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Can a Team Win If No One Loses?

Apparently, in the NCAA world, this is eminently possible:

When asked to clarify how the NCAA officially views USC’s record from 2005, Jeff Williams, the associate director of media coordination and statistics for the NCAA, provided a link to the organization’s list of USC’s season-by-season records. It lists the Trojans as 0-0 in 2005 and notes that 12 wins and the Rose Bowl loss were vacated.

From a Texas perspective, the NCAA still includes the game as a win.

Sure, we all remember that time Texas beat someone in the Rose Bowl, but apparently that wasn’t really USC, since they didn’t exist that season.

Ridiculous Conclusions After the First Saturday of College Football

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It’s been one week. Actually, it hasn’t even been one week since Ohio State and Virginia Tech play tomorrow. But after the first few days of the season, a few things seem pretty clear.

  • BYU had the play of the day, but also lost Taysom Hill to a season ending injury, again. Kid can’t catch a break.
  • Notre Dame may or may not be very good, but it is clear that Texas is not.
  • The SEC took care of business, aside from Vandy. Mostly against over-matched competition, but Bama and A&M both put up good wins against ranked teams, and Auburn beat a pretty decent Louisville team, albeit with a lot of help from Bobby Petrino’s confusing clock management.
  • The PAC-12 and BIG-10 wanted to brag about having caught the SEC coming into the season, but both conferences had a bunch of L’s after week one, some of which were fairly inexcusable. (see Temple, Portland State, Hawaii, and Marshall)
  • Speaking of that Temple win, can Christian Hackenberg sue PSU for ruining his pro draft potential with that offensive line?
  • A lot of other teams played games that told us nothing because of the competition, others because they were sloppy and rusty.
  • Was it just me or were there a lot of true freshman playing QB? A few due to injury, others just because. That will not help the previous point about sloppiness.
  • LSU cancelled their game against McNeese State after lightning storms delayed the start until past midnight. For some reason, the lack of hotel space in Baton Rouge meant the game could not be played Sunday or Monday, despite the fact that the schools are only about a 2 hour drive apart. I don’t get it.
  • Stanford might have been a tad overrated, or Northwestern might be a lot better than we think.
  • K-State’s band < Ohio State’s band. OSU at least kept the vulgarities off the field. 😉

Seriously, it’s been one game for most schools now and as we know all too well from last season, teams get better as the season progresses. Teams that look woeful and sloppy in the first couple of games can go on to dominate at the end, and teams that dominate against lesser competition early in the year, can prove to be pretty average by the time the season ends. I’m not reading much into the results of Saturday’s games, but they all count, so slipping up this early can make for quite a mountain to climb to get back to where you want to go, and the same thing holds true every single week. That’s what makes it so fun to watch!

What caught your eye during the games this week?

It Might Be Bias But It’s Also a Problem with Preseason Polls

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By now, most of you have probably seen the Rolling Stone article in which they claim to show the bias of ESPN toward the SEC.

I’m not here to agree or disagree with the premise. There is definitely some cheer-leading going on with certain ESPN talking heads, but I don’t know that there’s an institutional bias. I think you can absolutely make the case that ESPN being an investor in the SEC network is a conflict of interest, but if there’s one thing we know about ESPN, apparent conflict of interests have never stopped them before. (They are the broadcast partners of many of the leagues they claim to “cover” from a news perspective after all!)

The one thing that the article really pointed out to me is the way that preseason polls create a real problem when it comes to ranking the teams properly.

Case in point, South Carolina was ranked #9, on the basis, I guess, of being a decent SEC team last year. When they got beat by Texas A&M in the first week of the season, the Aggies were credited with a victory over a top 10 team and rode that, and a few ridiculous non-conference wins, all the way into the top 10 themselves. As A&M lost to Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama in consecutive weeks, they were all, as the article pointed out, credited with beating a “juggernaut” in A&M. But here’s the thing, A&M’s reputation this season was based on beating a South Carolina team that, in fact, stinks. They stand 4-5 after losing to Tennessee this week. (The Vols FIRST conference win by the way)

So in reality, A&M really isn’t a good college football team, nor is South Carolina. The Gamecocks, in turn, beat Georgia, who’s other loss was the embarrassment against Florida on Saturday, another team that isn’t really any good.

Now as it stands, right now, there are some teams from the SEC who are probably overated. I don’t think it is a huge problem for the final four playoff teams as of right now, but moving forward, these 4 teams are going to change, and there’s a good chance that there will be those who argue for a two-loss SEC team, because, “SEC”, when they might not be all that good, due to the teams they’ve beaten being ranked too highly at the start of the season.

As of now, Mississippi State and Florida State are undefeated, and I think if they stay that way, they deserve to be in the playoff. Going undefeated is an accomplishment in any of the Power 5 conferences. I also don’t have much of a problem with Alabama and Auburn because of a couple of impressive non-conference wins. (Bama over WVU, Auburn over K-State) But, TCU, Oregon, Baylor, Kansas State and Michigan State are right behind them. I don’t think, if everything remains the same, either one can afford a loss.

For the record, just to show that I’m not biased, the Preseason Polls also had these rankings that were ridiculous and as these teams started losing, the teams beating them were given too much credit:

#5 Ohio State (ranking was pre-injury to Braxton Miller, clearly not the reality of that team early in the season)

#7 UCLA

#9 South Carolina

#11 Stanford

#15 USC

#23 North Carolina

#24 (Coaches Poll) Texas

Let’s ditch the preseason poll, and let the teams actually show us something before we start ranking them and giving teams extra credit for quality wins that aren’t.

Photo by Diamondduste