The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 27, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Basketball–Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Texas A&MNorthwestern State15.9
Notre DameJacksonville6.4
TexasTexas A&M-Commerce27.6
MarquetteSeton Hall6.9
Texas TechSouth Carolina State28.2

August 20, 2022

PiRate Ratings College Football–Prologue

Welcome to the start of the college football season. It’s officially called “Week 0,” as there are just a handful of games to kickoff the season, but we’ll take real football, even if no marquee teams are playing this week.

Our standard format here is to post the college picks the day after the last game played of each week. Most of the year, that will be Sunday afternoon. Because Week 1 will have a Labor Day game, that week will be Tuesday afternoon.

Then, on Thursdays, we will issue our just for fun picks against the spread. In recent years, almost all of the picks we published were money line parlays going off at better than +120 odds and using every available sportsbook to try to find value. So many of you attempted to play these picks even though we tried 50 ways to encourage you not to do so. We never wager a penny on these picks, because there is no margin of safety involved.

This year, we are going to use just one sportsbook each week, so it would theoretically be possible for many of you to do the wrong thing and give money to these wealthy corporations. Additionally, we are going to emphasize straight picks against the spread and less parlays.

For what it’s worth, in the 22 years that the PiRate Ratings have issued just for fun selections, we had theoretically winning seasons in 16 of those years, 5 losing seasons, and one break-even season.

The PiRate Ratings are part of two large conglomerates of multiple power ratings, basically the NFL of computer ratings.

The Massey Composite Rankings, run by Ken Massey in East Tennessee, combines all the computer rankings into one composite. The website is:

The Prediction Tracker, run by Todd Beck in Illinois, combines all the computer power ratings into a mean spread, median spread, and standard deviation. There are additional stats to predict the chance that the home team wins and the chance that the home team covers. The website is:

The first regular season PiRate Ratings for the 2022 college season will post here on Sunday afternoon, August 21.

The weekly ratings will include the spreads for all games involving an FBS team, divided into FBS vs. FBS games and FBS vs. FCS games. We have three different but similar ratings for games between two FBS teams, while we have just one rating for games between FBS versus FCS teams, because we have to rate the FCS teams differently, and two of our ratings cannot be calculated based on the FCS data.

After the spreads for the week, the next portion of our weekly release is the FBS rankings from 1 to 131, followed by the ratings broken down by conference, and a rating of the conferences.

The final part of the weekly release will include different things depending on the week. In the second half of the season, this will become our bowl and playoff projections.

May 29, 2022

It Starts Again in Two Days

Filed under: College Football — Tags: , , — piratings @ 7:23 pm

The end of May means that college football practices begin in 10 weeks, less for the handful of teams playing in Week 0.

The end of May also means the beginning of the updating process of the PiRate Ratings. With a little bit of conference realignment plus the addition of a new team from FCS to FBS (James Madison), it means a little extra work, but this is the 54th season that the PiRate Ratings have been in existence, and it is really more a way of life than a difficult task.

Beginning Tuesday, May 31, the updating begins with two teams from Conference USA, and two teams will be worked on 7 days a week for close to 10 weeks until all 131 teams have been rated for 2022.

In other news, The PiRate Ratings have a tabletop football game available called PiRate Pro Football. There are currently two sets available: A 1960’s & 70’s salute to the American Football League, and a corresponding 1960’s and 70’s National Football League set. The next set will be a 1970’s and 80’s National Football League set, with preliminary plans to issue our first college football game after the NFL game. To see what the two games in existence look like, visit the site linked below.

June 4, 2020

PiRate Ratings Going Ahead As Planned

Hello to all of our patrons and occasional readers.  The PiRate Ratings are currently going under the preseason compilation for both College and Pro football as if nothing has changed from the past.

Should the season be postponed or other major changes are made, we will do our best to adjust the ratings based on whatever presents itself.

Additionally, we will not participate in any political commentary or make any comments other than mathematical and historical counts.  That means that even though 2020 is an election year, we have chosen to stay out entirely from issuing any electoral vote count predictions and all the House and Senate forecasts.

