Of course, the MAC does not give many chances for this to get better.

  • Peach Bowl  (National Semifinal #1) Clemson v Western Michigan
  • Fiesta Bowl (National Semifinal #2): Texas A&M v Ohio State
  • Sugar Bowl: Tennessee v West Virginia
  • Rose Bowl: Michigan v Washington
  • Orange Bowl: Miami-FL v Alabama
  • Cotton Bowl: Stanford v Nebraska

2016 NCAA Football Standings #2 – (post-Week 4)

One of the features of a model like this – where strength of schedule is being sorted out as results get added – is that the fluctuations will be very large now, and then get incrementally smaller.  Did last week’s #1, Alabama really deserve to be knocked all the way out of “playoff” range?  Well, while they added a flimsy opponent in Kent State, thus making their four wins over USC (#32), Western Kentucky (#68), Ole Miss (#22) and Kent State (#119) come out to an average place of #60.

As a point of comparison, Stanford’s 3 wins are over Kansas State (#17), USC (#32) and UCLA (#20) – so as of now with current info, Stanford’s results are better.  Even if you look at SEC teams, Texas A&M’s wins are UCLA (#20), Arkansas (#33), Auburn (#34) and some non-FBS (#123) , so again a better SoS (and both teams have true road wins to brag about).  That said, if you want a forward looking indicator, the Top 4 teams by point margin relative to opponents (the thing we use in SoS calculations) are Ohio State, Louisville, Stanford and Alabama.

