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Opponent pre-season rankings summary

August 4, 2010

As you might have guessed from some of my previous comments about pre-season rankings for EMU, I’m not really a big fan of the whole pre-season ranking thing in general. For that matter, I’m not really a fan of rankings during the season, or after the season, which is why I’d like to see a football playoff that includes, at a minimum, all the conference champions. But some people do like the pre-season rankings, and they can help to give a general idea of the level of competition a team will face. So with that in mind, I’ve pulled together rankings from a variety of sources.

Since I’m not that keen on pre-season rankings and the like, I have not paid for any magazines or subscription services. I found rankings for the  entire MAC from 5 services compiled at the excellent NIU blog, Red and Black Attack. A little hunting around turned up some of the rankings for the Eagles non-conference opponents. Phil Steele‘s information appears to be pay-only. Athlon lists their pre-season top-25 for free, which included Ohio State at #2. Pre-Snap Read, College Gridiron 365, and Rivals are dribbling out their rankings bit-by-bit, and haven’t yet freely published their rankings for Ohio State (I think it’s a fair guess that they’ll all have the Buckeyes in the top ten, and probably the top five). In those cases where I’m missing rankings, my average is based on just the rankings I’ve got.

Team Steele Athlon PS Read CG 365 Rivals Average
Ohio State ? 2 top-24 top-21 top-10 2
Temple 57 64 44 45 58 53.6
NIU 69 72 55 49 67 62.4
Ohio 86 90 60 50 73 71.8
Army 99 85 85 44 95 81.6
WMU 73 106 92 87 87 89
CMU 104 95 82 71 94 89.2
Kent St 87 97 99 75 96 90.8
Virginia ? ? 95 95 90 93.3
Toledo 103 92 72 111 98 95.2
BGSU 109 111 89 96 82 97.4
Vanderbilt ? ? 107 97 89 97.7
Akron 114 109 105 91 88 101.4
Ball St 88 108 101 106 108 102.2
Buffalo 100 109 108 98 115 106
Miami University 111 114 112 117 111 113
EMU 120 120 119 120 117 119.2

Italicized teams are MAC teams not on the 2010 schedule.

It’s worth noting  briefly that, while most of the rankings put each team in the same general area, there was a wide divergence — 55 spots! — when it comes to Army. If Army turns out to be at the weaker end of that range, it’s a very winnable game for the Eagles, but if Army is as good as College Gridiron 365 expects, that game will be out of reach.

Looking at the schedule, we have:

  • Home v. #75 Army
  • At #113 Miami University
  • Home v. #89 Central Michigan
  • At #2 Ohio State
  • Home v. #72 Ohio
  • At #98 Vanderbilt
  • At #102 Ball State
  • At #93 Virginia
  • Home v. #95 Toledo
  • At #89 Western Michigan
  • At #106 Buffalo
  • Home v. #62 Northern Illinois

The average ranking of the teams coming to Ypsilanti is 79. The average ranking of the teams the Eagles will visit is 86, but when you cut out Ohio State, that rises to 100. Except for Ohio State, every team on EMU’s schedule is generally in the bottom half of pre-season rankings. The other two BCS-conference schools, Vanderbilt and Virginia, are both ranked in the 90s. Of the three highest-ranked MAC teams, EMU doesn’t face Temple, and will have NIU and Ohio at Rynearson. So with the exceptions of facing Ohio State and having 3 consecutive road games in October, this is a pretty favorable schedule. A top-40 team facing this season could probably finish at least 10-2, and even Eastern Michigan should be able to pull several wins out of this schedule. Based solely on these pre-season rankings, I would circle Miami, Toledo, Buffalo, and Ball State (in that order) as the most winnable games. But I really think that EMU has the potential to defeat any of these teams except Ohio State.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    August 4, 2010 12:06 pm

    Athlon 85
    Steele 99

    That pulls their average ranking down to 81.6.

    But averaging ordinal rankings is misleading.

    • August 4, 2010 1:18 pm

      Thanks, I’ve updated the post with those numbers.

      I’ve seen it stated elsewhere also that ordinal numbers should not be averaged, because the difference between 1st and 2nd, for example, is not necessarily the same magnitude as the difference between 5th and 6th, and strictly speaking that’s correct. But, ordinals are averaged (and otherwise manipulated) in sports — especially college football! — all the time. Every ranking poll is just that, though it’s often disguised (e.g., give 1 point per 25th place vote through 25 points per first place vote and then rank based on points). So I’m not really worried about it.


  1. 2011 opponent pre-season rankings summary « Eagle Totem
  2. 2012 opponent pre-season rankings « Eagle Totem

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