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Staples: Rating 13 groups eligible for Faculty Soccer Playoff (even when they are not high 4 this week)

Each Saturday evening, Andy Staples and Ari Wasserman react to the weekend’s slate of video games on The Andy Staples Present & Mates. On Mondays, Andy revisits his and Ari’s greatest takeaway from Saturday evening’s on the spot response. This week: Ari gave everybody homework — rank the 13 groups eligible for the Faculty Soccer Playoff.

The one rankings that really matter begin on Tuesday. And even these do not really matter. Keep in mind, the primary time the Faculty Soccer Playoff choice committee launched a rating in 2014, these have been the highest 4:

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Florida State
  3. Auburn
  4. ole miss

What number of of these groups really made the inaugural CFP? One. The Seminoles went 13-0, entered the bracket as a No. 3 seed and obtained crushed by Oregon within the Rose Bowl. So do not despair in case your group is not within the high 4 on Tuesday when the committee reveals its first rating of the 2022 season.

So long as your group is likely one of the Fortunate 13, after all.

On the postgame version of The Andy Staples Present, Ari and I decided which groups stay eligible for the CFP. We may be flawed, however eight seasons price of picks have established a reasonably dependable sample. The committee has but to position a two-loss group* into the highest 4. You do not have to be a convention champion to make the highest 4, however you’d higher not have a blowout loss. (Until you avenged stated loss within the convention title sport or beat the group that blew you out earlier within the season.) On the finish of the present, Ari gave all of us a homework task: Rank these 13 groups.

*You will discover two-loss LSU is omitted from the Fortunate 13. That is based mostly on committee earlier. Ought to LSU beat Alabama after which beat Georgia or Tennessee within the SEC title sport, maybe that modifications this 12 months. A two-loss Auburn in all probability would have made the bracket in 2017, however the Tigers misplaced their rematch towards Georgia within the SEC title sport.

Getting into this week’s video games, these are the 13 groups that may nonetheless make the CFP, listed by convention.


Large 12

Large Ten

  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Ohio State



  • Alabama
  • georgia
  • ole miss
  • Tennessee

That this many groups stay within the hunt means we have had a reasonably enjoyable season to date. Additionally, it does not really feel as if there are one or two groups that may completely smash everybody else nonetheless within the hunt. When the CFP expands to 12 in a couple of years, we’ll be capable of measure the groups nonetheless within the hunt at this level by the dozen. However for now, let’s be completely satisfied the quantity is that this excessive.

To finish Ari’s task, I attempted to think about how I might vote as a committee member. I collected some stats I do know are essential to the committee. I additionally used some that I discover essential. I used the SP+ predictive rating created by ESPN’s Invoice Connelly. That is my favourite of the predictive rating formulation, however I will not quibble if you wish to use ESPN’s Soccer Energy Index or Jeff Sagarin’s rankings. (Invoice’s system can not seem to settle for that Texas is not again this 12 months, however I am keen to forgive that.)

I do just like the FPI’s power of schedule measurement, although. So I additionally used that. The FPI additionally has a helpful measurement of remaining schedule power, however that is not essential for this train since we are able to solely go by the video games which have already been performed. I additionally used the FPI’s power of document, which measures how troublesome a group’s document is to attain based mostly on the power of its opponents, journey time, relaxation time and different elements.

One stat I like is internet factors per drive. That is the variety of factors a group’s offense averages per drive minus the typical variety of factors that group’s protection permits on every opponent drive. Brian Fremeau retains this stat on his glorious web site. He additionally retains accessible yards, which is one other enjoyable one. If a group will get the ball at its personal 20, it has 80 yards accessible. If it scores a landing, then it gained one hundred pc of accessible yards. I did not need to get too within the weeds, although. So I left that out.

As an alternative of utilizing wins towards Prime 25 groups, which appears pretty arbitrary and likewise would require me to rank 25 out of 131 groups, I stole an idea from the NCAA Basketball Choice Committee. In basketball, the committee weigh Quadrant 1 (video games towards groups within the high 25 p.c of the NET rating) wins closely. Soccer does not have as many information factors, so I made a decision to rely Quadrant 1 and Quadrant 2 wins utilizing SP+ because the rating. Quad 1 is the groups ranked No. 1 by means of No. 30. Quad 2 is the groups ranked No. 31 by means of No. 60.

I additionally needed to make use of some uncooked numbers that are not adjusted by any proprietary system. So I went with tried-and-true yards per play gained and yards per play allowed. This adjusts for tempo higher than whole offense and whole protection, and it additionally helps establish outliers.

Despite the fact that I do know sufficient about these groups to make educated guesses as to their identities based mostly on their numbers, I stripped the group names off my spreadsheet earlier than I began sorting stats. My hope was that I might overlook which group corresponded to which letter. That means, I might rank based mostly solely on what the group had performed this season and never on model title, previous success or failure or convention affiliation.

Does that make this rating goal? After all not. Rankings are by their subjective nature. At a sure level, I’ve to have a look at two (or three or 4) information units that appear fairly comparable and determine which one to position above the opposite(s).