W L Pts Scale SOS Rank
1 Stanford 3 0 0.6009 1.000 0.6009 7
2 Ohio State 3 0 0.5122 0.930 0.5122 15
3 Clemson 4 0 0.4907 0.913 0.4907 23
4 Texas A&M 4 0 0.4807 0.905 0.4807 24
5 Tennessee 4 0 0.4750 0.900 0.4750 25
6 Alabama 4 0 0.4714 0.897 0.4714 28
7 Boise State 3 0 0.4487 0.879 0.4487 35
8 Houston 4 0 0.4480 0.879 0.4480 37
9 Louisville 4 0 0.4291 0.864 0.4291 41
10 Wisconsin 4 0 0.4006 0.841 0.4006 52
11 Nebraska 4 0 0.3816 0.826 0.3816 62
12 Wake Forest 4 0 0.3694 0.816 0.3694 68
13 Florida State 3 1 0.3649 0.813 0.6149 5
14 Miami-FL 3 0 0.3617 0.810 0.3617 75
15 Western Michigan 4 0 0.3505 0.801 0.3505 82
16 West Virginia 3 0 0.3402 0.793 0.3402 87
17 Michigan 4 0 0.3183 0.776 0.3183 96
18 Arizona State 4 0 0.3183 0.776 0.3183 97
19 Colorado 3 1 0.2760 0.742 0.5260 10
20 Navy 3 0 0.2746 0.741 0.2746 110
21 Georgia 3 1 0.2739 0.741 0.5239 11
22 Utah 4 0 0.2652 0.734 0.2652 112
23 Maryland 3 0 0.2615 0.731 0.2615 113
24 Arkansas 3 1 0.2524 0.724 0.5024 19
25 Air Force 3 0 0.2517 0.723 0.2517 117
26 Minnesota 3 0 0.2467 0.719 0.2467 119
27 San Diego State 3 0 0.2355 0.710 0.2355 121
28 Baylor 4 0 0.2243 0.701 0.2243 122
29 Toledo 3 0 0.1820 0.668 0.1820 126
30 Washington 3 0 0.1795 0.666 0.1795 127
31 Memphis 3 0 0.1583 0.649 0.1583 129
32 Tulsa 3 1 0.1547 0.646 0.4047 50
33 Central Michigan 3 1 0.1408 0.635 0.3908 56
34 UCLA 2 2 0.1359 0.631 0.6359 4
35 Troy 3 1 0.1358 0.631 0.3858 59
36 Ball State 3 1 0.1247 0.622 0.3747 65
37 Georgia Tech 3 1 0.1247 0.622 0.3747 66
38 Virginia Tech 3 1 0.1242 0.622 0.3742 67
39 North Carolina 3 1 0.1154 0.615 0.3654 73
40 Appalachian State 2 2 0.1058 0.607 0.6058 6
41 South Florida 3 1 0.1028 0.605 0.3528 81
42 Georgia Southern 3 1 0.0982 0.601 0.3482 83
43 Eastern Michigan 3 1 0.0834 0.589 0.3334 91
44 Cincinnati 3 1 0.0810 0.588 0.3310 92
45 Kansas State 2 1 0.0807 0.587 0.4141 46
46 Florida 3 1 0.0805 0.587 0.3305 93
47 MTSU 3 1 0.0722 0.581 0.3222 95
48 Michigan State 2 1 0.0589 0.570 0.3922 55
49 Texas Tech 2 1 0.0486 0.562 0.3820 61
50 Oklahoma 1 2 0.0239 0.542 0.6906 1
51 TCU 3 1 0.0206 0.540 0.2706 111
52 Penn State 2 2 0.0171 0.537 0.5171 13
53 Ole Miss 2 2 0.0041 0.527 0.5041 18
54 Southern Miss 3 1 0.0019 0.525 0.2519 116
55 Texas State 1 2 -0.0030 0.521 0.6636 2
56 NC State 2 1 -0.0189 0.508 0.3144 99
57 Syracuse 2 2 -0.0276 0.501 0.4724 26
58 Texas 2 1 -0.0284 0.501 0.3050 102
59 South Carolina 2 2 -0.0288 0.501 0.4712 29
60 Auburn 2 2 -0.0294 0.500 0.4706 30
61 Idaho 2 2 -0.0347 0.496 0.4653 31
62 Army 3 1 -0.0399 0.492 0.2101 123
63 Akron 2 2 -0.0428 0.489 0.4572 33
64 California 2 2 -0.0515 0.482 0.4485 36
65 East Carolina 2 2 -0.0521 0.482 0.4479 38
