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Pac-12 Rankings and Projections After Week 11

First there is a comparison between UW and FSU. And with two weeks left, where do the Pac-12 teams stand?

Oregon v Washington Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: UW continues to be ranked #5 in the CFP despite having more top-25 wins than any of the teams ahead of them. UW is 3-0 against teams that are currently in the top-25. Interestingly, there is one other team that is also 3-0 against top-25 teams: Oklahoma State. The problem for them is that they also have 2 very bad losses (South Alabama and UCF). But the discussion is about why Florida State continues to be ranked above UW.

Comparing UW and Florida State

In comparing UW to Florida State, UW does have more wins over current top-25 teams than Florida State (3 to 1). But Florida State has more wins over teams with winning records (5 to 4). The records for the opposing teams is 50-50 for Florida State and 51-50 for UW. (USC has played one more game than most teams to this point.) Based on that, the argument should be that UW has done slightly better.

Since this is an article which uses advanced stats, let’s compare the teams based on some advanced stats. First, here is a comparison between the game ratings between the two teams.

Game Rating Comparison

FSU Opponent Game Rating Rank UW Opponent Game Rating Rank
FSU Opponent Game Rating Rank UW Opponent Game Rating Rank
LSU 1.8 19 Michigan State 1.6 37
Southern Mississipp 1.52 51 California 1.46 57
Duke 1.36 73 Oregon 1.43 65
Syracuse 1.33 81 Tulsa 1.41 66
Virginia Tech 1.2 96 Boise State 1.34 79
Wake Forest 0.89 184 USC 1.09 128
Clemson 0.79 214 Utah 0.9 180
Miami 0.73 232 Arizona 0.83 196
Pittsburgh 0.48 333 Arizona State 0.26 450
Boston College -0.07 635 Stanford 0 587

Florida State has the best game (against LSU) while they also have the worst (Boston College). But if you sum up the game ratings, UW leads slightly, 10.32 to 10.03.

Now, here’s a comparison of some of the other advanced stats.

Adv. Stats Comparison

Ranking Florida State Washington
Ranking Florida State Washington
SP+ 7 9
FEI 9 7
F+ 6 8
NPD 6 7
NAY 14 11
SRS 3 8
Beta Rank 10 14
Kelly Ford 8 13

(NPD: Net Points per Drive, NAY: Net Available Yards, SRS: Simple Rating System)

Based on advanced stats, Florida State has a slight edge. Florida State is ahead in all but one of the advanced stats rankings. Florida State’s offense isn’t as good as UW’s (#12 in F+ for Florida State compared to #3 for UW), but their defense is much better (#12 in F+ for Florida State compared to #42 for UW). In a head-to-head matchup on a neutral field, Florida State would be favored-although by just a slight amount. Of course, some of the advanced stats had UW as the underdog to Oregon and USC and yet UW came out with the victory, so being favored doesn’t mean a lot.

Overall, it appears very close between the teams. Someone could point to one stat or the other to make the case as to which team should be in front. But if UW doesn’t beat Oregon State this Saturday, then the debate isn’t worth much. And if both teams finish the season as undefeated conference champions, both will be in the CFP.

Pac-12 Rankings

Here’s what the ‘New Cool Chart’ showing the update rankings from the Massey Composite Rankings for the Pac-12 schools.

There was one upset last week-Arizona State beating UCLA. Not surprisingly, Arizona State moved up while UCLA dropped in the rankings. Cal and WSU almost exactly traded ranking after Cal beat WSU; Cal went from 73 to 62 while WSU went from 63 to 73. Utah dropped slightly after their loss to UW. USC, despite its loss to Oregon, did not change much in the rankings.

The CFP may not have UW in the top 4, but many of the 94 rankings in the Massey Composite do. In fact, 41 of the rankings have UW in the top 4 and 17 of the rankings have UW ranked #1. Unfortunately, 19 of the rankings have UW outside of the top 10 despite being undefeated and having beaten 3 ranked teams.

Advanced Stats

The advanced stats rankings that I look to the most are Bill Connelly’s SP+, Brian Fremeau’s FEI ratings, F+ (which is a combination of the two), ESPN’s FPI, Beta Rank, and SRS. Those rankings for all of the Pac-12 teams are in the table below.

