Network Ranking - Week 10

by Patrick Rhamey

So falls Michigan State.  In the wake of Michigan State and LSU's losses, Notre Dame rises to the top.  Even when discounting their win quality by the Clemson loss, their total body of work surpasses every other team in the country.  The Big 12, however, despite two undefeated teams (#6 Oklahoma State & #11 Baylor), can't break into the top 4 due to their overly squishy schedules.  Put simply, the combined quality of Oklahoma State's wins are not even as good as that of Memphis, even after subtracting the effect of the Navy loss.  

Now, Oklahoma State/Baylor have more room to grow than Memphis or Houston (as do the leading teams in the SEC and PAC 12), but the dissatisfying position of the Big 12 in the overall CFB Network is persistent. As for the reason, we can compare their out of conference opponents which strongly influence the positioning of the conference relative to other clusters in the network.

Baylor - #102 SMU and #103 Rice
Oklahoma State - #71 Central Michigan and #122 UTSA


Memphis - #24 Ole Miss, #36 Bowling Green, #126 Kansas
Houston - #61 Louisville, #111 Texas State, #70 Vanderbilt

Just as a matter of logistics, it would be pretty difficult to play worse non-conference opponents than Baylor.  Art Briles really went out of his way to schedule the worst teams he could short of scheduling nothing but FCS opponents.

As for the SEC, the Ole Miss loss to Arkansas punished Alabama, even if they beat LSU.  Why?  Because Bama lost to Ole Miss and Ole Miss lost to Arkansas, Alabama is now subsumed in the loss networks of such teams as Toledo and Texas Tech.  Not good SEC, not good at all. But, still much better than the train wreck that is the PAC 12.

Remember, the network ranking is not arguing Memphis is "better" than Oklahoma State, just that they have a more impressive total body of work at this point in the season.  Also keep in mind much of this will necessarily change.  While Clemson should be alright (unless they go Clemson on us), Notre Dame still has to play Stanford, Iowa and Ohio State will eventually come to blows (assuming Ohio State makes it past Michigan and Sparty), Memphis and Houston will square off, and Oklahoma State will face Baylor, who still has to play TCU, and both of them have yet to play Oklahoma. 

Top 25 (Explanation; Full Ranking)

  1. Notre Dame (+1)
  2. Clemson (+1)
  3. Iowa (+1)
  4. Ohio State (+3)
  5. Memphis (+1)
  6. Oklahoma State (+9)
  7. Houston (+10)
  8. TCU (+4)
  9. Temple (+4)
  10. Navy (+11)
  11. Baylor (+7)
  12. Florida (-3)
  13. Alabama (-5)
  14. LSU (-9)
  15. Northwestern (+9)
  16. Stanford (+6)
  17. Utah (+8)
  18. Wisconsin (+2)
  19. Texas A&M (-8)
  20. Mississippi State (-1)
  21. Michigan State (-20)
  22. Penn State (-6)
  23. Oklahoma (+5)
  24. Ole Miss (-14)
  25. Michigan (+1)