66 Oregon 2 2 -0.0580 0.477 0.4420 39
67 LSU 2 2 -0.0583 0.477 0.4417 40
68 Iowa 3 1 -0.0670 0.470 0.1830 125
69 Oklahoma State 2 2 -0.0712 0.467 0.4288 42
70 Vanderbilt 2 2 -0.0726 0.466 0.4274 43
71 Old Dominion 2 2 -0.0772 0.462 0.4228 44
72 Arizona 2 1 -0.0810 0.459 0.2524 115
73 Indiana 2 1 -0.0825 0.458 0.2509 118
74 Pittsburgh 2 2 -0.0837 0.457 0.4163 45
75 Colorado State 2 2 -0.0876 0.454 0.4124 47
76 USC 1 3 -0.0957 0.447 0.6543 3
77 Boston College 2 2 -0.1003 0.444 0.3997 53
78 Duke 2 2 -0.1113 0.435 0.3887 57
79 Wyoming 2 2 -0.1122 0.434 0.3878 58
80 Western Kentucky 2 2 -0.1163 0.431 0.3837 60
81 LA-Lafayette 2 2 -0.1203 0.428 0.3797 63
82 UCF 2 2 -0.1331 0.418 0.3669 69
83 SMU 2 2 -0.1394 0.413 0.3606 76
84 Ohio 2 2 -0.1471 0.407 0.3529 80
85 Kentucky 2 2 -0.1558 0.400 0.3442 84
86 South Alabama 2 2 -0.1561 0.399 0.3439 85
87 LA-Monroe 1 2 -0.1562 0.399 0.5105 16
88 Rutgers 2 2 -0.1623 0.395 0.3377 89
89 Missouri 2 2 -0.1654 0.392 0.3346 90
90 Purdue 2 1 -0.1677 0.390 0.1657 128
91 Utah State 2 2 -0.1754 0.384 0.3246 94
92 Tulane 2 2 -0.1846 0.377 0.3154 98
93 Marshall 1 2 -0.1948 0.369 0.4719 27
94 Mississippi State 2 2 -0.2029 0.362 0.2971 104
95 Oregon State 1 2 -0.2067 0.359 0.4600 32
96 Connecticut 2 2 -0.2073 0.359 0.2927 107
97 Nevada 2 2 -0.2190 0.350 0.2810 109
98 BYU 1 3 -0.2318 0.339 0.5182 12
99 Bowling Green 1 3 -0.2350 0.337 0.5150 14
100 North Texas 2 2 -0.2417 0.332 0.2583 114
101 Louisiana Tech 1 3 -0.2458 0.328 0.5042 17
102 Hawaii 1 3 -0.2508 0.324 0.4992 20
103 Fresno State 1 3 -0.2550 0.321 0.4950 21
104 Florida Atlantic 1 3 -0.2555 0.321 0.4945 22
105 Temple 2 2 -0.2565 0.320 0.2435 120
106 Charlotte 1 3 -0.2960 0.289 0.4540 34
107 Illinois 1 2 -0.3013 0.284 0.3654 72
108 Kansas 1 2 -0.3095 0.278 0.3572 77
109 Other 10 84 -0.3290 0.262 0.5646 8
110 New Mexico State 1 3 -0.3450 0.250 0.4050 49
111 UTSA 1 3 -0.3475 0.248 0.4025 51
112 New Mexico 1 2 -0.3617 0.236 0.3049 103
113 Washington State 1 2 -0.3810 0.221 0.2856 108
114 San Jose State 1 3 -0.3833 0.219 0.3667 70
115 UNLV 1 3 -0.3845 0.218 0.3655 71
116 Virginia 1 3 -0.3883 0.215 0.3617 74
117 Northwestern 1 3 -0.3961 0.209 0.3539 79
118 Kent State 1 3 -0.4116 0.197 0.3384 88
119 Massachusetts 1 3 -0.4380 0.176 0.3120 100
120 Georgia State 0 3 -0.4428 0.172 0.5572 9
121 Iowa State 1 3 -0.4444 0.171 0.3056 101
122 UTEP 1 3 -0.4549 0.162 0.2951 105
123 Notre Dame 1 3 -0.4567 0.161 0.2933 106
124 Buffalo 1 2 -0.4775 0.145 0.1892 124
125 Rice 0 4 -0.5940 0.052 0.4060 48
126 Arkansas State 0 4 -0.6055 0.043 0.3945 54
127 FIU 0 4 -0.6226 0.029 0.3774 64
128 Northern Illinois 0 4 -0.6456 0.011 0.3544 78
129 Miami-OH 0 4 -0.6597 0.000 0.3403 86

