In trying to analyze the field of candidates for the BCS title game, I’ve taken a look at strength of schedule and at good wins and bad losses. It’s time to check out the last refuge of the geek: statistics!
Seriously, SOS and wins and losses don’t paint a complete picture of the quality of a team. What they do is help give those of us that don’t get to follow some teams as closely as others an indication of their merits. In other words, if the best team in the country plays a poor schedule, in and of itself, that doesn’t make it a lesser football team qualitatively; it may be that it’s harder to measure that team’s worth.
It would stand to reason that a very good team playing less than a top shelf schedule should be able to dominate its competition in a way that perhaps an equally good team playing a tougher slate could not. And that should be reflected in the team stats.
So, let’s take a look at how the top 10 BCS schools look in the NCAA stats. We’ll grade each on how many categories (the NCAA tracks a total of 17) each school appears in the top 12 and bottom 12 of them (twelve representing 10% of the 119 D-1 universe). As general propositions, (1) good teams should appear more at the top; and (2) good teams playing weaker schedules shouldn’t be poor statistical performers.
Here’s what you get through yesterday’s games:
- Missouri. 5 top twelve; 2 bottom twelve.
- West Virginia. 7 top twelve; 1 bottom twelve.
- Ohio State. 7 top twelve ( four #1s!); 1 bottom twelve.
- Georgia. 0 top twelve; 0 bottom twelve.
- Kansas. 9 top twelve; 2 bottom twelve.
- Virginia Tech. 7 top twelve; 3 bottom twelve.
- LSU. 6 top twelve; 1 bottom twelve.
- Southern California. 6 top twelve; 2 bottom twelve.
- Oklahoma. 6 top twelve; 0 bottom twelve.
- Florida. 6 top twelve; 0 bottom twelve.
So what can we determine from this? Georgia is the only team in the bunch not to appear in the top 10% of any statistical category monitored by the NCAA, although the Dawgs manage to offset that somewhat by not appearing in the bottom twelve schools of any stat categories, either. The best performers on the list are West Virginia, Kansas, Florida, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
The Buckeyes, by the way, are the only team on the list that finished first in the country in more than one statistical category.