2009 College Football Rankings – Week 9

Up to this point, the big story in the C Ratings was that, unusually, no one team was pulling away. The Big Four of Texas, Florida, Alabama, and disrespected Cincinnati kept trading spots. That’s still the case, but now one team has fallen far enough behind the others to fall behind a fifth team, and it’s a doozy – at least considering how much not only the C Ratings, but the whole country, loved them just two weeks – and only one game – ago.

That team is Alabama, and they are solely the victims of a lackluster effort against Tennessee. In some ways it’s unfair for them to drop down, as they had a bye last week – but that bye only dropped them back down to the same number of games the others had. Alabama is now a full eight points behind #3 Cincinnati in the C Rating, a Cincinnati team that is two points behind Florida. If Texas can maintain their current tear, maybe they can be the team that starts pulling away; after leading Florida by only two last week, the satisfying performance the Longhorns had against a good Oklahoma State team gives them a five-point edge this week.

Perhaps, with a good enough performance against an LSU team that can steal the SEC West, Alabama can come roaring back into the Top 4. But perhaps, with the way the Tide have played recently, they’ve set themselves up to fall, and fall hard.

Meanwhile, the team that leapfrogged Alabama may be just as much a story as Alabama’s woes: TCU. The unbeaten Horned Frogs are playing in a year of one of the biggest gaps between the BCS and non-BCS schools since I’ve kept conference ratings and haven’t played Utah, the only other Mountain West team in the Top 25, yet. The unspoken real driving force of TCU’s success, especially in the BCS computers where their ranking is comparable to Cincinnati and Oregon while Boise State languishes further back, isn’t their performance against grossly overrated (yet still good in the A Ratings) BYU or their lackluster performance against Air Force. It’s in their nonconference ACC opposition, especially the way they manhandled Virginia. I’m not ready to pick them for the national title game, but they are a good argument for a playoff. Once again, this week’s rankings do not include games already played.

How the C Ratings are tabulated: First, A Ratings are tabulated by multiplying the total score ratio, which is expressed by (points-opponents’ points)/points, by the winning percentage. Score ratio minimizes the effect of running up the score. Next, B Points for each game are tabulated by (margin of victory)/(opponent’s A rating)+/-1 for wins, and -(margin of loss)/(1-opponent’s A Rating)+/-1 for losses. The “+/-” is + for road games and – for home ones. The total number of B Points is multiplied by the A Rating to get the B Rating. Conference Ratings are tabulated by averaging the B Ratings of all teams in the conference. (Independents are counted separately, and Army and Navy are counted as one conference.) Finally, the C Rating is tabulated by taking the difference between the team’s B Rating and his conference’s rating, taking a fraction of that equal to the fraction of Division I-A the conference makes up, and taking the result off the B Rating. The three ratings go A, B, C across. Click here to see the complete ratings.

