The First (Four-team) Playoff Season

July 4, 2014

I used to be able to defend the statement that the Football Bowl Subdivision didn't need a D2 or D3 -style playoff because it was small enough and there was enough inter-regional play that two teams sufficed. That hasn't been as easy since the change that counted games vs FCS teams for bowl-eligibility every year (instead once every four years) and is even less so now that some conferences play nine conference games.

Team pairs at pathlength 1
Pairs at pathlength=1
Opponents and Opponents' Opponents
Opponents and Opponents' Opponents

There are three new teams to division 1A (now that both subdivisions have a championship I'm going back to the more descriptive nomenclature) so 378 more team-pairs. Somewhat surprisingly, considering that only 29 teams play a 12-game 1A schedule, the field is about as well-connected as 2013's. 2.8 percent of all team-pairs require four steps to be connected by an "A plays B plays C plays ..." chain, compared to 3.6 in 2013. The average path length is again a barely-acceptable 2.49. 45.3% of all team-pairs are either opponents or opponents' opponents.

# paths of length 4
# paths of length 4
Shortest path for team-pair
Shortest pathlength for team-pair
(Row/column teams are grouped by conference in the same order as listed on the standings page.)

As always, the Independents are the most and teams from conferences with nine-game conference schedules the least -connected. See Division 1A Connectivity by Team for the details.

Interconference Matchups

The interconference schedule looks a little better than last year's. The Big5+Notre Dame have scheduled two fewer games vs 1AA teams and two more amongst themselves. This year's AAC looks even less like the former Big East, so even though I've left it categorized as "FBS_AQ" I am glad we don't have to use that designation from now on.

The pre-season ratings aren't generally out yet, but using 2013's Composite computer ranking there are only 11 matchups between 2013 top-25 teams from different conferences.

Date Game
30-Aug #1 Florida St vs #14 Oklahoma St (Arlington TX)
  #22 Wisconsin vs #16 LSU (Houston TX)
  #11 Clemson at #23 Georgia
6-Sep #3 Michigan St at #8 Oregon
13-Sep #17 Central Florida at #4 Missouri
4-Oct #5 Stanford at #24 Notre Dame
18-Oct #24 Notre Dame at #1 Florida St
8-Nov #24 Notre Dame at #15 Arizona St
22-Nov #18 Louisville at #24 Notre Dame
29-Nov #7 South Carolina at #11 Clemson
  #24 Notre Dame at #21 Southern Cal

That doesn't mean there aren't a lot of good games - 36 more top 25 matchups are conference games, and there are around 200 matchups where both teams are from the top half of the field. See Matchups Between Teams with Top 64 Rankings.

© Copyright 2014, Paul Kislanko