I would rather analyze what has happened than try and predict what will happen. Maybe that’s just me. Predicting is fun, but final resumes will be analyzed by who actually wins and not who should have won (see Auburn, 2013).
That said, we now are finally starting to have enough data to get some meaningful analysis of some semi-meaningful (though still early) rankings.
How Good is the SEC West?: Just talking numbers, the resumes couldn’t be better. All seven SEC West teams are currently ranked in the Top 17 of the KPI Rankings, with South Carolina the only SEC East team ahead of any SEC West team (No. 17 LSU). The SEC West is undefeated in the non-conference (19-0) and against the SEC East (3-0). The number of quality wins obtainable with each of those teams’ schedules will catapult the division champions’ resume to a very good spot come Selection Sunday. The SEC West’s KPI (.292) is by far the best division while the SEC East (No. 8, .054) is only ahead of the Big Ten West in divisional rankings among Power 5 conferences. The Texas A&M win at South Carolina (worth +.77) has held up as the best win on the board to date this season. Five of the top eight FBS wins all season have come from SEC West teams.
Big Ten Rebound: The Big Ten’s 12-1 record on Saturday shrunk the gap between it and the other four power conferences in the rankings. The conference is now 35-14 (.714) in non-conference games, fourth best among conferences. The conference went 4-0 in road games (including two wins at ACC schools and one more at SEC foe Missouri) to improve to 7-5 in true road games (and 10-7 in road/neutral games). One good week is part of the overall data just like previous poor weeks are part of the equation. Many overreacted that the Big Ten had been eliminated from the playoff after Week 2. Two weeks later, the outlook has improved entering conference play.
Hail Mary: Arizona completed an improbable late rally to beat California 49-45 late Saturday. Arizona trailed 45-30 after a Cal TD with 5:21 left and then scored three touchdowns for the win. The 36 points Arizona scored in the fourth quarter were the most scored in any quarter this season (passing a 35-point first quarter for Arkansas vs. Nicholls State on 9/6 and a 35-point second quarter for Appalachian State vs. Campbell, also on 9/6). Arizona scored more points in the fourth quarter Saturday than 61% (277) of single game scores totaled by FBS teams this season.
High Scoring: Michigan State’s 73 points vs. Eastern Michigan on Saturday were the most points scored against an FBS opponent since Florida State beat Idaho 80-14 on Nov. 23, 2013. East Carolina’s 70 points vs. North Carolina (the most points against a Power 5 team since Baylor scored 71 on Iowa State Oct. 19, 2013) and Wisconsin’s 68 vs. Bowling Green were the second and third highest point totals vs. any FBS team this year.
Power 5 Dominance: East Carolina (No. 15) is the only Group of 5 school in the top 30 of the KPI Rankings. Boise State (No. 32), Cincinnati (No. 38), Wyoming (No. 39), and Marshall (No. 44) round out the Top 50. Cincinnati and Marshall are the only teams still unbeaten from the Group of 5. Note that No. 21 BYU is not technically a Group of 5 school
Sample Size: No. 3 TCU and No. 38 Cincinnati have both only played two games (and both are 2-0), limiting the size of their work. Much like Syracuse’s inflated ranking after Week 3, the resume work is yet to come for both.
Home Field: There are 23 teams that have both a home loss and a road win so far this season. Four of those teams (Iowa State, New Mexico, Navy, and South Alabama) have lost all their home games and won all their road games. Home teams are 189-74 (.719) to date, skewing the home/away/neutral adjustments (currently -.24 for home, +.13 for away, and -.15 for neutral).
FCS Recap: After a 16-95 (.144) finish vs. FBS opponents last year, FCS teams are 6-87 (.065) vs. FBS teams this year. The largest outlier victory was North Dakota State’s win at No. 75 Iowa State, while the smallest outlier was Abilene Christian’s 38-35 win at No. 128 Troy. FCS schools have one win over the Big 12, one over the Sun Belt, and two wins each over the MAC and Conference USA.
Strength of Schedule: West Virginia (the highest ranked team with two losses) is the only school to play three games against the KPI Top 25. 10 other teams (including South Carolina, Texas, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech from Power 5 conferences) have played two Top 25 teams apiece.
Looking Ahead: Week 6 could be special. Based on current KPI Rankings, there are four matchups between two Top 12 teams, plus LSU-Auburn and Nebraska-Michigan State.
Best Week 4 Wins by KPI Formula (2014 Data Only)
- +0.70 Mississippi State 34, at LSU 29
- +0.66 Iowa 24, at PITTSBURGH 20
- +0.63 Auburn 20, at KANSAS STATE 14
- +0.63 Maryland 34, at SYRACUSE 20
- +0.63 at ARKANSAS 52, Northern Illinois 14
Most Valuable Week 4 Games by KPI Formula (2014 Data Only)
- 98.0% Mississippi State 34, at LSU 29
- 95.6% Auburn 20, at KANSAS STATE 14
- 92.7% at ALABAMA 42, Florida 21
- 91.8% Oklahoma 45, at WEST VIRGINIA 33
- 91.0% at ARIZONA 49, California 45
Outlier Week 4 Games by KPI Formula (2014 Data Only)
- 58.9% FCS/Northwestern State 30, at LOUISIANA TECH 27
- 54.4% Iowa 24, at PITTSBURGH 20
- 45.6% Indiana 31, at MISSOURI 27
- 43.3% at PENN STATE 48, Massachusetts 7
- 41.7% Maryland 34, at SYRACUSE 20
Outlier Week 4 Games by Expected Margin and EXPs (2014 Data Only, Numbers signify difference between actual and expected margins)
- 52.7 (+3.0, -49.7) FCS/Northwestern State 30, at LOUISIANA TECH 27
- 37.3 (+4.0, -33.3) Iowa 24, at PITTSBURGH 20
- 33.0 (+4.0, -29.0) Indiana 31, at MISSOURI 27
- 29.6 (+7.0, +36.6) CINCINNATI 31, Miami-OH 24
- 27.7 (+31.0, +3.3) Marshall 48, at AKRON 17
TV Schedule: The following games with a 6-day network flex were confirmed late Saturday:
- Wyoming at Michigan State: 12 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- South Florida at Wisconsin: 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT, ESPNU
- Florida State at North Carolina State: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2 Outer-Market
- North Carolina at Clemson: 7 p.m. ET, ESPNU
- Duke at Miami (FL): 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
12-day flex picks for Saturday, October 3 will be released Monday.