Similarity Rankings for BCS Title Contenders

Kevin C. Cox

I introduced similarity rankings way back in July. I love the concept -- it's a fun way to link the past with the present by seeing what teams from recent history are most similar to the teams we're still trying to figure out today.

Let's look at a few teams and see what we come up with. I chose the five remaining undefeated teams plus Stanford and Oklahoma, since those two teams are playing in huge games on Thursday night. For each team, I found the 5 most similar historical teams as well as the 3 most similar teams from this season.

I won't get into the formula I used, but the inputs are as follows:

  • Overall F/+ rating
  • Offensive F/+ rating
  • Defensive F/+ rating
  • S&P+ Rushing Offense & Defense
  • S&P+ Passing Offense & Defense
The numbers listed below under each category are the percentile rankings for each team in that category among all teams from 2009 to current. They are shown to assist in comparing teams and to show why this group of teams is similar to each other.

BCS #1: Alabama


Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Alabama 8-0 100% 95% 95% 95% 98% 99% 86%
2011 LSU 13-1 100% 95% 94% 97% 100% 100% 98%
2012 Alabama 13-1 100% 98% 98% 94% 100% 100% 97%
2009 Texas 13-1 98% 90% 84% 90% 98% 94% 92%
2009 Florida 13-1 99% 93% 97% 87% 99% 94% 98%
2009 Alabama 14-0 99% 98% 87% 95% 97% 96% 99%

Combined record: 66-4. Two BCS champs (Bama '09 and '12) plus two title game losers (LSU '11 and Texas '09 -- both of whom were beaten by Alabama teams). Not a bad group.

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Louisville 7-1 95% 93% 59% 96% 91% 96% 83%
2013 Florida State 8-1 99% 100% 96% 100% 97% 90% 100%
2013 BYU 6-2 93% 66% 93% 47% 98% 99% 87%

BCS #2: Florida State

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Florida State 8-0 99% 100% 96% 100% 97% 90% 100%
2009 Alabama 14-0 99% 98% 87% 95% 97% 96% 99%
2011 LSU 13-1 100% 95% 94% 97% 100% 100% 98%
2010 Boise State 12-1 99% 90% 82% 98% 99% 96% 99%
2009 Florida 13-1 99% 93% 97% 87% 99% 94% 98%
2010 Alabama 10-3 98% 97% 96% 95% 93% 86% 91%

Combined record: 62-6. One BCS champ ('09 Bama).

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Arizona State 6-2 97% 99% 97% 100% 87% 81% 89%
2013 Alabama 8-0 100% 95% 95% 95% 98% 99% 86%
2013 Stanford 7-1 99% 78% 64% 91% 99% 88% 99%

BCS #3: Oregon

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Oregon 8-0 98% 98% 100% 98% 93% 74% 69%
2011 Okla. State 12-1 98% 96% 99% 89% 96% 67% 83%
2010 Auburn 14-0 98% 100% 99% 99% 86% 82% 73%
2012 Oregon 12-1 99% 95% 99% 94% 97% 74% 90%
2010 Alabama 10-3 98% 97% 96% 95% 93% 86% 91%
2012 Texas A&M 11-2 97% 99% 100% 85% 89% 92% 87%

Combined record: 59-7. One BCS champ ('10 Auburn).

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Ohio State 9-0 96% 99% 100% 96% 73% 84% 46%
2013 Arizona State 6-2 97% 99% 97% 100% 87% 81% 89%
2013 UCF 6-1 92% 98% 100% 97% 64% 16% 48%

BCS #4: Ohio State

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Ohio State 9-0 96% 99% 100% 96% 73% 84% 46%
2010 Auburn 14-0 98% 100% 99% 99% 86% 82% 73%
2012 Texas A&M 11-2 97% 99% 100% 85% 89% 92% 87%
2011 Okla. State 12-1 98% 96% 99% 89% 96% 67% 83%
2011 Wisconsin 11-3 95% 100% 98% 100% 62% 47% 37%
2012 Georgia 12-2 95% 95% 91% 99% 88% 81% 65%

Combined record: 60-8. One BCS champ ('10 Auburn).

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Oregon 8-0 98% 98% 100% 98% 93% 74% 69%
2013 UCF 6-1 92% 98% 100% 97% 64% 16% 48%
2013 Arizona State 6-2 97% 99% 97% 100% 87% 81% 89%

BCS #6: Baylor

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Baylor 7-0 98% 100% 93% 100% 87% 60% 84%
2010 Auburn 14-0 98% 100% 99% 99% 86% 82% 73%
2010 Stanford 12-1 96% 96% 74% 99% 90% 75% 77%
2010 Alabama 10-3 98% 97% 96% 95% 93% 86% 91%
2010 Arkansas 10-3 94% 96% 89% 95% 84% 69% 83%
2012 Georgia 12-2 95% 95% 91% 99% 88% 81% 65%

Combined record: 58-9. The Bears' group of similar teams is the weakest of the unbeaten teams, but it's still a very solid group featuring a BCS champ ('10 Auburn). The relatively weak rushing defense might present a problem down the stretch. Oklahoma has the #27 rushing offense in this season's S&P+ ratings.

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Arizona State 6-2 97% 99% 97% 100% 87% 81% 89%
2013 Oregon 8-0 98% 98% 100% 98% 93% 74% 69%
2013 Georgia 5-3 91% 98% 84% 99% 67% 83% 89%

BCS #5: Stanford

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Stanford 7-1 99% 78% 64% 91% 99% 88% 99%
2010 Boise State 12-1 99% 90% 82% 98% 99% 96% 99%
2009 Texas 13-1 98% 90% 84% 90% 98% 94% 92%
2009 Florida 13-1 99% 93% 97% 87% 99% 94% 98%
2009 Alabama 14-0 99% 98% 87% 95% 97% 96% 99%
2010 Ohio State 12-1 97% 89% 90% 81% 97% 93% 97%

Combined record: 64-4. One BCS champ ('09 Bama). Stanford looks like they belong among the group of unbeatens this year.

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 USC 6-3 95% 65% 75% 54% 99% 95% 97%
2013 Washington 5-3 89% 92% 80% 76% 84% 87% 98%
2013 Missouri 8-1 93% 88% 90% 86% 95% 88% 87%

BCS #10: Oklahoma

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Oklahoma 7-1 83% 84% 85% 73% 81% 22% 83%
2012 Texas 9-4 80% 84% 79% 75% 68% 43% 82%
2009 Texas Tech 9-4 84% 86% 65% 77% 80% 45% 87%
2009 Pittsburgh 10-3 87% 89% 85% 74% 80% 57% 79%
2010 Pittsburgh 8-5 80% 79% 92% 79% 76% 53% 80%
2009 USC 9-4 77% 71% 87% 70% 77% 49% 79%

Combined record: 45-20. This is kind of ugly for the Sooners, especially in contrast with the other teams featured in this post. I had to double-check that rushing defense figure, and sure enough the Sooners are 96th in S&P+ defense this season. Given Baylor's extremely prolific offense, OU will need to be firing on all cylinders tomorrow night in order leave Waco with a win.

Current contemporaries:

Year Team Record F/+ Off F/+ Rush Off Pass Off Def F/+ Rush Def Pass Def
2013 Kansas State 4-4 82% 76% 77% 80% 75% 54% 93%
2013 Auburn 8-1 88% 83% 81% 75% 86% 82% 75%
2013 Arizona 6-2 82% 80% 92% 48% 83% 80% 68%

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