College Football Rankings Experiment 2013 – Final Standings

(As always, we lay out the process here)

Championship Week is always funny in college football.  Only a few games, but all high impact on the final standings – and this year was no different.  Indeed, this time we had Florida State completing its coronation with another quality win, Michigan State and Baylor showing frankly that they are a lot better than perception.  Indeed, the day of Connor Cook’s life shattered Ohio State’s dream.  Now, we KNOW Auburn will make the National Title game to join Florida State.  Much of that is driven by human voters who are just moving teams up and down from preseason rankings.  We have had the chance to not worry about perception, or preseason ranks here.  We wanted to see how a systematic decision science process would choose the teams.  Here are the final results:

  1. (1) Florida State
  2. (2) Baylor
  3. (7) Auburn
  4. (6) Alabama
  5. (3) Ohio State
  6. (8) Michigan State
  7. (9) Fresno State
  8. (13) Stanford
  9. (10) Oregon
  10. (5) Northern Illinois
  11. (12) South Carolina
  12. (4) Oklahoma State
  13. (17) Louisville
  14. (16) Central Florida
  15. (21) Oklahoma
  16. (14) Missouri
  17. (18) Ball State
  18. (19) Clemson
  19. (11) Arizona State
  20. (–) Bowling Green
  21. (22) LSU
  22. (24) Wisconsin
  23. (25) UCLA
  24. (–) East Carolina
  25. (–) BYU

Basically it’s Florida State and a bunch of teams with legitimate claims.  Baylor at 2 is as sensible as the others.  Both Baylor and Auburn got manhandled in conference road games (Baylor against a much better opponent), and Baylor did not have the beneficiary of two miracles to win games.  Alabama, Ohio State have cases if you want to move out of the champion range, although this year there is no need to – Michigan State even would be an honorable choice for #2 if you want it.  So to the BCS:

  1. Florida State v Baylor – Ohio State made this uncomplicated by becoming a 1-loss team.  Baylor’s metrics have been strong all season, they won their conference and their loss was not as bad as Auburn’s.  I have no guilt here.
  2. Auburn, Stanford, Central Florida and Michigan State as the other 4
  3. From my perspective, Fresno State deserves a BCS bid.  As a practical matter, this is not going to be the case.
  4. Notre Dame is a non-issue this year.  However, Alabama is an at-large in the Top 4, so they get automatically into the BCS in this framework.
  5. This leaves either 2 or 3 more at-large bids.  I’d give Fresno a bid – but reality will not.  Ohio State, Oregon and either Fresno State or Oklahoma State get the remaining at-large bids.  Just to mirror the decision set of the BCS lords, I’ll go without Fresno for deliberations.
  6. Orange, Fiesta get the first cracks at non-tied teams.  Alabama is a natural for the Orange Bowl here while Oklahoma State to the Fiesta Bowl keeps the Big 12 tie alive.
  7. Stanford-Michigan State in Pasadena.  Period.
  8. So who does Alabama face?  The straight numbers say Ohio State.  This is an economically viable and really good matchup so why not?
  9. Sugar Bowl: Auburn is on one side, and clearly Central Florida is not the preferred option.  So, it comes down to Oregon, which is a 2010 title game rematch.  Hooray.
  10. Fiesta takes Central Florida, thus:
  • BCS Title: Florida State v Baylor
  • Rose: Michigan State v Stanford
  • Orange: Alabama v Ohio State
  • Sugar: Auburn v Oregon
  • Fiesta: Oklahoma State v Central Florida

Using the rankings to model is interesting too.  Florida State, Baylor, Auburn are fairly obvious semifinalists.  But Alabama vs Michigan State is interesting too.  How much do you weight the conference championship in a case where the performance disparity is significant?  Alabama is #4 in the raw, Michigan State is #6.  It does not feel far enough apart for me to not give the conference titlist a little extra love.  So amazingly, Alabama is shut out of the playoffs.

  • Sugar Bowl (Semifinal 1): Florida State v Michigan State
  • Rose Bowl (Semifinal 2): Baylor v Auburn
  • Orange Bowl: Clemson v Ohio State (Clemson’s ACC pedigree helps here)
  • Cotton Bowl: Alabama v Oklahoma State (we get the Big 12-SEC match which is the future for this bowl)
  • Fiesta Bowl: Stanford v Fresno State (Fresno gets in as the best of the rest here)
  • Chik-Fil-A Bowl: Michigan State v South Carolina (can’t believe I am shutting out Oregon here, but there you go)

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