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2015 College Football Mid-Season Report Cards

Taking a look at college football through four different lenses and seeing how it's panning out.

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Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

I wrote some weird stuff last spring and summer. I compared NFL Combine 40 times to the speed of rain. I removed gerrymandering from the college football conference landscape. I wrote about Gene Chizik, his recipe for disaster, and which teams were following said recipe. I even wrote nine freakin' articles totaling at least 12,000 freakin' words on something called a passing game and how Auburn might think about using one. What a vivid imagination I had, huh?

Now that the 2015 season is nearing the halfway point and because Auburn had a bye last week, I wanted to revisit some of these weird categories I put teams in. But to start it off, let's see if any teams are mimicking Auburn's 2013 season.

The 3-9 Resurrection

Photo Credit: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Media Relations

Nearly two full years ago, Auburn went into College Station and upset the Texas A&M Aggies. The victory alerted the college football universe that the Tigers' 3-9 record in 2012 was fully behind them and they had control of their own destiny. Are any 3-9 teams from last year making the same noise? Not really.

Team 2014 Record 2015 Record Conference Contender?
Syracuse 3-9 3-2 ACC same division as Clemson and FSU
Washington State 3-9 3-2 PAC12 too busy contemplating life
Wake Forest 3-9 3-3 ACC see Syracuse, but worse
Southern Mississippi 3-9 3-3 C-USA possible
San Jose State 3-9 3-3 MWC MWC West, so, sure
Tulane 3-9 2-3 AAC not likely
Vanderbilt 3-9 2-3 SEC why start now?
Florida Atlantic 3-9 1-4 C-USA no
Massachusetts 3-9 1-4 MAC who?
Troy 3-9 1-4 SunBelt doubtful
Purdue 3-9 1-5 B1G hahaha
Kansas 3-9 0-5 Big12 HAHAHAHA

Teams following Gene Chizik's Recipe for Disaster

Chef Chizik

In his first interview after being fired from Auburn, Gene Chizik had this to say about where things went wrong.

No. 1, I'd always make sure that I had viable options at the quarterback position. And No. 2, I'd be very cautious in changing so much so quickly meaning coordinators and offense.

So I found other teams that changed both coordinators and had questions at quarterback between the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Note that I originally included North Carolina, thinking they had changed offensive coordinators, but apparently that wasn't true. *shakes fist in air* PHIL STEEEEEEELE!!!!! It is not included in this list.

Oklahoma spent the off-season getting reacquainted with the Air Raid offense and the old defensive coordinator after the new defensive coordinator that left for the NFL. The quarterback situation is pretty settled, though, as Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield has performed admirably in the first half of the season. But then the Texas game happened. Though not a disaster yet, an undefeated team losing to a 1-4 team is never a good thing.

The Utah Utes are one of the surprises of the year. They beat Michigan in Week 1, which wasn't impressive then, but certainly is now. They blew out Oregon in Autzen, which was impressive then, but not so much anymore. Then they beat previously undefeated Cal. The Utes, with two new coordinators, are suddenly the PAC12 front runner. No disaster here.

Vanderbilt hasn't won many games, but they are stingy on defense. Hey, that's the side of the ball Derek Mason is coordinating, while head coaching. Still, wins over in-state schools like Austin-Peay and MTSU don't inspire much confidence in the Commodores making noise the rest of the season.

South Florida was the team I thought for sure would fall flat on its face. The Voodoo Five blog even thought the same thing. And sure, the Bulls are only 2-3. But there's hope that things are starting to turn around under Willie Taggert. That's doesn't sound disastrous at all.

No, the disaster is happening where I thought it was least likely to happen. Central Florida head coach George O'Leary is having quite a Chizikian year. His Knights haven't won a game all year, even falling to FCS Furman 16-15. An airplane banner called for O'Leary to step down and he did, but only as Athletic Director. Yes, he was also the interim Athletic Director.

The Virtual Reality Eight

At least seven teams have been working with STriVR this season. STriVR is a company using virtual reality to help train football players. A second company, Headcase, is working exclusively with Michigan this year. How are these eight teams performing so far? Is virtual reality helping?

Team Preseason Expectations Results VR helping?
Clemson ACC Contender ACC Contender, Playoff Contender yes
Michigan Harbaugh? 5-1 HARBAUGH!!! yes
Stanford Top-15 team 3-0 in PAC12 maybe
Dartmouth Ivy League Contenders Ivy League Contenders maybe
Vanderbilt Basically Awful Decent Defense maybe
Auburn SEC Champion, Playoff Contender QB Controversy no
Arkansas Top-15 team Lost to Toledo no
Rice C-USA West Contenders Doesn't look good no

Non-gerrymandered rankings

CFB without Gerrymandering

To combat against the evil that is gerrymandering in college football conference realignment, I used the split-line method to generate 16 eight-team conferences based solely on geography and geometry. Click here to see which teams are in which new conference.

I originally used Bill Connelly's projected S&P+ to determine the strength of each new conference, but we have in-season F/+ ratings now. Let's see how things have changed.

Region Name Avg S&P+ YTD rk Avg Proj S&P+ rk Improvement rk
Tenntucky 8.850 1 1.925 3 6.925 1
Michigan and more 5.800 3 -0.475 9 6.275 2
Northeast -2.963 15 -8.575 16 5.613 3
Mid-Atlantic 5.263 4 0.638 6 4.625 4
WIMI 4.650 5 0.450 7 4.200 5
Virgolina -0.550 10 -2.463 14 1.913 6
South California -0.050 9 -0.650 10 0.600 7
Ozarks 7.250 2 6.750 1 0.500 8
Ohiana -0.700 11 -1.038 11 0.338 9
Big Empty 0.975 7 1.363 4 -0.388 10
Old West -2.825 14 -2.225 13 -0.600 11
Northwest 0.463 8 1.313 5 -0.850 12
Central Texas -2.463 13 -1.375 12 -1.088 13
Florida-Georgia DO NOT SAY LINE -2.138 12 -0.313 8 -1.825 14
Loutexassippi -5.750 16 -3.888 15 -1.863 15
Georgabama 3.200 6 6.450 2 -3.250 16

Boy, Tenntucky has really stepped its game up, largely thanks to the aforementioned Clemson Tigers. Michigan and more is doing a lot better than expected thanks to, well, Michigan. Toledo is helping out a lot too.

On the other side of things, Georgabama is doing just fine, but it's certainly not living up to preseason expectations. Georgia Tech is the real problem here. Definitely not one of the teams in Alabama. Unless you're thinking about Troy. Shame on you, Troy.