November 25, 2008
A couple arguments from the inbox on everyone's favorite logjam.
[Subject: easy to figure out the big 12 south ...]
Quality of wins and losses. ...
Wins: OU's win over Tech was impressive, but Texas has the only win among the three on a neutral field and they beat OU by a double-digit margin. Tech needed a miracle last minute play to win at home.
Losses: Texas lost on the last play of the game at the end of a brutal 4-week stretch. OU lost while fresh by double-digits and Tech didn't even show up on the road.
Clearly Texas is the more deserving team. To make it even simpler, Tech is such a non-factor away from home that it really boils down to Texas-OU. That was already decided on the field. Texas 45 - OU 35.
Hopefully this eases your headache.
Arguments that revolve around when teams play, where, or on intangibles like "showing up fresh" are woefully thin and I do not trust them under any circumstances. "Home field advantage" is among the most ephemeral and overrated concepts known to man and location is the last possible factor to consider, when all the real information -- excluding hot streaks, neutral fields and other bits of amateur psychology -- covering the entire season has been exhausted.
The entire head-to-head argument is out of context, but again, I point out that Texas Tech and Texas was "settled on the field," and literally no one still considers that result an adequate standard by which to compare Tech and Texas in the polls. There are eleven other games' worth of mitigating information. I'm not sure what makes the Raiders' winning touchdown in that game "a miracle," or what could possibly make them the No. 2 team in the nation on one field but not another, especially less than a month after throttling Kansas in Lawrence by six touchdowns for their fifth straight win outside of Lubbock. So if you're judging by a criteria called "quality of win," it doesn't get more quality than the show the Sooners put on Saturday. Get serious here: Exactly how many of Oklahoma's 65 points were attributable to "home field advantage"? Be precise.
In fact, another reader suggests that if its latest loss alone is responsible for rendering Texas Tech a "non-factor," just weeks removed from beating Texas and blowing out Oklahoma State, maybe the Sooners' rout was a little too impressive:
I don't think I've seen this topic mentioned anywhere, but for all those people (experts and random internet posters alike) who say Texas deserves the nod over Oklahoma, they're obviously saying that Tech doesn't deserve to be in the discussion at all, and then are simply looking at head-to-head (something somewhat understandable). What I find so ironic though is that Tech isn't being given a chance because Oklahoma just destroyed them. Wouldn't everyone's head-to-head argument not be any kind of valid if Tech didn't get so humiliated? So these people would've given Oklahoma a better chance if they had only beaten Tech by 10 or so points instead of demolishing them?
Any thoughts on this?
I think this is true to a very large extent for anyone arguing that Texas' head-to-head claim should still trump everything else: Oklahoma so thoroughly pantsed Texas Tech that Tech is gone, left for dead, and not even in the discussion the way it would be if the Raiders had looked somewhat competitive in Norman. In that case, there really would be three teams in the picture, not just two, and the head-to-head logjam would be obvious for the logical farce it is.
I dissent from this somewhat, though, because I don't think the Raiders are out of the picture -- they can still go on to play in and win the Big 12 Championship if Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State. And if it comes down to 12-1, Big 12 champion Texas Tech against an 11-1 Texas team the Raiders defeated, what becomes of the Longhorns' head-to-head argument then? I suspect in that case that Oklahoma's win would suddenly begin to look more and more impressive.
I want to let you know I share your rage at the ridiculous logic being used to put Texas ahead of the other Big XII teams. Every Monday I breeze through my reader that includes a large number of Blogpoll blogs and am just blown away at some of the explanations. It's embarrassing how many people are using the "but Texas beat OU" logic instead of, you know, actually looking at all three of the teams.
Also, as a Penn State guy I'm a little annoyed at the dismissive manner in which USC is being ranked ahead of Penn State. That is the single biggest roadblock for Penn State to get in the MNC via some type of sky is falling chain of events over the next couple of weeks. I'm not saying they shouldn't be, but I don't think I've read anywhere someone attempt to actually justify it. I mean if you look at common opponents Ohio State and Oregon State, plus the remaining schedules, I'm not sure I understand why just about everyone ... has USC>PSU. Although I would argue OSU might not actually be a common opponent considering OSU didn't play Pryor (much) or Wells (at all) in LA.
Anyway, this weekend will make or brake the chaos we all desperately crave. I'm looking forward to it.
On the first part of this message, I should clarify that it's not "Texas over Oklahoma" that gets me worked up, because there's a legitimate case for Texas; I'm still not sure which team I'll have in front on my Blog Poll ballot on Wednesday morning, and whoever gets left out of the Big 12 Championship based on opinion polls will be egregiously wronged either way. As Kevin says, my ire is directed at the logic of ranking Texas ahead of Oklahoma solely because of the head-to-head result, when Texas Tech's win over UT and Oklahoma's huge win over Tech renders that line of argument moot. If you're going to argue for Texas (or anyone else), it has to be based on the entire body of work.
As for USC and Penn State, put them side-by-side:
I'd love to see the Trojans and Lions match up in the Rose Bowl, because based on their resumés, they're pretty equal. Trouncing Michigan State was a huge boost to Penn State, and I think the Lions' top three/four wins may be slightly better than USC's top three/four; the losses are pretty comparable, too. I agree that Penn State got a better version of Ohio State, with Terrelle Pryor and Beanie Wells at full speed, than USC did, though I wouldn't take that difference into account in any "official" ranking. If I was ordering them right now, I'd put USC ahead because it's played a slightly tougher schedule (according to Jeff Sagarin's math, as seen in the "Sked" column), but I don't buy the inferiority complex in the Big Ten, especially as wide as some of Penn State's margins have been over teams like Oregon State, Wisconsin and Michigan State, and I think that would be a blockbuster, championship-worthy bowl game. But Oregon has to do its part against Oregon State Saturday to make that happen.