Monday, October 31, 2005
THIS WEEK'S SMQ TOP 25
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SMQ's poll is revamped today, disregarding any previous rankings, as SMQ has tried to do with each poll, while also trying to inject more objectivity into the process and rely less on flawed human perception under the influence of devious MSM brainwashing efforts. This was hopefully achieved by subjectively rating each game played by the 20 or so teams deemed most worthy of scrutiny into an objective, Obviously Flawed Computation System whose further details will not be thrust upon the reader.
The results: not all that different. There is one big winner in the process (Penn State, up to No. 5) and one loser (Miami, down to 13), both moves that could not be justified by the usual method of mere perceptual logic given prior poll positions. This methodology could likely lead to wild, illogical (to flawed mortal perceptions!) swings from week to week; strength of schedule is a huge factor, meaning Miami can leap with a good showing against Virginia Tech, while LSU is sure to suffer regardless of the outcome of its encounter with Appalachian State. If, that is, SMQ continues to use this method beyond this week, which he is not committed to doing - it was used primarily as a way to "start over" using results-based analysis without some of the baggage lingering from preseason and early season assumptions.
Biggest surprise: SMQ's irrational love of Notre Dame turned out to be, within the confines of a system rigged to his specifications, rational. Aided by Georgia's loss, the Irish drop one spot, to six, leapt only by the aforementioned Lions. Overall, the damn thing produced sensible initial results:
SMQ Top 25 (10-30-05)
1. TEXAS: SMQ's new Number One by a mile. This preseason doubter is thoroughly swooning over Vince Young, who is, like, a quarterback superhero or something, dude, with his improved passing. No, the Rose Bowl is NOT inevitable, but the 'Horns have beaten Ohio State on the road and blown out everybody else - namely, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri and Texas Tech, which is a better resume than anyone else has at the moment.
2. SOUTHERN CAL: Hard to drop the mythical champs following a thorough blasting of Washington State, but re-evaluation makes the Arizona State win, particularly, look less impressive than it appeared at the time. Still the best team on paper, but the problems on defense we've seen against mainly Arizona State, Notre Dame, Arizona and Washington will allow Cal and UCLA to stay close...maybe a little too close.
3. VIRGINA TECH: The third very impressive Hokie win of the year (Georgia Tech, West Virginia, now Boston College) earns Tech little additional love from SMQ or the Official Do Not Question Polls - still No. 3 all around. Do they have to beat Miami by 45? No, just beat them, and everything will fall into place, right, right? Just ask Auburn, who couldn't have better things to say about the BCS on this point, SMQ is sure.
4. ALABAMA: Still lurking with LSU, Auburn and potentially the SEC Championship ahead. Of the great defenses in the top 15, SMQ thinks 'Bama's is most reminiscent of a potential from-the-pack underdog (a la Auburn last year or Ohio State in '02, complete with experienced quarterback in breakthrough season on the other side) likely to carry its team on to greenest possible pastures.
5. PENN STATE: The best one loss team? Rage, gnash teeth? Uh, maybe. But only if you really think this same team, with the same on-field results, wouldn't be here in Official Do Not Dispute Polls (PSU is tenth in both) were it wearing Ohio State's uniforms. The "best loss,"on the last play to Michigan, of any of the one-loss teams, and BCS-bound if they hold court.
6. NOTRE DAME: Damn, ten years? Tyrone Willingham started 7-0 at ND, and he was canned after his third season. It would help if Weis had Brady Quinn around for the next decade, but that short passing game can get kind of dicey with a less capable passer. For now, still hanging on to pretty good BCS hopes, which will receive a boost with a win in its last major challenge, against Tennessee.
7. FLORIDA STATE: SMQ defended the guy, but the closer FSU gets to the ACC Championship, the more it seems Chris Rix was singlehandedly submarining this entire program the past four years.
8. UCLA: What is this, East Coast bias? Why not higher? SMQ is not convinced: there is much hoopla around this squad's ongoing karma, fortitude, etc. (four times now in five games with double-digit fourth quarter comebacks), but it remains that the Bruins are slipping behind to teams a legit Top 10 heavy would put away by the middle of the third; of the comebacks, only the effort against Cal is one SMQ would call a "good" win, the rest being frantic, desperate heave-hos over very middling programs. Collectively, there's a tendency to attribute the "special" tag to the rallies as a whole, but none of those comebacks is a very impressive win in itself. The Bruins' resume hangs its hat more on the Oklahoma and Oregon State wins.
9. GEORGIA: Cut a little slack because of D.J. Shockley's absence against Florida, though the lackluster offensive effort the past two weeks remains troubling enough that Shockley had better make an immediate impact when he returns to show it's all Tereshinksy's fault. Still in the best position to fight its way into the SEC Championship from the East.