To turn these into playoff berths – we look at the six champs:

  • SEC – Texas A&M (4)
  • ACC – Clemson (3)
  • Big 12 – West Virginia (16)
  • Big Ten – Ohio State (2)
  • Pac 12 – Stanford (1)
  • Group of Five – Boise State (7) (Boise State wins with more true road wins right now)

Notably we can credibly identify a Top 4, so Stanford, Ohio State, Clemson and Texas A&M are in the playoffs.  We fill the other spots accordingly- remember, this is based on if the season ended right now.

  • Fiesta Bowl (National Semifinal #1): Stanford v Texas A&M
  • Peach Bowl (National Semifinal #2): Ohio State v Clemson
  • Sugar Bowl: Alabama v West Virginia
  • Rose Bowl: Wisconsin v Arizona State
  • Orange Bowl: Louisville v Tennessee
  • Cotton Bowl: Boise State v Nebraska

2016 NCAA Football Standings #1 – (post-Week 3)

Another year is another set of NCAA rankings.  If you want to look at the methodology, it’s here.  Basically we use point margins to determine opponent “strength”, and then use those to adjust win/loss total.

Week 3 – our first week with real SoS data (each team has played two games so there each opponent has played).  The highlights of the show this past week was essentially the Big XII being voted off the playoff island.  (Texas seems like the only possible winner – it’s early but hard for Oklahoma to live that down)  You also saw Alabama, Ohio State and Louisville significantly throwing down.  The first standings are:

