Week 4 Power Rankings – The Upside Down

Growing up Zoolander was cool and certainly overquoted. Whenever you were in the midst of something crazy it was always clever to pull out the famous Will Ferrell line from the movie.





Well, the world has moved on to new pop culture references. So I think the only way to describe the past week is by saying I feel like we are in the upside down.





For those who haven’t watched Stranger Things, A. Do it right now. B. The upside down is a mirror image of reality, but everything is askew. 

I don’t say that because the poll was terrible (though parts of it were), it’s more about understanding poll voters and their logic and rationale.  Davenport climbed a whopping 4 spots the week after beating then #5 BYU. Last week they beat an unranked  Buffalo team by 8 and shot up 8 spots in the poll.  I think Davenport is closer to where they deserve to be, but I can’t find the voting logic behind it. It’s the upside down.

Last week GCU and Utah were tied on first-place votes with 12 each. Between that poll and this one Utah was able to take 8 of those first-place votes from GCU. Was there a big ranked game that Utah won? Did GCU lose a heartbreaker? Nope. GCU beat SDSU by 3 and Utah beat Boise State by 20.  The fabled “transitive property of margin” was enough to convince 8 voters that GCU was no longer the first place team because Utah beat an unranked team by more than GCU. Upside down.

GCU beat Cal Poly by 1 this year. Cal Poly beat UCSB by 3. GCU should beat UCSB by 2 right?

GCU won by 6. Margin isn’t transitive.

BYU beat Texas by 15 and beat FSU by 3. FSU should beat Texas by about 12.

Texas wins in overtime. Because margin isn’t transitive.

A painfully close example for me. In 2012 the BYU team I coached KILLED a lot of the teams we played. We were regularly beating unranked teams by 10-20 points and were beating top 15 teams easily. In fact, we beat Arizona State by more than CSU did. But when we matched up with CSU in the playoffs, margin didn’t matter and they destroyed us.

The point is, be leery of margin. Every game is an individual game. Styles, matchups, and momentum will have a huge effect on the outcome. Not margin against random teams.

At least, for the love of Mugatu, don’t use it as a primary voting factor.

Sidenote: I’ve also been in the upside down because I’ve been banging the drum for Chapman and Utah this year, two of my sworn mortal enemies as a BYU Lacrosse alum. However, dedication to finding the right poll must remain unbiased(ish). 


This shouldn’t be a question.  Just look at this chart and realize there is no reasonable explanation for why Chapman isn’t #1.

With wins over #5, #8, #9, #10, #11 and #19, this should be the easiest spot on the ballot to fill out.


Sure, they probably would have liked to have beat SDSU in a more convincing fashion, but the name of the game is winning, and GCU has been doing that.  The quality of the win against Poly has dropped a bit, but the rise of Georgia has made their 7 goal win over them look much more impressive. #margin


South Carolina didn’t do anything over the past week to earn this rise. This is me revaluating and realizing I had them ranked lower than Utah, and I really couldn’t justify it. They have 3 ranked wins (12, 15, 22) to Utah’s 2 (17, 19). They have a better strength of schedule and a higher RPI.

If you had asked me to justify them below Utah I probably couldn’t have.

It’s also worth noting that the Gamecocks are currently:

#6 in weighted goals per game (GPG*SOS)

#1 in weighted goals against per game (GAA*SOS)

Oh yeah, and they have the #1 weighted face-off specialist in the country.

That’s a winning formula.


I feel a need to clarify something about Utah. I think Utah very well may be the best team in the country. They are dropping in my power rankings not because I think they are getting worse as a team, I just think other teams are putting up better results than the Utes right now.

Their drop is entirely a product of their schedule. The University of Central Florida could have had a non-pretend National Championship this year in college football with a better schedule. You can only win the games that are on your schedule, and sometimes there aren’t enough good matchups to keep you at the top.

I lean heavily on results and try to reduce reliance on “gut feelings” so this is an objective placement of where I feel the Utes land after wins over #17 and #19.

It’s worth noting as well that the Utes are faring very well in the adjusted offensive and defensive rankings.

They are #1 in offense, and #2 in defense.

Assuming BYU and CU can keep hanging around in the top 10, they have some good games on the horizon. They also have a chance to notch another Top 25 game this week with Oregon in town to take on the Utes and Cougars.