We want this to be an escape for you to visit to get away from all other outside forces.  We are strongly considering adding a potential tabletop football game like we did several years ago with a “best of” tournament between some of the greatest college football teams of all time, similar to how we did this as a replacement to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, won by the 1968 UCLA Bruins.

Additionally, we are also considering putting a package together where people can send a small payment here, and we will send you the PDF files to print the “best of franchise” NFL and AFL teams between 1960 and 1979 with instructions on how you can cheaply print and have your own tabletop football strategy game to play.  We currently do not have a zip file creator on the PiRate ship.

One more heads up.  WordPress has begun to phase out the original editor, and they may force a new editor to be used, one that is not friendly to pasting tables from our spreadsheet.  If for any reason we find it impossible to paste our spreadsheet tables into this site, we will create a new site and leave the link to that site as the final posting here. Let’s hope we can get through the season without having to make that change.

If all goes according to the norm, expect to see the preseason PiRate College Football Ratings around August 20 and the NFL Football Ratings within hours after the teams make their final cuts the first Saturday in September.


The Captain

January 7, 2020

PiRate College Football Ratings–National Championship Game

Date: Monday, January 13, 2020


Site: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans


Start Time: 8:00 PM EST




TV Options:  ESPN’s Megacast will give viewers multiple options to watch this game:  Check the link below


Our Personal Favorite Option: The Skycast allows the viewer to have a behind the quarterback view.  With this view, the experienced football follower can see all blocking schemes and defensive alignments and techniques as well as the pass patterns run by the receivers and the defensive coverage.  Best of all–No announcers to tell you the obvious.  The Public Address Announcer gives you all the information you need.





LSU Tigers (14-0) vs.

Clemson Tigers (14-0)


Las Vegas Spread:  LSU by 5 1/2 to 6 1/2

Las Vegas Totals: 69 1/2

Best Las Vegas Money Line For Both Teams:

LSU -205 

Clemson +190


The PiRate Ratings


PiRate:  LSU by 1.1

Mean:    LSU by 0.8

Bias:       LSU by 0.1

Predicted Score: LSU 38  Clemson 37


Comparing The Legends In The Making

Joe Burrow vs. Trevor Lawrence





Passer Efficiency



Yards Per Attempt



Adjusted YPA *



Rushing Yds/Attempt




* Adjusted Yards Per Attempt:  [Yards + (20 * TD) – (45 * Int.)] / Attempts

March 12, 2018

Bracketnomics 505 for 2018: First Class


Welcome to the 2018 edition of the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics 505 Course.  Our course is accredited, and when you complete it, you will earn your Bachelor of Madness Degree.  Just remember that it may not be a BS degree, but it is a BM degree, so you may want to think twice before telling others you received it from PiRate U.

Most universities have some type of history that potential enrollees can examine.  That’s to make the school look worthy of consideration.  Our PiRate School of Bracketnomics has been a bit up and down throughout our history.  When we first debuted as an online course, our selections and predictions put us into Ivy League/Cal Tech/MIT status.  We isolated some key points from back-tested data that worked.  Some of the early pointers that helped us pick brackets were things that would appear obvious to most people–scoring margin, rebounding margin, field goal percetage margin, turnover margin, schedule strength, and the ability to win away from one’s home court.

Our big breakthrough that helped us devise our first advanced metric came about when CBS’s Clark Kellogg mentioned that teams with “spurtability” tended to do best in the NCAA Tournament.  What is spurtability?  It is exactly what it sounds like, the ability for a team to go on a scoring spurt.  What we are talking about here is something like 10-0 or 15-4 or 20-8 run.  Next, in the evolution of PiRate Bracketnomics, our Captain began to research what factors contributed the most to big scoring spurts.  He discovered that half-court offenses and half-court defenses that led to one team connecting on a very high percentage of shots while the other team missed a high percentage of shots seldom led to these spurts by themselves.  It was rare for Team A to hit eight out of 10 shots, while Team B hit only one out of ten shots and led to a 16-2 run.  So, what caused the great spurtabilities of the teams?  The Captain discovered that in a large majority of the cases where a team went on a big scoring run in the NCAA Tournament, it was due to dominating rebounding at both ends of the court, forcing turnovers (especially steals) and then getting easy fast break baskets or forcing the opponent to foul.

