With the college football season now over, its time to take a look at the final set of Transitivity Rankings for 2014. In this space, we use only win/loss results and the transitive property to rank all teams in FBS (to mixed results, as you'll see). If you haven't read one of these posts before, or your memory has gotten fuzzy since last time, everything you need to know about the method can be found here. We lasted checked in at the end of the regular season, so changes referenced in the table are relative to each team's pre-bowl ranking.
2014 Final Combined Transitivity Rankings
|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|
|37||North Carolina State||6||38.0||35||41||127||3.20||123||4.07||7||5|
|94||San Diego State||15||89.5||85||94||127||4.13||123||3.29||6||6|
|102||Middle Tennessee State||1||97.5||93||102||127||4.32||123||3.24||5||6|
|112||San Jose State||1||110.0||116||104||127||5.02||123||3.23||2||9|
|127||New Mexico State||-||127.0||127||127||1||1.00||126||3.04||1||10|
Yes, you read that correctly. Your 2014 CTR National Champions are the Florida State Seminoles, Rose Bowl blowout notwithstanding. And the real national champions? Well, though Ohio State holds the best win rating in the nation, the ever-unforgiving CTR is still caught up on that Virginia Tech loss. Consequently, the Buckeyes hold a loss ranking of 34, accounting for the low combined rank of 13.
In other developments, the CTR's SEC West uber-crush has been toned down a bit, though the entire division is still in the top 20, and Ole Miss actually moved up a spot to number 2 despite getting crushed in the Peach Bowl. Arizona State got a big boost after beating Duke in the Sun Bowl, jumping 10 spots. Nebraska's Holiday Bowl loss to USC was strangely impactful, spelling a 17 spot drop in the CTR.
In a certain sense, the CTR did well on a macro level. Every top 25 team is at least receiving votes in the AP poll, so you could say that the CTR is able to identify the top group of teams in the nation. Specific slotting, though? Sometimes it's not so good (Ohio State, UCLA, Clemson, most of the SEC West).
We're giving out a few more awards this week. No more categories have been added, rather in each category we'll hand out a "Season Achievement" award. This award goes to the team in each category with the most weekly awards over the course of the season.
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.
Colorado, San Jose State (3 wins)
I've been waiting for the Hokies to take this one for some time now. See that line in the description, where it says the winner "has experienced the highest highs and lowest lows?" Well, Virginia Tech checked both boxes, beating the eventual National Champions in September while also losing to an awful Wake Forest team in the ugliest game of the season. In between was a bunch of "meh", but those to results were enough to earn the Hokies a WTR of 8 and an LTR of 97, an 89 spot difference.
Colorado and San Jose State share the season achievement awards, each having earned weekly honors on three occasions. San Jose State was the early season enigma, winning three of the first four Jekyll and Hyde awards, while Colorado's three titles came in the last three weeks of the regular season.
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 (4 wins as the origin), TCU (3 wins as the terminus)
Colorado, Florida International, and Vanderbilt were all in contention for the final Are We There Yet award, each owning 9-game shortest win paths to TCU. To settle this dispute, I turn to my questionably accurate tiebreaker system, which tries to determine the real-life distance one would travel on each path. Colorado's path, covering nearly 4500 miles, edged out FIU's 4300 mile path to take the award. The argument for the Buffaloes over the Horned Frogs looks like this:
Colorado > Massachusetts > Ball State > Akron > Pittsburgh > Virginia Tech > Ohio State > Michigan State > Baylor > TCU
This was TCU's third week on the destination end of the Are We There Yet award, letting them edge out UTEP and Mississippi State for Season Achievement recognition. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan was the only team to appear on the source side more than once this year, easily earning themselves a Season Achievement honor.
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.
Eastern Michigan (6 wins)
Eastern Michigan took this awards five weeks out of six in midseason, and are back on top after a two week hiatus. Their 127 shortest win paths sum to a total of 753 games, putting them comfortably above second place SMU (712 games total). This also gives the Eagles six total Frequent Flyer victories on the year, easily the most of any team, earning them yet another Season Achievement award.
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)
Marshall (7 Atlas wins), Vanderbilt (12 Coattail wins)
Boise State, the lone Group of Five representative in the New Year's Six bowls, takes their second consecutive Atlas award. Those two awards put them in a tie for second place (with Northern Illinois) in the Season Achievement category, where they were blown away by Marshall. The Thundering Herd managed seven straight Atlas titles after beginning the season with an 11-0 record, easily outpacing their C-USA brethren in the CTR over that run.
But even Marshall's seven straight trophies pales in comparison to the achievements (?) of Vanderbilt, who won the Coattail-Rider award every single week I gave one out. And it usually wasn't close. As it stands now, the Commodores sit at number 89 in the CTR, about 64 spots worse than the average SEC squad. Their closest competition is Colorado, who is only 48 spots worse than the Pac-12 average. Vandy dominated the Coattail stats like that all year, and fully deserve their Season Achievement award.
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.
Baylor, Ohio State (3 wins)
After a wild Miami Beach Bowl victory and a 10-3 season, Memphis holds the final spot in the AP's top 25 poll. The CTR, however, sees the Tigers as decidedly mediocre, slotting them at number 58. That's a big difference, 33 spots to be exact, perhaps the biggest differential we've seen this season.
But don't get too down, Tiger fans. Considering the history of the We Are Not Impressed award, I wouldn't get too worked up over this development. You see, the Season Achievement award in this category is split between Baylor and Ohio State, which makes for pretty good company. Both teams won this award on three separate occasions. In Baylor's case, the CTR never liked their non-conference wins very much. The issue with Ohio State comes down the that loss to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (It sounds worse when I use their full name, right? Are they even Division I?) which I feel like I've had to bring up in this space nearly every week since it happened.
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.
Louisiana Tech (3 wins)
Of all the teams overlooked by AP voters, the CTR likes Tennessee best. The Volunteers finished the season 7-6, but all but one of those losses cames to ranked teams. None of their wins were particularly noteworthy, but accounting for the CTR's love of all things SEC, you can see how they might end up with this award.
The Season Achievement award goes to Louisiana Tech, who took the weekly award three times mid-season. That they're here is a bit of a fluke, though. See, the way the CTR works, it completely ignores all results against FCS teams. This was great for Louisiana Tech, who lost an early-season game against FCS Northwestern State in September. They lost other non-conference games as well, but they were against highly-ranked (at the time) Oklahoma and Auburn. Thus, until a late November loss to Old Dominion, the CTR couldn't really penalize the Bulldogs for anything. AP voters, meanwhile, were paying attention to the Northwestern State loss and wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole. Thus Tech stayed in contention for this award most of the season.
KANSAS STATE WIN PATHS
When I first started posting these, the CTR was rating Kansas State consistently higher than almost any other outlet. I didn't create this system with that goal in mind, but it was a nice side benefit, and it made me happy. Now that aspect is gone completely, as the CTR hasn't seen the Cats as even a top 25 team since November. The Alamo Bowl loss to CTR number 2 UCLA didn't hurt much, but it still sent K-State down slightly to number 33, their worst ranking of the season.
As my parting gift, I leave you with the final K-State win path diagram and depth list. With Florida State's Rose Bowl loss, the Cats finish the season claiming a win path to every FBS team, with no path using more than seven games.
Click to embiggen. - jeffp171/Bring on the Cats