Ranking the Teams, 10/13/14

Last week I ranked the top 25. This week I rank every FBS team. I didn’t intend to, but storms interfered with my antenna’s reception of Sunday Night Football more than I anticipated, so my plans changed.

Once again, I’ll stress that this is NOT a ranking of who would beat who.  That’s a perfectly fine way to rank teams, if that’s what you’d prefer. It’s 100% subjective, but I think ‘subjective’ has an unfairly negative connotation. It’s fine to be subjective. All are in some way or another. My rankings are decidedly less subjective, but they still have subjectivity.  It’s inescapable when trying to rank teams across multiple conferences with widely varying schedules.

What this IS is a ranking of resumes so far. Which teams have accomplished the most this year?  There will no doubt be teams ranked behind others they would likely beat.  But there won’t be as many ranked behind teams that have actually accomplished more so far. And so far is a pretty important pair of words to keep in mind.  Everything will change.   Nothing about my rankings are predictive or attempt to be.  Now let’s get on with it!

The Top 25

Let’s start with a new #1:

#1 was pretty much automatically going to the winner of MSU/Auburn. (Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

1. Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-0) – Who else could it really be at this point?  MSU is responsible for Auburn’s only loss and half of those suffered by LSU, UAB, South Alabama, and Texas A&M.   They’re #1, and they’ve earned it.

2. Ole Miss Rebels (6-0) – What a bittersweet day for Ole Miss.  On the one hand, they further cemented their stranglehold on the top 2 with a comfortable win over Texas A&M; unfortunately, hated rival Mississippi State stole their spotlight and vaulted into 1st place.  Even if either team loses along the way, we’re looking at the biggest Egg Bowl in history unless something goes drastically wrong.

3. TCU Horned Frogs (4-1) – My first reaction was, “wait, don’t I mean Baylor?” And then I really looked at it more closely.  TCU lost by 3 on the road.  Does the better team always win? I think even the most casual fan of college football knows it doesn’t.  Now, is TCU really the better team? I think Baylor’s home field advantage is probably worth at least 3 points, but even if it isn’t, TCU gets the edge for now.  So far, TCU is responsible for the sole losses on Oklahoma and Minnesota’s respective schedules. If both Oklahoma and Minnesota go 11-1, this won’t look out of the ordinary. And until they lose again, they’re one-loss teams. I expect at least Minnesota to lose again, so I expect TCU’s hold on this spot is temporary, although they have the opportunity this weekend to keep going strong against Oklahoma State.

4. Baylor Bears (6-0) – Sorry, Baylor.  You beat TCU at home in basically a coin flip of a game, but you just haven’t played anyone else. West Virginia and Kansas won’t save the schedule, but patience will work in your favor, as you get to finish with Oklahoma, OK State, and Kansas State in the final five weeks.

5. Florida State Seminoles (6-0) – They look good, just not as good as last year.  Also, the schedule has been pretty weak.  They should have lost to Clemson, though I don’t factor that into the rankings. NC State no longer looks like a quality win (if we were ever really believing that it was, and we weren’t).  How many teams on FSU’s schedule would really say FSU has been their toughest opponent? Not Clemson. Not NC State.  Not Syracuse. Oklahoma State is the saving grace of the lackluster first half of this schedule.  Finally FSU can go get some big win momentum this weekend against Notre Dame.

6. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-0) – Oh, people will lazily compare them to 2007 Hawaii, but that’s an unfair comparison. That Hawaii team also rode a high octane offense and an easy schedule to a perfect record, as the Herd are likely to do, but so far, the similarities end there. The 2007 Rainbow Warriors were taken to OT twice, won another 3 games by 7 points or less, and won 2 other games by less than 3 TDs. Marshall’s closest game so far is a 42-27 win. One of my favorite team statistics is Total Point Percentage, which I made up a few years ago and kept secret from the internet for no good reason. It’s very simple – what % of total points scored in games featuring a particular team were scored by that team? Prior to the Sugar Bowl mismatch, 2007 Hawaii had a TPP of 65.6%.  Marshall’s is at 75.5%. Marshall is playing really well. Yes, they’re doing it against weak competition, but they’re doing absolutely everything they can with the opportunities they have, and there’s not much more you can ask.

7. Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1) – The Arkansas game wasn’t the best, and it hurt the Tide just a bit, but it was a win, and their only loss remains a 6-point tilt against a team that has so far been impossible to defeat. They have some blowouts, and remain one of just two to defeat Florida, which still counts for something at this point, believe it or not.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0) – I mentioned this last week, but Notre Dame’s schedule just isn’t helping them as much as they hoped it would.  They have a 3 point home win against a Stanford team that was 3 time zones away from home and had already lost.  Let’s not build that up to be more than it is. The rest of the schedule features nothing but bad teams – Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, and North Carolina are praying for bowl eligibility and little more this year. ND’s second half of the year looks like it could actually help them if they win, and nothing looks bigger than this Saturday’s game in Tallahassee.

