Ranking College Football's Best Units on Offense and Defense

BabyTateSenior Writer IJune 1, 2009

A curious situation developed during the research and preparation of this article.

Rather than providing support for the preseason "11 best 11s" published in April, it appears Oklahoma does not possess the statistical background to claim the No. 1 spot.

Contrary to what you might believe, Bleacher Report readers make a strong impression upon writers in the college football genre. When the shoe fits, you have to wear it.

The reason? Because football fans are willing to look at the facts and reason together to decide on who is the best.

It goes to the very nature of the sport since there is no playoff formula like in basketball, baseball, or even professional football.  

For many years, attempts to calculate the relative strengths of teams have filled the presses, printers, and even notepads.

Some, such as the Dunkel Index or the BCS Rating System, have become dependable references when a fan is struggling to make a decision concerning who is the stronger team. 

One system that has been suggested is the ranking of the individual units that take the field.

Points are awarded in a descending basis relative to the strength of that unit. Hence, the cumulative low score is believed to determine the most powerful team.

Units are divided up as offense and defense and broken down into backfields, linemen, receivers, and linebackers.

An effort to bypass the "intangibles" issue has been made to keep from obscuring the more easily coded parts of the game regarding position talent.

The kicking game, depth, and coaching can all be relative issues since the weather can turn foul and ruin special teams play, injuries can destroy a depth chart, and usually everyone agrees the top coaches are very close to one another in ability.

The following is a listing of the units as we approach the 2009 season.


Top Defensive Lines        Top Linebacker Corps           Top Defensive Backfield

1. Florida                           1. Alabama                             1. Florida

2. Pittsburgh                      2. Florida                                2. Va Tech

3. Va Tech                         3. West Va.                             3. LSU

4. Alabama                        4. LSU                                    4. Alabama

5. Oklahoma                      5. Oklahoma                           5. Southern Cal


Arbitrary? Not necessarily. We do not exclude anyone, even if their school has no shot at being ranked or winning the national championship this season.

Points are awarded for returning starters, size, speed, and certainly past performance.

All three categories are rated on a basis of one to five points. Take for example the Pittsburgh Panthers, who are ranked as the No. 2 defensive line but do not have a ranking in the linebacker or backfield areas.

As a consequence, they are "punished" with the maximum grade of "5" in those two areas and end up with a cumulative defensive score of 12 (2 plus "5" plus "5").

As a result, we may structure a ranking of the Top Five Defenses in the manner listed below.


Overall Five Top Defensive Units 

1. Florida      4 (1 plus 2 plus 1)

2. Alabama    9 (4 plus 1 plus 4)

3. Va Tech   10 (3 plus "5" plus 2)

4. (TIE) LSU 12 ("5" plus 4 plus 3)

4. (TIE) Pitt 12  (2 plus "5" plus "5")


Now for the offensive side.


Top Offensive Lines             Receiving Corps                Offensive Backfield

1. Southern Cal                      1. Southern Cal                   1. Oklahoma

2. Texas                                2. LSU                                2. Florida

3. Georgia                             3. Notre Dame                    3. Texas

4. LSU                                  4. Kansas                            4. Ga Tech

5. Florida                              5. Alabama                         5. Oklahoma State


Overall Top Five Offensive Units

1. Southern Cal    7 (1 plus 1 plus "5")

2. Texas            10 (2 plus "5" plus 3)

3. (TIE) LSU        11 (4 plus 2 plus "5")

3. (TIE) Oklahoma 11 ("5" plus "5" plus 1)

5. Florida            12 ( 5 plus "5" plus 2)


Now, combine the offensive and defensive points for a grand total. This will allow for a review of the 11 top overall teams based upon the combination of the above ratings.


Overall 11 Best 11s

1. Florida          16 (4 plus 12)

2. Southern Cal  22 (15 plus 7)

3. LSU              23 (12 plus 11)

4. Alabama        24  (9 plus 15)

5. (TIE) Va Tech 25  (10 plus 15)

5. (TIE) Texas    25  (15 plus 10)

7. Oklahoma      26  (15 plus 11)

8. Pittsburgh     27  (12 plus 15)

9. (TIE) Notre Dame 28 (15 plus 13)

9. (TIE) West Va 28 (13 plus 15)

9. (TIE) Georgia   28 (15 plus 13)


To add a further proviso to the hypothesis put forward, we can also note that Ga Tech and Kansas would be tied for 12th with 29 points each.

And yes, everyone else in the country is tied with 30 points at No. 14 since you get the "punishment five" for all six areas even if you do not finish in the top five positions.

Say, that would be a great way to save the jobs of some coaches. Just tell the alumni there is one poll in which you finished 14th in the nation even if you went 0-12.

From the above list we see the BCS Title Game would be Florida venturing into Southern California to take on the Trojans in the Rose Bowl.

Well, it is about time those two faced each other.


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