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Ridley’s College Football Rankings

College football is arguably one of the most debated topics during the last three months of the year (I even include election years, so suck it politicians!). It’s a sport that, had there been no professional football, would be the talking sports heads only topic to speak of from November 1st until January 15th. Of course we don’t debate the scores, and really the Heisman is something we eventually succumb to (and ultimately forget), but what really gets the blood flowing in Americans across this great United States (see how I used patriotism there to get you on my side?) is the rankings in college football. Whether it be the AP or USA Today, BCS or even the preseason poll, college football fans throughout America will undoubtedly whine and bicker about where their team is or isn’t placed in the polls. It’s because of this that I started doing my own college football rankings in during the 2010 season, when my beloved Boise State Broncos were continually being ignored by the pollsters as teams in front of them in the Top 5 continued to fall by the wayside, before their own untimely demise at the hands of the Nevada Wolfpack and Kyle Brontzman’s right foot on Thanksgiving.

Now I’m sure  thinking to yourself that any idiot with half a brain can put 25 college football teams in a ranking order and argue it’s merits. True. But let me reassure you that these rankings are as objective as I can personally make them. Everything presented is based on mathematical formulas using certain criteria I deem important when evaluating college football teams. Think of it is a frittata version of the Jeff Sagarin Rankings. Are these rankings perfect? No, at least not at this point, especially this early in the season, before we can filter out the effects of teams beating wannabes (Arkansas) and overachievers having a fast start (Arizona).

What my current rankings projection is a hybrid using a dash public perception (aka AP Poll) to even out the hard numbers of what has happened so far (like Oregon State playing quality football early). For those of you wondering, the following all play a part in my total formula in some form or fashion:

  • Winning Percentage
  • Strength of schedule
  • Winning on the road
  • Beating inferior opponents easily
  • Rankings of opponents
  • Conference (not all conferences are created equal)

You’ll see that I don’t have margin of victory listed. For the same reasons the BCS excluded it in their formulas years ago: Beating Murray State 69-3 is not more impressive than beating LSU 14-6 (yes, that was an FSU burn). Ok, so I’ll stop delaying, here are the rankings. Feel free to complain in the comment section.

  1. Florida – Florida is a team that’s starting to figure itself out. It started off slowly against Bowling Green, only winning by 13, followed by a narrow victory over now-ranked Texas A&M, but has since followed with victories over two ranked teams (Tennessee on the road and LSU at home), sandwiched around a shellacking of Kentucky. Must See TV is coming October 20th, when the Gators face off with the AP #3 South Carolina Gamecocks.
  2. Alabama – Alabama has made things look easy this season so far, leading to them being the unanimous #1 in the AP poll, but so far, their opponents have lost half their games, and their best victory is over a vastly overrated Michigan squad. Doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t crap my pants if I had to play them, though.
  3. Notre Dame – ND is actually tied with West Virginia when the AP component is added in, but due to their higher status in my rankings, they won out. The Irish have had big wins over Miami (Fl) and Navy to follow their sweep of the Michigan teams, including a then-ranked MSU team on the road. Their defense is scary good right now.
  4. West Virginia – Right now, WVU’s defense couldn’t stop a sloth from climbing a tree, but their offense is like that uncle who can fart on command. Does he always fart, for the heck of it? No, but he does it whenever it’s asked for, or if he wants to put on a show. The fact that I compared the Heisman-favorite Geno Smith to flatulence tickles me to no end (and probably also describes why I’m an unpaid writer).
  5. Oregon State – I’ll be the first to admit that this is probably a big reach, but this is what the numbers dictate. OSU’s top wins are over teams who were extremely overrated (Wisconsin and UCLA, who both failed to receive any points in the AP Poll this week). But hey, we can’t punish the Beavers for the pollsters early oversights. Just watch the Beavers carefully as they cope with life without (all-of-a-sudden) prolific passer Sean Mannion. Their defense should be enough to keep them ranked until November, though.
  6. South Carolina – South Carolina seems to be one of those teams that consistently plays at the level of their opponent, so you never know when they’re going to have a random mind fart and cost them their season. Which team shows up more often: The team that beat Georgia 35-7, or the team that squeaked by Vandy, 17-13? The true tests will come these next two weeks at they face off against LSU and Florida.
  7. Oregon – Oregon probably has the most impressive, non-impressive resume if that makes sense. They drubbed a then-ranked Arizona team 49-0, due to a bevy of turnovers by RichRod’s crew, but haven’t shown that all-systems-go offense that we’re used to seeing from Chip Kelly. Or it could just be that he’s set the bar so high that we expect his team to average more than 52.3 points per game. Yeah, probably the latter.
  8. Kansas State – KSU’s ranking is largely due to their impressive victory over Oklahoma in Norman. To date, their opponent winning percentage is the lowest of the top ten teams on my rankings, at just 39%. The litmus test on their championship legitimacy will come against new Big 12 foe, West Virginia, when the two square off on October 20th (quickly shaping out to be the best weekend of CF this year).
  9. Ohio State – I still don’t know how I feel about this team. They did beat a ranked MSU team on the road (albeit by 1) but also needed a late score against Cal to win and looked unimpressive against the juggerNOTs known as UCF and UAB before deciding they liked football and drubbed Nebraska last week. Given their schedule doesn’t feature a ranked team for the rest of the year (barring comebacks by Wisconsin or Michigan, or Bill O’Brien leading a resurgence at Penn State), I completely expect an undefeated OSU team watching the Big 10 championship at home, which really warms me throughout my loins.
  10. Stanford – Overrated? Likely, but it’s hard to deny what they’ve done so far. Their opponent winning percentage is the 4th highest in all of college football, and by far the highest in the top 25 (fun fact: Kentucky’s opponents to date have gone a combined 29-2 this year, leading to a winning percentage of 93.5%). And they do have close victories over a plucky San Jose State and Arizona, teams we’d expect them to manhandle a little easier. But whenever you’re 4-1 and beat a then-#2 team, you deserve some respect, I guess.
  11. Georgia – Likely wouldn’t have been about 6th before their loss to SC.
  12. Cincinnati – Weak schedule and no ranked teams, but still undefeated.
  13. Texas – The WVU loss likely took them from the top 5. Rest of the resume unimpressive.
  14. Mississippi State – INCREDIBLY weak schedule so far for an SEC team. I wouldn’t jump on this bandwagon yet.
  15. Iowa State – Likely inflated by a win over a ranked TCU team without their starting quarterback. But have played a tough schedule so far.
  16. LSU – Weak schedule and one loss, plus a narrow victory over Auburn drops them down this far.
  17. Rutgers – Big East team coasting through an early easy schedule. “Showdowns” vs. Cincy and Louisville loom.
  18. Louisiana Tech – If this team played in an AQ conference, they’re likely ahead of Texas. Good team, though.
  19. Florida State – An ACC team falters again and shows it’s overrated. Speaking of which, how’s Virginia Tech this year?
  20. Louisville – Too many close wins over inferior teams for me to be high on them. But they do keep winning.
  21. Texas Tech – They’ve played a tough schedule and beat a tough Iowa State team.
  22. USC – Relatively easy schedule with no big wins and a loss in their only big game.
  23. Clemson – High ranking percentage versus a low opponent win percentage tells me Clemson has played some overrated teams.
  24. Ohio – Weak MAC schedule but are undefeated and did beat Penn State in State College.
  25. Oklahoma – Most of this falls on the fact they’ve only played four games. Can easily move up if they keep winning.

Sent all hate mail to hourofpowershow@gmail.com or @hourofpowershow on Twitter.

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