One of things I hammer on sometimes is that there is no such thing as a transitive property in football. We’re hearing a lot of this while the Bowls wind down. And it’s garbage.
The argument goes like this: Team A beat Team B; Team B beat Team C; therefore Team A is better than Team C. To put a face on it, I heard Mike Tirrico arguing that since Mizzou whomped Arkansas and Arkansas beat LSU, that must mean the SEC sucks and Mizzou should be a title contender (this was obviously before the Big 12 champ got dismantled by West Virginia). Another example was someone who claimed USC belongs in the championship because they beat Illinois and Illinois beat Ohio State.
The problem with this is that:
I found that team performance varied by an average of 7 points from the numerical values. In other words, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Oklahoma (Sagarin’s current #1) lost to UConn. Sagarin’s system can give you a probability (if he chose to run it that way). But a certainty? No sir. Not with the way football works in the real world.
The point is this: it is foolish to base your opinion of a team on a single game. On College Gameday, they were going on about how USC can’t be the best team in the country because they lost to Stanford. But flukes happen. If USC plays Standford ten times, they beat them nine times. But the game only happens once in reality. And sometimes, reality lies. Sometimes, a team has a bad day. Sometimes, a team is really motivated (think Michigan two days ago). Sometimes a field goal drifts wide or a fumble bounces into the wrong guy’s arms or the pass is dropped. Shit happens. It’s why football is so fun to watch.
Concrete Example: Weeks ago, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders predicted that the Giants would be the toughest test for the Patriots down the stretch. Not because they were a great team but because their strength — pass rush and defensive line play — was a problem for New England.
Mizzou found that Arkansas’ power rush defense was terrible and exploited it for a record-setting game. that proves Mizzou can beat Arkansas. They still lost to Oklahoma. Twice.
Well, a playoff might be a good idea.