From this point, the Captain devised what has come to be the most important factor in picking NCAA Tournament winners–the R+T Rating.  After trial and error using different data points, the Captain created a formula that doubled rebounding margin, added turnover margin, and then gave additional weight to steals and the prevention of steals.  The result was an approximation for how many extra scoring chances and points a team might be expected to receive versus the average college team.  If Team A had a R+T rating of 20, and Team B had a R+T rating of 10, then Team A would be expected to score 10 extra points against Team B just from extra scoring opportunities.  Team B could still win if they outshot Team A by a high enough percentage to make up for those 10 points.

A little success swelled the heads of all the PiRates.  We became too big for our tiny ship.  We began to try to perfect our rating by adding additional information.  We thought for a few years that teams that relied on the three-point shot were at a disadvantage against teams that pounded the ball inside, because so many of the tournament games were held in giant stadiums, even domes, and it affected depth perception and made it hard to aim on outside shots.

There was a time when we discounted teams that won games by shooting a lot of foul shots, because the officials did not call as many fouls in the tournament.

The success of the PiRate Ratings Bracketnomics led to some mainstream media sources linking to us, and we saw our readership go up by large multiples, especially between the second week of March and the first week of April.  And, then what happened?  After correctly picking the national champion during Bracket Picking day for three consecutive years; and after picking tiny George Mason to contend for a Final Four spot when Jim Larranaga guided the Patriots to the Final Four; and after picking Duke, Connecticut, and Kentucky to win and hit on another three in a row, the bottom fell out.

Just like the Dosage Index for the Kentucky Derby, the criteria began to lose its effectiveness.  Too many basketball equivalents of Strike The Gold and Real Quiet began winning when the profile predicted they had little or no chance.    While R+T ratings still remained effective, other criteria not used by us began to be more predictive.

The better three-point shooting teams started to win more and more. Watching the Golden State Warriors dominate the NBA and then seeing how almost every NBA team tried to copy them in some way, it became apparent that advanced metrics were changing the game, just like Sabermetrics changed the way general managers built their baseball teams.  The name of the game became three-point shooting and very high percentage two-point shooting.  Defenses that forced opponents to take lower percentage two-point shots became the new basis for determining effectiveness.

There was one other change that greatly affected the college game.  When the shot clock moved from 35 to 30 seconds, it appeared on the surface that it would minimally affect the game by maybe two or three possessions per game.  This was not the case.  Defenses discovered that they could pressure the offense more and more in hopes that they would force a turnover or force the offense to escape the pressure to find a good shot.  Many times, the pressure defense led to a hurried shot by the offense.  Thus, teams that were patient all of a sudden saw their shooting percentages fall when good pressure defenses forced too many hurried shots.  There was also the case where a defense that could keep the ball out of the close two-point range and force three-point shots to be taken a few feet farther back, could stop the patient offenses.  What was the solution to these defenses?  Up-tempo basketball came back in vogue.  Offenses began to try to hurry up their tempo to beat these gambling defenses or to get the preferred close in two-pointer or right behind the line three-pointer before defenses could organize.  The newer up-tempo style of play brought back basketball from 40 years ago.

Once again, the teams that can get up and down the court in a hurry and do so without becoming sloppy in execution have begun to dominate the game.  The patient offenses and non-pressuring defenses have found out that it is really hard to win consistently when the opponent is now finding a way to score 10 more points per game due to their new style of play.

What did we do at the PiRate Ratings to combat our decline in effectiveness?  The PiRates stripped our criteria down back to the basics.  We felt like we were missing the obvious.  Here is what matters when the NCAA Tournament begins play.

