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.
NEW SP+ TOP 10
1 Oh St (35.4, ⬇️0.4 from last wk)
2 Bama (32.6)
3 LSU (31.8, ⬆️0.7)
4 Clem (29.3, ⬆️0.5)
5 UGA (26.2, ⬇️2.2)
6 OU (25.8, ⬆️0.1)
7 Fla (23.9)
8 PSU (23.6)
9 Utah (21.9, ⬇️2.3)
10 Aub (21.8)
Min. shifts in the RANKINGS, but there's always movement in the ratings.
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) December 8, 2019
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.
RELEVANT RÉSUMÉ SP+ RANKINGS
1 Ohio St (+9.8 PPG)
2 Clemson (+3.3)
3 LSU (+0.5)
5 UGA (-3.6)
9 Utah (-6.4)
11 OU (-9.4)
15 Baylor (-13.5)
(Résumé SP+ = your scoring margin compared to what would be expected from the average top-5 team vs your schedule)https://t.co/JP77vm53CN
— Bill Connelly (@ESPN_BillC) December 4, 2019
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.