2015 College Football Rankings, Week 11

Previous College Football Rankings:
10/5/15

10/12/15

10/19/15

10/26/15

11/02/15

What this ranking is: A ranking of team resumes so far. It’s a combination of many things – avoiding losses is the most important thing, as winning is the name of the game. Unique wins are a good thing, too – being the only team to beat another carries a lot of weight. Being one of two to beat another carries weight, but less. If the losses come to undefeated teams, that matters. And if they didn’t, how many losses the teams that beat you have piled up matter. Also, to a lesser extent, how you won and lost matters – blowouts, close wins, close losses – there are adjustments for all these. But it’s a look at what you’ve done in a vacuum separate from perceptions we hold about CFB teams. This isn’t in awe of Ohio State because of what Ohio State did last year, who coaches the Buckeyes, or the collection of talent on the roster. This is 100% score-based.

What this ranking is not: It’s NOT a measure of the best teams in the country. Try ESPN’s FPI or Football Outsiders’ F/+ rankings for really good measures of the best teams. This ranking is also not predictive – again, try those. A higher ranked team in this list isn’t suggested to be capable of beating a lower ranked team. That is not what this is. There’s an instinct people have to change all rankings into what they want rankings to be, and that’s an easy trap to fall into with OFR’s. “Man, ain’t no way [team ranked #15] is better than [team ranked #30]!” “[Team ranked #20] would destroy [team ranked #10]!” If you have either reaction, or anything similar, you need to re-read this section of the post. It’s just a look at resume, because at the end of the year, that’s what matters most. FSU wasn’t one of the 4 best teams in the country in 2014, but the Seminoles had one of the 4 best resumes, so they made the playoffs.

The Bottom Fourth (#s 128-97)

128. Eastern Michigan (1-9)
127. UCF (0-10)
126. Wyoming (1-9)
125. North Texas (1-8)
124. ULM (1-8)
123. Miami OH (2-8)
122. Charlotte (2-7)
121. Kansas (0-9)
120. Hawaii (2-8)
119. Fresno State (2-7)
118. Massachusetts (1-8)
117. UTSA (1-8)
116. New Mexico State (2-7)
115. SMU (1-8)
114. Florida Atlantic (2-7)
113. Tulane (2-7)
112. UTEP (4-5)
111. Ball State (3-7)
110. Idaho (3-6)
109. Army (2-7)
108. Oregon State (2-7)
107. Georgia State (2-6)

GSU QB Nick Arbuckle (Photo: Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)
GSU QB Nick Arbuckle (Photo: Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

106. Texas State (2-6)
105. Purdue (2-7)
104. FIU (5-5)
103. Old Dominion (4-5)
102. UNLV (3-6)
101. Kent State (3-6)
100. Colorado (4-6)
99. Syracuse (3-6)
98. Boston College (3-7)
97. Colorado State (4-5)

Not Good (#s 96-65)

96. San Jose State (4-5)
95. Wake Forest (3-6)
94. Troy (3-6)
93. Rice (4-5)
92. Vanderbilt (3-6)
91. East Carolina (4-6)
90. Connecticut (5-5)
89. Maryland (2-7)
88. South Alabama (4-4)
87. Middle Tennessee (4-5)
86. New Mexico (5-4)
85. UL-Lafayette (4-4)
84. Virginia (3-6)
83. Kentucky (4-5)
82. Nevada (5-4)
81. Akron (4-5)
80. Ohio (5-4)
79. Rutgers (3-6)
78. South Carolina (3-6)
77. Missouri (4-5)
76. Arizona (5-5)
75. Buffalo (5-4)
74. Iowa State (3-6)
73. Minnesota (4-5)
72. Utah State (5-4)
71. Tulsa (5-4)

Tulsa - Zack Langer
70. Arizona State (4-5)
69. Nebraska (4-6)
68. USF (5-4)
67. Virginia Tech (4-5)
66. Indiana (4-5)
65. Washington (4-5)

Not Bad (#s 64-26)

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) passes against Bethune Cookman in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya (15) passes against Bethune Cookman in the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