1. True Shooting Percentage Margin

2. R+T Rating

3. Schedule Strength

These three basic principles make up an overwhelming majority of how we will select our brackets when we release them Tuesday afternoon.
1. True Shooting Percentage Margin:  this is the difference between a team’s offensive true shooting percentage and defensive true shooting percentage.For college basketball, true shooting percentage is:


Don’t let this stat look intimidating.  We would never force you our patron that we love so much to have to figure the offensive and defensive percentages for 68 teams.  Do you know how long it takes to go to 68 different official athletic sites to get this information?  We do!  We have already calculated this informaton.


2. R+T Rating:  We hope most of you reading this today have some familiarity with our R+T Rating.

The formula for R+T is:

(R * 2) + (S * .5) + (6 – Opp. S) + T

R = rebounding margin; S = Steals per game; and T= Turnover margin

3. Schedule Strength:  It is obvious that a team could compile some very lofty True Shooting Percentages and R+T ratings playing the weakest 30 teams in the nation, while another team could compile some really awful stats playing the top 30 teams in the nation.  The first two data points must be weighted with the strength of schedule, and there is the rub.  How much do we adjust the data from True Shooting Percentage Margin and R+T Rating to factor in schedule strength?  We think we have the answer.  Based on the fact that a certain schedule strength number has held consistent as the floor among past Final Four teams, we believe we know the cut-off points that will allow us to interpolate the winners of each round.  Obviously, it is not an exact science, but hey, nobody has ever picked a perfect bracket, and we hear that the chances are better than somebody can win the Power Ball and Mega Millions jackpots in the same week than picking a perfect bracket.
The PiRates will reveal our entire bracket Tuesday afternoon.  And, after each round, we will then post an updated bracket for those people that play in contests where you can pick the winners round-by-round.

Additionally, we will issue our regular PiRate Ratings spreads for each tournament game.
We hope you return Tuesday after 12 Noon EDT to see what we believe will be an exciting and informative Bracketnomics 505 course.  Yes, you can earn your BM degree!

November 15, 2017

Making College Football Even Better

This is our annual and somewhat repetitive treatise dealing with how to improve the college football game as it pertains to the current status.

College football is thriving since the advent of the 4-team playoff.  Unfortunately, those in charge made a little mistake in previous years when they scheduled semifinal bowls for the PM hours of New Year’s Eve.  Numerous fans across the nation chose (in some cases it was chosen for them by a significant other), to attend other festivities.  The semifinal games belong on New Year’s Day, which is the slot Americans have associated with bowl games for decades.  The ultimate college football experience starts with celebrating the birth of the new year while camping out on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena with hundreds if not thousands of potentially new friends; then watching the most magnificent two hours of the Tournament of Roses Parade, contemplating how much work has gone into the planning of this event (it actually begins on January 2nd every year), and then realizing that the bands will march and play their instruments for 5 1/2 miles.

One of the neat things to do if you have been to multiple Rose Parades is to stake out a spot on Paloma at the end of the route and then to be the first to view the floats as they go on display near Victory Park.

The culmination of a fantastic event should be the Rose Bowl Game, which should not be played on any other date but New Year’s Day at 3PM PST (Jan. 2 if the first is on a Sunday).

That being said, there are a few other changes that we believe will take a great game and shoot it into orbit.

ISSUE 1–The Playoffs (8 is not enough)

The Playoffs need more teams, so that all Power 5 Conference champions get an automatic bid.  How would you feel if the Pittsburgh Steelers won the AFC North and then did not have the opportunity to appear in the NFL Playoffs?  Or what if the Houston Astros would have been cut out of the Major League playoffs because Cleveland had a better resume this year?

Here’s how the PiRates see it at the present time.  We are unanimously in favor of giving all five Power Conference champions an automatic invitation to the gridiron dance, while at the same time, we believe the top four teams should receive a reward.  One method could be that the top four would host the next four in an 8-team tournament, but to us that is not enough reward for the top four teams.  Also, there are going to be years were the number 9 team is as good as the number 4 team, and instead of arguing that number 4 should not have been selected, as number 9 was just as deserving, why not extend it out by a half round?  12 is the perfect number of playoff teams.  Most importantly, a 12-team tournament gives the top four teams a bye to the quarterfinals, and they can still host a quarterfinal round game on their home turf.  That is the proper reward for finishing in the top four.