1 (1) Texas (8-0)
Big 12 Leader
.806 44.655 39.523 Oklahoma State entered last week in 16th place in the C Ratings, after a big bump up from 27th. After the beating Texas gave them, they fall right back down to 26th.
2 (2) Florida (8-0)
SEC Leader
Princeton-Yale Title
.808 38.870 34.728 Florida gave Georgia an ass-whoopin’ (and eye-pokin’). Too bad Georgia isn’t the Georgia everyone expects them to be at the start of every season. Otherwise the Gators might have overcome what Texas did.
3 (3) Cincinnati (8-0)
Big East Leader
.808 34.697 32.363 The Big East has a better record than the Big 12 in nonconference play and is 2-0 against that conference, while having a better record against good teams than the SEC. Better kick them out of the BCS.
4 (5) TCU (8-0)
Non-BCS Leader
.807 30.359 26.201 Sure, it was 3-6 UNLV, but 41-0 is 41-0, especially when the team ahead of you took the week off. San Diego State is little more than a tune-up for a big showdown with Utah.
5 (4) Alabama (8-0) .801 27.164 24.193 Bama has a pretty good chance to move back into the top four against LSU… assuming they win. If they need the refs to bail them out, what will that mean for their chances going forward?
6 (10) Oregon (7-1)
Pac-10 Leader
2006 Boise State Title
.614 23.450 20.431 “But Boise State beat Oregon handily ON THE FIELD! Even the polls know that!” But the way the system works, the Ducks are more likely to make the title game – and keep in mind, that game was on the blue turf.
7 (6) Boise State (8-0) .817 23.939 19.945 BSU is still a team that was good enough TO beat the presumptive Pac-10 champions fairly handily, even if it was at home. But they’ll likely be shut out of the BCS entirely by the team that beat them in the Poinsettia Bowl last year.
8 (9) Penn State (8-1)
Big Ten Leader
.720 21.591 18.624 “But Iowa beat Penn State in State College ON THE FIELD! Even the polls know that!” But since then, the Hawkeyes have been on the seat of their pants while PSU picked up big road wins over 5-4 teams.
9 (7) Iowa (9-0) .720 21.591 18.624 The Cardiac Hawkeyes’ struggles finally catch up to them in the C Ratings as Penn State passes them, and the AP poll has them 8th behind my top seven. When will the coaches finally drop them behind Cincinnati?
10 (8) Pittsburgh (7-1) .629 16.859 15.714 After the bye, back to work for Pitt against Syracuse. Then comes three straight against teams ranked in my top 25. If the Big East is better than you think, might Pitt be a good choice for a BCS bowl?
11 (14) Ohio State (7-2) .588 12.914 10.743 USC lost, V-Tech lost, and despite Oklahoma beating a team over .500, Ohio State benefited more from a complete shut-out of New Mexico State. And unlike the team they play this week, they control their own Rose Bowl destiny.
12 (11) Virginia Tech (5-3)
ACC Leader
.389 11.875 9.860 V-Tech has fallen off the map by losing games they should have won – especially the North Carolina loss, which all but eliminated them from the Coastal. But both conference losses were close and the G-Tech one was on the road.
13 (12) Oklahoma (5-3) .445 11,479 9.665 K-State is actually decent by Big 12 North standards at 5-4, and their A Rating isn’t really bad at .301, but the schedule didn’t hold up, and really, winning by only 12 at home? And now they travel to the possible cream of the North crop…
14 (15) LSU (7-1) .610 10.418 9.121 BCS haters should root for LSU against Alabama – a one-loss team making the title game ahead of an unbeaten BCS team could be the straw that breaks the BCS, especially a one-loss team that beat weak MSU and Georgia by one score.
15 (19) Georgia Tech (8-1) .572 7.351 5.788 G-Tech haven’t proved they deserve a Top 10 ranking yet – the close games and loss were against good teams but there are too many of them and the nonconference is nonexistent. 4-5 Wake probably won’t help.
16 (17) Clemson (5-3) .417 6.784 5.277 What will it take for Clemson to be ranked in the polls and be recognized for beating Miami and their only questionable loss coming on the road to Maryland by three? They’re close now; will beating Florida State be enough?
17 (21) Texas Tech (6-3) .448 6.255 4.963 After beating up on once-mighty Kansas, the Red Raiders are now in a similar position as Clemson: just on the outskirts of the polls. But the Oklahoma schools are next, and both will be tough, especially with OSU on the road.
18 (20) Nebraska (5-3) .421 5.031 3.861 Got back on track by beating Baylor, and Texas A&M, the team that bedeviled Texas Tech, gave them a gift: they beat Iowa State and the Huskers once again control their own destiny in the Big 12 North.
19 (13) USC (6-2) .486 5.263 3.760 USC’s nearly decade-long streak of Pac-10 titles will come to an end. Oregon would have to lose three of their last four, and one more stumble would put the Trojans behind Arizona, Stanford, Cal, AND Oregon State.
20 (24) Notre Dame (6-2) .457 2.432 2.432 Notre Dame can smell a BCS bowl, but don’t celebrate too early. Two Big East opponents ahead will give them a test, including on the road against underrated Pitt. And losing to USC at home now looks disappointing.
21 (23) Utah (7-1) .582 4.659 2.429 The win over Wyoming wasn’t really by that much more than the win over Air Force, which is why Notre Dame leapfrogs them. Their warmup for TCU will be horrible New Mexico at home. The Utes will win, but by how much?
22 (22) Arizona (5-2) .433 2.936 1.627 Hold pat because the bye is offset by other teams losing. Now they get the Pac-10’s worst team at home. The Wildcats’ litmus test games still lurk ahead on the schedule.
23 (29) Tennessee (4-4)* .293 1.328 .941 Tennessee gave the rest of the SEC the blueprint to beat Florida, came within a blown call of beating Alabama, and just won the winner-moves-in contest against South Carolina fairly handily. But 4-4 is still 4-4 with the UCLA loss.
24 (18) West Virginia (6-2) .467 .986 .899 South Florida’s only losses are to the Big East’s big two, so why is WVU still ahead of them? USF wasn’t competitive in those losses and the game was in Tampa. Louisville is now a tuneup for the Bulls’ own date with the Big Two.
25 (27) Miami (FL) (6-2) .436 1.703 .705 Their last game was a one-point win over mediocre Wake Forest and they faced bad teams after V-Tech loss, but other teams lost, G-Tech keeps winning, and they just need G-Tech to lose once and the Coastal is theirs.

27 teams total with positive C Rating (none with negative B Rating)

Off Top 25: #26 Oklahoma State (was #16), #32 Mississippi (was #25)

Watch List: #26 Oklahoma State, #27 Connecticut

Other Positive B Ratings: #29 Air Force*, #31 Fresno State, #36 Temple, #37 Houston, #39 Northern Illinois (*=Newly Positive)

No Longer Positive: #32 Mississippi, #33 Oregon State, #47 South Carolina, #52 Central Michigan

Bottom 10: #111 San Jose State, #112 Memphis, #113 Miami (OH), #114 Washington State, #115 New Mexico State, #116 Eastern Michigan, #117 Tulane, #118 New Mexico, #119 Western Kentucky, #120 Rice

Conference Rating: #1 Big East (-.321), #2 SEC (-2.549), #3 Big 12 (-6.668), #4 ACC (-8.281), #5 Big 10 (-10.772), #6 Pac-10 (-12.770), #7 Mountain West (-25.080), #8 WAC (-29.315), #9 MAC (-36.678, leader #36 Temple), #10 C-USA (-41.840, leader #37 Houston), #11 Sun Belt (-41.850, leader #44 Troy)

Best game of week: Ohio State @ Penn State, 12:30pm PT, ABC/ESPN2

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