Assessing Methods for College Football Rankings

by Jerome Keating


With the advent of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) much emphasis has been placed on ranking teams. We consider several mathematical methods for ranking college football teams based on point differential including least squares with fixed or random effects. We also consider the use of modifications such as truncating or censoring (such as Harville’s method) the result to adjust for the possibility of teams running up the score. Herein, we also use methods of survival analysis where factors, such home field advantage, are treated in a Cox regression model. We assess the validity of these models as well as the predictive performance using leave-one-out cross validation. The methods and analyses are applied to all major NCAA football data from 1930-2002.

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