Sunday, November 18, 2012

Comparing the 1-loss Contenders - Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Kansas State

So we are down to an unbeaten Notre Dame and a bunch of 1-loss teams that want to make their case for being the #2 team and make it to the BCS title game.  So let's take a look at each team, and the best way to do so is with my computer's performance charts.

We'll go in the order the teams will possibly be in tonight's BCS ratings.

First, Alabama.

Alabama has been pretty consistent, but in their most meaningful game lost to Texas A&M.  Their schedule has been reasonably tough, getting a bit stronger as they played more games within the SEC but has dropped to #32 after this week's game and will go down a bit more after Auburn.  Beating a likely 11-1 Georgia or Florida in the SEC title game would certainly bring that back up.

Next, Georgia.

Georgia has not be as consistent nor dominant as Alabama with several somewhat meaningful games well below their current rating.  They do benefit from losing earlier in the year and do have a decent schedule strength at #38.  In my opinion, Alabama is pretty clearly better than Georgia and my computer agrees having Alabama #2 and Georgia way down at #11 because of their loss and other not so great performances.

Next, Florida.

The next SEC team looks similar to Georgia on the surface, some great results but a loss and a couple below par games, but their loss was not as bad, their high is higher, and their schedule, even with playing Jacksonville State this week is stronger at #17.  For this reason, in my opinion, and my computer's analysis too, they are higher rated than Georgia but not as high as Alabama.

Next, we leave the SEC to look at Oregon.

Oregon is very similar to Alabama, good to great results and pretty consistent, but a glaring big red dot in their most meaningful game.  They are hurt by their loss coming a week later than Alabama's, but despite all the pundits saying otherwise, their schedule is about the same as Alabama's.  It wasn't early in the season as the light blue line indicates, but their schedule is mostly at the end and will improve with Oregon State and possibly UCLA.  For this reason, my computer has them slightly ahead of Alabama.  I personally can make a case either way, it is very close.

Next, Kansas State.

Kansas State looks similar to Alabama and Oregon, but their highs were slightly higher consistently mid-season and that garnered them the #1 spot in my computer for several weeks.  However, their loss is noticeably worse than Alabama's or Oregon's and frankly Florida's too, and that pulls them down to #5 in my computer.  But their schedule is tougher than Alabama and Oregon's at #21, similar to Florida's.  The result is a rating still better than Georgia by a significant margin because they didn't have the close wins Georgia has had.

What do you think?  The media consensus seems to be Alabama is the clear #2 but the data and charts above would seem to indicate it isn't as clear cut as they say.  That said, the two teams I'd argue should be considered instead, Oregon and Florida, may not get to play championship games and if so will likely lose out by not being forefront in pollster's minds in 2 weeks.  Worse, the team that would play Alabama would be enhancing their resume by beating them and while I may not think Georgia is as good as Oregon or Florida, they'd likely get the nod.