Polls And Rankings And Ducks And Broncos

CORRECTION: Dumb error on my part — Oregon defeated New Mexico 72-0 in its season opener, while Boise State defeated New Mexico State 59-0 last week. The Ducks and Broncos did not face the same opponent, which proves only that there is a lot of really bad football being played in New Mexico.

Oregon has leapt over Boise State in the polls. But according to one of Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings — the one that will be used by the BCS — the Ducks are the No. 6 team in the country.

Let’s start with the human polls. Oregon moved from No. 4 to No. 3 following its 52-31 win over Stanford. I agree that’s more impressive than Boise State’s 59-0 win over New Mexico State, but c’mon — a team wins 59-0 and loses ground in the polls?!? And don’t start talking about Boise State’s strength of schedule or lack thereof — Oregon also has played New Mexico State.

Later in the year, Boise State’s schedule will be a legitimate part of the discussion. But at this point, according to Sagarin, Boise State has played the 38th toughest schedule in the country, while Oregon’s is No. 57. The thing is, if a voter had the Broncos ahead of the Ducks prior to last week, it’s absurd to switch them at this time. Maybe later, but not now.

So far, there is no reason to believe Oregon is better than Boise State. Like it or not, the Broncos beat the Ducks each of the past two years. That has no bearing on this year, except that it’s the only empirical evidence we have for rating the teams — unless you think 72-0 is more impressive than 59-0 against the same opponent. And there’s certainly no reason to think Boise is any worse than the past two seasons — the Broncos have something like 20 starters back from last year. Five weeks from now, we’ll have a larger body of work by which to measure the Ducks against the Broncos.

As for the Ducks being No. 6 in the Sagarin ratings, here’s how that works: He has Oregon ranked No. 2 in his “pure points” ratings, but that includes margin of victory. The BCS rankings won’t use margin of victory, just wins and losses. Because of Oregon’s weak schedule, the Ducks rank sixth in that regard. For the purposes of the BCS, here’s Sagarin’s Top 10: Alabama, Oklahoma, Boise State, LSU, Florida, Oregon, Ohio State, TCU, Auburn, and Arizona.

By the way, here is how the Pac-10 teams stand in the “pure points” rankings: 2, Oregon; 6, Stanford; 15, Arizona; 16, Cal; 18, Southern Cal; 31, Oregon State; 33, Arizona State; 50, UCLA; 59, Washington; 127, Washington State.

All of this will get sorted out in the coming weeks. Oregon’s strength of schedule will climb (but not this week against WSU, which stands four spots behind Eastern Washington in the “pure points” rankings), while Boise State’s will fall. But it sure is interesting to talk about now.

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