FanPost

Transitive Rankings Post Week 6: Look to the West

 

As every college football message board debater knows, winning football games is transitive. In other words, if Team A beats Team B and Team B beats Team C, the fans of Team A are perfectly within their rights to talk trash to fans of Team C. Obviously, Team A could have completely wiped the floor with Team C, they just didn't happen to play each other. If Team D happens to lose to Team C, they are also deserving of as much scorn as possible. Thus one way of ranking teams just counts how many teams' fans are permissible trash talk targets (minus those in the reverse situation).

We've reached the unfortunate time of the year when we must deal with cycles.  For instance, Hawaii beat Louisiana Tech who beat Utah State who beat Brigham Young who beat Washington who beat Southern California who beat Hawaii.  They way these rankings cope is by giving the transitive win to the team with the shorter path.  USC beat Hawaii directly, so they get a win (even though Hawaii beat LA Tech who beat USU who beat BYU who beat UW who beat USC).  

 

The unfortunate result is that teams might be ranked lower than teams they beat directly (which is unavoidable with cycles).  However, these rankings still guarantee that a team is higher ranked than a team they beat (transitively), unless there is a cycle involving those two teams.  

 

 

1 Boise State 86-0 (5-0)

2 Texas Christian 82-0 (4-0)

3 Oregon State 81-2 (3-2)

These teams are all here for the same reason: Oregon State's win over previous #1 Arizona.  Unlike voters, the transitive rankings don't forget that Boise State and TCU both have wins over Oregon State.  A team is never ranked lower than a team they beat (unless there's a cycle).  SI's Stewart Mandel calls the Beavers the most underrated team

 

4 Oregon 76-0 (5-0)

Beating Washington State doesn't do anything, but the Stanford win is now worth 59 transitive wins.  

 

4 Arizona 79-3 (3-1)

The California win is currently Arizona's best for transitive purposes (if you haven't figured it out yet, transitive rankings currently love the Pac-10).  Iowa might pay off more in the future though.  

 

6 Nevada 75-0 (5-0)

Nevada beat Cal as well.  

 

6 Nebraska 75-0 (4-0)

The Washington win still helps a little, but beating KState is what propelled Nebraska into the top 10.  

 

8 Kansas State 74-1 (3-1)

KSU's win over UCLA still looks pretty good, but ISU contributes the bulk of the transitive wins (ISU beat Texas Tech and a surprisingly game Northern Illinois).  

 

9 Auburn 72-0 (6-0)

No reasonable person should have Auburn below Alabama.  Auburn beat South Carolina, Alabama did not.  

 

9 Stanford 73-1 (4-1)

56 of Stanford's wins are from USC or UCLA.  Beating ND helped a lot in the polls, but not here.  

 

9 Oklahoma 72-0 (5-0)

FSU's win over Miami bumped their value up some, but Oklahoma's best two wins are still Air Force and Texas.  

 

12 California 73-5 (2-2)

12 Louisiana State 68-0 (6-0)

14 Utah 67-0 (5-0)

15 South Carolina 67-1 (3-1)

16 Iowa 66-4 (3-1)

17 Michigan State 61-0 (5-0)

18 Virginia Tech 61-1 (4-1)

19 UCLA 69-10 (3-3)

20 Ohio State 58-0 (6-0)

Ohio State's schedule has held them back a bit so far.  Miami isn't as good as once thought.  

 

20 North Carolina State 60-2 (4-1)

22 Missouri 57-0 (4-0)

23 Michigan 57-1 (4-1)

23 Alabama 58-2 (5-1)

23 Air Force 57-1 (4-1)

23 Iowa State 64-8 (2-3)

27 Texas 66-12 (3-2)

28 Mississippi State 55-2 (3-2)

28 Florida State 54-1 (4-1)

30 West Virginia 53-1 (3-1)

WVU is the Big East's highest rated team here.  The next highest is #66 Pitt.  Had Marshall finished off that upset, the Mountaineers would be 90th.  

 

30 Oklahoma State 52-0 (5-0)

Worst undefeated team?  When 4 of your wins are over Tulsa, ULL, Troy and Washington State, it's a possibility.  A more fitting description might be "Least Impressive So Far of Any Undefeated Team".  

