College Football News Preseason Preview Guide

College Football - How to Predict When Teams Are Overrated and Due for an Unexpected Loss
By Ed Bagley

When you understand how to measure the substance of a college football team, you can often predict an unexpected loss. It is more difficult to predict exactly when it will happen. When Stanford upset Southern California 24-23 last Saturday (10-6-07) many people were surprised. I was not.

No. 2-ranked USC was a perfect 4-0 coming into the game and had enjoyed 5 straight seasons of national top-4 finishes, BCS bowl appearances and Pac 10 Conference titles. Stanford was a 6-touchdown underdog, had lost 41-3 at home to Arizona State a week earlier, had lost to USC 42-0 a year ago, and finished last year with a lousy 1-11 record.

So what happened? Study these three sets of figures to identify some clues. The first is the prior week's AP Top 25 Poll, the second is Sagarin's mathematical ratings of a team's performance strength against shared opponents, and the third is Sagarin's mathematical ratings of a team's schedule strength.

The AP Poll is made up of 65 media types who follow and report on college football teams. Sagarin is Jeff Sagarin, who produces the gold standard among rating services. Sagarin's ratings represent the average schedule difficulty faced by each team, taking into account the rating of the opponent and the location of the game.

```AP Top 25 Poll -                  Sagarin Rating -                Schedule Rank1) LSU                            1) LSU                          1) Washington2) Southern California            2) Southern California          2) Notre Dame3) California                     3) Ohio State                   3) Colorado State4) Ohio State                     4) Oklahoma                     4) Stanford5) Wisconsin                      5) California                   5) Marshall6) South Florida                  6) South Florida                6) Tennessee7) Boston College                 7) West Virginia                7) Mississippi8) Kentucky                       8) Arizona State                8) North Carolina9) Florida

9) Florida                      9) Colorado10) Oklahoma                     10) Auburn                      10) AA Sam Houston11) South Carolina               11) Oregon                      11) Auburn12) Georgia                      12) UCLA                        12) Akron13) West Virginia                13) Georgia                     13) Duke14) Oregon                       14) Cincinnati                  14) East Carolina15) Virginia Tech                15) Boston College              15) LA-Monroe16) Hawaii                       16) Kentucky                    16) Florida International17) Missouri                     17) South Carolina              17) Florida State18) Arizona State               18) Missouri                     18) Syracuse19) Texas                       19) Kansas State                 19) UCLA20) Cincinnati                  20) Connecticut                  20) Brigham Young21) Rutgers                     21) Florida State                21) Oregon22) Clemson                     22) Boise State                  22) San Diego State23) Purdue                      23) Purdue                       23) Washington State24) Kansas State                24) Wisconsin                    24) Wake Forest25) Nebraska                    25) Texas                        25) Miami (Ohio)```

How could Stanford upset USC? Well, for one thing, although USC has far more talent, its talent did not show up for the game. USC's talent was "at" the game but not "in" the game.

USC was 4-0 and ranked No. 2 going into the game and Stanford was 1-3 and ranked No. 83, yet Stanford had played the 4th toughest schedule in the country before the Cardinal arrived at USC as the visiting team. USC had played the 38th toughest schedule.

You decide if this was a factor or not. I say it was a factor. Certainly, USC did not think Stanford was that tough of an opponent; the Trojans paid a big price by not being prepared. Here is another example. I have said for weeks that Wisconsin was overrated. The Badgers were 5-0 and ranked No. 5 going into Illinois while the Illini were unranked, but upset Wisconsin 31-26.

Wisconsin may have been ranked No. 5 but its Sagarin rating was No. 24 and the Badgers had played the 90th toughest schedule. Sagarin's rating for Illinois was No. 40, but the Illini had played the 39th toughest schedule.

Still not convinced? Kentucky was 5-0 and ranked No. 8 going into South Carolina and lost to the Gamecocks 38-23.

Kentucky had a Sagarin rating of No. 16 and had played the 92nd toughest schedule. South Carolina was 4-1 and ranked No. 11, had a Sagarin rating of No. 17 and had played the 47th toughest schedule.

In a clash of unbeatens, Purdue was 5-0, ranked No. 23 and hosted the Ohio State Buckeyes who beat them 23-7. Sagarin's rating for Purdue was also No. 23 and the Boilermakers had played the 124th toughest schedule. There is only 119 Division 1-A schools.

Ohio State was also 5-0 and ranked No. 4 with a Sagarin rating of No. 3 and had played the 60th toughest schedule.

Some fans and pundits put no credence in Sagarin. I put a lot of credence in the Sagarin's team ratings and schedule rank, and now you know why. I can with some accuracy predict when a team is overrated and due for an unexpected loss.

Ed Bagley's Blog Publishes Original Articles with Analysis and Commentary on 5 Subjects: Sports, Movie Reviews, Lessons in Life, Jobs and Careers, and Internet Marketing. My intention is to inform, educate, delight and motivate you the reader.

Read my 11 Washington Husky articles including "Meet the Nation's Most Statistically Incredible Team - The University of Washington Huskies", "Anatomy of a Team on the Rise: Washington Will Get Over Freshmanitis and Really Thrive" and "College Football Mayhem: Flagrant Helmet-to-Helmet Shots Need to Stop Before Someone Gets Killed".