|Oregon takes over top spot in UPS Index as 'Bama defense struggles at A&M|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 16 September 2013 09:42|
Instead, it's Oregon - with a new head coach, yet same quick-paced results - topping the Index thanks to a dominant start against overmatched competition.
Using an advanced proprietary formula featuring offensive yards per play, defensive yards allowed per play, various special teams statistics and a microindex of miscues that rewards disciplined teams, UPS teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across 125 FBS schools.
From there, overall balance is measured across all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas as well as overall winning percentage.
On the heels of routing Notre Dame in January to claim their second straight national championship and third in four seasons, the Crimson Tide finished at the top of the final 2012 Index rankings with an efficiency rating of 130.1 - 4.64 points better than second-place Oregon. The average across all FBS teams is 100.0.
In addition to boasting one of the nation's best offenses, Alabama led the country by allowing just 10.9 points per contest, finishing second to Florida State in the performance rankings with a defensive rating of 124.43 a season ago.
This year, Nick Saban's crew has scored 84 points while beating Virginia Tech and Texas A&M away from Tuscaloosa. However, Saturday's wild 49-42 win over the 10th-ranked Aggies, at least from a defensive standpoint, was not the reason the Crimson Tide moved up 14 spots in the ratings to 23rd overall this week.
Paced by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the Aggies totaled 628 yards - the most ever against Alabama - and became the first team since LSU in 2007 to drop 40 or more points on the Tide. Their 81.67 defensive rating ranks 105th in the Index - 65.19 points worse than top-rated Michigan State.
Though Alabama might have grown a bit complacent after Vinnie Sunseri's 73-yard touchdown return of a Manziel pass stretched its lead to 35-14 in early in the third quarter, Saban was not pleased with his team yielding 28 points in the second half to make the game closer than it seemed.
"We did not play as well on defense against some very good players," he said. "When you don't fundamentally do things the way you're supposed to, you usually pay the price. We were trying to rush five guys and keep Manziel in the pocket and (Aggies sophomore receiver Mike Evans) had his way with us."
While Evans set a school record with 279 receiving yards, Manziel threw for a career-high 464 and totaled 562 for the second-best performance in SEC history.
"It was a lot of work chasing around Manziel," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "We expected Manziel to move around the pocket to make plays, and he did what he did.''
Fortunately for Alabama, it may not face an offense that potent again this season. Texas A&M is fourth in the Index's offensive standings at 138.47 - yet still 19.9 behind the high-flying Oregon Ducks.
Even with former coach Chip Kelly in the NFL, the Ducks are second only to Baylor (164.43) offensively in the Index under Mark Helfrich, who was the school's offensive coordinator last season. But Oregon's overall body of work is far more balanced than the Bears: it also ranks ninth in defense and 18th in miscues, an area that rewards a lack of turnovers and penalties.
Oregon's Index-best 143.07 overall ranking is 3.61 ahead of second-place Florida State thanks in large part to the Ducks outscoring Nicholls, Virginia and Tennessee 184-27 to open the season. The Ducks were first in the initial 2013 ratings, then dropped to second behind follow Pac-12 member Utah last week before reclaiming the top spot after the Utes' defense was shredded in a 51-48 overtime loss to Oregon State on Saturday.
Utah fell to No. 19.
An FCS school and two unranked opponents have not provided the Ducks with the same early level of competition that Alabama has faced, and left their fans chanting "S-E-C, S-E-C!" and "We want `Bama!" during the 59-14 rout of the Volunteers on Saturday. Still, Oregon's offense remains extremely potent.
Marcus Mariota completed 23 of 33 passes for 456 yards to become the first Oregon quarterback to throw for more than 400 yards in a game since Kellen Clemens in 2005. With four TD passes, he's thrown at least one in all 16 of his games for the Ducks.
"I think they are very deserving of where they're ranked," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "I think they're very well deserving of all the accolades that they've received. They have tremendous, tremendous skill. Anytime you have a quarterback who can throw the ball and run the football, you're always a gap short, you're always a man short. I think Mark has done a tremendous, tremendous job."
Stanford and LSU - also ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll - sit third and fourth, respectively, in this week's Index. Miami (eighth) and Baylor (ninth) round out the ranked teams in the top 10 of the Index, along with unranked schools Arizona (fifth), Central Florida (sixth), Navy (seventh) and Maryland (10th).
Miami, Ohio, which has been outscored 93-21 while starting 0-2 is last at 49.36.