Alabama's slip strengthens K-State's grip on top spot in UPS Team Performance Index
Alabama will need help to get back to the BCS title game after its 13-game winning streak came to an end over the weekend, but the Crimson Tide are still among the top two teams in the country according to the UPS Team Performance Index.
Unlike past weeks, however, Kansas State is now a very clear No. 1.
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 has teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across 120 FBS schools.
From there, balance is measured for all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas and overall winning percentage.
Coach Nick Saban's squad took a tumble in the AP rankings following a surprising 29-24 home loss to Texas A&M. As a result, undefeated Oregon took over the top spot, just ahead of Kansas State.
The Crimson Tide, though, were still able to maintain a small edge on the Ducks for No. 2 in the season-long UPS index despite registering the 100th-best performance of the week among FBS schools. That allowed the top-rated Wildcats to open a sizable advantage of more than eight points over the rest of the field.
Kansas State improved to 10-0 and continued its steady march toward a potential national championship with a 23-10 win at TCU, holding the Horned Frogs scoreless for the first 53 minutes of the game. The Wildcats have the nation's best marks in the special teams and miscues categories, thanks in part to their remarkable plus-20 turnover differential.
Coach Bill Snyder, though, may see room for improvement after his team had two turnovers Saturday - exceeding its total from the previous six games combined.
"(Snyder) tells us every day to just focus on getting better," linebacker Jarell Childs said. "Obviously after this game, we have a lot of mistakes to correct and get better, so we go focus on that."
Kansas State seems to have a clear path to the BCS title game if it can win its remaining contests against Baylor and Texas, and Oregon figures to be there as well if it can navigate the final portion of its schedule with victories against Stanford, at Oregon State and in the Pac-12 title game.
The Ducks, though, remain hampered in the UPS index by somewhat pedestrian ratings on defense - they rank 48th in the FBS with 377.7 yards allowed per game - and in the miscues category. Oregon is tied for the fifth-most penalties in the nation with 84, although it went without a turnover for the first time all season in Saturday's 59-17 win at California.
"We don't pay attention to the rankings and what's around us. We just play Oregon football," receiver Josh Huff said. "We'll pick our heads up in December and we'll see where we're at."
Aside from Kansas State and Oregon, the other bowl-eligible unbeaten is AP No. 3 Notre Dame, which won 21-6 at Boston College on Saturday. Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly has begun lobbying for his team to be considered for the BCS title game, but Kelly certainly won't be citing the UPS index as he makes his case.
Notre Dame (10-0) ranks 21st in the nation by that measure, trailing eight two-loss teams and a three-loss team (Fresno State) even though winning percentage factors into the formula.
The ratings respect the Irish's powerful defense, but the team has below-average numbers on both offense and special teams.
"Each team has their own distinctions. The distinction of this football team is it's the No. 1 scoring defense in the country," Kelly said. "It's proven that against very, very good teams all year. ... We'll let others decide, but I think we've played our way into the discussion."
Georgia clinched a spot in the SEC title game with a performance that rated as the nation's most efficient of Week 11 in a 38-0 win at lowly Auburn. That edged out Wisconsin's 62-14 dismantling of Indiana which saw the Badgers run for 564 yards, averaging 8.8 per carry.
The UPS index is only more evidence of Colorado's sputtering program. The Buffaloes' 56-31 loss at Arizona rated as the worst showing of the 109 FBS teams playing last week, leaving the team last among 120 FBS schools on the season. Colorado's opponents are averaging 505.0 yards per game.