W L Pts Scale SOS Rank
1 Alabama 3 0 0.6216 1.000 0.6216 8
2 Ohio State 3 0 0.5543 0.953 0.5543 17
3 Houston 3 0 0.5347 0.939 0.5347 25
4 Stanford 2 0 0.5203 0.929 0.5203 27
5 Georgia 3 0 0.5025 0.916 0.5025 30
6 Central Michigan 3 0 0.4807 0.901 0.4807 35
7 Texas A&M 3 0 0.4619 0.888 0.4619 42
8 Louisville 3 0 0.4456 0.876 0.4456 46
9 Clemson 3 0 0.4395 0.872 0.4395 48
10 Arkansas 3 0 0.4044 0.847 0.4044 58
11 Tennessee 3 0 0.3992 0.843 0.3992 60
12 Michigan State 2 0 0.3972 0.842 0.3972 61
13 Miami-FL 3 0 0.3681 0.822 0.3681 71
14 Wisconsin 3 0 0.3658 0.820 0.3658 75
15 Maryland 3 0 0.3641 0.819 0.3641 79
16 Western Michigan 3 0 0.3624 0.818 0.3624 81
17 Michigan 3 0 0.3432 0.804 0.3432 92
18 Arizona State 3 0 0.3424 0.803 0.3424 93
19 South Florida 3 0 0.3313 0.796 0.3313 97
20 San Diego State 3 0 0.3285 0.794 0.3285 98
21 Navy 3 0 0.3236 0.790 0.3236 99
22 Wake Forest 3 0 0.3184 0.787 0.3184 100
23 Utah 3 0 0.3170 0.786 0.3170 101
24 UCLA 2 1 0.3140 0.783 0.6474 4
25 Boise State 2 0 0.3063 0.778 0.3063 103
26 Indiana 2 0 0.2997 0.773 0.2997 106
27 Baylor 3 0 0.2868 0.764 0.2868 108
28 Georgia Southern 3 0 0.2843 0.763 0.2843 109
29 West Virginia 2 0 0.2825 0.761 0.2825 110
30 Nebraska 3 0 0.2806 0.760 0.2806 111
31 Georgia Tech 3 0 0.2780 0.758 0.2780 112
32 Army 3 0 0.2774 0.758 0.2774 113
33 Minnesota 2 0 0.2545 0.742 0.2545 117
34 Toledo 3 0 0.2361 0.729 0.2361 121
35 Florida State 2 1 0.2359 0.728 0.5692 15
36 South Carolina 2 1 0.2106 0.711 0.5439 23
37 Air Force 2 0 0.2028 0.705 0.2028 122
38 Texas State 1 1 0.1988 0.702 0.6988 2
39 Troy 2 1 0.1930 0.698 0.5264 26
40 Washington 3 0 0.1814 0.690 0.1814 126
41 Florida 3 0 0.1685 0.681 0.1685 127
42 Memphis 2 0 0.1635 0.678 0.1635 128
43 Eastern Michigan 2 1 0.1617 0.676 0.4951 32
44 Western Kentucky 2 1 0.1547 0.671 0.4880 34
45 Colorado 2 1 0.1423 0.663 0.4756 38
46 Ball State 2 1 0.1286 0.653 0.4620 41
47 Kansas State 1 1 0.1234 0.649 0.6234 7
48 Tulsa 2 1 0.1147 0.643 0.4481 44
49 California 2 1 0.1053 0.637 0.4386 49
50 Akron 2 1 0.0989 0.632 0.4323 51
51 SMU 2 1 0.0911 0.627 0.4245 53
52 Oklahoma State 2 1 0.0869 0.624 0.4203 54
53 Texas Tech 2 1 0.0787 0.618 0.4120 55
54 Cincinnati 2 1 0.0782 0.617 0.4115 56
55 MTSU 2 1 0.0671 0.610 0.4005 59
56 East Carolina 2 1 0.0634 0.607 0.3967 62
57 USC 1 2 0.0559 0.602 0.7226 1
58 Wyoming 2 1 0.0546 0.601 0.3879 63
59 Penn State 2 1 0.0418 0.592 0.3751 67
60 Texas 2 1 0.0392 0.590 0.3725 68
61 Utah State 2 1 0.0347 0.587 0.3680 72
62 Colorado State 2 1 0.0322 0.585 0.3655 77
63 Pittsburgh 2 1 0.0287 0.583 0.3621 82
64 North Carolina 2 1 0.0273 0.582 0.3606 83
65 Oregon 2 1 0.0256 0.580 0.3589 84
66 LSU 2 1 0.0230 0.579 0.3564 85
67 Rutgers 2 1 0.0221 0.578 0.3554 86
68 NC State 2 1 0.0204 0.577 0.3537 87
69 Oklahoma 1 2 0.0169 0.574 0.6836 3
70 Virginia Tech 2 1 0.0160 0.574 0.3494 91
71 Southern Miss 2 1 0.0079 0.568 0.3413 94
72 Connecticut 2 1 -0.0181 0.550 0.3153 102
73 Arizona 2 1 -0.0297 0.542 0.3036 104
74 Florida Atlantic 1 2 -0.0471 0.529 0.6195 9
75 LA-Lafayette 2 1 -0.0562 0.523 0.2771 114
76 Nevada 2 1 -0.0673 0.515 0.2661 116
77 Oregon State 1 1 -0.0698 0.513 0.4302 52
78 UNLV 1 2 -0.0722 0.512 0.5944 11
79 TCU 2 1 -0.0798 0.506 0.2536 118
80 BYU 1 2 -0.0887 0.500 0.5779 12
81 Ole Miss 1 2 -0.1020 0.491 0.5647 16
82 LA-Monroe 1 2 -0.1168 0.480 0.5499 18
83 Louisiana Tech 1 2 -0.1178 0.480 0.5489 20
84 Fresno State 1 2 -0.1178 0.479 0.5488 21
85 Appalachian State 1 2 -0.1181 0.479 0.5485 22
86 Syracuse 1 2 -0.1231 0.476 0.5435 24
87 Idaho 1 2 -0.1497 0.457 0.5170 28
88 Old Dominion 1 2 -0.1502 0.457 0.5165 29
89 Boston College 1 2 -0.1654 0.446 0.5013 31
90 UCF 1 2 -0.1754 0.439 0.4913 33
91 Missouri 1 2 -0.1893 0.429 0.4773 36
92 Charlotte 1 2 -0.1895 0.429 0.4771 37
93 South Alabama 1 2 -0.1965 0.424 0.4702 39
94 Hawaii 1 3 -0.2002 0.421 0.5498 19
95 Ohio 1 2 -0.2005 0.421 0.4661 40
96 Bowling Green 1 2 -0.2135 0.412 0.4531 43
97 Auburn 1 2 -0.2194 0.408 0.4473 45
98 Vanderbilt 1 2 -0.2295 0.401 0.4372 50
99 Purdue 1 1 -0.2547 0.383 0.2453 119
100 Marshall 1 1 -0.2556 0.383 0.2444 120
101 San Jose State 1 2 -0.2586 0.380 0.4081 57
102 UTSA 1 2 -0.2810 0.365 0.3856 64
103 Other 8 79 -0.2836 0.363 0.6245 6
104 Iowa 2 1 -0.2857 0.361 0.0476 129
105 Notre Dame 1 2 -0.2895 0.359 0.3771 66
106 New Mexico State 1 2 -0.2943 0.355 0.3723 69
107 New Mexico 1 2 -0.2967 0.354 0.3699 70
108 Tulane 1 2 -0.2993 0.352 0.3674 73
109 Mississippi State 1 2 -0.3009 0.351 0.3657 76
110 UTEP 1 2 -0.3014 0.350 0.3653 78
111 Kansas 1 2 -0.3033 0.349 0.3634 80
112 North Texas 1 2 -0.3137 0.342 0.3530 88
113 Kentucky 1 2 -0.3139 0.341 0.3528 89
114 Duke 1 2 -0.3168 0.339 0.3499 90
115 Temple 1 2 -0.3275 0.332 0.3392 95
116 Massachusetts 1 2 -0.3334 0.328 0.3333 96
117 Rice 0 3 -0.3531 0.314 0.6469 5
118 Illinois 1 2 -0.3670 0.304 0.2997 105
119 Georgia State 0 3 -0.3978 0.282 0.6022 10
120 Washington State 1 2 -0.3988 0.282 0.2679 115
121 Northern Illinois 0 3 -0.4260 0.263 0.5740 13
122 Arkansas State 0 3 -0.4265 0.262 0.5735 14
123 Northwestern 1 2 -0.4660 0.234 0.2007 124
124 Kent State 1 2 -0.4842 0.222 0.1825 125
125 FIU 0 3 -0.5591 0.169 0.4409 47
126 Virginia 0 3 -0.6149 0.130 0.3851 65
127 Iowa State 0 3 -0.6330 0.117 0.3670 74
128 Miami-OH 0 3 -0.7071 0.065 0.2929 107
129 Buffalo 0 2 -0.7990 0.000 0.2010 123

