Stanford would be the surprise team in the first college playoff if their No. 2 spot in the Breitbart Sports Pythagorean Rankings held up at the end of the season. While Oregon would project to have a wider average margin of victory (47-21) than Stanford (36-14) if each team played the other 127, the Cardinal would project to go 119-8 to earn a spot against Michigan State (118-9) while Florida State (121-6) would face Alabama (117-10). The following are the new rankings of all 128 teams.
While Oregon has a better average point differential than Stanford by four points, the Pythagorean Theorem has shown over the years in all sports that the ratio of points is more important – thus teams with better defenses tend to do better than the high scoring teams in the formula (points scored to the 2.73rd power) / (points scored to the 2.73rd power + points allowed to the 2.73rd power) = estimated wins. The estimated points scored and allowed by each team over an 127-game schedule on a neutral field against every other team was based on the Massey Ratings for offenses and defenses, with adjustments made based on other computer rankings and actual results from Week 1.
Stanford is ranked only No. 11 to start the season, and will face a big test against USC next week.
Louisville’s big win over Miami Monday night moved them into 16th place and 2nd to Florida State in the ACC, which would project to average a 31-25 win and 76 wins per team to be the fifth best conference.
The Big Ten would project to be 4th with a 32-26 average win an 80 victories.
The Big 12 and Pac-12 would both average a 35-24 win, but the Big 12 would have a fraction of an edge to project 91 wins to edge out the Big 12 with 90.
The SEC still projects at No. 1, with a 34-22 average win and 95 wins per team.
The American Athletic Conference comes in as the 6th best conference with a projected average score of a 26-30 loss, and East Carolina comes in as the top team outside the big five conferences, which would put them in line for the one New Years Day poll that goes to the top ranked champion from outside the big 5. Central Florida could have nailed down that top spot for the week, until they lost to Penn State on a last second field goal. East Carolina will have an even tougher time maintaining it as they travel to South Carolina as a heavy underdog against a team intent on coming back after a lopsided loss the Texas A&M.
Conference USA enters Week 2 ranked 7th (average 26-34 loss, 51 wins per team), followed by the Mountain West (25-34, 40 wins), Mid-American (22-35, 31) and Sun Belt (22-36, 29).