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2012 opponent pre-season rankings

August 4, 2012

Past pre-season opponent rankings: 2010, 2011.

As in the past, I’ve pulled together rankings from a variety of sources, in an attempt to quantify the level of competition EMU will face this fall. Since I’m not that keen on pre-season rankings and the like, I have not paid for any magazines or subscription services. Pre-Snap Read, College Gridiron 365, and Rivals publish 1-to-120 rankings, so that’s who I’ve used (the Rivals pre-season ranking appears to have been taken over by Mike Huguenin this year). I love Sagarin’s football and basketball rankings once the season is well underway, but his pre-season football rankings are garbage. Unfortunately, Sagarin is the only one who ranks FBS and FCS teams together, so we’ll just have to leave Illinois State off the list. (But note that in Sagarin’s 2011 season-end ranking, he has Illinois State above EMU, somewhere between Kent State and Ball State — both of whom beat the Eagles.)

Team PS Read CG 365 Rivals Average
Michigan State top-32* 12 top-13* 19*
Ohio top-32* 56 55 48*
Purdue 73 58 60 64
Northern Illinois 54 64 82 67
Toledo 57 74 77 69
Western Michigan 62 68 88 73
Bowling Green 70 91 90 84
Miami 87 106 80 91
EMU 92 80 102 91
Kent State 98 89 93 93
Ball State 104 86 104 98
Army 88 103 109 100
Central Michigan 99 110 106 105
Buffalo 110 115 115 113
Akron 118 119 120 119
UMass 120 NR 123 122

Italicized teams are MAC teams not on the 2011 schedule.
*Ranking not yet released; averages assume that the team will have the worst-possible remaining ranking.

The biggest range for any team this year is Northern Illinois — 28 spots — but that’s much less than the 42 and 55-spot ranges we’ve seen the last two years.

Looking at the schedule, we have:

At #98 Ball State
Home v. Illinois State (NR)
At #64 Purdue
At #19* Michigan State
Home v. #93 Kent State
Home v. #69 Toledo
Home v. #100 Army
At #84 Bowling Green
At #48* Ohio
Home v. #105 Central Michigan
At #73 Western Michigan
Home v. #67 Northern Illinois

The average ranking of the teams visiting Ypsilanti, counting the Illinois State as having a 124 ranking, is 93 or just looking at MAC opponents, 84. The average ranking of the teams the Eagles will visit is 64, or just looking at the MAC, 76. For the second year in a row, the home opponents are, on average, weaker than the road opponents, even within the MAC. On the other hand, whereas last year EMU played what I expected to be the three weakest teams from the MAC East, this year the Eagles will miss all three of the weakest teams in the conference.

*Note: It’s frequently stated 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. I think this is still a useful way to examine the expected difficulty of EMU’s schedule.

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