This week's Varsity Numbers is up over at Football Outsiders. In it, I discuss September's bigger surprises, the teams who are what we thought they were, the teams we weren't skeptical enough about, and ... Texas Tech, apparently your No. 6 team in the country. Have a read!
Is This For Real?
Texas Tech. I have long believed that you can glean something from every performance, even games against terrible teams. Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders lost five in a row to finish last season 5-7, but while they have played three nobodies so far (Northwestern State, Texas State, New Mexico), the magnitude with which they have throttled these three opponents has been staggering. (And apparently they looked good in defeating Bye Week this past week as well, rising from 10th to sixth in their off-week.) We don't have to wait long to figure out if this is a mirage: Tech travels to Iowa State this weekend to face an Iowa State team that crushed Tech, 41-7, in Lubbock last year and has looked surprisingly strong as well.
Last year, Florida ranked ninth in F/+ after four weeks before collapsing, so it is conceivable that Tech's performance is destined to regress a bit. But these numbers are reasonably predictive, and at the very least Tech should finish the season with a much better record than many anticipated.
BYU. At this point in the year, the raw data is predictably volatile. The highest- (and lowest-) ranked offenses and defenses are quite a few standard deviations from the norm. That is basically why you see BYU currently holding the No. 10 ranking in S&P+ despite a 2-2 record. The offense has infinite question marks, but the defense is outstanding, grading out high enough to place the Cougars in the top 10 despite an offense that ranks 108th. It won't last. Either the offense will drastically right the ship, or BYU's ratings will quickly begin to slide.