Week two was pretty much chalk, except for Sparty choking in the desert. But we saw that coming, didn’t we? This week we again get three clashes of AP Top 25 teams, which is great in September. More importantly, we get to see how our Buckeyes match up with one of the better Big XII teams, which are a recent “One True Champion”, even if they shared it with Baylor. With two weeks of game date, the analytic models are only beginning to clean themselves up, so we should expect some more movement in the Top 40 after this week.
Week 2 F/+ Top 40
Week 2 Observations
F/+ Top 10: The top five teams (minus ‘Bama) shuffled themselves, and reflect some of last weekend’s results (Clemson) a little better. The good guys climbed up to #2, and more importantly are separated from #1 'Bama by less than percentage point in F/+ and one point in S&P+. Overall, the Top 10 is now dominated by the SEC (four teams) and the B1G (three teams). The rest of the “Power Five” have one team each in the Top 10. TTUN returns to the Top 10 with a dominant performance last week, and ND slides out after struggling against a similar MAC opponent. I know some will disagree with ND being ranked lower, because they won head-to-head, but it’s just a function of analytics and comparing performance to the mean in college football. And in the end, who cares? It’s the rival and ND.
Overrated: Once AP voters latch on to a team, they refuse to drop them in the rankings until that team loses. It’s human nature. This week, the voters finally wised up to UF and Iowa State dropping them from the rankings. Speaking of dropping like a hot rock: #24 SCar fell 16 places in the AP poll after losing to #3 UGA. When was the last time an SEC team fell 10 spots after losing to another SEC team?
That still leaves several AP ranked teams more than five places above their F/+ ratings: Stanford (+8), Va Tech (+13), and West Virginia (+16). The voters added Houston to the list of overrated teams by ranking them #29 by votes, while their F/+ has the Cougs at #37. This will continue to iron itself out as we add more data.
WVU is still the most overrated team in the AP Top 25, according to analytics. The ‘Neers continue to climb in F/+ (up from a preseason #48 to #30), but are sitting at #14 in the AP Poll. Unfortunately, their game with NC State this Saturday is canceled, so we’ll have to wait until they play K State the following week to see if WVU is for real.
Va Tech more or less held it’s place in the AP Poll only sliding one spot to #13, but that’s well above their F/+ ranking of #26. Hurricane Florence has also canceled their upcoming game with ECU, although I doubt that was going to do much more than reinforce the AP voters’ opinions of their own rankings.
Stanford rounds out this week’s overrated teams from the AP Poll. The Cardinal had a good win last week over USC, but F/+ still ranks them as the #17 team in the country actually falling six places from last week. That’s the price of underperformance in analytics. I doubt a big win over UC-Davis this week will help their F/+. (Shoutout to CalPoppy)
Underrated: Last week’s most underrated teams in the AP Poll were Iowa, TTUN, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Iowa self-corrected by falling in the F/+ with their sleep-walking performance against ISU. The Hawkeyes are now dead even in the AP vote and F/+. TTUN, oSu and aTm are still undervalued by the AP Poll by nine places each. TTUN faces SMU and aTm squares off with ULM, so I don’t see them getting a boost from voters this week. OK State, however, has a test this week with Boise State coming to town. More on that later.
Also in the ranks of AP underrated team this week are Miss State (AP #16, F/+ #8), MSU (AP #25, F/+ #16), BC (AP #28, F/+ #19) and Duke (AP #34, F/+ #23). Most are playing easy OOC games and MSU has a bye, so I don’t see any opportunities for them to move up in the eyes of the voters, yet.
Way Too Early CFP Prediction
No change this week to my top 4: ‘Bama, Clemson, OSU and Oklahoma.
AP “Top 25” Match-ups
I went five for five on my picks last week, which is probably my first perfect week ever. I’m more proud of the fact that I called for UGA, PSU, Clemson and ASU to cover their respective spreads.
Week three only features three AP Top 25 matchups, but they aren’t the lopsided variety we’ve seen seen so far. I’ve also selected a bonus pick, because folks around here seem to like talking about Coach Herman.
#7 Auburn vs. #12 LSU – Let the SEC West cannibalization begin. The Vegas line right now is Tigers by 10.5. That would be the blue and orange variety of tiger. I don't understand this line. S&P+ has LSU as a two-point favorite while FEI has the teams completely reversed. Where Vegas comes up with Auburn -10.5 is beyond me. But my gut tells me Auburn wins this at Jordan-Hare by a TD.
#17 Boise State vs. #24 Oklahoma State – This game is huge for BSU. If they can run the table in the Mountain West, they need a marquis win over a Power Five team to even get a courtesy look at the CFP (not gonna happen). For oSu, a loss isn’t the end of the world, but it might shake their confidence. The Pokes are a two-point favorite at Boone Pickens, which will be rockin’. But, they’re actually a four-point dog in S&P+. This will be a track meet, and the last team to possess the ball wins unless it goes to overtime. I like the Cowboys by one: a two-point conversion in triple OT wins it.
#4 tOSU vs (@) #15 TCU – Vegas has OSU as a 12.5-point favorite. S&P+ says the Buckeyes by 20. I think the Frogs keep it close early, until Wilson and Day can figure out how to exploit Patterson’s defense in the second half. Then, hold on to your butts. Buckeyes by 21 is my opinion.
#22 USC @ Texas – This is interesting. UT finds itself unranked but is a 3.5-point favorite at home against the Trojans. S&P+ actually has the Longhorns as 2.5-point faves at a neutral site, so add in the +1 for home field. I believe Herman will pull it together for USC, and save his season with a win at home. Texas by a FG.