Michigan State hasn’t played again since their Nor-Cal sweep. Not much new to add other than it seems like they are in about the right spot here. Wins over #10 and #17 and no losses.


Colorado hasn’t made it pretty, but they have been getting it done. They have 3 ranked wins by a combined 4 points, with 2 of them coming in overtime. Wins against #8, #11 and #12 actually give them the second highest Quality Win Score, even after factoring in the loss to Chapman. A good start for a team that came into the season with some question marks.


Davenport’s 8 spot rise in the polls is probably a week late, but I guess it’s good it happened? It kind of feels like voters admitting they were wrong last week, which is better than doubling down on being wrong.  Sure, a few of the teams lost in front of them clearing a path for a rise, but teams losing doesn’t fully explain the jump.

Either way, the Panthers have a huge matchup this weekend with #4 Michigan State. Win and the Panthers start pushing into top 5 territory quickly. Right or wrong, lose and the discussion in voters minds will be “was the BYU game a fluke?”

With this potentially being their last ranked game before the conference tournament, this may as well be a playoff game. No pressure though.


Texas was good to the Cougars. Then it was kind of bad but was still mostly good. The Cougars needed to go 3/3 in Texas after losing to Davenport. They did exactly that and did so in mostly convincing fashion.

The only downer for the weekend for the Cougars was FSU dropping an overtime game to Texas the day after BYU beat them. BYU’s aggressive style is a drain to play against. Playing less than 24 hours after playing BYU doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, and FSU proved it last weekend.

The FSU loss puts a damper on the win quality for BYU, but they still did what they needed to climb back into the top 10.  They boast wins over #15 and #17.  Like Utah, they have a chance to add another Top 25 win against Oregon on Saturday. Though it’s questionable if Oregon holds on to a Top 25 spot if they drop both games.

For what it’s worth, Boston College and BYU are very similar in their resumes. I let RPI break the tie here (BYU #7, BC #10), but they are virtually interchangeable at this point.


Boston College is in a similar boat as Michigan State. No games since the Power Rankings. The PCLL seems to be off to a hot start, and New Hampshire’s upset over Poly on Tuesday may help nudge them into the poll next week.

That’s good news for BC, who needed a bit of a scheduled lift toward the end of the season.

They have wins over #11 and #16. All 3 losses have been to top 5 teams.


Last week I said Concordia would move up or down, but they wouldn’t stay at 10. Whoops.

I was able to watch their game against Chapman (shout-out @TVX Video). This is a good team!

Now, losing a game closely against a good team isn’t a reason to climb, but it’s a fine reason to avoid sliding. #QualityLoss

I wish they had a better schedule, but New Hampshire this weekend will be one to watch for.

After New Hampshire, their next big test will be UCSB in April. Besides those two games, they are left with the SLC tournament to prove themselves.

They have a win over #21 and a loss to #3.

The Next 5

11. Liberty – Liberty is almost identical to Virginia Tech at this point. Both have a ranked win over ASU, both have 2 losses to Top 6 teams.

12. Virginia Tech – I let RPI break the tie with Liberty. Liberty is #15 in DI RPI, Virginia Tech is #28.

13. Georgia- 3 Top 25 wins, 2 losses to Top 6 teams, oh yeah, and that loss to Florida. I think Florida is better than their position in the poll, so I like Georgia here for now.  Without the Flordia loss, I’d have them higher.

14. UCSB – Solid win over Cal. They keep inching up. Big matchup with UNH this week.

15. New Hampshire – When I started my post I had Florida here. I realize the sample size is small, but UNH kicked-off a west coast swing with some pizzaz, defeating a declining Cal Poly by 5. Maybe it’s too early to have them here, but voters will have plenty more information by next Tuesday. They play UCSB and Concordia during their California road trip. Until those games happen, they get a “great-start” benefit of the doubt.

Best of the Rest

Teams Listed in Alphabetical Order

Arizona State




Florida State

Georgia Tech



Teams That Shouldn’t Receive Votes

Texas A&M


San Diego State

Santa Clara

If you want to discuss this post more, head to Twitter! The engagement and discussion will be much more lively there than here. Not sure who to tweet at? Start here!