The Great Debate: Football in New Jersey?  

Posted by Walter

The following is an email exchange between myself and Frazier debating where the state university of New Jersey (Rutgers...duh!) should debut on the Power 10.


Rutgers is one of the few undefeated teams left. Frankly their victory over Pitt is far more impressive than any victory either Louisville or WVU has had. Furthermore the Knights have been way more impressive on the field than either of those teams. If we keep Rutgers off and those two on we will be no better than the national pollsters. The whole point of our rankings is to reflect the present hierarchy of teams. If Rutgers is left off and the other two big east teams left on we are just admitting that our rankings have been and always will be dictated by the preseason polls.


Part of our prerequisite is having a "shot at winning the title" which favors the one loss teams over Rutgers. I hated the Texas win over Nebraska, but it was a win in tough conditions. Tennessee and California both need to be dropped a little, because the huskies used their backup QB to cause severe damage, and Alabama probably should have been able to find a way to win. Rutgers can sneak into the top 10, although I am not huge on that Pitt win, and I think everyone ahead of them would beat them soundly.


I agree that WVU should be ahead of Louisville but I am still not with you on Rutgers. They absolutely dominated Pitt at Pitt, and low and behold they have just as much a chance at the national title as WVU or Louisville (if they win those head to head games). Rutgers has one of the top defenses in the entire nation, AND a Hesiman trophy candidate in Ray Rice. Pitt may not be that great but they were playing as well as any team in the big east and Rutgers went on the road and walloped them. If Rutgers goes undefeated they might very well play the OSU-Michigan winner in the national title game. They need to get their props. They have three very impressive wins this season (at South Florida, at Navy and at Pitt). Neither WVU or Louisville can boast a single win better than any of those (well maybe Miami at home if the Hurricanes keep winning)! The facts are that Rutgers is playing as well as the Mountaineers and better than Louisville right now. Keeping them behind all those 1 loss teams is just falling into the trap of refusing to move teams up because of where they started the season.


WVU beat Maryland, who is at least as good as Pitt. South Florida has losses to Kansas and Cinci which is hardly impressive. Navy lost their quarterback early, so that win doesn't even count. I’m sorry, beating Nebraska in Lincoln during a snowstorm is more impressive than beating Pitt. I don't care how stupid some of the coaching was, or how they probably should have lost. Texas made the plays to win. And frankly, I'm not sure I'd even favor Rutgers over Boise St. for example. I just don't have anyone to compare Rutgers to except Louisville and WVU, and I think both of those teams are significantly better.


Consider the following:


They are 7-0. Looking at the 6 games they won against 1A opponents (Howard is excluded) these are the numbers:

combined opponents record - 24-22
combined scores of games - 151-53 (roughly a 3:1 ratio)


They are 7-1. Looking at the 6 games they won against 1A opponents (Buffalo is excluded even though they are technically 1A) these are the numbers:

combined opponents record - 26-19
combined scored of games - 170-64 (just under a 3:1 ratio)


They are 7-1. Looking at the 6 game they won against 1A opponents (Sam Houston St is out) these are the numbers:

combined opponents record - 23-23
combined scores of games - 308-89 (over 3:1 ratio)


They are 6-1. Looking at the 6 game they won (all against 1A teams) these are the numbers:

combined opponents record - 26-18
combined score of game - 174-57 (over 3:1 ratio)

OK so where does this leave us. Well certain things are clear:

1) Florida's slate of wins is the most impressive - their opponents have the highest combined winning % and their score ratio is among the best
2) Texas' slate of wins is the least impressive - their opponents % is at .500 and they have only beaten two teams all season with winning records; plus their score differential is DRASTICALLY SKEWED by wins over North Texas, Rice, and Baylor (combined score of those games = 171-45)
3) Rutgers' numbers stack up with these three one loss teams - their score differential is outstanding (and they didn't pad their stats against terrible competition) and their opponent's record is better than you think (over .500 AND the last four teams they have played have a combined record of 21-10)

So what to do? Well based strictly on these numbers I would rank the 4 teams Florida-Auburn-Rutgers-TX. But clearly there are other factors at play. The biggest other factor is that Rutgers is the only one of these teams not to have lost a game. Also, we can rate Florida ahead of Auburn since the Tigers won that game. I honestly believe the case can be made for Rutgers being ranked ahead of all three based on the fact that they haven't lost and they have been improving all season (see their last 4 games: against the best competition they have played all year the Knights have won the games by a combined score of 100-37).

I still maintain that it should go Rutgers-Auburn-Florida-TX


Absolutely destroying Maryland is more impressive. Absolutely destroying Miami is more impressive. Maryland’s only other loss was a nail-biter on the road against Georgia Tech. Pitt's other loss was to Michigan St. The polls are also based on fucking knowing anything about football. WVU fucked up Georgia in the sugar bowl last year and have destroyed everyone this year. They have a great offense, and two ridiculous options on the attack. WVU’s closest margin of victory was 17 points over East Carolina. Louisville has possibly the best pure quarterback in the country, one of the nation’s top offenses, and a top five coach.

I refuse to forget all those factors and simply look at scores. Also, Rutgers has a 2-point win over South Florida who is a solid team, but if either WVU or Louisville had an escape like that we would have blasted them.

Finally, Pitt is fucking lousy and Wanny is a shit coach. You know too much about football to fucking buy into this shit. Rutgers is having a nice year but if you had to put your life on the line would you favor them over Texas? Really? How about Louisville or WVU? I wouldn't.

On to your follow-up e-mail:

Which of the teams you mention lacks a win over a ranked opponent? Beating Nebraska in a snowstorm is better than beating Pitt. Beating Oklahoma in a wild environment is better than beating South Florida (come on, that's not even fair).

Beating Florida is a hell of a lot more impressive. How about beating South Carolina? How about beating Tennessee? How about beating LSU? Those teams are fucking better than S. Florida and Pitt. Shit, if Auburn escaped S. Florida by 2 points the entire country would be going ape-shit. Rutgers beats Pitt by 10 and you go nuts, Florida beats Tennessee in Knoxville and we barely mention it?

LSU would roll Pitt by 30 points. Which South is better? Carolina or Florida? hmmmm, I'm taking Spurrier. Computers are the ones who give credit to the wins and losses, the opponents records, and the scoring differential. Human beings understand that winning on a Thursday night in Columbia against Steve Spurrier is a better win than against South Florida on some balmy day when no one is paying attention.

If Auburn, Texas, Florida, LSU, Cal, Tennessee, Boise St., WVU, Louisville, Boston College, Clemson or Wisconsin (as an example) had played the same schedule as Rutgers, they would be undefeated too.

Debut rutgers at 8. let them earn it.


Fine Rutgers at 8 is a good compromise. I agree that they should earn it but we should also be receptive to rewarding them for what they have earned so far. And as for your argument, yes you do make a good one, BUT let's not lose sight of the fact that Rutgers has yet to lose a game while Auburn, TX et al have. Obviously it would be a different story if Rutgers played in the SEC or Big 12 but the same could be said for WVU and Louisville, the teams we have rank in the top 5. You claim that if Auburn had escaped South Florida with a two point win the entire nation would be going ape shit. Perhaps, but if Auburn had escaped the Arkansas game with a 2 point win they’d be the clear #2 in the nation right now! If Rutgers had a loss there is no doubt that every single one loss team we have mentioned would be ranked ahead of them. But they have to get some credit for not losing.


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