 

32 Notre Dame 55-4 (3-3)

32 Wisconsin 52-1 (4-1)

32 Illinois 53-2 (2-2)

35 Maryland 52-2 (3-1)

35 Arkansas 53-3 (3-1)

37 Navy 51-5 (2-2)

38 Colorado 52-7 (3-2)

38 Texas A&M 50-5 (2-2)

38 Texas Tech 61-16 (3-2)

41 Arizona State 50-6 (1-3)

42 Baylor 59-17 (3-2)

43 Penn State 51-11 (2-3)

43 Wyoming 54-14 (1-3)

45 Northern Illinois 51-12 (3-2)

46 Toledo 53-15 (3-3)

46 Houston 52-14 (2-2)

48 Temple 50-17 (3-2)

48 Purdue 52-19 (2-2)

50 Northwestern 51-20 (4-1)

51 Georgia Tech 55-25 (3-2)

51 East Carolina 55-25 (3-2)

51 Kansas 55-25 (2-2)

51 Southern Mississippi 55-25 (3-2)

51 North Carolina 55-25 (3-2)

56 Florida 28-4 (4-2)

Transitive ranking also agrees with Mandel's assessment of Florida as the most overrated team.  

 

57 Miami (FL) 16-3 (2-2)

58 Central Florida 13-5 (2-2)

59 Texas-El Paso 16-15 (4-1)

60 Indiana 2-3 (2-2)

Indiana continues to be the most boring team, transitively speaking.  Their wins are over teams that are 0-11, their losses are to teams that are 9-1.

 

60 Southern Methodist 16-17 (4-2)

60 Georgia 13-14 (2-4)

63 Tennessee 12-17 (1-4)

64 Boston College 2-8 (1-3)

65 San Jose State 0-7 (0-4)

SJSU will probably have the title of "Best Transitive Record by a Winless Team" for as long as they remain winless.  Their losses are to Alabama, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Utah.  Next week, Boise State comes to town.  

 

66 Pittsburgh 2-10 (1-3)

67 Mississippi 46-58 (3-1)

67 Hawaii 46-58 (3-2)

69 Vanderbilt 45-59 (2-3)

70 Louisiana Tech 44-59 (1-4)

71 Southern California 44-60 (4-2)

72 Connecticut 43-60 (2-3)

72 Tulsa 13-30 (2-3)

74 Clemson 12-31 (1-3)

75 Rice 12-32 (1-5)

76 Brigham Young 41-62 (2-4)

76 Rutgers 41-62 (2-2)

78 Washington 41-63 (2-3)

78 San Diego State 41-63 (2-2)

78 Fresno State 41-63 (2-2)

78 Army 41-63 (4-2)

Army is the lowest team with a winning record.  Having a best win of Tulane will do that.  

 

82 Tulane 39-64 (1-3)

82 Utah State 39-64 (1-4)

84 Wake Forest 1-33 (1-4)

85 Kentucky 16-70 (3-3)

85 Syracuse 15-69 (2-1)

87 Minnesota 12-69 (1-4)

88 Cincinnati 11-69 (1-3)

88 Louisville 13-71 (2-2)

88 South Fla. 13-71 (2-2)

91 Miami (OH) 10-71 (3-3)

92 Memphis 12-75 (1-5)

93 Colorado State 7-72 (1-5)

94 Buffalo 4-70 (1-3)

95 Idaho 6-73 (2-2)

96 New Mexico State 1-70 (1-4)

96 Virginia 0-69 (0-3)

98 Duke 0-70 (0-4)

98 Florida International 1-71 (1-4)

98 Washington State 0-70 (0-5)

101 Western Michigan 3-74 (1-3)

102 Kent State 1-73 (1-3)

103 Ball State 2-75 (1-3)

103 Nevada-Las Vegas 1-74 (1-5)

105 Central Michigan 1-76 (1-4)

106 New Mexico 0-77 (0-6)

106 Western Kentucky 0-77 (0-5)

106 Akron 0-77 (0-5)

109 Louisiana-Lafayette 9-87 (2-3)

109 Middle Tennessee State 9-87 (1-3)

109 Troy 9-87 (3-2)

112 Arkansas State 7-89 (2-4)

112 Alabama-Birmingham 7-89 (1-4)

112 Louisiana-Monroe 7-89 (1-3)

115 North Texas 6-90 (1-5)

115 Florida Atlantic 6-90 (1-4)

117 Ohio 2-95 (2-3)

117 Bowling Green State 2-95 (1-5)

117 Marshall 2-95 (1-4)

120 Eastern Michigan 0-104 (0-6)

EMU looks like they have secured the 120 spot.  Only 8 teams have a win but do not have a transitive win over the Eagles.  

 

Longest Shortest Cycle: (The longest cycle which is the shortest involving a particular team)

Army beat Tulane who beat Rutgers who beat Connecticut who beat Vanderbilt who beat Mississippi who beat Fresno State who beat Utah State who beat Brigham Young who beat Washington who beat Southern California who beat Hawaii who beat Army.  

Right now, this group is clumped #67-#82 region, though it will be more spread out as time goes on.  

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