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November 1, 2010

Where does LSU rank? Computers vs. Human Polls

With this Saturday's match-up between LSU and Alabama some questions will begin to be answered.  Unlike most teams in the country, these two teams still have a chance of finishing #1.  Many human experts have expressed the opinion that Alabama is the best one loss team in the country and that may be true.  This Saturday may be the first step in Alabama's final march to back-to-back championships.  Still, they play the games for a reason and I think LSU may have something to say about who deserves a shot at the national title this year.

If you ask most people that follow college football who they believe will win the LSU/Alabama match-up, I think most would pick Alabama and maybe even by a wide margin.  But when you look at the six BCS computer rankings that are based on mathematical formulae, the prediction of who will win the LSU/Alabama game seems to be very much the opposite.  Even though the latest BCS rankings have LSU 10th and Alabama 6th, the average of the BCS computer rankings ranks LSU 6th and Alabama 15th.  One of the BCS computer rankings, a ranking from Anderson & Hester, has LSU ranked 3rd and Alabama ranked 9th.  Another BCS computer ranking system designed by Peter Wolfe has LSU ranked 4th and Alabama ranked 15th.

I looked through the computer ranking systems to try to make some sense of the wide disparity between human and computer rankings.  The computer rankings take into account strength of schedule but for the most part ignore margin of victory.  Part of the Anderson & Hester strength of schedule formula includes the win-loss record of the conference that you play in so you would expect that LSU and Alabama's rankings would be closer than the Peter Wolfe ranking. Still, it is curious that Alabama is ranked only 9th while LSU is ranked 3rd.

The computers could be wrong but human pollsters may want to reevaluate whether they are making honest and objective evaluations of Alabama and LSU.  Is Alabama getting bumped up the human rankings by the fact that Bama won the BCS National Championship last year?  Are human voters unfairly punishing LSU because of a lack of a single element in their game, namely a solid passing game?  Could the Les Miles detractors among LSU's fans be influencing human ranking that do not register in computer rankings?

I find it hard to believe that Alabama is not even a top 10 team as the average computer ranks have declared. Even I would not predict that LSU will dominate Alabama in the way that the computer rankings would suggest but I would love to see the Tigers prove the computers right.  

The human and computer rankings will certainly change as a result of this Saturday's Alabama - LSU game.  Putting human and computer rankings aside, LSU and Alabama are both very good teams.  With one loss each both teams have proven that they can be beat.  LSU lost a very close game last year at Alabama and so one human element should have the Tigers looking for redemption or revenge.  Patrick Peterson did get robbed of a clear interception last year that made all the difference in the game.  This year is gives the Tigers a real opportunity to prove themselves and maybe change the minds of some of the voters in the human polls.  It is time for LSU to prove themselves before a national audience at 2:30cst on CBS.  LSU has not been impressive in their 7 wins and their one loss to an undefeated Auburn did not seem as close as the 17-24 final score.  Saturday can change all of those perceptions.  There is no reason to believe that LSU will suddenly find solid quarterback play in the 9th game of the season.  There is no reason to expect LSU to have a great passing game.  Everyone expects Alabama to crush LSU.  But even though it may take computers to see the truth of LSU's potential, that potential can only be realized on the field.  Here's wondering if maybe, just maybe, we will see LSU start to live up to the dominating potential that is clearly just below the surface. The defense and special teams have been awesome this year.  It is time for LSU's offense to catchup.


Royce said...

I love your positivity Bob and hope you are right!

Texas Tiger said...

LSU does indeed have a lot to prove. As a long time Tiger fan (52 seasons and counting), I've seen LSU rise to the top and fall to the bottom (Curley days). I cannot deny this has been one of the most frustrating seasons I have seen. LSU is currently running on 7 cylinders with an 8th sputtering to say the least. The game this Saturday should show us what LSU really has. The team wants this game, the coaches want this game and the fans could sure use a "complete" game for a change. No one can argue about the talent that will be on the field Saturday afternoon. The dramatics will be there as usual, but here's hoping our Tigers step it up Saturday and come away with a victory. We have been so close for 2 seasons, and now is our time to shine! LSU wins in a very hard fought contest ... Geaux Tigers!!!!

Anonymous said...

I feel like I have been taking to many dope pills,slow to think,just staring at what I read.
Because, I just know,that the man with the hat, that don't fit..Will run out onto the tiger stadium football field-and start coaching out innocence, LSU tiger football players.
Coaching them into nothing,Bama will win,and everyone will then start crying..To fire Les Miles.
But, the hat that don't fit man, will just come back again, for another year to many.
I think I need a doctor.

Anonymous said...

Whoever you are that left the 8:52 AM message ... you sound like you are on dope pills ... you don't make any sense. If you really feel that way, why bother to read posts about LSU at all?

Anonymous said...

Beat Alabama!!!

Anonymous said...

LSU can have a 11-1 college football season...That is a very great out come, if our tigers can just make it..Geaux Tigers.

Anonymous said...

Holly cow!!!
LSU - 24 vs Alabama - 21

Anonymous said...

Fourth an one...Great call to Peterson on a end around...Fooled everyone.
Jefferson calmed down, and played great,really coming threw for the
Purple and Gold...Lee made a clutch fourth down three and thirteen for a first down,pass to Randle to ice the game...Great coaching job,buy the LSU coaching staff, and Les Miles.
Les Miles out coached Nick Saban.

Anonymous said...

Saban looks, and sounds bad, after Les Miles just out right beats, his Bama football team...A head college football coach, who is always recruiting, should know better then to try and double talk, about results,rather them performance.
Les Miles out coach Nick Saban,pure and simple...Saban should have just said: Good game,Less you got me, this time.

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