March into the South
Win a game, beat SEC
Boise State earns top
College football is back. After months of talk and speculation, fans can finally enjoy a weekend of action with some meaningful games. Boise State marched into the heart of the south and beat Georgia. Oregon traveled to Dallas to face LSU but didn’t fare as well. Final exams in college football start week 1, and we found out a bit about some teams with national championship aspirations. However, a single game for each team doesn’t give The Power Rank much data to contemplate. In fact, we usually only use games from the current year, which implies waiting until week 4 for the first rankings. With such sparse data, one got whiplash trying to following the rankings those early weeks, as teams would bounce from 20th to 60th to 14th in the span of weeks (USC last year). This year, our early season rankings use a moving one year window of games. For week 1, we use all games since week 2 of last year, and this season’s games have twice the importance as last year’s games.
With this system, Boise State tops our week 1 rankings. They played a road game against Georgia in Atlanta and won 35-21. The margin of victory could have been larger, as Boise State got the ball on downs at the Georgia 3 yard line with 8 seconds remaining. Instead of attempting to impress any voters with another score, they kneeled on the ball. Classy. Oregon finished atop the rankings last season but dropped to second after a 40-27 loss to LSU. In the AP poll, the Ducks dropped from 3rd to 13th. This highlights the key distinction between The Power Rank and human rankings: homo sapiens place an enormous importance on the recent past. The algorithm, as it contains games from last year, remembers that Oregon was a pretty good team last year. Particularly towards the end of this season, we’ll see how The Power Rank tends to stabilize while human polls will make drastic changes based on a single game.
1. Boise State. Rivals.com had Kellen Moore as the 31st best quarterback in the 2006 recruiting class. The most similar quarterback was Matt Ballenger, who went to Colorado. One day, we here at The Power Rank hope to understand the success of the Boise State football program. Part of the answer must be their ability to recruit good football players no matter how goofy they look.
2. Oregon. Against LSU, the Ducks had 4 turnovers, including a play in which punt returner Kenyon Barner handed the ball to LSU for a touchdown. No team in America is going to beat a tough LSU team when they lose the turnover battle 4-1.
3. Auburn. Utah State marched into Jordan-Hare stadium and held a 38-28 lead with 3:38 left in the game against the defending national champions. Auburn needed two touchdown drives sandwiched around a recovered onside kick to win the game. Coach Gene Chizik said, “Offensively and defensively we’re a long way off of being able to win very many games right now.”
6. TCU. Baylor scored 50 points against TCU on Friday night. In 8 games, the Mountain West scored 75 points against TCU last year. The Horned Frogs lost a wild game to Baylor in which they overcame a 24 point 4th quarter deficit before losing on a field goal. What kind of adjustments will coach Gary Patterson make after this game?
7. LSU. Quarterback Jarrett Lee threw for 4.5 yards an attempt against Oregon. He missed a number of short, easy throws during the game. What would LSU look like with Darron Thomas as quarterback?
Rankings after Week 1, 2011.
1. Boise State, 13-1, 24.31
2. Oregon, 11-3, 20.71
3. Auburn, 15-0, 20.02
4. Stanford, 13-1, 19.84
5. Alabama, 11-3, 19.54
6. TCU, 12-2, 19.04
7. LSU, 12-2, 18.72
8. Ohio State, 13-1, 17.74
9. Oklahoma, 13-2, 17.06
10. Arkansas, 11-3, 16.15
11. Nevada, 12-1, 15.50
12. Wisconsin, 12-2, 15.02
13. Virginia Tech, 13-2, 13.79
14. Nebraska, 11-4, 13.62
15. Missouri, 11-3, 13.15
16. Oklahoma State, 12-2, 12.41
17. Texas A&M, 10-4, 11.77
18. South Carolina, 10-5, 11.63
19. Florida State, 11-4, 11.54
20. North Carolina State, 10-4, 10.49
21. Iowa, 9-5, 10.42
22. West Virginia, 10-4, 10.14
23. San Diego State, 10-4, 10.09
24. Arizona State, 7-6, 9.53
25. Mississippi State, 10-4, 8.59