Before the season started, I told y’all I would be bringing back the Sterritt Score, a ranking system I compiled here at College and Mag back in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Well, the time has finally come to release those rankings.
As a refresher, the rankings use a formula with just three simple inputs. The first, margin of victory (MOV), is pretty self explanatory. If Team A beats Team B by a score of 24-10, their MOV is 14 for that game, and Team B’s MOV is -14. The second and slightly more abstract input is knockout time (KOT). The KOT is determined as the last point in the game in which the losing team both a) has the ball, and b) is within one score. Once the losing team no longer has the ability to take the lead or tie, it can be said that the team is knocked out. KOT is measured in minutes. The last input is strength of schedule, which is measured using RPI. RPI is obviously imperfect, especially in college football, but it at least gives some form of opponent adjustment. These three factors are used in a formula which outputs a value for every game, called a Sterritt Score (I’m not creative with names and a little self-centered, sorry), and every team’s averaged Sterritt Score is the basis for the final rankings for their team.
This sounds complicated, but my goal behind it is simple: I want my rankings to be able to be used as a tool to compare how much a team has “dominated” its schedule. If a team got an early lead an kept a comfortable distance from their opponent, they will get a ton of credit for doing that. If a team either sits on a small early lead or takes a big lead late in the game, they will be rewarded for it, but not as much as if they held a BIG lead the entire game. And of course, if a team eeks out a 2 point win on a last second field goal, they won’t get a ton of positive credit for winning what was essentially a coin flip. All of the same things apply in losses, as well. A close loss isn’t all that different than a close win, but bad losses will penalize you greatly. And with the RPI adjustments for each game, a blowout against UTEP will only net you as much as a one-touchdown win over a ranked team, while losing to Rutgers will hurt infinitely more than getting beat (even stomped) by a good team.
As a final note, again remember that this is effectively a resume tool. It is not intended to predict games. But by showing how a team has handled the teams on its schedule, with no preseason biases, I hope I can provide some solid insight into which teams have “earned it”.
Ladies and gentlemen, what you’ve all been waiting for. Here is the first edition of the 2018 Sterritt Score!
Week 5 Rankings
|6||North Carolina State||ACC||21.465|
|69||San Diego State||MWC||-0.874|
|105||Middle Tennessee State||CUSA||-11.470|
|120||San Jose State||MWC||-19.050|
|127||New Mexico State||IND||-22.388|
|129||Bowling Green State||MAC||-26.442|
Oh. Oh man, it burns. My playoff is Alabama, Georgia, UCF, and LSU? Seriously? Let’s just shut this thing down already. I mean, sure, I can justify how those teams got there, but I don’t exactly want to. Even if you’re playing bad teams, if you beat the snot out of them, that’s still good information to know. You haven’t seen any of these first three teams struggle for more than a half (or at all in Bama’s case), and LSU has played well against a strong schedule thus far. Avoiding any “oopsies” games is huge when we’re only talking about a 3-5 game sample size (I’m looking at you, Clemson), and these teams have essentially had all big wins all season. LSU’s win over Auburn was graded out technically as their worst win so far (certainly not a dominating one), but the boost to the Bayou Bengal’s RPI had been huge. Also, Bama is on a different planet right now. It’s gross, but it’s true. They’re the crimson dot way up at the top of this graph of average Sterritt Score vs ranking.
The next thing I assume most of you will be drawn to is Auburn, which is the orange dot... down at #40 in the rankings. The truth is, Auburn hasn’t dominated anyone this football season. The Alabama State win doesn’t count (I don’t use FCS games), and other than that, the most dominant win was over an Arkansas team whose RPI made that game essentially worthless. I had hoped this past week would’ve been a chance for a nice boost, but Auburn will have to go into October as a middling team thus far (in the Sterritt Score, at least).
Each week, I’ll try and break down a few things I thought were interesting using the Sterritt Score as a basis. I already took a good chunk of your time explaining how the rankings work again, but let me hit a few highlights.
The ACC is... good? The ACC has 5 teams in the top 20 (most of any conference) between NC State, Syracuse, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Duke. Some of these teams are due for some regression, but if you’ll notice, one purple and orange tiger is still sitting at #22 thanks to B A R E L Y escaping two games. The conference as a whole has dominated it’s out of conference schedule, though they are still anchored to the ocean floor by a few miserable teams like UNC (#104), Pitt (#99) and Louisville (#94).
Poor Ole Miss. The Rebels are already starting to feel like repercussions of the NCAA sanctions. Their 62-7 loss at the hands of Alabama rates as the biggest win in the country (for Alabama, not Ole Miss). They also surrendered the 6th best win of the season to LSU last weekend. Luckily these losses weren’t completely soul crushing for Ole Miss (thanks opponent adjustment!), so the Rebs are still 58th overall.
Ka-Chow! The fastest knockout of the season belongs to Virginia, who knocked out Ohio in week 4 a mere minute and 54 seconds into the game. The Cavs scored their first touchdown 48 seconds into the game thanks to an 18 yard touchdown run after a long kickoff, and after forcing a quick three and out, QB Bryce Perkins hit RB Olamide Zaccheaus for an 86 yard catch and run to put the game in “knockout” range. What’s eve weirder about this game? It was played in Nashville as a way to avoid Hurricane Florence rolling through the East Coast.
It’s a Lightning McQueen joke, guys. You get it? Because of the storms, and how fast UVA got a KO?
That’s all I got this week, folks. Feel free to ask questions or tell me what sticks out to you! I’d love to discuss it with you guys and gals. War Eagle, and may Gustober come back so that I can report positive things about my Auburn Tigers.