Network Ranking for Week 13

by Patrick Rhamey

What had been minimally harmful losses for the SEC West to this point has opened the door to a more serious problem, causing the entire group to fall.  LSU's loss to Arkansas, as well as Auburn's loss to SEC East Georgia and the Texas A&M loss to Missouri, significantly increases the centrality of those top remaining teams (Alabama, State, Ole Miss) to the network of losses, dragging down their relative rank. Indeed, the result of these three losses is some of the most dramatic movement in the rankings for the past 5 weeks, leaving Florida State at the top.  While the quality of their wins is by no means higher than Alabama, Ole Miss, or even UCLA, the Seminoles have no losses, and with the increase in the costliness of the SEC West's losses this weekend, it's enough to propel them into first.

But, Florida State isn't the only undefeated team remaining.  First, the Network Ranking is not overly biased toward win loss record apart from the value of wins and losses (unlike some rankings) - as evidence look at the past few weeks.  But for all the same reasons Florida State climbs to number 1, Marshall has climbed to number 2.  If you look at the win centrality, Marshall's wins are less valuable than any other team in the Top 25, which explains why they are so often overlooked.  However, they have no losses to detract from that win record, and with this past weekend's chaos making all losses more costly for most of the top teams, it's enough to propel Marshall into the number 2 spot.

This highlights, in part, another serious flaw to the college football playoff.  If at the end of the season there are only two undefeated teams remaining, shouldn't the undefeated CUSA champion get a spot?  Obviously, they won't in reality, but this oversight ignores an excellent season by the Thundering Herd.

For what it's worth, Marshall has not only won every game this season, but done so by 15 points or more.  Their average win margin is 30.8.

Top 25 (Explanation; Full Ranking)

  1. Florida State (+4)
  2. Marshall (+6)
  3. Alabama (-1)
  4. Mississippi State (-3)
  5. Ole Miss (-1)
  6. Oregon (+5)
  7. UCLA (+3)
  8. TCU (+6)
  9. Auburn (-6)
  10. Georgia (+9)
  11. LSU (-5)
  12. Oklahoma (+3)
  13. Colorado State (+4)
  14. Ohio State  (+9)
  15. Michigan State (+11)
  16. Nebraska (-3)
  17. Baylor (+3)
  18. Arizona State (-6)
  19. Arizona (+6)
  20. Texas A&M (-13)
  21. Kansas State (-5)
  22. Boise State (+2)
  23. Notre Dame (-14)
  24. Georgia Tech (+3)
  25. Arkansas (+14)