10. LSU: Tigers drop, and won't be moving up with Appalachian State on deck. SMQ is most interested in the upcoming duel with Alabama, not only for the drama of a potentially scoreless de facto SEC West Championship Game, but also for an interesting intra-office bet between two of his co-workers, which will be worth memorable lowbrow comedy. If the pieces fall correctly, still in line for a mythical national title shot? SMQ thinks not.
11. WISCONSIN: Badgers keep rolling, without a single "bad" win yet by SMQ's estimation. Brian Calhoun: he good. Monster game Saturday at Penn State for the inside track in the Big Ten title race, a sentence that would have made no sense in August.
12. OHIO STATE: The defense showed some chinks against Minnesota, giving up way over 500 total yards, but the offense looked as explosive as it could be expected to look; probably peaked, actually, against the porous Gophers. Look out if it hasn't.
13. MIAMI: Hmmm, 13 seems unfair, does it not? But that's what happens when you line up against the likes of South Florida, Temple, Duke and North Carolina for a month straight. The case can be made Saturday night in Blacksburg.
14. FLORIDA: SMQ is thrilled, at Tennessee's expense, that the Spurrier Bowl in a couple weeks will have some meaning after all; we're one Georgia upset away from having some tangible stakes on the line for UF-USC.
15. OREGON: One of several relatively unheralded teams riding a favorable schedule to the verge of an improbable and unspectacular 10-1 season. Get by Cal, and it seems more than likely.
16. AUBURN: Steady win, little new to report. Georgia and Alabama offer chances to turn heads, and start a deafening buzz about next year.
17. MICHIGAN: This is what we expected: four good wins (Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Northwestern, all while seemingly peaking) in its last five has UM hitting the stretch playing the way everyone thought the Wolverines would all season. SMQ said after the loss to Wisconsin, the sky is not falling here. Still towards the front of the line for one of those nice Florida consolation bowls in January.
18. COLORADO: Schooling folks in this crummy division. Can make wrapping up the Big XII North (would make fourth title in five years) a mere technicality with a win over fading Missouri in Boulder Saturday.
19. WEST VIRGINIA: Is anyone else comfortable with the Mountaineers as a one-loss BCS participant? Does that seem right? Not to SMQ, who can only name maybe a half dozen players on this roster without looking (Adam Bednarik, Pat White, Jason Gwaltney, Dan Mozes, Jahmille Addae, Pernell Williams, uh...).
20. BOSTON COLLEGE: Well, that was fun while it lasted, huh? BC's return to the upper middle class is soured only because it had a quick taste of the sweet life before V-Tech ejected them from the club (get some of those multi-colored sleeves to wear under your jerseys, Eagles...then you'll be cool).
21. TEXAS TECH: Best win so far over a game Baylor team SMQ thought would pose more problems, and did for two and a half quarters. Still the opportunity to become the worst 10-1 team in Big Eight/XII history.
22. TCU: Pundits would be flipping out over TCU, again (BCS Buster! BCS Buster!), had they not blown a game somehow to SMU. As it is, the Frogs are rolling to the Mountain West title in their first year in the league; will clinch the Liberty Bowl berth Saturday against Colorado State.
23. FRESNO STATE: Gut check time for the Bulldogs coming in two weeks: de facto WAC Championship against Boise State, then at Southern Cal.
24. GEORGIA TECH: Win over Auburn, at least, remains impressive; so does Calvin Johnson. Chance to make some more noise with Virginia, Miami and Georgia remaining.
25. CALIFORNIA: The Bears have been so nondescript, SMQ originally placed UTEP in this spot before he remembered about good ol' Cal. A chance for the first real quality win of the season Saturday against Oregon.
WAITING: UTEP, Louisville, Northwestern, Minnesota, Rutgers
OUT: Minnesota (17), Northwestern (18), Tennessee (21)
IN: Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, California
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2. I'm getting all your apostrophes as a triplet of wack characters.
On my Top 25 scheme, I looked at each game played by the top 20 or 21 teams and assigned a rating from 1 to 10. This was totally subjective. A 10 would be a blowout over an elite team, or at least a solid whacking; there were no 10s. A 1 would be a loss to a terrible team - also no 1s. Most games were 6s or 7s - strong wins over mediocre to decent teams. Some losses were worth more than, say, a win over a I-AA team, which was automatically punished with a 4. Notre Dame picked up a 5 for its loss to USC, for example (there were more explicit guidelines I made for the numbers, determined by margin of victory, or defeat, and strength of opponent). Then I averaged the scores together.
The only 9s, the most impressive wins this year, were: Alabama over Florida, Texas over Oklahoma and Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech. None of those losers are "elite," but then, once you're blown out, elite status is out the window. So a 10 may actually be impossible.
I'm open to criticisms here, since I never meant for this to be a lockdown foolproof every week sabremetrics thing.