BCS Rankings: A Closer Look at Strength of Schedule, Part II

The Florida Gators are One of Several Teams Whose Strength of Schedule Provides a Big BCS Advantage

In part one, we looked at the undefeated and one-loss BCS conference football teams and compared the win percentages of their opponents so far to estimate strength of schedule. However, we came up with some results that just didn’t look right. I mean, Texas Tech at no. 1, Oklahoma at no. 5 — ahead of both Alabama and Oregon. What’s wrong here?

If you looked carefully, you may have detected the problem already — we are giving Texas Tech and Oklahoma credit for opponents they lost to! Why should the Red Raiders be able to count Oklahoma’s five wins if they weren’t able to beat the Sooners head-to-head? Why should the Sooners take credit for Kansas State‘s 7-0 record?

So we need another table, this time only showing winning percentage of the opponents each teams actually beat.

That’s better; at least an unbeaten team (Florida) is back on top, though the pesky Red Raiders are still hanging out in second place. Alabama and Oregon move in front of Oklahoma in this list as well, which is intuitive. Louisville remains at the bottom — the Cardinals haven’t lost, but they haven’t really beaten anybody either. Ohio State and Kansas State both move in front of Cincinnati, since the Bearcats are not allowed to count Toledo‘s seven wins.

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BCS Rankings: A Closer Look at Strength of Schedule, Part I

Mississippi State Has Cruised Along By Beating Inferior Opponents, But They’re Not Alone

Football is unique among college sports because the champion is decided as much by poll as by play on the field. Traditionally the college football polls give the greatest weight to two factors:

  1. How few games a team has lost, regardless of opponent
  2. How many games a team has won against quality opposition

I number them that way because history has clearly shown that is the order of priority – being undefeated carries the most weight with voters, as a general rule. While the BCS has toyed with the idea of rewarding quality wins, that is no longer officially part of the equation. Still, in recent years there has been some consideration given to one-loss teams (and occasionally even a two-loss team) if the schedule is strong enough (and there are no undefeated teams with comparable schedules).

So, the question becomes “who has a comparable schedule and who doesn’t?” Let’s start out trying to answer that question by looking at the teams with zero or one loss after week eight. We’ll also limit ourselves to only the BCS-AQ conferences (plus Notre Dame) for now.These are the teams you would normally expect to see at the top of the polls, and it’s not far off from what the BCS poll gives us. The order isn’t exactly the same – I’ve placed Ohio State at the top simply because they have the most wins without a loss. Another big difference is in the fact that some two-loss teams like South Carolina, Stanford, and West Virginia are allowed to remain in the top 20 in the BCS.

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ACC Football 2012 Midseason Strength of Schedule

What Do ACC Teams’ Strength of Schedules Look Like Halfway Through the Season?

First and foremost, big nod to FBSchedules.com for putting this information together in one place earlier today. And while the overall strength of schedule data is interesting fodder, what we’re focusing on here is the ACC. How difficult have the league’s teams’ schedules been so far, and what lies ahead? This also relates to Clemson and Florida State’s very fleeting national championship hopes, and whether or not their upcoming opponents could provide enough of a boost to get them into the title game.

Strength of Schedule, Based on Previous Opponents (FBS & FCS Combined)

*Number to the left is based on the overall rankings

6. Syracuse (.762 opposing winning percentage)

13. Virginia (.714)

18. Miami (.704)

57. NC State (.607)

61. Wake Forest (.593)

64. Maryland (.591)

77. Boston College (.565)

92. Florida State (.552)

115. North Carolina (.500)

115. Georgia Tech (.500)

115. Pittsburgh (.500)

147. Clemson (.464)

149. Duke (.462)

162. Virginia Tech (.444)

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What’s Wrong with the Virginia Tech Defense?

Unlike Past Seasons, Virginia Tech’s Defense Has Frequently Found Itself Out of Place in 2012

Returning Starters

If you read any of the preseason articles about Virginia Tech‘s 2012 football team, there was one thing that was stated over and over – the Hokies were returning almost everyone on defense, so it was conventional wisdom that the Hokie D should be even better than last year. That was a very seductive argument, which unfortunately ignores some basic facts.

For example, one writer pointed out that nine of the 11 starters were returning, which was technically true. However, when you look at the 2012 defense vs. 2011 position-by-position, you see a slightly different picture

Now you can see the rest of the story – while those 9 players may have returned, only 5 players started the season at the same position.

Another thing you have to look at it who did not return.

  • Tariq Edwards – still on the team, but underwent surgery to alleviate pain associated with a stress fracture in his shin during the offseason; he missed first three games and may not be 100-percent recovered even now.
  • Jayron Hosley – a star on last year’s defense, Hosley came out early, and is now a New York Giant in the NFL.
  • Eddie Whitley – provided senior leadership last year, and is now a Dallas Cowboy in the NFL.

