Monday, October 17, 2011

Mid-Season SDPI: ACC, Big 12, and SEC

Back by popular demand, its the mid-season SDPI ratings! For the uninitiated, we'll be taking a statistical look at each conference race using SDPI to see who might be under or over-rated. Don't know what SDPI is? Its a yardage based measure of team strength based on how well team's perform within their league. This week, we'll take a look at the ACC, Big 12, and SEC. And some housekeeping notes, these numbers only include league games. So any non-conference games, whether it was against a IAA cupcake or a national power is not included. In addition, the SDPI ratings include in parentheses where each team ranks in the conference in terms of offense, defense, and total. Enjoy.

We'll start with the ACC. Here are the up-to-the-minute standings.

Now here are the SDPI ratings.
Boston College: The Eagles have been the worst team in the ACC by a longshot. The 12-year bowl streak is as good as over.

Clemson: The Tigers have been the best, and most impressive team in the ACC. They actually have a pretty good shot at winning their last four conference games. Using a modified version of the projection system based on current SDPI and simulating their four remaining league games (North Carolina, @Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and @ NC State) using the log 5 method, I project the Tigers have about a 1 in 3 shot (32%) of finishing 8-0 in the ACC.

Florida State: I know they haven't lived up to the preseason hype, but let's look at the facts. Florida State has lost to a pair of top-10 teams (Oklahoma and Clemson), with one coming on the road, and both in doubt in the 4th quarter). In their other loss, they committed 5 turnovers and still only lost by 5. They may not lose again in the regular season.

Maryland: The Terps have been all over the place in games in and out of conference. Their running quarterback, CJ Brown, has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the games where he has seen significant action. However, he is very raw as a passer, having completed just 46% of his throws on the season. The Terps needs to win 4 of their last 6 to get to a bowl. It won't be easy.

NC State: NC State is one of only 3 ACC teams (Duke and Virginia are the others) to have played just a pair of league games. NC State has yet to beat a team likely headed for the postseason (beat two IAA teams and Central Michigan).

Wake Forest: This is a typical Jim Grobe era Wake Forest team. Good enough to hang around and beat mediocre to above-average conference foes, but lacking the talent to compete with the heavy hitters in the conference. At 4-2, this week's game in Durham is vital to attaining bowl eligibility.

Duke: Poor, poor Duke. If they hadn't lost to Richmond to open the season, they would be sitting at 4-2 and have an outside shot at bowl eligibility. Instead, at 3-3, I don't think their are 3 wins to be had over the remainder of their schedule.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have seen diminishing returns for their option attack since conference play started. They opened up with 496 yards against North Carolina, had 413 versus NC State, 386 against Maryland, and in their loss to Virginia were held to a season-low 296 yards.

Miami: Does Miami have the worst defense in the ACC? I doubt it, but Maryland, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina all had their best in-conference offensive performances against the Hurricanes.

North Carolina: Quarterback Bryn Renner has completed over 75% of his passes on the season, but the Tar Heels rank just 9th in the ACC in offense.

Virginia: Is Virginia really the second best team in the ACC? I doubt it, but they are probably better than most people believe. Virginia has only played two league games, but they outgained both North Carolina and Georgia Tech.

Virginia Tech: After scoring just 3 points in their ACC opener against Clemson, the Hokies have rediscovered their offensive mojo against Miami and Wake Forest, putting up a combined 76 points.

And now the Big 12.

And now the SDPI ratings.Baylor: You know there are some bad defenses in the Big 12 when Baylor only ranks fourth from the bottom. In order to attain bowl eligibility for the second straight year, the Bears will probably have to pull off at least one upset in their final 6 games.

Iowa State: That 3-0 start seems like ages ago. They seem to have at least one huge upset in them per year under head coach Paul Rhoads (at Nebraska in 2009 and at Texas last year). Their opportunity this year could come on Saturday at home against Texas A&M.

Kansas: The good news: Kansas has some semblance of an offense. The bad news: Every IA opponent in 2001 has averaged at least 6 yards per play.

Kansas State: Wow. Smoke and mirrors. How have the Wildcats started 3-0 despite their less than down-to-down performance? Four reasons. Turnover margin. The Wildcats are +6 in the turnover department in their 3 league games. Non-offensive touchdowns. The Wildcats were able to stay close with Texas Tech while their offense struggled in the first half thanks to an interception and a kickoff return for touchdowns. Close games. Including non-conference action, the Wildcats are 5-0 in one-score games. Luck. Kansas State's conference foes have combined to go 3 for 8 kicking field goals against them. While the Wildcats are probably overrated (number 12 in the latest AP poll), after this week's game against Kansas, they will likely be 7-0 when they host Oklahoma on Halloween Weekend.

