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Compu-Picks: Top 30 Upsets of 2005-2010

Per Bill's request, here are the top 30 1-A upsets of 2005-2010, as calculated by Compu-Picks:

Rank Team Opp Week Year Score Location Rating Diff
1 Stanford Southern California 6 2007 24 - 23 AWAY 0.73
2 Maryland Clemson 5 2009 24 - 21 HOME 0.72
3 Indiana Northwestern 9 2008 21 - 19 HOME 0.67
4 Pittsburgh West Virginia 14 2007 13 - 9 AWAY 0.66
5 Miami (Ohio) Bowling Green State 8 2008 27 - 20 AWAY 0.62
6 Oklahoma State Texas Tech 11 2005 24 - 17 HOME 0.6
7 Syracuse Louisville 4 2007 38 - 35 AWAY 0.59
8 Northwestern Iowa 10 2009 17 - 10 AWAY 0.59
9 Iowa State Missouri 12 2006 21 - 16 HOME 0.59
10 Washington State Southern Methodist 3 2009 30 - 27 HOME 0.56
11 East Carolina North Carolina State 7 2010 33 - 27 HOME 0.56
12 Southern Methodist Texas Christian 2 2005 21 - 10 HOME 0.56
13 Nevada-Las Vegas Utah 4 2007 27 - 0 HOME 0.56
14 Eastern Michigan Bowling Green State 6 2008 24 - 21 AWAY 0.55
15 New Mexico State Nevada 7 2008 48 - 45 AWAY 0.55
16 Mississippi Florida 5 2008 31 - 30 AWAY 0.55
17 Purdue Ohio State 7 2009 26 - 18 HOME 0.55
18 North Carolina State Pittsburgh 4 2009 38 - 31 HOME 0.55
19 Virginia Miami (Florida) 9 2010 24 - 19 HOME 0.53
20 Colorado Oklahoma 5 2007 27 - 24 HOME 0.53
21 Rice Southern Mississippi 6 2007 31 - 29 AWAY 0.53
22 Iowa State Nebraska 8 2009 9 - 7 AWAY 0.53
23 North Carolina State Boston College 4 2006 17 - 15 HOME 0.51
24 Texas-El Paso Houston 5 2009 58 - 41 HOME 0.51
25 Kansas State Texas 11 2006 45 - 42 HOME 0.5
26 Louisiana-Monroe Troy State 10 2008 31 - 30 HOME 0.5
27 Nevada-Las Vegas San Diego State 6 2005 13 - 10 HOME 0.49
28 New Mexico Arizona 3 2008 36 - 28 HOME 0.48
29 Hawaii Navy 13 2009 24 - 17 HOME 0.48
30 Syracuse Notre Dame 13 2008 24 - 23 AWAY 0.48

Key takeaways:

1) Of the top 10 upsets, all of them were 7 point or less wins.  And of the top 25, only one (2007 UNLV over Utah) was a true beat-down.  This is partially a reflection of the methodology (if you win by a lot, your rating goes up and the opponent rating goes down much more than if it's close), but I think that there's probably deeper meaning here.

2) Unsurprisingly, most of the upsets were at home, 19 of the top 30.  Strangely enough, the very biggest upsets didn't seem to show much preference for home vs away (#1 upset was on the road and five of top ten).  My guess is that this is just noise, and that with a larger sample size you'd see a smoother home/road distribution... but I could be wrong.

3) 2007 wasn't so much the "year of the upset" as it was the "year of the ROAD upset" (including the App St @ Michigan game not counted here) and "year of the MAJOR upset."  2007 had six of the top 30 upsets (nothing unusual there), but two of the top 4 (plus App St), and had four of the 11 road upsets on this list.

In terms of total number of shockers, 2008 and 2009 actually had 2007 beat, but their upsets tended to be of the non-headline variety, aside from Ole Miss over Florida, and to a lesser degree Northwestern over Iowa (though the Hawkeyes were practically begging to get tagged in 2009) and Purdue over Ohio St (though the Buckeyes had already lost at that point).

 

Additional notes / caveats:

1) The underlying ratings are based on the entire year’s results, NOT the expectations going into the game (i.e. TCU winning at Oklahoma in 2005 was not considered remarkable given how the two ended up, even though it was a big deal at the time). They are also NOT adjusted for HFA, byes, etc (obviously it’s easier to score an upset at home, but adjusting for that is a somewhat arbitrary process).

2) No special consideration was given to in-league, non-league, AQ vs non-AQ, etc. Interestingly, I found VERY few non-AQ vs AQ “major upset” type games. Mainly the meaningful upsets were intra-league play (including a few in the non-AQ group).

I suspect that this means that the non-AQ over AQ upsets which seem meaningful at the time turn out to reflect either that the non-AQ was better than people thought or the AQ worse (again, 2005 TCU over Oklahoma is a great example of this). It is (apparently) MUCH rarer to see a non-AQ who sucks throughout the year score one random upset over an AQ who is otherwise good throughout the year.

3) Again, 1-A vs 1-A only, since I don’t track AA games.

4) The underlying numbers are based on my own model, which I am currently tweaking as part of my annual adjustment process. Since the 2011 model has yet to be completed, these numbers will not necessarily reflect whatever process and/or calculation changes I have yet to make.

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