Additionally, a 12-team tournament gives the Group of 5 conferences a chance.  Guarantee that one of the 12 spots goes to the top Group of 5, just like it receives a New Year’s 6 Bowl bid now.  If Central Florida runs the table this year, rather than receive the last slot in the NY6, at least they could be the #12 seed in a 12-team playoff.  If they really are deserving, then they can prove it by taking out the #5 seed in a road contest.

With 5 Power Conference teams and one Group of 5 Conference team receiving automating bids, it leaves six at-large bids.  In our opinion, these six at-large teams should cover the bases for finding teams worthy of playing for all the marbles.  You are talking about teams ranked around #10 overall at this point.  The #10 vs. #11 team is much less important than the #5 and #4 team competing for a spot.

If we were to look at this season, playing out the remaining games for our purposes in this editorial, the playoffs might look something like this:

ACC Champion–Miami

Big 12 Champion–Oklahoma

Big Ten Champion–Wisconsin

Pac-12 Champion–USC

SEC Champion–Alabama

Best Group of 5–Central Florida

At large 1–Georgia

At large 2–Clemson

At large 3–Ohio St.

At large 4–TCU

At large 5–Penn St.

At large 6–Notre Dame

Top teams left out–Washington, Auburn, Michigan St., Boise St., Memphis, Oklahoma St., and LSU

At the present time, Wisconsin would be left out of the Playoff, even though the Badgers are undefeated.  This would be a travesty if a 13-0 UW team failed to make the playoffs while a 2-loss team sneaked in ahead of the Badgers.  Under our format, none of the teams left out would have any legitimate reason to state a case that they deserved to be in, because in actuality the last two seeds probably should not be in the tournament at all.  However, this actually serves a useful purpose.  If seeds 10, 11, and 12 are not all that worthy of being in the playoffs, then their first round hosts (seeds 5, 6, and 7) get a little benefit that seed 8 does not receive.

Seeding the 12 teams above, you would get something like this:

Opening Round

#12 Central Florida at #5 Georgia

#11 Notre Dame at #6 Clemson

#10 USC at #7 Ohio St.

#9 Penn St. at #8 TCU

Quarterfinal Round

UCF-Ga. Winner at #4 Wisconsin

N. Dame-Clemson Winner at #3 Oklahoma

USC-Ohio St. Winner at #2 Miami

Penn St.-TCU Winner at #1 Alabama

From here the playoffs would be back to where they are now–two bowl games for the Semifinals, followed by the National Championship Game.


ISSUE 2–The Games are Toooooooo Lonnnnnng

The NFL realized a few years back that their once 2 1/2 hour games had jumped by an hour, because players believed in going out of bounds rather than absorb contact by a quickly moving 300-pound wall of steel.  They began starting the clock after the ball was brought back in bounds by the side judge or line judge.  Thus, the number of scrimmage plays returned to about where it had been for decades, in the 120-130 per game neighborhood.

College football used to see anywhere from 110 to 150 scrimmage plays per game.  Today, one team might run 100 plays, while the other gets 75, and the game becomes the football version of War and Peace.  The game needs to get to a point where 120-150 plays is the average range.  There is one definite way to make the clock move more than it does today–end the stoppage of the clock on first downs.  The NFL does just fine without the clock stopping on first downs.  The sideline official simply places his lead foot on the spot where the scrimmage stick needs to go, and he keeps it there until the man holding the stick arrives, which is almost always before the ball is snapped for the next play.

If you keep the clock moving after a play results in a first down during a typical college football game today, you are not stopping the clock about 45 times per game.  On games where there are fewer first downs, the clock will keep running any way, so this will basically just keep your 1,000 total yard games under 4 hours, while doing little to the 500 total yard games.

