After week four the All-Division Strength power rating (referred to as Strength, from now on) is starting to come together, at least for FBS teams who have played 3 or more games. We're still going to review and use our updated Pre-season ratings for a few more weeks while the non-biased results improve, but we'll compare the two when reviewing the week-to-week movements.
Baylor remained #1—no one jumped over the Bears in their idle week—and they also hold down the #1 spot in Strength, too, giving some support to the idea that they could really be the best team. With just three games under their belts it's a bit early to say, especially given their opponents so far (SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo).
Four of the next five spots are held by SEC teams Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Auburn. Those teams are #6, #4, #3, and #2 in the unbiased Strength rankings, so while the order is reversed the sentiment is the same. Pre-season #1 Florida State has dropped to #4, and they're only #20 in Strength, but some of that is due to the Clemson close-call which we might assume is at least a partial aberration. Another SEC team, Mississippi, checks in at #8 here and #7 in Strength so half of the top ten teams in the country are from the SEC, 4 of them from the West.
Previous #3 Oregon drops to #7 after a close call of their own against Washington State, and in Strength they're just #19; unlike FSU they don't have an excuse. Oklahoma pushes ahead to #9 with UCLA coming in at #10; the Sooners are #5 in Strength but UCLA is only #34 so their pre-season ranking is still giving them much more credit than they deserve.
So in all, 7 of the top 10 in our updated pre-season rankings are in the unbiased Strength top 10 as seen below:
# Team rec Rating Offense[rnk] Defense[rnk]
1. Baylor 3-0 77.42 69.06 [ 1] -8.35 [ 8]
2. Auburn 3-0 77.32 65.44 [ 11] -11.88 [ 3]
3. Georgia 2-1 75.01 66.02 [ 8] -8.99 [ 5]
4. Texas A&M 4-0 74.92 66.61 [ 4] -8.30 [ 9]
5. Oklahoma 4-0 74.06 65.34 [ 12] -8.71 [ 7]
6. Alabama 4-0 70.97 62.10 [ 21] -8.86 [ 6]
7. Mississippi 3-0 68.09 62.52 [ 18] -5.56 [ 16]
8. Clemson 1-2 66.67 66.55 [ 5] -0.12 [ 38]
9. Notre Dame 3-0 66.48 53.68 [ 62] -12.80 [ 2]
10. Wisconsin 2-1 65.48 63.54 [ 16] -1.93 [ 26]
The three unique teams in the unbiased Strength top 10 are Clemson, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin, who are #17, #21, and #12 below. Wisconsin makes one of the bigger moves from last week from #25 to #12, putting them ahead of the LSU team that beat them. The Tigers, of course, lost to Mississippi State at home, but the Bulldogs didn't quite catch them in our rankings; they're 19th to LSU's #18. In the unbiased rankings things are properly ordered: Mississippi State is #13, LSU #14.
SportsRatings pre-season rankings, updated for week 4:
|71||73||North Carolina St||4-0||-0.46|
|70||74||San Diego St||1-2||-1.27|
|83||85||Middle Tennessee St||2-2||-0.30|
|88||86||San Jose St||1-2||+0.20|
|128||127||New Mexico St||2-2||+0.73|
With UCLA at #10, Utah at #13 (up 5), and USC at #14, the Pac-12 South has quite a race on its hands. Those teams are #34, #18, and #25 in Strength so the Utes might end up the favorite eventually. BYU's #11 ranking, down from #8 pre-season, is somewhat validated by their #16 Strength rating.
What about the Big Ten? We didn't have their teams ranked very high to start and now we find, after Wisconsin at #12, Michigan State at #15, Ohio State at #16, Maryland at #28, Nebraska at #30, and Indiana at #33. In Strength these teams check in at #10, #43, #24, #30, #15, and #52. So Michigan State might not be quite as good as people think, and Nebraska probably started too low and hasn't moved up enough in our updates. And perhaps the Strength rankings needs more time to mature.
All in all there is remarkable similarity in the two ranking systems after four weeks. Just around the bottom of the top 25 are three more SEC teams: Missouri falling to #23, Arkansas rising to #25, and Florida at #26. These rankings are very similar to their Strength rankings of #26, #22, and #27. The Big Twelve's Oklahoma State and West Virginia, near-spoilers in week 1, check in at #24 and #27 here and at #17 and #21 in Strength.
Speaking of spoilers, East Carolina took a huge leap from #56 to #38 after beating North Carolina 70-41. The Tar Heels fell from #50 to #65. Another Pirate victim, Virginia Tech, lost to Georgia Tech and fell 11 spots to #47. And a third ACC teams, Pittsburgh, suffered a bad loss (to Iowa at home) and dropped ten spots to #52. Other big droppers include Cincinnati (down 14 to #62 after edging Miami of Ohio 31-24) and Northern Illinois (blown out by Arkansas 52-14, they fell 11 to #69).
When mature, the Strength ratings are better than an updated pre-season system, due to lack of bias and because things are "tied" together more. Above we see North Texas, up 16 to #76 after a great 77-3 win over Nicholls State. That puts them well head of Louisiana Tech, who drops 10 to #87 after losing to Northwestern State. But a week before, the Bulldogs beat the Mean Green 42-21. In Strength, Louisiana Tech is #60 and North Texas #87; a proper order is much more likely in an unbiased system. In the early weeks sometimes Strength isn't quite accurate while pre-season bias provides some order, After a few week we'll have the best of both worlds—unbiased, and informed.
Georgia Southern continued their upward charge. They started at #121, and have moved to #116, 104, 91, and now 81 in the ensuing weeks, proving they're much better than we projected. They're #63 in Strength so they may have more room to climb. They beat South Alabama 28-6 on Saturday. Purdue even showed some more signs of life as they easily handled Southern Illinois, 35-13 and jumped 16 spots to #90. Strength lists the Boilers at #93.