It could be a long season for the Big 12 in 2015. SB Nation’s Bill Connelly has released his early rankings based on advanced stats, and not only does the Big 12 not make the College Football Playoff once again, the conference doesn’t even factor into the committee’s decision. This is not good.
Surprisingly, Connelly doesn’t have Baylor, TCU or even dark horse Oklahoma State winning the conference. If his rankings hold true, it’s Oklahoma that will bring home the Big 12 hardware.
Now before Sooner Nation gets too overly excited, and Baylor and TCU fans start firing off angry comments, here’s what we should all be worried about… The Sooners barely crack the top 10 leaving the Big 12 on the outside of the College Football Playoff once again.
If your first reaction is something along the lines of “So what, there’s plenty of pre-season polls out there, and some have both TCU and Baylor making the playoff”, here’s why you might want to pay attention. While most of the time that’s true – early projections, especially this early, is mostly to give everyone something to talk about, and we shouldn’t put too much stock into them – these rankings are a little bit different. Advanced stats are becoming increasingly more popular because of their ability to make fairly accurate predictions. Connelly uses returning starters, recent history, and recruiting to build his part (S&P+) of the F/+ projections found in the Football Outsiders Almanac to create his poll.
The process is to come up with three sets of projections based on five-year performance (weighted to make 2014 more important than 2013, and so on), the likely changes associated with each team’s returning starter figures, and the likely changes associated with each team’s two-year recruiting averages (recruiting rankings are relatively solid predictive stats).
I blend them together based on what has produced the best results in the past. That means recent history carrying the most weight and recruiting carrying the least.
At the top of the rankings it’s a SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 party as Connelly has the ACC faring even worse than the Big 12. Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon return to the CFB Playoff with Georgia staving off fellow conference members Auburn and Ole Miss to be the second SEC team in.
Big 12 consensus favorites Baylor and TCU came in at 14th and 18th respectively, and what about the Cowboys? Widely expected to be the Big 12’s most improved team, most expect them to possibly give Baylor and TCU some trouble at the top. Connelly’s rankings have the Pokes going in a different direction. He has them finishing the season ranked 43rd.
Here’s a look at how the Big 12 fared, be sure to head over to SB Nation to see the full rankings.
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