Thursday, September 17, 2009

2009 Gus Rankings: Week 2

As promised, we here at TPS will be following the college football season with our own version of ranking teams-- the Gus Rankings. The outline of the methodology is here.

Here are the rankings for Week 2 (after the second week of games).

Some points of interest:

- The rankings incorporate information only from this season and only from games played. Thus, since there's only been two weeks of games, there isn't much information to incorporate. That is why you see a lot of ties. That being said, there is a decent amount of variation amongst the teams-- there are 13 different levels after just 2 weeks. Variation will increase dramatically with each week, as more teams play more games and, more importantly, teams' opponents will have played more games. Note also that after only two weeks, the rankings discern a single worst team-- Washington State. Recall that the BCS rankings-- those rankings used to determine who plays for the National Championship-- are released only after 6 or 7 weeks, largely (I presume) for the information shortcomings I just described.

- The rankings are as follows: Most points, then sorted by most wins, then sorted by least losses. Ties that are still tied after that are simply listed alphabetically at the same ranking. There are a lot of ties, so there are a lot of tiebreakers sorted in the above manner. Again, expect the ties to diminish rapidly over the upcoming weeks.

- For this season, games against FCS opponents (previously I-AA) won't be counted. The above methodology for adding wins and subtracting losses doesn't hold when considering teams from other divisions. That means wins and losses against teams in I-AA simply mean the team had a bye that week. I think this is the best way to handle the situation. Rankings matter most at the upper end of the distribution, and most FBS teams (previously I-A) will win their games against FCS opponents; those that lose are likely to be nearer the bottom of the rankings, and will not be the focus of rankings in general.

It will be interesting to see how the rankings develop over the course of the season. Given its simplicity and plain objectivity, there are a lot of reasons to like it.

64 comments:

Art Carden said...

Here are a few comments: http://divisionoflabour.com/archives/cat_economics.php. An interesting experiment would be to try to account for the strength of opponents' schedules with a 50% decline at each degree of separation--i.e., you get half a point for your games won by teams your opponents beat, and you lose half a point for games lost by teams that beat your opponents. Make it a quarter point in the next iteration, and so on. An interesting paper would be to see if the Gus Ranking has any predictive power re: game outcomes.

Matt E. Ryan said...

Just thinking of the math of it-- would that directly add half of all of your opponents totals to your total? I'd have to write that out.

As long as there's a theoretical reason to include tertiary effect-- i.e., something not based in predictive power-- I think it would be interesting. I like the simplicity of the rankings in general, yet it covers a lot of fairly complex interactions. Since most conferences play a pretty full round-robin schedule, weaker conferences will drag down the seemingly better teams in them (by virtue of not getting as many points for wins and losing more points for losses). Instead of adding external-- and biased-- measures to compensate for conference strengths in some sort of power ranking structure, this handles it objectively.

I'll be using the final rankings to make my bowl picks; I'm curious to see how well it does.

Paul Victor Novarese said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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