64. Georgia Tech (3-6)
63. Illinois (5-4)
62. Texas (4-5)
61. Southern Mississippi (6-3)
60. Air Force (6-3)
59. Central Michigan (5-4)
58. Auburn (5-4)
57. San Diego State (6-3)
56. California (5-4)
55. Arkansas (5-4)
54. Arkansas State (6-3)
53. Kansas State (3-5)
52. Texas Tech (5-5)
51. Louisiana Tech (7-3)
50. Duke (6-3)
49. Georgia (6-3)
48. Western Michigan (6-3)
47. Northern Illinois (6-3)
46. Miami (6-3)
45. NC State (6-3)
44. Marshall (8-2)
43. Boise State (7-2)
42. Texas A&M (6-3)
41. Louisville (5-4)
40. Oregon (6-3)
39. West Virginia (4-4)
38. Cincinnati (5-4)
37. Georgia Southern (6-2)
36. Washington State (6-3)
35. Pittsburgh (6-3)
34. Tennessee (5-4)
33. Western Kentucky (8-2)
32. BYU (7-2)
31. Penn State (7-3)
30. Bowling Green (7-2)
29. Appalachian State (7-2)
28. UCLA (7-2)
27. Ole Miss (7-3)
26. USC (6-3)

Really Good (#s 25-5)

25. Mississippi State (7-2) 
Signature Wins: Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss
Change: -1
The Bulldogs keep hanging around, mostly because they just haven’t played the meat of their schedule yet. That changes this week when the Crimson Tide visits Starkville.
This Week: vs. Alabama

24. Florida State (7-2)
Signature Wins: Miami
Change: +1
So, last week FSU was behind Mississippi State with 1 loss, and now they’re ahead with 2? MSU was previously getting a bump for having played undefeated LSU, but that’s no longer the case. And a schedule with Clemson is vastly different from one without, which is the difference between FSU this week and FSU last week.
This Week: vs. NC State

23. Toledo (7-1)
Signature Wins: Arkansas State
Change: -7
It’s disappointing that Toledo still couldn’t get over the NIU hump. This was the year to do so, with the Huskies having already dropped 3 games. This was clearly Toledo’s window, and silly Tuesday football got in the way.
This Week: vs. Central Michigan

Toledo couldn't highstep their way past Northern Illinois. (Photo: AP Photo/David Richard)
Toledo couldn’t highstep their way past Northern Illinois. (Photo: AP Photo/David Richard)

22. Memphis (8-1)
Signature Wins: Bowling Green, Ole Miss
Change: -12
All year it felt like I was simultaneously shoveling coal for and applying the brakes to the Memphis train. I wanted people to pay attention to Memphis, a mid-major doing great things against a pretty decent schedule, but I also warned of their penchant for surrendering points. Memphis’ loss on Saturday wasn’t all that surprising. They have a brutal November, and the Tigers aren’t quite as good as that Ole Miss game made you think, if that’s all you really knew of them. The Navy loss may not be the last.
This Week: at Houston

21. Wisconsin (8-2)
Signature Wins: none
Change: +5
Against teams that are probably top 40 teams this year, Wisconsin is winless. Luckily, only two such teams have appeared on the schedule, Alabama and Iowa! Northwestern is probably a third, and if Wisconsin wins this weekend, it’ll be their first against an opponent with less than 4 losses, and only their second against one with less than 5 (Illinois is the other, for now). I doubt Wisconsin wins the West, so they seem to be set up nicely for a Captial One or Outback Bowl bid.
This Week: BYE

20. Temple (8-1)
Signature Wins: Penn State
Change: -1
As you’ll see elsewhere in the rankings, Penn State’s mishandling of the end of the Northwestern game really impacted the rankings. Both were 2-loss teams counted as quality wins by several contenders, but now Penn State is a 3 loss team, which is decidedly less helpful to a resume. Northwestern’s win was good for Michigan and Iowa, and bad for Ohio State and Temple. Temple gets to hang around, though, because the only loss was by 4 points to Notre Dame.
This Week: at South Florida

19. North Carolina (8-1)
Signature Wins: Pittsburgh, Duke
Change: +3

I would like Ryan Switzer to know that here in the OFR rankings, UNC was already top 25, now is top 20, and is in position to be much more if they keep winning. Miami will add a minor quality win to the schedule, which will help, but for UNC to make a big move, it’ll need to come in the ACC Championship game against Clemson. Here’s hoping Switzer, owner of over 10 yards per target, a catch rate over 70%, and a target rate over 20% (that’s the triumvirate of benchmarks for being a really good WR, in my estimation), is up to the task.
This Week: vs. Miami

Michigan State QB Connor Cook (Photo: Mike Carter, USA Today Sports)
Michigan State QB Connor Cook (Photo: Mike Carter, USA Today Sports)

