The Report Card : Week 2 Analysis of the Power 5 Conferences
A Weekly Look at the Power 5 Conferences and Independents
On November 1, 2016 the College Football Playoff Selection Committee will present its first rankings of the season based on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents, conference championships won and the eye test. The biggest unknown is how much weight each committee member places on those factors when ranking the teams. Further, during the initial 2 seasons of the playoff, the committee has leaned toward choosing teams with the best resume (most deserving teams) as opposed to relying on the eye test (best teams).
Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick presents a national report card on the Power 5 conferences and independent schools. The aim is to rank and grade the 5 conferences based on the cumulative results of each league’s teams that weekend.
Jeff will offer a brief weekly summary for each conference, suggest which teams are in playoff contention, and offer a ranking of the best teams in the country. The Independent schools will have a section but not be ranked with the conferences. Below are the criteria and his rankings for week 2 of the 2016 season.
Report Card Criteria:
Good Day: Regardless of the score, a win over a non-Power 5 school is a good day. A team who plays great but loses the game to a Power 5 school can be placed in this category.
Key Loss: A loss to a non-Power 5 team is a key loss. As well, a loss to a non-conference Power 5 school is a key loss because of the missed chance to make the claim that conference A is better than conference B. In conference play, a loss goes into this category unless the losing team played an exceptional game.
Week 2 Power 5 Conference Rankings
Key Wins: 4 Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi State
Good Day: 8 Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Missouri
Key Losses: 2 South Carolina, Kentucky
Arkansas made some noise by beating #15 TCU in Fort Worth. Tennessee gained some momentum by beating Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol. Florida and Mississippi State each picked up a conference victory by taking down Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively.
Ole Miss rolled past Wofford, while Alabama handled Western Kentucky. The Rebels and Crimson Tide will tangle in Oxford this weekend in a game that will likely determine the SEC West champion. Georgia survived a scare at home from Nicholls. Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Auburn earned their first wins of the season.
In the playoff conversation: #1 Alabama, #16 Georgia, #19 Ole Miss
Key Wins: 3 Oregon, Utah, Arizona State
Good Day: 5 USC, UCLA, Colorado, Arizona, Washington
Key Losses: 2 Cal, Washington State
Washington continues to impress with a high-powered offense, though more will be known about the Huskies once PAC-12 play begins soon. Oregon beat Virginia, but the Ducks gave up 26 points to a Cavaliers team that lost to FCS Richmond one week earlier. Arizona State put up 68 points in outlasting Texas Tech. Utah earned a gritty win over rival BYU.
UCLA, Colorado, and USC rolled to big victories, while Arizona struggled to beat FCS Grambling. Washington State and Cal both lost road games to Mountain West Conference opponents.
In the playoff conversation: #7 Stanford, #8 Washington
Key Wins: 4 North Carolina, Pitt, Louisville, Wake Forest
Good Day: 5 Boston College, Georgia Tech, Miami, Clemson, Florida State
Key Losses: 5 Duke, Virginia, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
Louisville has an incredible offense led by quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals cruised past Syracuse 62-28 on Friday night. The nation will find out if #10 Louisville is the real deal this Saturday when #2 Florida State comes to town, along with the College Gameday crew. Clemson struggled for the second straight week, escaping with a home win over Troy. Wake Forest grabbed a conference win over Duke, while Pitt and North Carolina secured a pair of wins over Big Ten foes Penn State and Illinois, respectively.
Virginia fell to Oregon, and Virginia Tech was defeated by Tennessee in a couple of marquee non-league games. NC State was taken down by East Carolina. Miami, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Boston College each won contests where they were heavy favorites.
In the playoff conversation: #2 Florida State, #5 Clemson, #10 Louisville
4. Big Ten
Key Wins: 1 Iowa
Good Day: 8 Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, Rutgers, Maryland, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota
Key Losses: 4 Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Penn State
Iowa got the league’s only win over a Power 5 team during the weekend by crushing Iowa State. Ohio State and Michigan piled up the points in easy wins, while Tom Allen’s Indiana defense created 3 takeaways in beating Ball State. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers each won impressively over non-Power 5 competition.
Northwestern suffered a second loss in as many tries at home when FCS foe Illinois State took down the Wildcats in Evanston. Illinois could not keep pace with North Carolina in Champaign. Pitt was very physical in defeating Penn State, while Purdue was not competitive in a home loss to Cincinnati.
In the playoff conversation: #3 Ohio State, #4 Michigan, #12 Michigan State, #13 Iowa
5. Big 12
Key Wins: 0 none
Good Day: 4 Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia
Key Losses: 5 Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas, Texas Tech
The Big 12 had a really bad weekend. TCU was beaten at home by Arkansas, leaving the league with just 3 undefeated teams after 2 weeks of action. Iowa State was blown out by Iowa. Texas Tech lost a game despite scoring 55 points, as the Red Raiders’ defense allowed Arizona State to put up 68 points. The MAC earned 2 wins over the Big 12, as Ohio topped Kansas, and Central Michigan sank Oklahoma State on an incredible hook-and-lateral play as time expired in Stillwater.
Texas improved to 2-0 on the season. The national media has Texas ranked highly and is touting the Longhorns as the best shot for the Big 12 to have a playoff team. However, Texas faces a tough road test at Cal on Saturday night. Oklahoma picked up a win ahead of a monster showdown with Ohio State in Norman this coming Saturday. Baylor and West Virginia each won the join Texas as the only 2-0 teams in the conference.
In the playoff conversation: #11 Texas
Key Wins: 0 none
Good Day: 2 Army, Notre Dame
Key Losses: 1 BYU
Notre Dame recorded an easy victory over Nevada. The Fighting Irish kept their thin playoff hopes alive. Notre Dame hosts #12 Michigan State on Saturday night, a game the Irish must win to stay in the playoff conversation. Army whipped Rice to start the season 2-0 for the first time in 20 years. BYU lost a tough 20-19 decision at rival Utah.
In the playoff conversation: #18 Notre Dame
This section is our guess at which teams the Selection Committee would choose based on the body of work up to this point in the season. Please note that this list is not a ranking of the 4 best teams. Rather, it lists the teams with the top playoff resumes. In other words, these are the most deserving teams for a playoff spot based on their schedule to date.
For example, at the end of the 2015 season Ohio State and Stanford were better teams than Oklahoma and Michigan State. Yet, the Sooners and Spartans had better resumes than the Buckeyes or Cardinal. Thus, they were correctly rewarded with playoff spots based on the Selection Committee’s criteria.
Based on week 2, if the College Football Playoff was today, the Selection Committee might pick…..
1- Alabama (SEC) versus 4- Stanford (PAC-12)
2- Ohio State (Big Ten) versus 3- Florida State (ACC)
On the outside…..
Top Ten Teams
This section is our view of the top ten teams in the country at this point in the season. This list is not based on the AP poll or exclusively on a team’s record. Thus, a one-loss team may be ranked higher than an undefeated team. This ranking is based on our view of the best teams in college football.
After 2 weeks of action, the Top Ten Teams are…..
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- Ole Miss
- Michigan State