Tuesday, September 4, 2018

College Football Week 1 Wrap-Up



Every week, I’m going to have a summary of the week’s games and how my computer model views the college football landscape now. I’ll have my top 25, a recap of my picks, and a section about teams that are rising or falling in my rankings. 

Top 25

The biggest complaint I get with my model, especially early on in the season, is that it’s not reactive enough. I’ve tested this out a lot over the years, and I feel very comfortable with how my system “under-reacts”. For example, if a team loses by 3 as a 7 point road favorite, they probably should not be downgraded that much as they barely underperformed expectations, but the polls will likely drop them by 8-10 spots. The number in parenthesis after a team indicates how many spots they’ve risen/fallen this week.

1.      Alabama
2.      Oklahoma (+1)
3.      Georgia (+1)
4.      Wisconsin (-2)
5.      Clemson
Oklahoma rises a decent amount after they killed FAU, Wisconsin falls a little bit for not covering my spread against Western Kentucky.

6.      Ohio State
7.      Washington
8.      Auburn (+1)
9.      Penn State (-1)
10.   UCF
I had Washington as a 1 point favorite and they only lost by 5, so neither team really moves all that much. I think both teams are still solid top-10 teams, that game easily could’ve gone either way. Penn State doesn’t fall as much as they did in the AP poll, as I only had them as an 18 point favorite against Appalachian State.

11.   Stanford
12.   Boston College (+3)
13.   Mississippi State (+1)
14.   Virginia Tech (+11)
15.   Northwestern (+3)
Virginia Tech is shooting up the top 25 after their big win last night, and is in the driver’s seat in the Coastal now. Boston College had an impressive win against a decent UMass team, and Northwestern won as an underdog at Purdue.

16.   Notre Dame (+1)
17.   Texas (-5)
18.   Iowa (+8)
19.   Memphis (+5)
20.   Oklahoma State (+1)
I’m sure many will be surprised that Texas is still in my top 25- they certainly laid an egg against Maryland, but the yards and YPP were pretty even and Texas really got done in by turnovers. I still think they’re a good team and they’ll be favored at home against USC next week. Memphis killed Mercer, and Iowa beat up on a solid NIU team.

21.   Wake Forest (+1)
22.   NC State (-6)
23.   LSU (+19)
24.   USC (+5)
25.   Purdue (-6)
LSU rises a lot after their win over Miami, although they still have to play 4 teams in my top 13. NC State barely scraped by James Madison, and Purdue lost as a favorite to Northwestern, yet both teams remain in the top 25.

Picks Recap

My picks went 3-4 last week, after going 1-0 in week 0. Utah State (+23.5) covered with ease and almost won outright, UNLV (+26) hung with USC for a half and Liberty (+6.5) destroyed Old Dominion. On the losing end, Troy (+10) was demolished by Boise State, Western Michigan (+4.5) was not competitive with Syracuse, Navy (-10) shockingly got throttled by Hawaii and New Mexico State (+21.5) dropped their second straight against Minnesota. I’m not surprised to see most of these games end up far from the listed spreads given that it’s week 1 and no one really has any idea how good anybody is.

Moving Up/Moving Down

Every week I’ll have a section discussing which teams are moving up the most and which teams are moving down the most in my power rankings. The way that I define this is based on how many points I’d favor the team by now over themselves from last week. For example, before Ole Miss beat Texas Tech, my rating for them was 15.59, now it’s 17.06. I’d favor a team with a rating of 17.06 over a team that’s rated 15.59 by 2.5 points on a neutral field, so Ole Miss improved by 2.5 points this week.
Moving Up:
1.      Hawaii
The Rainbow Warriors have been the biggest surprise of the season for me thus far. Before week 0, I projected them as the worst team in FBS. However, they’re off to a 2-0 start and they were double-digit dogs in both games. Their next four games are against Rice, Army, Duquesne and San Jose State. All of those teams are outside my top 100 right now, meaning Hawaii could very quickly hit the over on their 3.5 win total.
2.      Washington State
I was pretty much the only person not picking Boise State to win the MW Mountain division this offseason, as I picked Wyoming instead. That prediction’s not looking too great after week 1, as Boise State just killed Troy on the road while Washington State won big in Laramie. The Cougars rise from #89 to the low 60s on the back of the win, and with the remaining non-con being San Jose State and Eastern Washington, their bowl odds are looking much better now.
3.      Cincinnati
There hasn’t been much to celebrate for the Bearcats since their undefeated regular season a decade ago, but they made a big statement at UCLA on Saturday. The battle for the Old Oaken Bucket is up next, as well as games against Alabama A&M and Ohio. Just like Wazzu, this is a team that took a giant step to bowl eligibility this weekend.
4.      Liberty
The FBS era in Lynchburg started off with a bang as the Flames beat Old Dominion by 42. As a transitional independent, Liberty has a very light schedule that features a rare home-and-home with fellow independent New Mexico State. While they’re not bowl eligible, this is a team that could definitely get to 6 wins.
5.      Maryland
After the recent turmoil in College Park, no one was giving the Terrapins a chance to beat Texas for the second year in a row. However, the Terps played a solid game and built up a big lead and managed to hold onto it. This isn’t the first time Maryland has had a big start to a season- they obviously beat Texas last year in the opener and rattled off a few wins in a row to start 2016 before their season came off the rails. If they can avoid the injury bug this time, they could be a tough out for the powers of the Big Ten East.

Honorable Mentions: Western Kentucky, Boise State, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Toledo

Moving Down (teams whose opponents are covered in “Moving Up” are not included):
1.      Florida Atlantic
FAU over Oklahoma was the trendy week 1 upset pick for many, but Lane Kiffin’s squad got absolutely clobbered. I saw the first quarter of this one, and the Owls were just completely overmatched. They’re no longer my top-rated CUSA team, that honor now belongs to Louisiana Tech after their win at South Alabama.
2.      Troy
I thought that the Trojans would be neck-and-neck with Appalachian State for the Sun Belt East title this year. However, the Trojans failed to get revenge on Boise State for last year’s loss on the blue turf, and it wasn’t really close. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers nearly pulled off the upset in Happy Valley, so this race definitely tilted in favor of App. State. 
3.      Middle Tennessee
The Middle Tennessee/Vanderbilt game has been competitive in recent years, but so much this year. The Commodores smacked the Blue Raiders by 28 and combined with Tennessee’s drubbing at the hands of West Virginia, established themselves as the best team in the Volunteer State. The CUSA East looks more open after the FAU loss but perhaps it’ll be Marshall, not Middle Tennessee, who takes advantage. 
4.      Colorado State
After a shocking loss to Hawaii, the Rams got pounded by Colorado. I had them at #106 in the preseason and they’ve fallen all the way to #125 now. Mike Bobo has fallen quite a ways from being rumored for SEC jobs to now perhaps being on the hot seat in Fort Collins. 
5.      Louisville
The Cardinals did not look even slightly competitive in the first game of the post-Lamar Jackson era. Of course it was against Alabama, but most middle of the road SEC teams put up a better fight than that against the Tide. In a crowded ACC Atlantic, it could be a tough path to bowl eligibility for Louisville.


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