ISSUE 3–We Want Real Overtime

The current mode of college overtime can take a hard fought, defensive gem 13-13 tie at the end of regulation and turn it into a 43-41 4OT game that looks like nobody played a lick of defense.

College overtime should start with one team kicking off to the other, and with a touchdown needed on the first drive in order to end the game without the kicking team getting the ball, just like in the NFL.  Play 10 or 15 minutes, and if the teams are still tied, then let it be a tie game.  Tie games can be just as important as wins and losses.  In today’s world of computer technology, a tie game will not throw a monkey wrench into the works.  Here’s a little secret for you: When the PiRates adjust our ratings after every college football game, we adjust all overtime games back to the tie score at the end of regulation and throw out what happens in overtime, with the exception of factoring in the possibilities of key players being injured and if it could deflate the loser in the future.  What goes on in the current overtime does not tell us anything important.  We need to know how teams perform on both sides of the ball on a 100-yard field and not a 25-yard field.  In actuality, it makes the game a different sport entirely.  How would you like a college basketball overtime only played in the half-court with each team getting a possession per overtime?  That is not real basketball either.

ISSUE 4: A Wet Turf Should Never Be Credited With a Tackle

How many times have you seen a player make a brilliant move to get open in the clear only to slip on wet turf or dive to make a play and then cannot advance the ball, even though no defender has participated in the play?  The NFL totally gets this issue.  A player should not be considered tackle, unless a defender is responsible for downing him or has made contact with him while he is on the ground.  Watching a receiver embarrass a defender, make a brilliant highlight-film catch, and then have to settle for a 6-yard gain, when he could get up and run for 25 yards robs not only the player and his team, but also the fans who want to see action.  When that player dives for the ball and makes the catch today, the turf gets the tackle.  Only vegetation can be happy about that.

ISSUE 5: Pass Interference Should Never Be Allowed to Become a Defensive Strategy

In the early 1980’s, the college football world changed defensive pass interference penalties to a maximum of 15 yards and an automatic first down.  In today’s game, there are times when it is beneficial to clobber a receiver and give up the 15 yards and first down rather than give up the 30-yard pass completion or the touchdown catch.  With less than a minute to go in the game when one team needs only a touchdown to win, but they must go 80 yards, every time the offensive team throws at an attempt to gain more than 35 yards, it is wise to merely clobber the receiver if there is any chance the ball will be caught.  You give up 15 yards and a first down, but now the receiver is hearing footsteps.  The next pass may find him not really extending his arms out to try to catch the pass, knowing that the defender can perform as much unnecessary roughness on him and only suffer the interference penalty.

The right thing to do is to restore pass interference penalties back to awarding the offense a first down at the spot of the foul, just like it has remained in the NFL.  Now, if a team interferes on a Hail Mary pass in the end zone, the offense gets the ball at the opponent’s one yard line, and gets another play, even if the clock shows 0:00.  Pass interference should never be allowed to become a strategy.  It is the equivalent of a flagrant foul in basketball on a breakaway drive to the hoop.


August 26, 2014

Special Bulletin!

Filed under: 1 — Tags: , , , , , , — piratings @ 7:36 am

Due to issues beyond our control, namely WordPress choosing to make it difficult to paste tabular data from Microsoft Excel, the PiRate Ratings will no longer publish their weekly ratings to this site.


Please visit our webpage at:


January 1, 2014

PiRate Ratings Computer Simulated College Football Playoffs–Semifinals

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — piratings @ 11:11 am

1. This is a 12-team tournament, using bowls for the first two rounds to get from 12 to 8 to 4.


2. The champions of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, and Pac-12 received automatic bids.


3. The champions of the AAC, CUSA, MAC, MWC, and Sunbelt received automatic bids if any finished in the top 16 of the RPI rankings, which replaced the BCS and has mathematical values that multiple mathematicians can determine and cannot be finagled in any way by football politicians in a back room.  For this experiment, we used an average of the top college ratings, including the PiRate Ratings.


