Football

BALLOT BREAKDOWN: Florida State moves to No. 2

Breaking down The Associated Press college football poll after Week 11 of the regular season.

NARRATIVE AND NUMBERS

Florida State is No. 2 in The Associated Press college football poll, replacing Oregon behind No. 1 Alabama, and fans of No. 3 Ohio State are becoming increasing agitated with talk of the Buckeyes' weak schedule and the Big Ten's strength — or lack thereof.

It is one thing to be told the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 champions should get the nod over the Big Ten's best because they have a tougher road to travel — even some Ohio State fans might begrudgingly concede that — but an Atlantic Coast Conference team?

Florida State received the three first-place votes from the media panel that didn't go to Alabama in the Top 25 released Sunday.

The BCS standings, which use the Harris and USA Today coaches' polls, lined up the same way as the AP poll on Sunday night — with Alabama and Florida State in the top two spots and unbeaten Ohio State trailing. The Buckeyes were closer to fourth-place Stanford than to second-place Florida State.

Ohio State fans contend they're being done in by a narrative that has developed in the media: The Big Ten is bad and the Buckeyes are overrated.

Maybe they have a point. Let's compare resumes as best as possible and leave the human element and eye tests aside.

A third of the BCS formula is based on computer rankings, and those computers really like Florida State. But those computer rankings are at least partially undercut by the fact that margin of victory is not allowed because of fears that it could lead to teams running up scores.

Jeff Sagarin does ratings for the BCS, but also posts what he calls more accurate ratings that do include margin of victory. In those, Florida State is the No. 1 team in the country. The Seminoles are second in the nation in average margin of victory (40 points) behind Baylor (46).

Ohio State is No. 7 in the Sagarin rankings, behind even Wisconsin, a team that the Buckeyes beat 31-24 in Columbus back in September. The Buckeyes average margin of victory is 31 points.

According to Sagarin's ratings, Ohio State has played the 81st toughest schedule in Division I. Florida State's is 62nd.

Ranking conferences, Sagarin goes by division because as conferences have grown, there is less competition between divisions.

The ACC Coastal ranks fifth, behind the SEC West, Pac-12 North, Pac-12 South and SEC East. The Big 12, with 10 teams and no divisions, is next, followed by the two Big Ten divisions. The ACC Atlantic, home of Florida State, comes in ninth.

Prefer advanced metrics?

At www.footballoutsiders.com, a leading web site for football numbers crunchers, they have combined the ratings of two top stat heads — Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly — to come up with a rating called F/+.

According to F/+, which takes into account not just results of games but results of possessions and plays, Florida State came into this past weekend as the No. 2 team in the country behind Alabama. Safe to assume the Seminoles latest demolition, a 59-3 victory against Wake Forest, won't hurt their numbers.

Ohio State, which did not play, was seventh.

The F/+ conference ratings have the Pac-12 first, then the SEC, way out in front of the rest. The Big 12 is next, and then the Big Ten, followed by the ACC, but those three are separated by fractions.

According to Fremeau's strength of schedule ratings, Florida State has played the 83rd toughest schedule in FBS. Ohio State's strength of schedule came in at 103.

Those strength of schedule numbers could shift a bit toward Ohio State over the last month of the season. The Buckeyes finish with Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, with a possible Big Ten championship game against Michigan State on the horizon. Florida State finishes with Syracuse,

Idaho and Florida, with an ACC title game matchup against Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech or Duke.

Of course even the people who do computer rankings will tell you that no number is perfect. Southern California, with three losses, was No. 8 in last week's F/+ rankings. But computers don't watch ESPN, and they're not influenced by narrative. And right now, they take Florida State over Ohio State.

IN AND OUT

Texas Tech's terrific debut season for coach Kliff Kingsbury is coming undone quickly. The Red Raiders were 7-0 and ranked No. 10 a few weeks back. After three straight losses, including a 49-26 loss at home to Kansas State on Saturday, the Red Raiders are now unranked.

Notre Dame also fell out of the rankings again after losing at Pittsburgh.

Moving in was No. 23 Texas, which has won six straight, and No. 25 Georgia, which plays No. 7 Auburn on Saturday.

MOVING DOWN

Oregon's 26-20 loss to Stanford on Thursday night dropped the Ducks four spots to No. 6, one behind No. 5 Stanford.

MOVING UP

It was a productive open week for Michigan State. The Spartans took advantage of losses by LSU, Oklahoma and Miami to move up four spots to No. 14.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

LSU dropped eight spots to No. 18 after losing 38-17 at Alabama, the Tigers' worst ranking since the first regular-season poll of 2010 when they were 19th.

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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