Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pepsi Challenge: Mediocre-ish Teams Edition

Which team is better?

Team A:
1 win vs 1-AA/FCS opponent
Unbeaten in own conference
438 yards per game (20th nationally)
34 points per game (25th)
338 yards allowed per game (49th)
22 points allowed per game (49th)
113th toughest schedule according to Colley Ratings
97th toughest schedule according to GBE
Both losses to top-15 teams (one team is 7-1, the other is 7-2, both from major conferences, both on the road).
No wins over ranked opponents.

Team B:
1 win vs. 1-AA/FCS opponent.
Unbeaten in own conference
357 yards per game (69th)
24 points per game (71st)
312 yards allowed per game (34th)
15 points allowed per game (11th)
112th toughest schedule according to Colley Ratings
110th toughest schedule according to GBE
Both losses to teams at or near .500 (one is 4-4, the other 4-3, one from a major conference, the other a mid-major, both on the road)
No wins over ranked opponents

One team scores a lot more, the other allows a lot fewer points.  Neither team has played a decent schedule.  Neither team has proven that they can beat a good opponent, but one of these teams at least has only lost to very good teams.

Neither team is in line for the national title or anything, so this is more of an academic exercise than one that will determine anything all that important.

But Team B is currently 26th in both the AP and Coaches' Polls.  Team A barely gets a whiff of votes in either poll (no votes in the Coaches' poll, 1/13th the number of votes in the AP poll that Team B got).  And I've seen a few bloggers giving blogpoll votes to Team B.  

We're at the point in the season where what people think will happen ought to be eclipsed by the evidence of what has happened.  The evidence doesn't show any real difference between these two teams.

So why is it that people give the benefit of doubt to West Virginia (Team B) but don't give the same deference to Troy (Team A)?

Just askin'.


Vince Mullins said...

OOOH, I know this one. Because Troy is in the Sun Belt and West Virginia has a history of national title hunts.

The computer polls know the difference - humans (and coaches too ;)) stick with a priori knowledge and never test their preconceptions.