Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Football Crunchy Numbers: Preseason Edition

Does Sagarin overrate Penn State?

Football Crunchy Numbers: Preseason Edition


Now that it's September, we can really say it's football season. And since that's the case, it's time to bring back the football version of Crunchy Numbers.

This year, I'm adding in Princeton and Bucknell. They're in the Schuylkill 16 basketball rankings, so I figure I might as well give myself more work for the heck of it.

It's completely useless to do this before the season starts, because the Sagarin Index is based on computer analysis of game results and strength of schedule based on other teams' rankings.

But that won't stop us. And it's worth noting that at the start of the season, there is some weight assigned by a process called Bayesian statistics.

I have no idea what Bayesian statistics are, but it's apparently a standard practice of some kind. If you know and can translate them into English, please leave a comment.

There is one use to a preseason Sagarin ranking: comparing where teams are now to where they finished last year. That much we can discuss, especially regarding whether a team moved too much based on graduating and returning players.

Take Penn State, for example.

(Please, say SEC fans.)

The Nittany Lions dropped all of one spot in the offseason, from No. 7 to No. 8. Do you think they're ranked too high?

Or how about Temple, which finds itself below not only Villanova but Delaware too. Is that too low?

Have at it.

8. Penn State
Last year's finish: 7
First game: 9/5 vs. No. 111 Akron, 12:00 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

Big Ten Network is on Channel 715 on Comcast Digital Classic. Channels 711-714 have been allocated by Comcast for other live games in the same timeslot.

38. Rutgers
Last year's finish: 37
First game: 9/7 vs. No. 37 Cincinnati, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)

94. Villanova
Last year's finish: 63
First game: 9/3 vs. No. 125 Temple, 7:00 p.m.

116. Delaware
Last year's finish: 132
First game: 9/4 vs. NR West Chester (Division II), 7:00 p.m.

125. Temple
Last year's finish: 98
First game: 9/3 vs. No. 94 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.

151. Lafayette
Last year's finish: 142
First game: 9/12 at No. 230 Georgetown, 6:00 p.m.

154. Penn
Last year's finish: 151
First game: 9/19 vs. No. 94 Villanova, 7:00 p.m.

155. Lehigh
Last year's finish: 160
First game: 9/5 vs. No. 206 Central Connecticut State, 7:00 p.m.

173. Princeton
Last year's finish: 180
First game: 9/19 vs. No. 149 The Citadel, 3:00 p.m.

200. Delaware State
Last year's finish: 216
First game: 9/5 at No. 202 Florida A&M

205. Bucknell
Last year's finish: 202
First game: 9/5 at No. 219 Duquesne

Staff Writer
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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Staff Writer
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