A brief look into Jeff Sagarin's NCAA football rankings this week reveals some pretty interesting things about his (computer's) opinion of the PAC-10.
First off, Jeff's got us ranked at #1 in his "actual" rankings. This isn't what he submits to the BCS, so it's entertaining but more or less irrelevant. Still, I never hate seeing Oregon ranked first in any non-Fulmerian context.
The relevant statistic is the ELO_CHESS one, which is the one he submits to the BCS. We come in at #4 here, behind Boise, TCU, and Oklahoma. I know that others on this site may take issue with our being behind them, but I have no particular problem with it at this time. It's really hard to separate the muddle of undefeated teams, so whatever.
What's interesting, though, is where Ohio State ends up. If the BCS were being calculated this weekend, Jeff Sagarin would have submitted a 23rd place vote for tOSU. That's not a typo, and that's not 23 points (indicating 3rd place) -- that's him saying that they were thiiiiis close to not making his top 25. I haven't checked what the other computers would have given them, but in all likelihood this would have been the lowest, meaning it'd be thrown out. That said, it's certainly still noteworthy, even if it wouldn't impact a theoretical BCS average.
(Of note: JS doesn't take such a pessimistic view of the entire Big Televen. Michigan State leads the conference in 5th, followed by (20) Michigan, then (22) Wisconsin. Okay, it's not a great view of the conference, but at least tOSU doesn't lead the charge.)
Sagarin's conference rankings are where things start to get really interesting.
CONFERENCE CENTRAL MEAN SIMPLE AVERAGE TEAMS WIN50% 1 PAC-10 (A) = 82.66 81.92 ( 1) 10 82.12 ( 1) 2 SOUTHEASTERN (A) = 77.46 77.22 ( 2) 12 77.26 ( 2) 3 BIG 12 (A) = 76.80 76.88 ( 3) 12 76.97 ( 3) 4 BIG TEN (A) = 75.80 74.99 ( 4) 11 75.21 ( 4) 5 I-A INDEPENDENTS (A) = 71.89 71.85 ( 5) 3 71.85 ( 5) 6 ATLANTIC COAST (A) = 71.60 71.69 ( 6) 12 71.65 ( 6) 7 WESTERN ATHLETIC (A) = 70.56 70.79 ( 7) 9 70.62 ( 8) 8 MOUNTAIN WEST (A) = 70.47 70.70 ( 8) 9 70.68 ( 7) 9 BIG EAST (A) = 69.35 69.80 ( 9) 8 69.75 ( 9)
The PAC-10 is Sagarin's favorite, and it's not even close. In fact, it doesn't even matter which average method you use. Since we're such a middle-heavy conference, you might expect us to beat the SEC on the "Central Mean" but not the "Simple Average" -- but we still top them by an impressive 3.7 points even in the simple average category.
Looking into his rankings of PAC-10 teams, you can see immediately why this is the case. (Again, I'm excerpting the ELO_CHESS here, since it's the one that matters.)
(6) Oregon State (!!)
(29) Arizona State
(48) This space intentionally left blank.
(74) Washington State
Our buck-toothed bretheren come in at an impressive #6, rewarded greatly for their difficult schedule. Stanford hangs on tightly to a PAC-10 ranking. Seven of the PAC-10 teams rank in the top 30, and none of those teams are USC. Even lowly WSU brings up the rear with an extremely respectable 74th ranking. According to Jeff Sagarin, were WSU in the Mountain West, they'd come in ahead of 5 teams, including BYU. Were they in the Big East, they'd come in third. (I don't really believe that these things would happen, but that's because my primitive human brain is limited by emotion. This is why we use computers, people!)
But here's really my favorite stat of all, made possible entirely by the chaos brought on by the giant-slaying in Columbia this weekend: Three teams in the PAC-10 are ranked ahead of the entirety of the SEC.
Since conference play has started, I don't really know how much these rankings can fundamentally change. Obviously there will be some movement, but I don't know if there will be the kind of tectonic conference shifting that has happened between the beginning of the season and now. It'll be fun to check back throughout the season and watch.
Final thought: for no reason at all, this was the only computer whose results I chose to investigate this weekend. I'm absolutely sure that at least one or two other computers has a reciprocal hatred for the PAC-10. (If someone wants to check that out, that'd be terrific, since it's likely that I won't have time.) And if Sagarin's rankings are as far off-base as I'm guessing they are from the rest of the computers, then much of these results will get thrown out in the actual BCS calculations anyway. But still, it's pretty sweet to see a computer giving our conference this kind of love.
PS: Check's in the mail, Jeff. Thanks again.