Or, Why Computers Are Smarter Than Humans
Last week, 4 of the AP Top 10 (including 3 of the Top 6) teams lost to "lesser" competition. Ole Miss lost at South Carolina. Penn State lost at home to Iowa. Cal got embarrassed in Autzen by Oregon's throwback unis. And Miami got their faces shoved in the muddy wet ground on a rainy day in Blacksburg. The USA Today Coaches Poll, ESPN Power Rankings and Fan Rankings fared about the same. By contract, Chaos Rankings only had 1 team in the Top 10 lose, and that was Cal, who I think spent all week buying into the Jahvid Best hype and preparing for Oregon's dumb winged uniforms (I think I actually miss last year's faux-diamond-plate shoulders), then showed up in Eugene and thought they were playing a different team.
Additionally, it seemed like the entire country was busy falling all over themselves to ride Jacory Harris' supposedly unstoppable coattails and climb aboard the "The U is back!" bandwagon, including several notable commentators placing Miami in their Top 5 lists. These are the same people who assured us that Florida would beat Tennessee by 50-something points. Meanwhile, Chaos Rankings had Miami listed at a much more sane position of 21 last week (above VT, but not substantially). The thing is, two games doesn't really tell you that much about a team, regardless of who they play or how well they appear. For that matter, 12-14 games doesn't really tell you enough either, but it is what it is.
Sure, Miami beat F$U, who looked great at the time, then looked terrible against Jax State, looked amazing at BYU, and then rolled over and died against USF. So who knows what beating FSU proves. Sure, Miami beat GT, who looked solid against Jax State (making F$U look even worse), started out hot and then fell to pieces against Clemson (2nd game in 6 days), played like a team who was on their 3rd game in 13 days against Miami (who was on their 2nd game in 11 days), and then put together a solid effort last week against UNC. So what does beating GT prove? A well-rested pumped-up team can beat a depressed exhausted team? Duh.
Beating ranked teams only means something if the rankings mean something. Why isn't everyone suddenly vaunting VT now, I mean, they did beat the almighty Hurricanes, right? Oh sure, they lost to Alabama, but they're an SEC team, and everyone knows the SEC is the toughest, best conference in the universe, especially on defense (someone just forgot to tell U(sic)GA, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Auburn, and probably a few others that), but now everyone is saying that the Tide are a legit national title contender (despite actually losing ground to Florida in Chaos Rankings). In theory, losing to them (VT) should count for a lot more than losing to a BYU team that got pummeled by Jekyll/Hyde State (OU). But again, Big 12, best conference, universe, offensive power-house, injured Heisman, blah blah blah.
So before we go off anointing any more "contenders" or "Heisman-hopefuls" or "best team evar!1!!!1!1s", can we please stop for 60 seconds, look at the stats, look at the records, look at the outcome of more than one game, and do a little critical thinking? Especially you poll voters who hold sway in who has a chance to compete for, as Ivan Maisel now calls it, the Controversial Crystal Football.