4. We then selected the two to seven highest RPI-ranked teams (to fill the bracket at 12 total) not automatically selected and gave them berths in the tournament.


5. We then seeded the teams by RPI ranking from 1-12.  The top 4 teams received a first round bye as a reward for being one of the top four, while seeds 5-12 faced off in the first round.


This year, there were six automatic qualifiers and six at-large selections.  Florida St., Baylor, Michigan St., Auburn, and Stanford satisfy the #2 criteria above, whereas Central Florida satisfies #3.  The six at-large teams are: Alabama, Missouri, Ohio St., South Carolina, Oregon, and Oklahoma.


If this were next year, there would be a gross miscarriage of justice to the teams that are not number four.  Florida St., Auburn, and Alabama would definitely be three of the teams chosen.  Baylor, Michigan St., Stanford, Ohio St., Missouri, South Carolina, and Oregon would all have reason to be that fourth team, and only one of this seven would be chosen.  Now, the first team out is Clemson, not quite as deserving as any of the seven above, all of whom now make the 12-team tournament.


For this computer simulation, games were simulated on a simulator located on a major university campus.


Here are the teams, seeded 1-12


1. Florida St.

2. Auburn

3. Alabama

4. Stanford

5. Michigan St.

6. Missouri

7. Ohio St.

8. South Carolina

9. Baylor

10. Oregon

11. Oklahoma

12. Central Florida


The top four seeds received first round byes, while teams 5-12 played at neutral site bowls in round one.


In the first round, which can be viewed at:


South Carolina, Oregon, Missouri, and Michigan St. advanced to the quarterfinal round.


In the quarterfinal round, which can be viewed at:


South Carolina upset Florida St., Stanford defeated Michigan St., Oregon upset Auburn, and Missouri upset Alabama to make this the first time in the PiRate Simulation history that a top-3 seed did not make the semifinal round.


Here are your Final Four Match-ups that were simulated yesterday:


#4 Stanford vs. #8 South Carolina

#6 Missouri vs. #10 Oregon


Game 1: #4 Stanford vs. #8 South Carolina


Winner: Stanford 17  South Carolina 13




S Car


























































S Car








Game 2: #6 Missouri vs. #10 Oregon


Winner: Oregon 48  Missouri 35





































































Simper Bowl VII is now set. 


#4 Stanford vs. #10 Oregon


The Ducks will be trying to threepeat as Simper Bowl Champions.


Here are the results of the first six Simper Bowls


Simper Bowl I—January 2008: USC 38  Oklahoma 24

Simper Bowl II—January 2009: USC 27  Florida 23

Simper Bowl III—January 2010: Boise St. 39  TCU 37

Simper Bowl IV—January 2011: Ohio St. 27  Wisconsin 21

Simper Bowl V—January 2012: Oregon 38  Wisconsin 30

Simper Bowl VI—January 2013: Oregon 34  Alabama 24

September 10, 2013

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers

Every year, we receive a couple dozen questions from the readers, and we do not always have time to reply to each one.  Since June, and especially since August 29, we have received some excellent questions and comments that will be shown today.  For future reference, drop us a line at: pirate_ratings at live dot com.  When we get enough to answer, we will respond with another one of these segments.


1. How do you calculate your ratings?  Is this something anybody could do if they had your equations?


Answer: This is a tough one to answer.  Our ratings are not 100% mathematical formulae.  A mathematical formula is used for the base, but the data inputted is not cut and dry.  Whereas many other ratings take the scores of games and the strengths of schedules to make a least squares or least error rating where the scores and schedule strengths fit the best pattern, our ratings try to interpret these scores before running this data.


For instance, let us take a game between Oregon and Idaho.  The rating may state that Oregon should win by 77 points.  If they lead 42-0 with six minutes left in the second quarter and then coast to a 66-0 win, while playing the scout team the final quarter, should we really state that the Ducks performed 11 points below par and should be penalized in their next rating?  The Ducks could have won 112-0 without emptying the bench.  We look at how the score was made and not just the score.