Missouri: All of Missouri's losses have either been close (seven each to Arizona State and Kansas State) or against a great team (Oklahoma). Their losses have also all come on the road. They may be the best 3-loss team in the country. If they 'upset' Oklahoma State at home on Saturday, don't be too surprised.

Oklahoma: The Sooners are a great team. Groundbreaking stuff. Their national title hopes may all come down to a date in Stillwater on the first weekend in December.

Oklahoma State: The numbers suggest they may not be quite as good as their top-10 ranking. If they escape Columbia with a win on Saturday, I'll change my mind.

Texas: When they were playing UCLA and Iowa State, the offense looked like it was fixed. Against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, not so much. The Longhorns have a bye this weekend and a functional bye against Kansas the following week, so maybe they can get it fixed for real.

Texas A&M: Take away a pair of huge blown second-half leads and the Aggies would be on their way to justifying their preseason hype.

Texas Tech: Look out for the Red Raiders in the second-half. While they are just 1-2 in the league (and likely 1-3 after visiting Norman this weekend), they have played well on both sides of the ball.

And now on to the SEC.And the SDPI ratings.Florida: Things have not been pretty since John Brantley went out with an injury against Alabama. In their first two conference games, the Gators rolled over Tennessee and Kentucky, averaging 434 yards per game. In their last 3 games, granted against stiffer competition (Alabama, LSU, and Auburn), the Gators have averaged just 210 yards per game.

Georgia: Lazarus, come forth. Mark Richt and the Bulldogs have righted the ship since opening with consecutive defeats to Boise State and South Carolina.

Kentucky: Competing with Ole Miss as the worst team in the SEC this season. Good news! The teams do play each other in Lexington on November 5th, so it will be settled on the field. Check your local listings.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks are a strange team. Are they good or are they just a solid team that has caught some breaks? Good teams crush lesser opponents. The Gamecocks have absolutely destroyed the two bad SEC teams they've played, outgaining Vanderbilt and Kentucky by over 800 yards. But good teams tend to play well against other good teams. South Carolina has been outgained in each of their other 3 SEC games, but has manged to win two of them. With Marcus Lattimore out and little depth behind Connor Shaw, the season-ending gauntlet of @Tennessee, @Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson will be much more challenging.

Tennessee: After they get crushed by Alabama this week, the schedule does ease up ever so little. Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky remain, so another bowl bid is a legitimate possibility.

Vanderbilt: Can they get to a bowl? Probably need to beat Army, Kentucky, and Wake Forest in order to get to their second bowl game in 4 seasons.

Alabama: I know its early, but Alabama has been obscenely dominant in its first 7 games. They did face a pair of cupcakes in the non-conference (Kent State and North Texas), but they also pushed around a Penn State team that has been better than expected. If they play as well over the second-half of their conference schedule as they have over the first, we could be comparing this team to the 2001 Hurricanes come mid-January.

Arkansas: The 'Hogs have a low-ranking for two reasons. They have only played two league games thus far (every other team has played at least three) and one of them came against the buzzsaw that is Alabama. Conveniently, their next two games are against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, so they should rise in the ratings shortly.

Auburn: Remember back after the Utah State escape when many folks thought Auburn would struggle to get to 6-6? Well, they are 5-2 with Ole Miss and Samford still left on the schedule.

LSU: The Tigers are very good. However, there have not been many teams in the last decade that could beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa, something LSU must do if it even has designs on playing in the SEC Championship Game. While we're on LSU, here's a little mini-rant. CBS, don't put LSU or Alabama on the 3:30 national game unless they are playing each other. Those afternoon games have been unwatchable. LSU bear-hugged Tennessee 38-7 this week. Last week, they throttled Florida 41-11. Two weeks ago, Auburn and South Carolina was competitive, but the primetime game (Alabama at Florida) was another four-touchdown pummeling. Three weeks ago, Alabama beat Arkansas 38-14. Save those bloodbaths for ESPNU.

Mississippi: The Rebels are doing all they can to give Kentucky a run for their money at the bottom of the SEC.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are a bit unlucky to be 0-4, but with Alabama and Arkansas left on the slate, the best they can hope for is probably 6-6.

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