The loss of Hosley in particular was a real blow to this defense, since his presence in the defensive backfield allowed the team to do some things in the front seven to compensate (honestly) for a lack of size in the defensive line.

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Research Triangle Football: Duke, North Carolina, NC State Looking For Best Collective Season Ever

NC State’s Huge Upset Over Florida State Was Just Part of a Huge Weekend for Research Triangle Football

It’s no secret that the ACC – and more specifically, its Research Triangle schools (North Carolina, Duke and NC State) – has always been a bit more focused on basketball than football. Yet on Saturday, as Tar Heel Blog alludes to, all eyes appeared to be on the Triangle’s gridiron squads. Duke beat Virginia, 42-17, to get to 5-1 on the year. North Carolina trounced Coastal Division-favorite Virginia Tech, 48-34, saddling the Hokies’ defense with one of its worst performances in decades. And of course, there was NC State. Two-touchdown underdogs versus Florida State, the Wolfpack pulled off the seemingly impossible on Saturday night, and beat the ‘Noles 17-16. It was the first time since 1994 that all three teams won ACC home games on the same day. A historical day, for sure. But is it part of a historical season for the three Triangle schools?

At a combined 13-5 right now, that may seem like a weighty statement. But taking a look at past seasons, the combined .722 winning percentage so far would translate to the best combined mark for the three schools since the ACC began play in 1953:

Top Five Seasons, Combined Winning Percentage

2012: .722

1963: .710

1972: .706

1957: .704

1994: .694

Out of a possible 60 seasons (including this one), the Triangle schools have only finished with a winning percentage of .500 or better 28 times, and .600 or better just eight. Obviously we’re only about halfway through 2012, though, so the numbers won’t necessarily hold. But what’s the most realistic, best-case scenario look like?

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Non-Conference Games: How does the ACC compare?

We Take a Look at How the ACC Performs Out-of-Conference, Compared to Other Leagues

Conferences earn their reputations relative to each other when they play non-conference (or inter-conference) games. Win a bunch and your reputation soars; lose these games and, well, you’re just a loser. With that in mind, how does the ACC compare to the other major football conferences?

We’ve seen three weeks, or almost one quarter of a season of college football, so far.  What have we learned? If you just look at the raw numbers tossed out by most newspapers, magazines, websites, and ESPN, you’ll see something like this:

Big XII 22-2, SEC 23-6, ACC 23-7, Big Ten 26-10, Pac-12 23-9Many people would point to these numbers and say “See, the Big 12 and the SEC are clearly the two best conferences!” Never mind for the moment that the SEC only leads the ACC by one game in 30; this chart doesn’t tell the whole story. In particular, this doesn’t tell us anything about the quality of those wins.

What if we only look at non-conference games versus teams from the six BCS AQ conferences? (That means we will be including games against the Big East). Here’s how those results look:

Big XII 3-1, Pac-12 6-3, ACC 4-7, Big Ten 4-7, SEC 2-4Whoa, what’s this? The SEC is on the bottom? There must be something wrong with this data!

No, there isn’t. Through week #3, the SEC has the worst record of any of the five major football conferences against BCS AQ-quality opponents.  Furthermore, while the Big 12 remains in the top spot, your eye is drawn to how small the sample size is — only four games against BCS teams?  What are they doing over there in Big 12 country?

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ACC Football Win Total Betting Odds, According to Bovada

Which ACC Teams Have the Highest Expected Win Totals According to the Sports Books?

(Ed. Note: H/T to Cardiac Hill)

Whether you’re a hardcore gambler or not, it’s always fun to look at the betting odds for your respective teams, especially for before the season. Last week, Bovada released their take on most FBS teams’ chances. Some might come off as a bit surprising, while others, maybe not so much.

CBS Sports has the full, easy-to-digest list available up on their site. But for our sake here, we’ll just list the ACC odds below — for the schools that are currently listed, that is. For those that aren’t, we can update as they appear. Agree with the assessment for your school? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.

Boston College Eagles: 5.5 wins; Over (+145)/Under (-175)

Clemson Tigers: 8.5 wins; Over (-130)/Under (EVEN)

Duke Blue Devils: 3.5 wins; Over (-250)/Under (+195)

Blog Home

Florida State Seminoles: 10 wins; Over (-140)/Under (+110)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: 8 wins; Over (+110)/Under (-140)

Maryland Terrapins: 4.5 wins; Over (+115)/Under (-145)

Miami Hurricanes: 7 wins; Over (+145)/Under (-175)

NC State Wolfpack: TBD

North Carolina Tar Heels: 7 wins; Over (-150)/Under (+120)

Pittsburgh Panthers: 7 wins; Over (-130)/Under (EVEN)

Syracuse Orange: 5.5 wins; Over (+195)/Under (-250)

Virginia Cavaliers: 6.5 wins; Over (-105)/Under (-125)

Virginia Tech Hokies: 9 wins; Over (-140)/Under (+110)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons: TBD

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