The Sweep

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Only one computer put Maryland in the top 25 after it beat UNC.
AP

By Hugh Falk, Pollspeak.com

While the Billingsley Report is one of the six BCS computer components, it sometimes resembles the human polls more than its computer brethren. This intentionally reflects Richard Billingsley's desire to more closely mimic the way humans rank football teams. For example, this ranking prominently features rules for head-to-head results. While the effects of the head-to-head results only last one week, this is a major differentiator for the Billingsley Report. This week, we can see the difference between this system and other computer poll methodologies.

Billingsley is the only computer to rank Oregon and Maryland in the top 25. It is also the only computer to not rank North Carolina and Miami. However, this is very similar to how the human BCS components voted. The only exception is North Carolina, which split the human vote -- Harris Interactive ranked the Tar Heels in the top 25, but the coaches didn't. Also, Billingsley agrees with the human polls on who should be No. 1 (Alabama) and No. 2 (Texas Tech). No other computer poll cast the lone vote for a top 25 team, yet Billingsley did so for four teams.

I've heard concerns with Billingsley's formula in the past. It initially ranks teams based on how they finished the previous season. This seemingly gives Billingsley's rankings a type of "preseason bias," a criticism that, once again, sounds very human. Billingsley's methodology document is unique and a surprisingly easy read (relative to other computer methodologies). If you want to know more, you can read it here. Overall, I like Billingsley's methods; however, preseason bias is a human fault that would be good for a computer ranking to avoid.

Speaking of human faults, Maurice Patton is this week's voter in the spotlight. Pollstalker called out the Tennessean scribe as the voter with the most "extreme" votes (he had eight) this week. Here are some head-to-head results he's ignoring:

-    Oklahoma (9-1) over Texas (10-1)
-    Missouri (9-2) over Oklahoma State (9-2)
-    North Carolina (7-3) over Maryland (7-3)

In each case, he ranks the loser over the winner even though the loser has the same (or worse) record. Additionally, in each case the gap between the two teams is pretty wide (four or five spots). If only Patton had a head-to-head rule like Billingsley. Even if it only lasted one week, at least Maryland's win over North Carolina last Saturday would be covered.

Finally, Barack Obama has once again publically endorsed a college football playoff, this time on 60 Minutes. The president elect said he may "throw his weight around" and try to make an eight-game playoff a reality. Once he gives that a go, dealing with Congress should be a piece of cake.

For more poll analysis, go to pollspeak.com.

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