18. Michigan State (8-1)
Signature Wins: Michigan, Oregon, Air Force, Western Michigan
Change: -10
Tough luck, Michigan State.
Average luck, Michigan State, if adjusted for the Michigan game.
Despite the nasty end to the Nebraska game, at least the record and spot in the standings represents their true ability a little better. Regression to the mean may not be a fair process, but it’s often a fair result. And in this case, 8-1 Michigan State is fair.
This Week: vs. Maryland

17. Oklahoma (8-1)
Signature Wins: none
Change: +3
There’s a chance, in a month, we could see West Virginia and Tennessee as quality wins, but that’s a bit premature. Things get pretty serious for the Sooners now. Their last 3 opponents have one loss between them.
This Week: at Baylor

16. TCU (8-1)
Signature Wins: none
Change: -4
TCU didn’t drop a ton, mostly because they weren’t overrated to start with, and they lost to an undefeated team. There’s a plausible scenario in which TCU is the country’s second best team and had the misfortune of playing the best. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. TCU will have two more chances to prove itself going forward, and the playoffs are still not completely out of the question if everything goes right.
This Week: vs. Kansas

15. Northwestern (7-2)
Signature Wins: Stanford, Duke, Penn State
Change: +3
Northwestern’s season just won’t die. They have impressive wins and impressive losses (impressive in terms of opponent, not how close they were). I still think there’s another loss along the way somewhere – Wisconsin, perhaps – but until the loss shows up, or Stanford loses, or Michigan or Iowa loses, Northwestern will enjoy a nice spot in the rankings.
This Week: vs. Purdue

14. Navy (7-1)
Signature Wins: Memphis, Air Force
Change: +13
There’s a good chance Navy is here to stay. Other than Notre Dame, no team has played Navy within single digits all year. They smoked Memphis by 25 points. They must travel to Houston, but the schedule sets up nicely. Facing SMU and Tulsa just before Houston allows Navy to kind of ramp up the quality of the spread attack they face little by little. SMU is ok. Tulsa’s a little better. Houston is good. Navy, though, might be better.
This Week: vs. SMU

Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, the FBS' all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. (Photo: Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)
Navy QB Keenan Reynolds, the FBS’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns. (Photo: Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)

13. Utah (8-1)
Signature Wins: Michigan, Oregon
Change: +4
The Utes should be favored in each of the final 3 games, so they’re the favorite for the Pac-12 South. That most likely means a championship game against Stanford. If Utah can go 4-0, the playoffs are still in the mix.
This Week: at Arizona

12. Florida (8-1)
Signature Wins: Georgia, Ole Miss
Change: -5
Florida is a lot like Utah. Utah has better wins, but Florida has a better loss. I guess I liked the combo of LSU loss, Georgia win, and Ole Miss win more than the combo of USC loss, Michigan win, and Oregon win. You could flip these two without much issue, but I didn’t want Florida dropping too much. Still, a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt isn’t particularly inspiring, and LSU’s loss means Florida didn’t lose to an unbeatable team. They play both FSU and the SEC West champ, so they have some mobility available in the coming weeks.
This Week: at South Carolina

11. Houston (9-0)
Signature Wins: none
Change: +3
The remaining undefeated Group of Five team, Houston now becomes everyone’s darling. Funny how not playing anyone better than Louisville or Cincinnati can turn you into a darling. If Houston wins this weekend, at least the adoration will be more justified.
This Week: vs. Memphis

10. Michigan (7-2)
Signature Wins: BYU, Northwestern
Change: -1
My system is set to reward winning more than anything, but Michigan has somehow found a way around that – by losing exclusively to great teams and beating the hell out of everyone else. The Wolverines’ worst game was the 29-26 win over Minnesota. The losses were by a total of 11 points to teams that have collectively lost two games. Every other game has been a blowout in Michigan’s favor. Seriously, the next closest game has been a 28-7 win over UNLV. This ranking is a nice compromise between where their raw W-L record deserves to be (15th or worse) and where their actual ability should rank them (top 7). With Penn State, Ohio State, and a potential Big Ten Championship game to go, Michigan has a lot of room to rise or fall.
This Week: at Indiana

9. Stanford (8-1)
Signature Wins: UCLA, USC, Washington State
Change: +4
The voters and decision makers seem to love Stanford, and they should. But man, that Northwestern loss is still baffling. Stanford and Notre Dame finish the year with a bit of a pre-playoff playoff game, which should be a lot of fun. But first, the Cardinal have to face an Oregon team that has, over the past few weeks, found its identity.
This Week: vs. Oregon

Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman contender. (Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman contender. (Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

8. Baylor (8-0)
Signature Wins: none
Change: +3
If Baylor had its way, they’d face their only quality opponent of 2015 on December 31. Unfortunately, the Big 12 has its way, so November gets real tough real fast.
This Week: vs. Oklahoma

7. Ohio State (9-0)
Signature Wins: Penn State, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan
Change: -3
Why the drop? Well, the Penn State loss certainly contributed, but this really isn’t about Ohio State as much as the teams that jumped them. It’s not all Ohio State’s fault that Virginia Tech turned out to be a dud this year, and NIU, relative to recent NIU teams, turned out the same. Finish with wins against Michigan State, Michigan, and Iowa, and you’ll be fine. But first, yet another opponent that no one really cares about to beat by 10-17 points, which means you can probably find the game on ABC, because all the least interesting Ohio State games are shown on ABC.
This Week: at Illinois, seriously, on ABC.

6. Oklahoma State (9-0)
Signature Wins: TCU
Change: +9
It’s a one-game season, but that one game was really impressive! You’re finally in the conversation, Cowboys. Don’t blow it.
SPOILER: They’ll blow it, but not this week.
This Week: at Iowa State

5. LSU (7-1)
Signature Wins: Florida, Mississippi State, Western Kentucky
Change: -3
There’s an instinct to just forget about LSU after Saturday, but really all Saturday did was bring LSU back to the rest of the pack. They’ve got a better loss than Stanford or Oklahoma or most other 1-loss teams. They’ve got some really solid wins, having beaten 3 teams with 1 or 2 total losses. It’ll get weakened a bit when Bama and Mississippi State play, but LSU still has a really strong resume, the 5th best in the country right now. Unfortunately for LSU, they don’t have quite as many chances to impress from here on out, unless Alabama inexplicably loses two games and LSU gets into the SEC Championship. Big 12 and Big Ten teams will have opportunities to make jumps, but LSU gets a couple of, at-best, 4-loss teams to add to their resume (A&M and Ole Miss) to finish the year.
This Week: vs. Arkansas

The Four

4. Notre Dame (8-1)
Signature Wins: Navy, Temple, USC, Pittsburgh
Change: +2

There’s little doubt right now that Clemson is #1, and Notre Dame lost to Clemson by only 2 points, in Clemson. The quality wins are impressive. Notre Dame is the only remaining team responsible for giving two different teams their only loss. They’ve beaten USC, probably the best 3-loss team in the country. There is a lot to like about Notre Dame’s season so far, except for all the injuries to star players. If both Clemson and Notre Dame win out – which would include a ND win over Stanford – I think we’ll see a potential Clemson-Notre Dame rematch on New Year’s Eve.
This Week: vs. Wake Forest

3. Iowa (9-0)
Signature Wins: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Pittsburgh
Change: —

Another week gone by, another Iowa win. Wash, rinse, repeat.
This Week: vs. Minnesota

Alabama is hitting its stride at the right time. (Photo: Eric Gay/AP)
Alabama is hitting its stride at the right time. (Photo: Eric Gay/AP)

2. Alabama (8-1)
Signature Wins: LSU, Wisconsin, Georgia, Texas A&M
Change: +3

The Tide will probably get to pad its resume with wins over Mississippi State and Florida, so they’re in really nice position, barring any major surprises.
This Week: at Mississippi State

1. Clemson (9-0)
Signature Wins: Notre Dame, Florida State, Appalachian State, Miami, NC State
Change: —

The signature wins are all opponents with less than 4 losses. Not only is Clemson undefeated, but they’ve beaten 3 teams with 2 or fewer losses – tied with LSU for the most. They’ve beaten 5 teams with 3 or fewer losses, the most of any FBS team. They’ve beaten 6 teams with 4 or fewer losses – tied with Alabama for the most. So far, Clemson’s schedule has been on par with anyone’s. And unlike LSU and Alabama, Clemson has gotten through unscathed. They actually have a pretty commanding lead on #1. The #2 team, Alabama, is closer to #6 Oklahoma State than they are to Clemson. #4 Notre Dame is as close to #13 Utah as they are to #1 Clemson. This is the new Clemsoning.
This Week: at Syracuse

About Brent Blackwell 142 Articles
Brent Blackwell also writes for College Football By The Numbers at www.cfbtn.com.

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