Who’s No. 1? Stop Yelling And Look At The Numbers

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields

The aftermath of Ohio State’s 34-21 win over Wisconsin turned into a perfect microcosm of the 2019 sports media.

The networks and outlets affiliated with the SEC immediately started screaming that LSU clearly had a better resume than Ohio State and deserved to be No. 1.

The networks and outlets affiliated with the Big Ten immediately started screaming that Ohio State clearly had a better resume than LSU and deserved to be No. 1.

The dumber corners of the college football biosphere asserted confidently that the other school would have gone 10-2 at best against their preferred team’s schedule.

There was yelling about eye-tests and most impressive wins, and a ludicrous enough spinning of pseudo-facts to officially start getting your brain prepared for the upcoming presidential election year.

It’s truly dumb. But that’s what sports media has become: a cycle of ginning up arguments, pitting parties against each other, and filling the TV schedule with people screaming things they may or may not actually believe.

It’s very inexpensive TV to produce. They just have to get everyone angry enough to keep watching.

You’ve probably heard variants of “there is simply no argument to have OSU ranked No. 1.”

This is a prime example of the Idiot Media Syndrome: take a debatable, subjective point, frame it as an utterly inarguable fact and cash the check from all those hate-clicks.

So let’s set the screaming morons on both sides of the debate to the side for a moment and look at some objective measures of Ohio State vs. LSU.

These are all objective measures of the two teams; computer rating systems which take things like opponent quality into account.


The Buckeyes are No. 1 and LSU is No. 3 in Sagarin’s overall ratings. Clemson is No. 2. The “Sagarin Predictor” system has Ohio State as roughly eight points better than the Bayou Bengals on a neutral field.


Bill Connelly just released this week’s edition of the SP+.

The Buckeyes have been the top team in his numbers after passing Alabama mid-year.

OSU dropped a little after the slow start against Wisconsin. LSU jumped after their big win over Georgia.

The Buckeyes are still ahead of the Tigers by more than a field goal.

He puts out a variant called Resume SP+, which measures your scoring margin compared to what the average top-5 team would have done against your schedule.

As of last week, the Buckeyes are more than nine points ahead of LSU and six points ahead of Clemson.

LSU may cut into that a little after their impressive win over Georgia, but they’re still going to be a touchdown worse at the absolute minimum.

Massey Composite

This is a combination of 33 different computer rating systems.

It’s a great way to get a broad-based look at a number of different systems with unique methodologies to measure team quality.

If you look through it, you’ll see that it pretty neatly reflects the season as it has played out. There are three clear-cut top teams in the nation, and then things get pretty chaotic below that.

It has Ohio State No. 1 and LSU No. 2.

The Buckeyes are ranked as the best team in the nation by 28 of the 33 systems. They’re No. 2 in the other five.

LSU is No. 1 in those five, but ranked as low as third in 11 others.

These aren’t partisans blindly picking and choosing only the facts that suit their argument. They’re totally objective systems designed to do one thing: identify the best teams in the nation.

And 28 of the 33 say Ohio State is that team.

So does this mean that LSU at No. 1 would be the single greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of the world? No.

Both the Buckeyes and Tigers have had great seasons, both of which can reasonably be defined as the best in the nation, depending on which parameters you want to use.

What it does mean is that people who say “There is absolutely no case for Ohio State to be No. 1” are demonstrably, objectively wrong.

21 Responses

  1. OSU compares their top 25 wins to LSU’s top 10 wins? Yes, there is a bias… a big market/big media bias in favor of the Big Ten. Just look at the number of SEC wins in the playoffs compared to that of the Big Ten. The SEC is just a much better league. AU/Bama/UF are all undervalued by the committee this year for losing to each other and LSU/UGA… punished for being three through five in the SEC. The SECW alone could challenge the Big Ten. But because of markets the media has to keep propping up the Big Ten and the Pac 12.

    1. Dear God I can’t stand trolls! Kevin Parker, come on down!: 1) did you even read the article? It is CLEAR Ohio State earned the one seed. Doesn’t mean they will win, it means by the committee’s stated standards OSU earned the 1. 2) let’s be clear- “the SEC” has been Alabama for 8 years. UGA, Fla, Auburn, and LSU have been also rans 3) the 1 seed is supposed to be awarded for THIS year, numb nuts! Not past performance.

  2. Good God, the woe is us attitude taken by all of you non stop whiners is very unattractive. The players and coaches, i.e. the competitors, would tell you all to change your diapers. They would and are saying that they’re in the final four and that’s all that matters. Now the competitors go out and win two games against two quality teams, no matter which ones. You beat those two teams, you beat them at whatever venue you have to beat them at and you come home with the trophy. I will be looking forward to the Buckeyes doing just that.

    1. Umm, earth to Gym? Gym? Here boy…good. The topic of the article DIRECTLY relates to the comments people are making- except for you! Buckeye fans will be rooting regardless of opponent, but that’s not the topic of the article (even the LSU trolls below figured that out). Mgoblog awaits your next brilliant remark. Why don’t you hope the train on over there and stay?

