Stats Geeks: Need Your Input

Sometime during the middle of the season, amidst all of the "Boise! No, wait - TCU! No, scratch that - Cincinnati!" hoopla, I decided to work up my own FBS ranking system. This is just for grins, mind you - I'm not planning on trying to get it added as a component of the BCS or anything.

Briefly, my "rank reasoning" is as follows:

  • Winning is what counts. Therefore, a win over an FBS school is good for one point. Non-FBS schools don't count.
  • Winning on the road is harder than winning at home. Therefore, winning a road game is worth 1.5 points.
  • Winning by one is not the same as winning by twenty-one. Therefore, winning by more than one possession (>8 points) is worth 1.25 points, and winning by more than two possessions (>16 points) is worth 1.5 points.
  • The quality of the opposition matters. Therefore, some portion of a team's opponents' point totals must be added to that team's point total.

Now, this last point is tricky. The first time through, I simply added each team's opponents' point totals to the team's total, but this produced some weird results - like, for instance, Baylor being ranked ahead of Florida. Oops.

So, I tweaked the formula, and in its current incarnation, the top ten (after the bowl games) looks like this:

  1. Texas
  2. Alabama
  3. Florida
  4. TCU
  5. Boise State
  6. Nebraska
  7. Ohio State
  8. Oregon
  9. VaTech
  10. Penn St.

As you can see, there are still a few "oops" rankings in there - Texas/Alabama, TCU/Boise St., but eight of these ten teams match the final AP top-ten (not necessarily the numerical rank, but the choice of team).

I have not, as far as I know, included any bias toward the 'Horns; there are literally a thousand numerical score results, variables, and formulas on my big honkin' spreadsheet, and I don't think I've tilted any of them toward Austin. Why is Texas, then, ranked ahead of Alabama?

  • Both get 13 points for wins (Bama played one non-FBS school).
  • Both get 7.5 points for road wins.
  • Bama gets 5 points for 1-possession wins; UT gets 2.5
  • UT gets 13.5 points for 2-possession wins; Bama gets 10.5
  • Bama gets 23.35 points for their opponents; UT gets 23.9
  • Total: Bama 59.35 to UT 60.4

SEC trolls will balk at the two-possession wins and opponents' point totals, citing the "strength of the SEC" as a factor. Unfortunately, the point totals for the SEC teams don't substantiate the claim that it's a particularly tough conference to play in.

What I'm looking for from you, fellow BON'ers, is some input on my ranking logic, including your own suggestions for improvement or "what-if" type factors.

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