So, with two years of data, we can project the playoff field thusly:

  • The conference champs
    • SEC: Alabama (1)
    • ACC: Louisville (8)
    • Big Ten: Ohio State (2)
    • Big XII: Baylor (27)
    • Pac 12: Stanford (4)
    • REST: Houston (3)
  • Louisville is probably better than Houston – duh.  At the same time, Houston – with a true road and neutral site win have edges in schedule quality for now – especially with so little data on Florida State.  But anyway, there you go.
  • The New Year’s Six
    • Peach Bowl (national semifinal): Alabama v Stanford
    • Fiesta Bowl (national semifinal): Ohio State v Houston
    • Sugar Bowl (Big 12 v SEC): Baylor v Georgia
    • Rose Bowl (Big Ten v Pac-12): Michigan State v Utah
    • Cotton Bowl (at-large): Clemson v Arkansas
    • Orange Bowl (ACC v ND, SEC, Big Ten): Louisville v Texas A&M

Everything I Never Told You

I find myself thinking about the life partner.  I try to avoid biography, and bringing in people into these posts who did not volunteer for such a job, but it still turns over in my mind.  The life partner is one of the the most thoughtful, intelligent, people I know – and had a deep education in the humanities.  She is also a wonderful, thoughtful mother to the children, and this latter vocation has been the full time gig.  There were sound reasons for doing so (aren’t there always), but it is hard not to think of opportunity costs, dreams deferred.  It is not like this has not been discussed and resolved – including assurances that this life is working out well. (even while staring at the Pollock installation our son left on his high chair)  But when (for whatever reason), I am inspired to brood, things like this pop up.

The children also come to mind.  They are too young to have Dreams, and Ideas, and Hopes yet.  But it is not hard to see the future – and hope we don’t push them away, or project some of my own dreams and insecurities onto them.  A bit of this is inevitable I guess – they have to live with me all the time – but that does not mean I don’t fret.  Now these sorts of thoughts do not happen often – but every so often something can stir that up.

Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You is one of those sorts of stories, an autopsy of a tragedy, and how a family is torn apart.  The people here are James and Marilyn Lee, a biracial couple who live in Ohio in 1977, raising three children (Nath, Lydia and Hannah).  On the surface, things are well.  Nath is going to Harvard, Lydia, 15 is fawned over by her parents (and the siblings are not unaware) and Hannah seems pleasant enough.  (this sounds like she’s not as present – which happens a lot)  Mom is a housewife, and Dad is a professor of American Studies at the local university.  When we happen upon the family, we are told that nobody can find Lydia .  It seems innocuous enough, but she is gone for too long.  The family gets worried as the hours turns into days – they report her missing.  And then, suddenly, the local police officer comes to ask them about whether she boated on the lake.  James tells them no, that Lydia did not know how to swim.  But why would the police ask that?

Lydia’s death floors her parents.  She seemed so happy, and popular.  She was on the way to medical school!  She had everything to live for.  The family frantically is trying to figure out what happened.  Nath noticed she hung out with Jack from the neighborhood.  Jack knew a lot of girls – he looks like trouble.  The police are not getting anywhere with leads – and it seems that not many people had talked to Lydia much lately.

Now in a sense, the book proceeds trying to figure out what happened on the lake – but the way Ng presents it, we know, certainly before James and Marilyn do.  But where it really shines is as it goes back in time – all the way back to where James and Marilyn met.  Both of them are outsiders, separately and together.  James is Chinese-American, son of immigrants who lied and snuck into jobs (the way Asian-Americans had to back in the post-war era) determined to make a life for their child.  His father got a custodian job at a boarding school because he read that employees children could attend for free if they qualified.  James was the Asian in a whitebread boarding school, a poor kid among the very definition of entitlement.  James would excel and then go to Harvard and face the same thing.  Indeed it was there as a grad student that he would meet Marilyn, who went to Radcliffe, wanting to become a doctor.  She was fighting, determined to excel is a very very male discipline, and raised by a single mother, a home-ec teacher who never left the house without gloves and studied the Betty Crocker cookbook intently to be able to cook ably for her man.  The two fell in love, perhaps seeing comfort in a fellow outsider – life goes on and when Marilyn gets pregnant, the medical careers gets scuttled to begin life as a mom and housewife.

We see the challenges they face from the start in their own pursuits, and then as an interracial couple in the pre-Loving late 1950s.  Marilyn’s mother at the wedding expresses the sort of sentiment we suspected she had all along about this “Oriental” that Marilyn chose for life.  Ng in particular shows the hurt – and how these incidents shape everything.  For instance, Marilyn’s mother confronts Marilyn – and obviously the exchange is unpleasant, and so Marilyn would never speak to her again.  Could there have been closure if somebody softened up over time?  But also, Marilyn thought the incident occurred out of earshot – but as it turns out, James and the wedding group could hear most everything.  What did he think of it?  How did that sort of snippet of conversation impact how he felt about the whole deal?

The misunderstandings are everywhere.  We see Marilyn’s ambitions to do something in science, and we also see James desperately afraid of losing status when peers think she HAS to work for them to make ends meet.  We see it in the chain of events that are spawned by Marilyn wanting to go back to school.  It’s there with the kids when Nath meets Jack for the first time at the swimming pool, or in Hannah’s habit of taking things.  What Ng does is show each of these misunderstandings – words not said, people not leveling – and how the imperfect knowledge would impact how people though of everything forward.  When we finally get to the scene where Lydia gets on the boat and looks into the lake – it’s hard to see how any of these specific characters in that time and place, could have prevented it from happening.

The effect is an emotional plane crash viewed in slow motion from all sides – in a third person omniscient PoV which takes some getting used to (it felt like there was a lot of foreshadowing, perhaps too much).  When a death occurs, the first instinct is to try to assign blame.  If it is a homicide, who was the killer – in other cases, how did the fire get started, why was she so miserable, etc.  What Ng does so heartbreakingly here is to get close to all of the principals – who all act perfectly reasonably and decently – and show clearly how it all went so wrong, and how the family can possibly bounce back.  The book ends on a tentatively hopeful with the family looking like they might be okay – at least trying – but Ng does not seem certain it will all be fine, and neither do we.