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2011 opponent pre-season rankings summary

September 1, 2011

As I mentioned about this time last year, I’m not really a big fan of the whole pre-season ranking thing in general. For that matter, I’m not really a fan of rankings during the season, or after the season, which is why I’d like to see a football playoff that includes, at a minimum, all the conference champions. But some people do like the pre-season rankings, and they can help to give a general idea of the level of competition a team will face. So with that in mind, I’ve pulled together rankings from a variety of sources.

Since I’m not that keen on pre-season rankings and the like, I have not paid for any magazines or subscription services.  Pre-Snap Read, College Gridiron 365, and Rivals publish 1-to-120 rankings, so that’s who I’ve used. I love Sagarin’s football and basketball rankings once the season is well underway, but his pre-season football rankings are garbage. Unfortunately, Sagarin is the only one who ranks FBS and FCS teams together, so we’ll just have to leave Howard and Alabama State off the list.

Team PS Read CG 365 Rivals Average
Penn State 20 15 23 19
Michigan 29 37 36 34
Northern Illinois 59 50 57 55
Miami 83 41 71 65
Toledo 56 77 66 66
Ohio 52 80 83 72
Temple 75 73 77 75
Western Michigan 71 82 85 79
Kent State 113 81 105 100
Central Michigan 115 103 95 104
Ball State 98 101 116 105
Bowling Green 101 110 108 106
EMU 108 105 115 109
Buffalo 111 113 113 112
Akron 119 116 118 118

Italicized teams are MAC teams not on the 2011 schedule.

It’s worth noting  briefly that, while most of the rankings put each team in the same general area, there was a wide divergence — 42 spots! – when it comes to Miami. College Gridiron 365, which tends to be more backward-looking, thinks the RedHawks will repeat as MAC Champions, despite their coaching change.

Looking at the schedule, we have:

  • Home v. Howard (NR)
  • Home v. Alabama State (NR)
  • at #34 Michigan
  • at #19 Penn State
  • Home v. #118 Akron
  • at #66 Toledo
  • at #104 Central Michigan
  • Home v. #79 Western Michigan
  • Home v. #105 Ball State
  • Home v. #112 Buffalo
  • at #100 Kent State
  • at #55 Northern Illinois

The average ranking of the teams visiting Ypsilanti, counting the two FCS teams as both having 120 rankings, is 109 or just looking at MAC opponents, 103.5. The average ranking of the teams the Eagles will visit is 63, or just looking at the MAC, 81.25. This year EMU’s home schedule is noticably easier than the road schedule. This is a marked change from 2010, when the average ranking of teams visiting Rynearson Stadium was 79, and the average ranking of EMU’s road foes was 86 (rising to 100 when you omit Ohio State, which I guess maybe you can, thanks to Terrelle Pryor!). EMU looks to have gotten lucky in MAC scheduling, avoiding the anticipated three best teams from the East (Miami, Ohio, and Temple) — in fact, since I expect Bowling Green to be better than Kent State, I’d say they drew the three worst teams from the East. A top-40 team facing this schedule should easily finish 9-3, and would more than likely go 11-1 (I’m not sold on Michigan being that good in Hoke’s first year). For EMU, I stand by my previous prediction of five or six wins. In order of likelihood, those will come against Howard, Akron, Buffalo, Alabama State (yes, I just suggested that Akron and Buffalo are worse than a pretty good FCS team), Ball State, Kent State (I don’t buy that 81 ranking from College Gridiron 365), Central Michigan, and Western Michigan.

And this is, once again, my EMU season preview in a nutshell: thanks to a favorable schedule and with modest improvement from 2010 the Eagles could have their winningest football season since the 55 miles-per-hour federal speed limit was eliminated.

*Note: It’s frequently stated that ordinal numbers should not be averaged, because the difference between 1st and 2nd, for example, is not necessarily the same magnitude as the difference between 5th and 6th, and strictly speaking that’s correct. But, ordinals are averaged (and otherwise manipulated) in sports — especially college football! — all the time. Every ranking poll is just that, though it’s often disguised (e.g., give 1 point per 25th place vote through 25 points per first place vote and then rank based on points). So I’m not really worried about it. I think this is still a useful way to examine the expected difficulty of EMU’s schedule.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2011 1:28 pm

    I don’t like pre-season rankings because it puts pretenders too far ahead and contenders too far behind. Basically, one of the power teams has an easy time of staying in the top 10 if they don’t screw up but it takes some real work for the teams outside of that.

    A playoff would be nice…but it isn’t happening.

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