Florida State still on top
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Alabama may be ranked number one in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), but Florida State (FSU) is still on top of a University of Iowa economist’s college football productivity ranking.
FSU has been top-ranked in all seven of this year’s rankings by Stacey Brook, who teaches economics in the UI’s Tippie College of Business. Alabama is ranked fourth. The rest of his top five includes Oregon at two, Northern Illinois at three and North Carolina at five.
Brook compiles his top 25 teams by using an exhaustive formula that measures their offensive and defensive productivity. He starts with the presumption that productive teams—and, hence, better teams—score more points than their opponents and give up fewer points. After examining several measures, he finally settled on 17 statistics that best measure a team’s productivity on each side of the ball, including yards gained, number of first downs, touchdown scoring percent, number of offensive plays, missed and made field goals, turnovers, and conference affiliation.
He then plugs those numbers into two lengthy formulas, one to measure offensive productivity and one to measure defensive productivity. Some statistics are weighted because his research has found that they are more important to a team’s success.
Subtracting defensive production from offensive, he arrives at a list of the most productive teams. Sometimes his rankings are similar to the AP’s or BCS’, such as Alabama and Oregon ranked among the top 5.
Sometimes, his rankings differ vastly, such as Northern Illinois ranked third and North Carolina fifth.
Also, Florida. The Gators are ranked second in the BCS ranking, but 24th in Brook’s. He explains that’s because Florida has played a lot of tight contests, and while the Gators are higher ranked on defense than FSU (4, compared to 17), the difference isn’t enough to offset Florida State’s higher ranked offense (1, compared to 58).
“Teams that have close contests will fair more poorly than those that have a larger positive difference in yards gained on offense and yards surrendered on defense,” Brook explains. “Florida State’s superior offense compared to Florida’s here outweighs Florida’s superior defense compared to Florida State’s.”
The Hawkeyes do not crack Brook’s top 25, and in fact, only two Big Ten teams do. Ohio State—which is not ranked in the BCS because it’s on NCAA probation and ineligible for post-season play—is at 8 in Brook’s ranking. Nebraska, also unranked by the BCS, is at 23.
Brook’s latest top 25 can be found on his blog at teamsportsanalysis.blogspot.com/2012/10/2012-ncaa-fbs-week-7.html.