9. Oregon Ducks (5-1) – The Ducks won by 12 at UCLA, which is impressive at this point. It could have moved them higher had Arizona not lost, meaning the Ducks now lost a game that someone else figured out how to win.

10. Auburn Tigers (5-1) – They’d be higher if the loss to Mississippi State wasn’t so decisive.At this point, they need Kansas State and LSU to keep winning, and neither seems particularly likely.

11. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-1) – It seems like the Cowboys aren’t getting much love, and I understand why. A 6 point loss to FSU is the best thing on their resume. It’s hard to get excited over a good loss, but when your next 5 games are Missouri State, UT-San Antonio, Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas, what other option do you have?  They’ve done what they’re generally supposed to do in those games, however, and no one else has figured out how to beat FSU, so I have OSU 11th.  A win this weekend against TCU would mean a quality win, which would be nice.

12. Georgia Bulldogs (5-1) – I left UGA out of my top 25 last week, and there was some dissension from some UGA-loving friends of mine. But prior to the trip to Missouri, UGA really just had a win over Clemson and one loss more embarrassing than most others I listed.  The Missouri game shows how one game in half a season can really shift things in a team’s favor. �Also, another week into the season, as losses pile up for other teams, the Clemson game looks slightly better than it did a week ago. If Clemson keeps winning, Georgia keeps reaping the benefits in my rankings.  (As a Georgia fan, I would like to say to heck with the rankings, as it’d be just fine with me if Clemson only beats Georgia Tech and South Carolina down the stretch) But back to Georgia – I don’t think any team really invigorated its fanbase more on Saturday than the Bulldawgs did.  Sure, others beat bigger opponents and made bigger moves in the standings, but Georgia fans were ready to punt on the season after news of Todd Gurley‘s suspension. Such a reaction is silly, of course – running back is perhaps the most replaceable position on a team, especially if you have more talent there than any other program in the country, as Georgia does.  Sure, things are a bit thin without Keith Marshall and Sony Michel and AJ Turman, but even when you took those 18 recruiting stars off the field, Georgia still had 4 more to hand the ball to 38 times. And predictably, the highly recruited freshman did just fine.  He wasn’t Gurley, but neither is Georgia. The defense is making strides, and Georgia is a team that, if it can stay healthy, is likely to be better in November than it was in September. That’s good news for Dawg fans.

13. USC Trojans (4-2) – One loss was on the road 3 time zones away, and the other was on a fluke play (the fluke being USC’s sudden inability to defend it).  The Trojans are one of two teams to beat Stanford, and they’re the only team to have beaten Oregon State or Arizona so far. �It’s hard to know what to make of USC, but they’re 12 points away from being 6-0, and if they were 6-0, they’re likely sitting in the top 5.

14. Oklahoma Sooners (5-1) – The Sooners had a chance to bounce back strong from their 4 point loss at TCU, but instead limped to an entirely too close 31-26 win over a mediocre-at-best Texas team.  If they play like that next week against Kansas State, they’ll lose.

15. Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-1) – Nebraska had a bye, and I still don’t know what to make of them.  They whip bad teams, and lost a very close game on the road at Michigan State. They’re virtually interchangeable with the next couple of teams listed.

16. Kansas State Wildcats (4-1) – The one loss to Auburn doesn’t look as great as it did before the Tigers went to Starkville, meaning KSU managed to lose some ground in a bye week.  They can more than make it up this Saturday against Oklahoma.

17. Stanford Cardinal (4-2) – Stanford is helped by their losses being close, handing Washington its only loss so far, and taking care of business against the weaklings on the schedule.

18. Arizona Wildcats (5-1) – Arizona dealt Oregon a home loss, and this weekend USC gave Arizona a close home loss of their own. Arizona’s loss was a little less surprising, given how dangerous they’d been playing for over a month, winning games by margins of 3, 7, 4, and 7 going into the USC game. They’re one of two teams to beat Cal, but they’re the only one of those teams to also have a win over Oregon, which is why they’re ranked one spot ahead of…

19. Washington Huskies (5-1) – Chris Petersen is just doing what he’s always done.  If, like me, you’ve noticed a lot of Pac-12 teams on the list, it’s because they’re not as far along in conference play as several other leagues, so their records are kind of superficially good at this point.

20. Virginia Tech Hokies (4-2) – The only team to beat Ohio State, their losses were close (10 total points) ones to a pair of one-loss teams. Virginia Tech have a very good shot at winning out, with really only a November 15 game at Duke in their way.

21. Michigan State Spartans (5-1) – Yes, they have the same record as Nebraska, who they beat.  But they barely beat them, and they did so with home field advantage, and frankly got beat handily by an Oregon team that has since lost.

