What We’re Reading: November 29

Rivalry week 2017 is in the books, but we’re still reeling from one of the greatest weekends in college football history. From the Egg Bowl to the Iron Bowl, and everything in between, this week’s matchups brought exciting and excruciating firsts (depending on who you ask), and all data points to a thrilling playoff season!

  • This season has had its share of movement at the top of CFP ranking, and this weekend was no different. Two previously undefeated teams joined the ranks of the imperfect. Friday saw No. 2 Miami fall to unranked Pitt, and No. 1 Crimson Tide was unbeatable no more in a loss to bitter Alabama rival No. 6 Auburn in the Iron Bowl. College football fans haven’t seen the top two teams lose in the same weekend since mid-November 2012.
  • While the reshuffling may be exciting, it’s indicative of another rarity within college football’s top teams. After this weekend, Wisconsin is the only undefeated team in the top five power ranking, while Auburn and Ohio State, both with two losses, are heading to conference title games this weekend. Alabama will not play in the SEC Championship for only the second time in five years. Which leads us to an important question – will we see a College Football Playoff without Alabama for the first time in CFP history?
  • Bill Connelly of SB Nation leverages his S&P+ ratings to bring order to the chaos that is the post-season. Designed to evaluate overall opponent-adjusted team efficiency, the top 5 teams have S&P+ rankings of 17.5 or better, with Ohio State taking the lead at 21.3. Interestingly, if you compare that to last year’s rankings, a score of 21.3 would have landed a team closer to 7th place. So, if it feels like there’s no way to tell who will take home the title in January, that’s probably because there isn’t.
  • While much of the debate is focusing on the playoffs, many schools saw their seasons come to end on Saturday. And with that comes the obligatory shakeup of coaching staffs. As on Monday morning, 12 teams are looking for new head coaches. As coaching contract provisions promise increasingly higher salaries, these 12 programs combined are facing an unprecedented $60 million in buyouts, pending contract negotiations. To put that in perspective, it’s more than most colleges spend on their entire athletic departments in a year.
  • Lastly, Alabama was not alone in its defeat – the hedges surrounding Jordan-Hare stadium in Auburn were no match for the thousands of fans who rushed the field after the Tigers’ victory. In the analytics community we call that poor execution of a hedging strategy.