Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SEC or ACC? Top to Bottom, Which is Better?

Note: As of 09/28/12, the formula was revised to better handle losses.  Points will now be deducted based upon the strength of the opponent, with fewer points being lost for better opponents.

FSU's win over Clemson places them squarely in the MNC (Mythical National Championship) picture, along with traditional powers Alabama & LSU and upstarts Oregon and West Virginia.  And no sooner did the lights go out in Doak Campbell Stadium did pundits across the southeast try to compare this FSU team to the SEC.

To the pundits credit, in a sport with no formal playoff, this is a legitimate question.  But in asking the question, the wording is quite wrong.  Instead of asking whether FSU can win the MNC, the question is whether FSU can compete with the SEC.  And because it's asked this way, it leads you to believe the entire SEC is at one level and everyone else a rung below.  Most cry semantics, but it's not.  These teams are not interchangeable, meaning because you lose to one you will automatically lose to the others.  And vice versa, just because beat one does not mean you can beat them all.  It reeks of the idea that the entire SEC is greater than any other team, and that's simply not the case.

Should FSU win the ACC, do they render the ACC complete and move on to the next level, the SEC, like some video game?  Is the ACC Level 1 and the SEC Level 2?  The problem is this isn't a video game, or even European Soccer, it's college football, where the two best teams get one chance to play one game for one MNC.

So the question isn't whether FSU can compete with the SEC.  The question is whether FSU can compete with Alabama or LSU or any other top tier team.

In order to determine if they're ready for the challenge, we've created a point system to determine how good each team is.  Points are earned based upon a team's competition and how they've performed against said competition.

Points are given for wins and losses, and are worth up to eight points, but are inversely related.  If you win, you get the points.  If you lose, you lose the inverse of the points.  For wins:

  • 2 Points - FCS School
  • 4 Points - FBS School not in a BCS conference
  • 6 Points - FBS school in a BCS conference
  • 8 Points - FBS school in the top 4 of their BCS conference
For losses:
  • 8 Points - FCS School
  • 6 Points - FBS School not in a BCS conference
  • 4 Points - FBS school in a BCS conference
  • 2 Points - FBS school in the top 4 of their BCS conference
Also, to account for the performance against an opponent, whether or not a team covered the spread is considered, with an increasing value equal depending on the opponent.  Once again, you cover the spread, you get the points.  You don't cover the spread, you lose the points.
Against the spread points:
  • 4 Points - FCS School
  • 3 Points - FBS School not in a BCS conference
  • 2 Points - FBS school in a BCS conference
  • 1 Points - FBS school in the top 4 of their BCS conference

For example, FSU's win over Wake Forest is worth 12 points (for now, will change as the season progresses): +8 for a win over a FBS team in the top +4 of their BCS conference and 4 more since they covered the spread.  On the other hand, Wake's loss to FSU is worth -6: -2 for the loss and -4 for the spread.  Conversely, FSU's win over Clemson is worth 4 points; +8 for the win and -4 for not covering the spread, while Clemson's loss is worth +2: -2 for the loss and +4 for the spread.

Below is a breakdown of each school in the SEC and ACC and their point totals, along with average points per team.  Teams are sorted by their total points.


1 2 3 4 TOTAL AVG
SEC FLA 2 9 9 9 29 6.93
USC 3 6 6 9 24
BAMA 9 2 9 2 22
UGA 2 9 2 9 22
LSU 1 9 6 3 19
MSST 3 9 2 2 16
MISS 3 6 -6 6 9
TENN 9 1 -6 2 6
TAMU 0 -6 6 3 3
MIZZ 3 -6 6 -6 -3
VAN 2 -7 3 -6 -8
AUB -6 -7 2 2 -9
KENT -6 6 -8 -6 -14
ARK 1 -8 -6 -6 -19


1 2 3 4 TOTAL AVG
ACC FSU 3 2 12 4 21 5.25
CLEM 9 2 1 2 14
MIA 9 -6 1 9 13
WAKE 1 9 -6 6 10
DUKE 6 -6 3 6 9
GT -1 3 9 -6 5
MARY 1 9 -7 2 5
NCSU -7 6 2 3 4
VT 3 1 -7 6 3
UNC 3 -6 -6 6 -3
UVA 2 3 -7 -6 -8
BC -6 3 -7 0 -10

Looking at the results, the SEC definitely has an edge at the top as the top 4 teams all come from the SEC.  It shows FSU would be fifth in the SEC, if all ended now.  But because of the small sample size, FSU is a late Clemson touchdown from being at 29 and tied for first with Florida.  As the sample size increases, we should see a better representation of each team and their potential.  We'll continue to monitor the results to see how the teams stack up against each other.

