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CFB Compu-Picks Ratings, Week Twelve

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... 8) The following teams are ranked materially higher by the model than the BCS: Boise St, Stanford, Alabama, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Arizona, USC, Oregon St (compu-picks had NC St ranked last week, but now that the BCS also has them ranked the difference is no longer material). Putting aside Virginia Tech for now (as noted in previous weeks' notes, this difference is partially due to not counting AA games... though 16th is probably too low for how well they're playing right now), let's look at the other teams. Boise, Stanford and Alabama have been talked about above, so I won't go into them again. Virginia Tech is an interesting case. Part of this difference is that the model doesn't count AA games (which means that the JMU loss doesn't count against them here), but just as important is the fact that they've gone on a tear through the ACC, 7-0 and extremely likely to make it 8-0 as a heavy favorite against Virginia this coming weekend. Compu-picks may have them too high (although to be honest I'm not sure), but the BCS has them too low. Nebraska just dropped seven spots (#8 to #15) for a very close road loss to a top 20 Texas A&M team. You know how many spots compu-picks dropped them? Zero. Yes, last week they were basically tied with #8 (Ohio St) and now they're basically tied with #10 (Arkansas), and their rating did go down a bit (0.60 to 0.58), but they really didn't move much of anything. It might have been reasonable for the system to drop them a spot or two, but the fact that an extremely respectable road loss could drop them like a rock in the BCS rankings is an indictment of the BCS far more than their rating holding steady is an indictment of compu-picks. If ever you wanted a good example of the fact that the BCS actively punishes tough schedules, there you go. Winning that game would have maybe bumped them a spot, while losing that game killed them. And you wonder why some teams (and some leagues for that matter) schedule the most cupcake-laden non-conference slates they can get away with? Arizona is the same type of story as most other teams that compu-picks thinks is underrated: very tough schedule, tendency towards blowout wins and close losses (except at Stanford). Despite what the BCS thinks, there simply aren't 20 teams out there better than the Arizona Wildcats. USC isn't eligible to be ranked by the BCS. If they were eligible, they'd very possibly be ranked. Four losses is never fun, but they've had a tough schedule, they've beaten a top 25 Arizona team and a nearly top 25 Hawaii team, both on the road, and two of their losses have come to elite Oregon and Stanford teams (the Stanford loss was a nail-biter as well). You can kill them and kill them, but they still come back. Oregon St returns to the compu-picks top 25 after a dominant thrashing of USC, right on the heels of an ugly loss to Wazzu. Presuming they lose to Stanford and Oregon, they're going to be one of the best ever 5-7 teams. They will have played each of the top four rated teams by compu-picks, three of which were on the road, which means that they'd be 5-3 against everyone other than the national elites. Of those other three losses, one was by one point in overtime, one was by three points in regulation, and the third was the ugly 17-point loss. Meanwhile they've also logged a pair of dominant wins, 35-7 and 36-7, though the other three wins were all close. Ultimately, this team is MUCH better than their 5-5 record shows. However, if they don't make a bowl game it's ultimately their own fault. The current college football structure rewards weak schedules and punishes hard ones, and by scheduling a far too aggressive non-conference slate (TCU and Boise were both expected to be top 15 at the least, and they were both road games to boot), they put themselves in a position where they could fail. And that's what's happened to them this year. If they'd ditched one of the Boise/TCU games and instead scheduled a home game against, say, Buffalo, or Middle Tennessee St, or Marshall, they'd be already at six wins and heading to a bowl. They scheduled like they were an elite program, able to navigate all the landmines without being vulnerable to injuries and/or bad luck in close games, and barring an upset against Stanford or Oregon, they're going to end up home for holidays because they couldn't overcome injuries and bad luck in close games.

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