After Saturday's Army-Navy game, the regular season has now come to a close. As such, we're now ready for the final set of Transitivity Rankings before bowl season kicks off. We didn't post last week, so changes since last time are largely due to the happenings of conference championship week. If you've never seen one of these posts before, you'll want to check here first. Otherwise, let's proceed with the season's penultimate set of Transitivity Rankings (we'll check in again for a final time once bowls have been played and a national champion has been crowned).
|Rank||Team||Change||Avg Rank||Win Rank||Loss Rank||Num Win Paths||Avg Win Path||Num Loss Paths||Avg Loss Path||FBS Wins||FBS Losses|
|43||North Carolina State||-||42.5||45||40||126||3.57||123||4.45||6||5|
|79||San Diego State||1||78.0||83||73||126||4.46||123||3.76||6||5|
|101||Middle Tennessee State||1||97.5||90||105||126||4.71||123||3.28||5||6|
|111||San Jose State||1||108.0||112||104||126||5.23||123||3.29||2||9|
|127||New Mexico State||-||127.0||127||127||1||1.00||126||3.08||1||10|
Due to a smaller slate of games, this week's rankings saw very little movement. Here's what I noticed:
- If the CTR were in charge of choosing teams for the College Football Playoff, three of its four selections would have matched the committee's selections. That's good! The fourth selection, however, would have sparked riots everywhere outside of Oxford. The CTR nailed the three obvious choices, but none of TCU (16), Ohio State (22), or Baylor (24) even sniffed the top four.
- Speaking of Ohio State: The Buckeyes impressed a lot of eyeballs in the Big Ten championship game, whipping a solid Wisconsin team 59-0. And yet the CTR, which has been down on Ohio State all season, actually dropped the Buckeyes two spots for their effort. Given that, it's no surprise that Wisconsin suffered the worse downgrade of the week, falling 10 spots to number 33.
- With the CTR focusing all of its ire on Ohio State, it apparently had none left over for Oklahoma. The Sooners have spent much of the back half of the season as the highest ranked Big 12 team, even through all of their recent slip ups. Indeed, the CTR sees their resume so unimpeachable that the Oklahoma State loss had no effect on their ranking. The Cowboys were rewarded for their victory, however, jumping nine spots to become the week's highest riser.
- With bowl season coming up, be ready to see a lot of movement in the next set of Transitivity Rankings. Toward the end of conference play, it's hard to significantly change the lengths of your shortest win paths. As an example, let's look at Kansas State's last game and their next game. Both Baylor and UCLA are solid teams, and a win over either would be impressive to a pollster. But in terms of win paths, beating UCLA would be a bigger deal; Kansas State already owns a win path of length two over Baylor, so a win last week wouldn't have significantly shortened any K-State win paths. But the Cats' shortest path to UCLA is six games long. A drop from six to one would be a much bigger deal. Throw in 37 more games with similar stakes, and you see the impact bowl season can have.
Looking back over the rankings, you'll see that every team between 2 and 124 has win paths (and loss paths) to the same number of teams. We call this mass of teams the cluster. Championship Saturday brought us two games with the potential to change cluster membership: Florida State trying to stay above the cluster in the ACC championship against Georgia Tech, and SMU ending its regular season against UConn with the chance to enter the cluster from the bottom.
As I'm sure you're aware, FSU was able to hold off the Yellow Jackets and maintain their transitive dominance over the rest of the country. What you may not have noticed was the Mustangs picking up their only win of the season against the cluster-residing Huskies. So congratulations to SMU, who escapes the ignominy of being the only non-Sunbelt team to finish the season in the sub-cluster.
Jekyll and Hyde Award
For the team whose performances in the WTR and LTR are most divergent. This one's for the team which has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. Or perhaps the highest lows and the lowest highs.
Largest difference between WTR and LTR.
Not much to talk about here, as the back-to-back-to-back Jekyll and Hyde champion Buffaloes were off last week, as were all of their closest competitors.