This is my spreadsheet. Be happy to rank the groups as you see match…

The precise committee chooses a bucket of about six groups as a way to choose its high three. It then scrubs by means of the checklist three at a time till it reaches 25. The six that appeared to belong on the high right here have been groups E, F, Ok, J, M and L.

So I moved them into a special spreadsheet and tried to parse them. Workforce J leads everybody with 4 Quad 1 wins however has a loss. Workforce M has three Quad 1 and two Quad 2 wins and the No. 1 power of document. However Workforce M is certainly one of solely two on this checklist with a yards per play quantity above No. 15 within the nation. Its protection is No. 39 in yards per play allowed. However its offense is No. 3 in yards per play gained, and it’s No. 5 in internet factors per drive. In different phrases, its protection may be giving up yards, however Workforce M normally is successful its video games by a wholesome margin.

Workforce Ok and Workforce F look cleaner. Neither has a loss, and each have single-digit ranks within the yards per play stats. Workforce Ok is No. 2 in internet factors per drive and has one Quad 1 win and three Quad 2 wins. Workforce F is No. 2 in power of document and No. 1 in internet factors per drive. The downside to those two? Their schedules have not been as troublesome as Workforce J or Workforce M’s schedules.

Nonetheless, these two have been so constant that I really feel like I would like to position them within the high two. So I will make Workforce F No. 1 and Workforce Ok No.2. I am solely selecting the highest three now, so I’ve to determine between Workforce J and Workforce M after which ship the remaining group again to the pool. Workforce M’s No. 1 power of document means that’s who I ought to decide, however I think Workforce M handed Workforce J its loss. I like utilizing head-to-head outcomes as a tiebreaker. (In any other case why trouble taking part in?)

So I peek at my key, which confirms my suspicion. Workforce M can be No. 3. Workforce J goes again into the pool.

My high three appear to be this:

  1. Ohio State (Workforce F)
  2. Georgia (Workforce Ok)
  3. Tennessee (Workforce M)

Now let’s transfer on. You’ve got in all probability guessed by now that Workforce J is Alabama, however let’s attempt to ignore that information and evaluate it with the following group.

We take the three remaining groups from the primary group (J,E,L) and add three extra groups (M, C, G).

The 2 that bounce off the web page are Workforce J and Workforce E. We’re attempting very exhausting to not make any assumptions as a result of we all know who J is. What occurred from 2009-21 is just not essential right here. E has an analogous power of document, two Quad 1 and two Quad 2 wins and a greater internet factors per drive rank. It appears the protection has been stingier however the offense is not fairly as explosive. The largest distinction is power of schedule. Workforce J’s power of schedule is tenth out of 131. Workforce E’s is 79th, the bottom on this grouping of six. So let’s give the nod to Workforce J. Then Workforce E.

I’ve ranked:

4. Alabama (Workforce J)

5. Michigan (Workforce E)

Now let’s select No. 6 from the remaining 4 on our checklist (H, C, G, L). All of those groups have extra flaws than the others, and people flaws appear to indicate up on protection. Workforce G has a loss however just one Quad 1 or Quad 2 win. In order that group goes again into the pool. Workforce C‘s power of document is No. 3, that means it has achieved one thing troublesome relative to its schedule. Workforce L has the most effective internet factors per drive rank and has two Quad 1 wins and one Quad 2 win.

I believe I am going with Workforce C. After peeking at my key, I see I’ve ranked:

6.TCU (Workforce C)

I will spare you most the gory particulars, however I ranked the following 13 the identical means:

7. Ole Miss (Workforce L)

8. Clemson (Workforce A)

9. Oregon (Workforce G)

10. UCLA (Workforce H)

11. Illinois (Workforce D)

12. USC (Workforce I)

13. North Carolina (Workforce B)

The largest shock? Ole Miss at No. 7. If I had the group names subsequent to the stats, I in all probability would have positioned Ole Miss round No. 10. After watching the Rebels towards Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss, I’ve no religion of their protection to carry up sufficient to permit them to beat Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi State and the SEC East champion. However their defensive stats aren’t as dangerous as I assumed, and Clemson’s have been not so good as I assumed. Plus, Ole Miss has an elite offense and Clemson has a pedestrian one.

That stated, I believe it is more likely that Clemson goes undefeated and makes the CFP than Ole Miss goes 12-1 and makes the bracket. However after taking a look at these numbers, I’ve much less religion within the Tigers to beat Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami, South Carolina and the Coastal Division champion (in all probability North Carolina) in consecutive weeks than I did earlier than. Taken individually, Clemson ought to beat every of these groups. But it surely feels as if the Tigers aren’t taking part in with the identical margin for error they’d once they have been making the CFP yearly. One other sport as sloppy as their Syracuse matchup might end in a loss.

However that is why they play the video games. Clemson might show me flawed and wind up within the discipline.

The larger query: Will this be a Fortunate 13 subsequent week? The Tennessee-Georgia loser in all probability stays on the checklist. However can everybody else?

(Photograph: Eakin Howard/Getty Photographs)


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