  3. Had to look this up to confirm, but in the event we do get LSU in the title game, it’ll be a de facto home game for LSU, in New Orleans, just like 2007.

  4. The funny thing is, the whole “tail wagging the dog” SEC dominance that a certain National Sports Media outlet started some time ago (Texas is a “good win” until they lose 5 games, Notre Dame is a “good win”, even tho they were demolished by Michigan, lost at Georgia, etc; Georgia is a “good win” even though they lost to South Carolina; Auburn is a “good win”, even tho they lost to every team with a pulse that they played, and barely beat a Tua-less Alabama squad), is now reaching its end. This started when ESPN began charging cable outlets a premium rate to broadcast their network, thus giving people a reason to opt out. ESPN is now airing in fewer basic cable homes than before, all because they had to recoup the 1.6 Billion they shelled out to air SEC games in the first place. Fewer heads getting all their sports “knowledge” from the SEC Network means fewer people falling for the smoke and mirrors. I get in arguments about this crap with a coworker who happens to be an LSU fan, almost weekly. Told him last week, I’ll have all the proof I need, come Bowl Seaon. LET Auburn be paired up with a Penn State or Minnesota. Let Georgia be paired up against Wisconsin. And then watch how these so called “good wins” all of a sudden become “well yeah man they sucked, they lost 4 games” when a next-tier B1G or Pac12 or Big12 beats the brakes off one of those next-tier SEC schools.

    1. Absolutely. In putting LSU at number one, it not only set the SEC up for a windfall from potentially hosting a home national championship game or LSU in NO, but also set up a quasi home game for them in Atlanta against OK. Had they sent the Tigers to Tempe, that home field advantage would have been diminished, and given OU a better chance for good fan representation. Had they had that, then the potential for LSU to have made it to NO might have been leveled, as well. It’s all about the money for the SEC, folks, and don’t let anyone (especially Dan Mullens) tell you otherwise.

  5. SEC bias. Plain and simple. OSU beat 7 teams
    that were at one time ranked. They beat 4 top 10 teams, one on the road and one at a neutral site. Their non conf. wins included 2 teams who won their conf. title game and the other that played in theirs. OSU beat 3 top teams in a row concluding last night’s game. LSU did not. The rest of any relevant number favored OSU. Either way if OSU is the best team then it doesn’t matter who they play

  6. Well lets win this thing and then we will be undisputed No.1
    We would be the only team 15-0
    Then all the pollsters will be irrelevant.

  7. I would like any committee member who votes LSU #1 to tell me what other team in the history of college football has faced three teams in three weeks, with an average ranking in the top 10 (two 8s and a 13), and won all three games by double digits. There may have been such a team, but it wasn’t this year.

    1. Last time it happened Bo Jackson was a player…at Auburn

  8. Computers don’t watch games people do. They don’t see the amazing plays they don’t rank players missing, they don’t see garbage time points and they can’t rank that the QB didn’t finish the last half of the game. Let’s go with wins vs ranked teams. LSU wins hands down, it’s not even close. 5 top 10 wins vs 5 top 25 wins and some of those bottom teams are questionable? Can you control your schedule, no contracts are signed years out. Margin of victory does not matter, when ahead teams sub players and the best aren’t playing.

    1. My gosh Darrin you just proved his point. An objective, analytical analysis says OSU is better. They are already ranked #1 and the analysis says they are better. Maybe Oklahoma will beat them, who knows. There is no reason for them to drop. They just beat an excellent football team by double-digits.

    2. The ONLY way you can claim 5 Top 10 wins is if you count the win against Texas…the same Texas that lost to a 5 loss Iowa State team and a 7 loss TCU team. Those contracts scheduled years out include an FCS Northwestern State team. Not playing in the second half with blowouts – Joe Burrow went 121 – 161 in the second half for 1600 yards…Justin Fields went 66 – 92 for 806 so who was running out the clock with backups in?

  9. As soon as OSU beats 3 top 10 teams on the road, they can be #1. Texas sucks now, but they were top 10 when LSU beat them in Texas and I don’t count them. Bama at Bama, Auburn at Auburn, now Georgia at a nuetral site. It doesn’t matter how good you look when you schedule cupcakes. And Clemson, if you want consideration, w/the conference you’re in, you need at least 2, if not 3, respectable/tough out of conference opponents.

    1. The Auburn game was at LSU. Texas, a 7-5 unranked team, was ranked in the top ten by the all too common first week misperceptions of pollsters based on the end of the previous season. But LSU did crush the powerhouse that is Northwestern State.

    2. Welcome to the site, Vincent the troll! Your argument is paper thin (like your hairline probably) and easily disproven. OSU had the tougher schedule AND a greater margin of victory when playing teams that can actually fight back- all while avoiding Hamburger State, boarding school teams, and club teams. Goodbye!

  10. Tom- you are correct. The problem is that the yellers have been getting their way. Hope that stops in a few hours!

    1. Congratulations Tom, Longtime Numbskull says you are correct. The ultimate confirmation!

      1. Gym- shouldn’t you be on mgoblog “celebrating” UM getting to play Alabama? Yeah, you should… OSU doesn’t want you, Gym- you failed the IQ test.

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