Mercifully for my liver, this season is over. Now that the conference champions have been named and the College Football Playoff is complete, let’s analyze the year. Using the Roberts Poll, we can confirm the champions and give a top 25 of our own.
In case you weren’t here the first time, we at Hustle Belt (with the help of yours truly) came up with a formula to rank FBS teams. It basically comes down to a mathematical formula that takes the quality of a win or loss and combines it with margin of victory to assign a team points.
Roberts Poll Top 25
For the second time, the Alabama Crimson Tide have won the College Football Playoff National Championship with victories over the Georgia Bulldogs and Clemson Tigers. Statistically, the Roberts Poll predicted that exact result given those four teams. Indeed, Alabama has earned the 2017 Roberts Poll National Championship as well.
Also claiming a national championship are the UCF Knights, who earned a perfect 13-0 record. After beating the Auburn Tigers in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, UCF began a marketing campaign claiming the national title. A city-wide parade, news coverage, an official declaration from the Governor of Florida, and this Hustle Belt article gave legitimacy to its claim. They were the champions of our hearts, but not champions of the Roberts Poll. Central Florida managed to finish sixth overall, coming 254 points shy in the only leader board that matters (mine). Surely, making up a game canceled by the hurricane or being in the College Football Playoff would have netted them more points.
Georgia had to keep the National Championship Game close to edge out the Ohio State Buckeyes for second place in the Roberts Poll. The true drop-off came between eighth and ninth place. Clemson and the TCU Horned Frogs finished separated by 152 hard-to-get points.
Florida Atlantic Owls managed an incredible turnaround this season. Under the direction of Lane Kiffin, the Owls gained 102 positions in the Roberts Poll. A final victory against the Akron Zips propelled Florida Atlantic into the Roberts Poll Top 25.
Here are the final Roberts Poll rankings of the 2017-18 football season:
Roberts Poll Top 25
|Rank||High||Low||Team||Last Week's Result||RP Points|
|Rank||High||Low||Team||Last Week's Result||RP Points|
|1||1||4||Alabama #||W 26-23 vs UGA||1282|
|2||2||27||Georgia *||L 23-26 vs Bama||1175|
|3||2||45||Ohio State *||W 24-7 vs USC||1173|
|4||2||25||Wisconsin||W 34-24 vs MIA-FL||1118|
|5||1||17||Oklahoma *||L 48-54 vs UGA||1043|
|6||6||46||UCF *#||W 34-27 vs Auburn||1028|
|7||1||10||Penn State||W 35-28 vs WASH||1027|
|8||2||10||Clemson *||L 6-24 vs Bama||1016|
|9||3||23||TCU||W 39-37 vs STAN||864|
|10||8||48||Auburn||L 27-34 vs UCF||845|
|11||4||15||Washington||L 28-35 vs Penn St||832|
|12||8||32||USC *||L 7-24 vs Ohio St||820|
|13||5||19||Oklahoma State||W 30-21 vs VT||783|
|14||5||53||Notre Dame||W 21-17 vs LSU||756|
|15||15||76||Northwestern||W 24-23 vs UK||749|
|16||16||70||Boise State *||W 38-28 vs Oregon||725|
|17||4||74||Stanford||L 37-39 vs TCU||685|
|18||18||63||Michigan State||W 42-17 vs WAZZU||669|
|19||9||73||Miami (FL)||L 24-34 vs WIS||655|
|20||20||122||Florida Atlantic *||W 50-3 vs Akron||650|
|21||21||92||Troy *||W 50-30 vs UNT||620|
|22||5||35||South Florida||W 38-34 vs TTU||607|
|23||21||51||Army||W 42-35 vs SDSU||601|
|24||6||52||Mississippi State||W 31-27 vs LOU||594|
|25||20||85||Fresno State||W 33-27 vs HOU||589|
Mid-American Conference Standings
Over the 2017 season, the MAC saw a lot of change in Roberts Poll standings. Four different schools have led our competitive conference, but it took until late in the year for the Toledo Rockets to earn the title. Toledo held first place for the longest time, and even made it to 20th place in the Roberts Poll Top 25. Another to hold the top spot were the Western Michigan Broncos. Western Michigan had a brief time atop the charts, also seeing themselves down to tenth place for a week. The Eastern Michigan Eagles also had a time in first place, including an appearance in the Roberts Poll Top 25 at 22nd place.
Four teams also saw the bottom of the MAC standings. Akron, the MAC East Champions, had a fairly unsuccessful going in the Roberts Poll. The Zips started toward the bottom and made it to fifth place, but eventually dropped further due to big losses to Toledo and Florida Atlantic. The Ball State Cardinals began the season in fourth place, but fell to the bottom with the Kent State Golden Flashes and Bowling Green Falcons.
Across the board, the Mid-American Conference had another exciting year filled with upsets and intrigue. There were definitely different groups of ability level according to the Roberts Poll, but when the teams stepped onto the field, it all seemed to vanish.
MAC Standings: Roberts Poll
This year, three of the four worst teams in FBS football came from Conference USA. The fourth was Ball State. The Cardinals were not last, which is important. Meanwhile, the Sun Belt had seven of their 12 members record negative Roberts Poll points. It appears they took the “Fun Belt” brand too seriously. Trash talk complete: moving on.
After compiling all the Roberts Poll points per conference, we found the average total per team. The Big Ten led the nation with 423 points per team, four points ahead of the SEC. The Big 12 and PAC-12 each finished with about 334 Roberts Poll points per team. The Big 12 edged them out 0.2 points per team. Rounding out the Power Five was the ACC with 311 points per team.
The American Athletic Conference came up short of the Power Five conferences with only 100 points per team. Next was the Mountain West Conference with 63 points per team. The MAC dipped just below zero with -47 points per member. More importantly, we finished three points ahead of Conference USA. In last place was the Sun Belt Conference with -96 points.
While I must admit that the Roberts Poll gives points based on quality of competition, using this method clearly favors the Power Five conferences over the Group of Five conferences. We strive to correct this issue each year by changing the points per conference based on the previous year’s performance.
In the final weeks of play, several teams stayed home from bowl games and conference championships. During conference championship week, the top performer was Clemson, who earned 125 Roberts Poll points against the Miami-Florida Hurricanes. The biggest loser that week were the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns, who lost 99 points in a 63-14 loss to the Appalachian State Mountaineers. Conference championship week was also bizarre because Conference USA had not finished their regular season games, but still had their conference championship played that week.
Of the 78 teams participating in bowl week, half of them had to lose. Alabama earns double the honors in bowl week for earning 221 points between their two games. The Crimson Tide also recorded the top single game against Clemson, worth 115 points. Akron had the lowest bowl week, losing 97 points against Florida Atlantic.
Throughout the season, the highest score of 133 points came from four different teams in three different weeks. Alabama achieved the score first against the Ole Miss Rebels in week five. Miami and Auburn each earned 133 points in week 11 against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Georgia Bulldogs, respectively. In the last regular season game of the year, the Penn State Nittany Lions also recorded 133 points against the Maryland Terrapins. The lowest score came from Coastal Carolina, who lost 142 Roberts Poll points in a 52-10 loss to FCS member Western Illinois in week four.
Congratulations are due to all teams on a hard-fought season, especially to Alabama, the Roberts Poll Champions.