The Houlgate Perspective is a series of commentaries about college football as viewed from a legacy ranking system, known as the Houlgate College Football Ranking system. This article covers what happened in week 6 when the BCS top ranked team, Alabama lost to SEC opponent, South Carolina sending shockwaves throughout the college football landscape. The Houlgate Ranking System, although not a predictor of future results ranked Alabama in 3rd place behind other SEC rivals, LSU and Auburn prior to last weekend's upset.
Is This the Year of the Tiger?
Out of curiosity, I googled to find out what the current Chinese year was. To my surprise, it is the year of the Tiger. It began on Valentine's day and ends on February 3rd, just long enough for the College season to play itself out and crown its mythical champion for 2010. Is it just a coincdence that the top two teams in the Houlgate Ranking system LSU and Auburn, are both nicknamed 'the Tigers?'
We'll see how that plays out, but right now LSU is on top with 34 ranking points and Auburn is no. 2 with 32 points. Third place shows a three-way tie between Big Ten frontrunners Michigan State and Ohio State and last week's Houlgate leader Oklahoma, which had a bye.
Another Tiger team, Missouri, landed a spot in the top 10, garnering 8th place with 24 points.
So how did the big cats of the SEC end up on the top of the heap? Looking over their past opponents, the lowest grade has been E. Both Auburn and LSU have each beaten one E team, one B team and a mix if C and D teams. The advantage goes to LSU because it has beaten more C teams than Auburn. In the Houlgate system, teams are awarded letter grades based on the number of losses. Fewer losses means a higher grade as undefeated teams enjoy A status. The higher the grade of your opponent means you get more ranking points if you beat them. If you lose a game, you lose points, and the letter grade of your opponent determines how many points you lose. As the season progresses, teams change letter grades and points are re-calculated retroactively. In the case of LSU and Auburn, their wins over teams with relatively good records have helped them reach the top of the Houlgate rankings.
One of LSU's and Auburn's past opponents, Mississippi State, usually a bottom feeder in the SEC, has shown remarkable strength. Their record is 4-2, having defeated Georgia and losing only to Auburn and LSU thus far. The Bulldog's success, no doubt, have helped both Tiger teams. However, their next opponent is Florida with Alabama and Arkansas just down the road and that could mean subtracted Houlgate points for LSU and Auburn.
Michigan State got a lift in beating its cross-state rival last weekend. The Michigan Wolverines were previously an A team until they got thumped by the Spartans. That win, plus their victory over B team Wisconsin lifted MSU into a three-way tie with Ohio State and Oklahoma.
Ohio State has yet to play anyone above a C grade, and they will miss their chance, even if they beat Wisconsin and Michigan. The Buckeyes don't have the Spartans on their schedule. Even with that scenario, Ohio State is the favorite of the BCS and the AP and USA Today polls, and as usual the Houlgates are calling it differently.
Oklahoma took last week off, but should the Sooners run the table, they stand a very good chance of taking a commanding lead in the Houlgate rankings before we head for the bowl games. Six of Oklahoma's seven remaining opponents currently have winning records and two of them, Missouri and cross-state rival, Oklahoma State, are undefeated.
So is this the Year of the Tiger in college football? This reminds me of USC's deceased, legendary coach, John McKay - what he said after losing to Notre Dame, 51-0 in 1966:
"I take heart knowing that there are 300 million Chinese who will never know this game was ever played. The next day, I got a call from China."
Here's to a great week 7 in college football!