Advanced Stats Comparison

School SP+ F+ FEI FPI Beta Rank SRS
School SP+ F+ FEI FPI Beta Rank SRS
Oregon 4 3 3 3 2 7
Washington 8 8 7 13 14 8
Oregon State 14 14 14 18 12 17
Utah 22 20 19 21 18 26
UCLA 23 30 36 34 35 38
USC 24 22 18 17 28 24
Arizona 32 28 27 30 16 25
Washington State 57 54 54 66 69 65
California 68 58 50 51 61 72
Colorado 82 68 51 72 64 51
Arizona State 94 81 71 88 67 92
Stanford 117 101 96 102 88 98

While the ranking order is not the same for each, the differences between the rankings generally get larger as the rankings get lower. The top 4 teams are all within less than 10 places. The next 4 teams all are within 20 places. And the last 4 teams all are different by more than 20 places. All of that seems reasonable.

Offensive/Defense Advanced Stat Comparison

School Off. F+ OPD Def. F+ DPD
School Off. F+ OPD Def. F+ DPD
Arizona 21 17 47 50
Arizona State 96 114 50 85
California 42 52 73 124
Colorado 32 47 106 108
Oregon 2 1 18 22
Oregon State 9 7 31 48
Stanford 90 94 111 129
UCLA 51 78 13 8
USC 4 8 102 116
Utah 45 77 11 28
Washington 3 6 42 45
Washington State 49 74 65 87

The table above compares the offenses and defenses for the Pac-12 teams using two different advanced stats. The first is F+ which has been included the last few weeks and has both an offensive and defensive component. The other is OPD/DPD which stands for Offensive Points per Drive and Defensive Points per Drive. This stat was included last week as well.

In some cases you see that the rankings are very similar between the two (both on the offensive and defensive sides). In other cases there are some significant differences.

By either stat, the Pac-12 has 4 of the top 10 offenses in the country. It also has some of the worst defenses in the country by either stat. Two of the teams with the worst defenses, Cal and Stanford, have both played all 4 of the top offenses in the Pac-12. Colorado has played 3 of the 4 (missing UW). Arizona State has played 2, but plays a 3rd this weekend, so their ranking may go down.

Fans have known for a while that USC’s defense hasn’t been good. Five weeks ago they were ranked #61 in F+; now they are #102. At least part of that decline is a result of playing both UW and Oregon the last two weeks-two of the top offenses in the country. They may get a little easier game this weekend since they play a mediocre UCLA offense.

What could be worrisome for Husky fans this weekend is that Oregon State’s offense appears to be among the top in the country. Their defense, however, is somewhat comparable to UW’s-and it may be worse since they haven’t played any of the top offenses so far.

Win Projections For Week 12

Here’s a look at the win projections from both ESPN’s FPI and Massey for the Pac-12 games this weekend.

Win Percentages for Week 12 Games

Visitor ESPN FPI Massey Home ESPN FPI Massey
Visitor ESPN FPI Massey Home ESPN FPI Massey
Colorado 40.7% 31% Washington State 59.3% 69%
UCLA 24.8% 38% USC 75.2% 62%
Washington 52.5% 52% Oregon State 47.5% 48%
California 76.4% 63% Stanford 23.6% 37%
Utah 57.1% 75% Arizona 42.9% 25%
Oregon 96.4% 94% Arizona State 3.6% 6%

The favorite is the same between both win projections, although the amount is noticeably different in 4 of the 6 games. The UW-Oregon State game is one of the ones where the win percentage is very similar, and UW is favored by both despite the betting line favoring Oregon State.

Final Standings

If you take the ESPN FPI win projections for the remaining games, this is what the final Pac-12 conference standings would look like (only conference games).

Current and Projected Conference Standings

School Current Wins Current Losses Projected Wins Projected Losses
School Current Wins Current Losses Projected Wins Projected Losses
Washington 7 0 9 0
Oregon 6 1 8 1
Arizona 5 2 6 3
USC 5 3 6 3
Utah 4 3 6 3
Oregon State 5 2 5 4
UCLA 3 4 4 5
California 2 5 3 6
Arizona State 2 5 2 7
Stanford 2 6 2 7
WSU 1 6 2 7
Colorado 1 6 1 8

Obviously there are still games to be played, but many would have not believed that Arizona would have a chance to finish third in the conference before the season started. Right now they are projected to be tied for third, but if they upset Utah (which is possible since it is a home game) then they could finish alone in third place-ahead of USC and Utah. WSU was considered a top-25 team earlier this year and a bowl team a month ago. It would take a win this weekend and a major upset in the Apple Cup for them to be bowl-eligible.