Are We There Yet Award
Not all shortest paths are created equal. Sometimes, teams have to work very hard to claim a win path, meandering tirelessly among the season's results before the path is earned. This one goes to a pair of teams for whom the shortest win path between them is longer than all other shortest paths.
Maximum length shortest win path.
Eastern Michigan, TCU
Another repeat winner from last week (that's going to be a theme today). The Eagles need 11 games to reach TCU on a win path. A representative argument looks like this: Eastern Michigan > Buffalo > Massachusetts > Kent State > Army > Connecticut > Central Florida > BYU > Texas > West Virginia > Baylor > TCU.
Frequent Flyer Award
If you took all of one team's shortest win paths, and made them actual travel itineraries, for which team would you be making the most stops? To win this one, you need to have a lot of win paths, but you don't want them to be too short.
Largest sum of shortest win path lengths.
Yet another repeat winner. Tulsa owns win paths over 126 other teams, and the shortest paths sum to 782 games. Eastern Michigan is once again in second place, with 126 paths summing to 771 games.
Conference Atlas & Coattail-Rider Awards
There are two awards here, one for the team which does the most to carry its conference's reputation on its shoulders (Atlas), and another for the conference black sheep who most disgraces his comrades (Coattail-Rider).
The team whose CTR is highest above/farthest below the average among teams in its conference.
Boise State (Atlas), Vanderbilt (Coattails)
Finally, a winner that's not a retread from last week! And even then it was close, as Boise State's rank of 30 is 45.92 spots better than the MWC's average rank, while reigning Atlas Florida State is 45.29 spots higher than the ACC average. Vanderbilt, of course, is steady as ever in the Coattails race. Here's the conference-by-conference breakdown:
|Conference||Avg Conference Rank||Atlas||Atlas Rank||Atlas Difference||Coattail Hanger||Coattail Rank||Coattail Difference|
|Big Ten||39.79||Michigan State||10||29.79||Purdue||80||40.21|
|MAC||99.69||Northern Illinois||61||38.69||Eastern Michigan||123||23.31|
|Sun Belt||102.36||UL Lafayette||72||30.36||Georgia State||128||25.64|
We Are Not Impressed Award
This award goes to the AP top 25 team whose reputation is most at odds with their transitive resume. Whatever human pollsters see in this team, the CTR is not buying the hype.
The AP top 25 team whose ranking drops the most when compared to CTR.
Last week, Baylor and Kansas State were numbers one and two for this award. I said that whoever won that game would get enough of a CTR boost to be out of the running this week. I was wrong. The Bears were number 4 in the final AP ranking, but only gained one spot in the CTR this week , moving up to 24. This difference of 20 was slightly above second place Ohio State (AP 5, CTR 22, difference of 17) and brings the award to Waco for the third week in a row.
Desserpmi Ton Era Ew Award
Like the We Are Not Impressed Award, but opposite. Indeed, the name of this award is "we are not impressed" backwards.
The highest CTR among teams receiving no votes in the AP poll.
Depending on bowl results, its possible that the CTR's conference-wide crush on the SEC will fade a bit. For now, the CTR continues to value Arkansas (15) and Texas A&M (16) more than any living human does.
KANSAS STATE WIN PATHSK-State lost their last game to Baylor, but it didn't hurt them too much, sliding just two spots to number 27. More importantly, the Wildcats drew a bowl opponent in UCLA that can really help them in the CTR. The Bruins sit at number 7 in the current rankings and, as noted earlier, are only reachable via a fairly long win path of length six. In fact, as the win path diagram shows, all of the Pac-12 is pretty distant from Kansas State right now (Pac-12 teams are shaded light blue). A win over the Bruins would give K-State a short path out to the west coast, and could be big for their CTR. The full diagram and depth list is found below.
Click to embiggen. - jeffp171/Bring on the Cats