22. Kentucky Wildcats (5-1) – LSU should do everyone a favor and put an end to this nonsense this weekend. It’s weird having to rank them.

23. LSU Tigers (5-2) – It’s mid-October and we’re still crediting people for wins over Florida.  I swear Florida’s record is lying to us.

24. Temple Owls (4-1) – Surprise! The week 2 loss by 7 to Navy looks ugly, seeing how Navy has lost 4 games, but everything else looks about as good as it can, with the Owls taking all 4 wins by at least two scores. Those 4 wins are against an embarrassingly easy slate, but hey, this is likely my one chance to rank Temple this year, so I’m not questioning it.

25. Ohio State Buckeyes (4-1) – Sources indicate OSU has played 5 times, but I’m not sure I believe it – they’ve just seemed so, I don’t know, absent this year. OSU can make up a lot of ground in the coming weeks against Rutgers, Michigan State, and Minnesota.

The Rest

26. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-1)
27. Duke Blue Devils (5-1)
28. Clemson Tigers (4-2)
29. Utah Utes (4-1)
30. Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1)
31. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-1)
32. Georgia Southern Eagles (5-2)
33. Louisville Cardinals (5-2)
34. Colorado State Rams (5-1)
35. Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-1)
36. East Carolina Pirates (5-1)
37. Virginia Cavaliers (4-2)
38. Texas A&M Aggies (5-2)
39. UCLA Bruins (4-2)
40. Wisconsin Badgers (4-2)
41. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-1)
42. Oregon State Beavers (4-1)
43. Northwestern Wildcats (3-3)
44. Florida Gators (3-2)
45. BYU Cougars (4-2)
46. Nevada Wolfpack (3-3)
47. Missouri Tigers (4-2)
48. Boston College Eagles (4-2)
49. Maryland Terrapins (4-2)
50. South Carolina Gamecocks (3-3)
51. California Golden Bears (4-2)
52. Boise State Broncos (4-2)
53. Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3)
54. Tennessee Volunteers (3-3)
55. Utah State Aggies (4-2)
56. South Alabama Jaguars (3-2)
57. Akron Zips (4-2)
58. UCF Knights (3-2)
59. Air Force Falcons (4-2)
60. Memphis Tigers (3-3)
61. West Virginia Mountaineers (4-2)
62. Pittsburgh Panthers (3-3)
63. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2)
64. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (2-3)
65. UAB Blazers (4-2)
66. Miami Hurricanes (4-3)
67. Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-2)
68. Texas State Bobcats (3-2)
69. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-3)
70. Indiana Hoosiers (3-3)
71. Houston Cougars (3-3)
72. Bowling Green Falcons (5-2)
73. Texas Longhorns (2-4)
74. Iowa State Cyclones (2-4)
75. Rice Owls (3-3)
76. Michigan Wolverines (3-4)
77. NC State Wolfpack (4-3)
78. Northern Illinois Huskies (4-2)
79. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (4-3)
80. Colorado Buffaloes (2-4)
81. UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (2-3)
82. San Jose State Spartans (2-3)
83. San Diego State Aztecs (3-3)
84. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-4)
85. UTEP Miners (3-3)
86. Toledo Rockets (4-3)
87. Western Michigan Broncos (3-3)
88. ULM Warhawks (3-3)
89. Washington State Cougars (2-5)
90. FIU Golden Panthers (3-4)
91. Tulane Green Wave (2-4)
92. Syracuse Orange (2-4)
93. Navy Midshipmen (3-4)
94. Wyoming Cowboys (3-3)
95. Cincinnati Bearcats (2-3)
96. Buffalo Bulls (3-4)
97. USF Bulls (2-4)
98. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (2-4)
99. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-4)
100. Army Black Knights (2-4)
101. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2-4)
102. UTSA Roadrunners (2-4)
103. Purdue Boilermakers (3-4)
104. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-4)
105. Kansas Jayhawks (2-4)
106. Fresno State Bulldogs (3-4)
107. Old Dominion Monarchs (3-4)
108. Central Michigan Chippewas (4-3)
109. Ohio Bobcats (3-4)
110. Florida Atlantic Owls (2-4)
111. Ball State Cardinals (1-5)
112. New Mexico Lobos (2-4)
113. Troy Trojans (1-5)
114. Illinois Fighting Illini (3-4)
115. Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-4)
116. Vanderbilt Commodores (2-5)
117. North Texas Mean Green (2-4)
118. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-5)
119. Georgia State Panthers (1-5)
120. Miami (OH) Redhawks (1-6)
121. SMU Mustangs (0-5)
122. Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-5)
123. New Mexico State Aggies (2-5)
124. Connecticut Huskies (1-5)
125. Massachusetts Minutemen (1-6)
126. UNLV Rebels (2-5)
127. Idaho Vandals (0-6)
128. Kent State Golden Flashes (0-6)

About Brent Blackwell 203 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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