All things considered, based upon current opponents, I think the argument can be made that FSU is not on par with the upper tier of the SEC.

Also, it should be noted how weak the bottom of the SEC is.  The bottom two, and four of the bottom six, all come from the SEC.  You can argue for the SEC being much stronger at the top, but you can't argue they are stronger top to bottom.  Both conferences have pitiful teams bringing up the lower third.

Please check back next week as we see how the standings shift with another round of games.

All information on spreads taken from Vegas Insider

Teams considered top 4 of their conference.  These will change as the season progresses:



  1. I don't understand how wake is 4th in front of VT

    1. Based on points above.

    2. Wake is getting credit for beating & covering the spread vs UNC & Army while VT has only covered the spread once, against an FCS school. Losing at Pitt and barely beating GT are bringing them down.

      I expect they'll slowly rise towards the top as the season progresses

      Thanks for checking it out

  2. Shouldn't the negative point order be the reverse of the positive point order? You're giving -2 for losing to an FCS opponent and -8 for losing to a quality opponent. That seems backwards.

    1. That's a great comment and one I have already been working on.

      Early iterations were looking at using exactly what you're suggesting, but keeping the spread points as is.

      Using that system, Clemson actually gains 2 points during the FSU game: -2 for the loss and +4 for the spread.

      Thanks for your feedback

  3. Well.. I have a couple of comments based on YOUR logic.
    First, you say the top 5 teams come from the SEC. I count 4, with FSU's 21 points being GREATER than LSU's 19.
    Second, you say FSU would be ranked 6th in the SEC, but by your points system, remember, 21 is greater than 19, which would put them 5th.
    Third, you say FSU is a "late TD by CU from being at 29 tied with UF." Remember the FSU QB sliding on the 4 yard line with under 1 minute, which would have elevated, FSU but lowered CU to a tie with Wake Forest and lowered CU to 10th overall.

    Fouth, Who gives a shit about a the bottom 4 or 5 teams of a 14 team conference? DO YOU? Do you care whether Ole Miss could beat Duke? Old Miss has a couple of National Championships in the last 100 years.. does Duke and Wake Forest...

    Learn how to count first and then twist your logic in any way you like to appease your tater friends.

    1. Thanks for checking it out. I was curious how long it would take for this type of comment to pop up...

      I did change the math for FSU and now show them as 5th - thanks!

      I give a shit about the bottom of each conference because some teams are rewarded for feeding on the bottom while others are punished. Take LSU, for example. They barely beat a rough Auburn team, yet are barely punished, if at all. Yet, should FSU barely squeak by a team similar to Auburn, they will be thoroughly lashed and beaten.

      Why the double standard? Why should teams be propped up as the next coming when all they've done is feast on teams like Vandy & Kentucky?

      So, I care. Those teams have been given a pass for too long and the goal was to attempt to establish something that gives us a metric to use to discuss how good teams really are. Is it perfect? No. Does it carry any weight? No.

      But it may be better than the Harris Poll...

    2. You really need to find a girlfriend because you obviously have too much spare time on your hands. This "system" of yours is terrible.... TERRIBLE.

      You're telling me that Duke is a better team than VT, GT, UNC, UT, TAMU, and Mizzu? You got to be fucking retarded.

    3. While I appreciate the comment, and feedback, I would ask you to keep the language clean. Along with the grammar...

      Duke is an interesting example. Let's look at what their season so far: three convincing wins - albeit over rough teams. But they haven't lost to anyone their not supposed to yet. And that's more than any of those other teams can say. Will they stay in their current spot? No. Will UCS stay 2nd? No. It will continue to refine itself as the year progresses.

      If you have any feedback you'd like add to make it better, feel free to shoot it to me and I'll add. Others have done that and I think it makes it better.

    4. Wow. This Anonymous seems to think you're trying to elevate the SEC with this ranking. Don't worry about them; they don't seem to be smart enough to understand it. Your justification on caring about the bottom of the conference is dead on in your first reply. For his second response, Duke's 4-1 with a win over Wake who beat UNC. VT has looked pretty bad in several games (Logan Thomas can't throw at all) and GT looks terrible, especially on defense. Missouri hasn't looked impressive in any of their SEC games. Tennessee looks pretty decent and A&M lost their only game against a real opponent, but this ranking system will have much more accurate results as the season goes on, as TigerSwag has mentioned.

      I like the new score penalty ordering being switched like we talked about in my comment above. These results look a bit more reasonable. The ordering is actually turning out pretty accurate, even with such a small sample size so far. I'm interested in seeing how this turns out over the course of the season. Keep up the good work, and ignore the idiots.


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