In another instance, let’s say the final score of a game was 28 to 14.  There are so many different ways to interpret this 14 point win.  It could have been 21-14 with seconds remaining in the game and with the trailing team knocking at the door to tie it up and force overtime.  Let’s say the trailing team threw a pass in the end zone, and the ball went through the receivers’ hands and hit his shoulder pad.  The ball went flying through the air.  Had it flown left, another receiver would have easily caught the ball for a touchdown.  However, it flew right, into the hands of the strong safety, who caught it and ran 106 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-14 instead of 21-21.  The direction of the deflection cannot be counted as 14 points.  No one play is worth that.


What if this 28-14 game was 28-0 with six minutes to go, and the scrubs scored a touchdown to cut it to 28-7, and then the leading team’s scrubs fumbled and gave up another touchdown with now four minutes to go.  The leading team then put their starters back in and drove from their 25 to the opposing 5 yard line before running out the clock.  This game could have been 42-0 if not for the reserves.  In a close game, those reserves will have little input in a future game.


2. What are the differences in your three ratings—PiRate, Mean, and Bias?


Answer: Okay, this one can be different depending on the year in question.  The PiRate Regular ratings stay the same every year.  They have not deviated since the advent of the Internet making statistical research so easy.


The Mean and Bias ratings have been tinkered with over the last 10 years.  In fact, the Mean rating has changed since 2011.  We perform 14 different calculations to start each season.  We look at returning lettermen and starters.  Each player at a positiong has a certain value, so that a returning starting left tackle earns the same points for Oregon and Alabama as it does for Georgia State and South Alabama.  This data is looked at many ways.  In one system, we may give more emphasis to the quarterback and wide receivers than in another system.  Our favorite calculation actually gives more weight to the interior lines than any of the skill positions.


After we calculate all the ratings, we adjust the previous year’s final rating for each team by the change in personnel entering this year.  For the PiRate regular rating, we take the 5 calculations that have always been used.  For the Mean rating, we take the 14 calculations and take the average rating.  For the Bias rating, we take the original 5 calculations and weight them a little differently.  Two of the calculations count 30% each; a third calculation counts 20%; and the other two count 10% each.  Thus, the PiRate Regular and Bias ratings will begin the season differing very little.


Additionally, each of the three ratings have a unique updating formula.  The PiRate Regular rating has the most conservative update and will not vary as much as the other two.  The Bias Rating has a more liberal update, and it will be more like the betting public and emphasize the most recent game over all others.  The Mean rating will usually have a smaller spread believing that the most recent game is part of a larger trend, but oftentimes overemphasized.  Thus, the Mean rating will frequently differ in the predicted winner when compared with the other two.  This is great for our purposes, for when the three ratings agree in a similar point-range, we believe this game is less uncertain than the average game.  In fact, over the last few years, when the three ratings take the same side of a selection, and the difference is two points or more on all three ratings, that selection has been the correct side about 62% of the time.  At 62%, you can get rich slowly if you have the courage to believe it will continue.  Of course, that 62% has a rather high standard deviation.  One year, the accuracy was just 46.4%.  One year, it was 73.1%.  One year, the number of plays this system generated exceeded 240 for the season, while just a couple years ago, there were only 97 plays for the season (which happened to be the 73.1% year at 68-25-4).


3. You once said that strength of schedule did not count for much in your system.  How can you be accurate then?


Answer: This statement is somewhat true, but let us explain what we mean.  We believe that the strength of a team lies in its talent, its teamwork, its coaching, and its commitment to win.  The schedule does not indicate how good a team may or may not be.  It may be how the rankings and BCS standings are determined, but we do not issue ratings to try to pick how the teams will be ranked or even which teams will play in the National Championship Game.  We want to rate the teams from best to worst and only care to compare which teams are actually better than others and by how many points.


Here is why strength of schedule is useless to us.  Let’s say that my friend the high school coach has just been hired at Old Dominion as the Monarchs move to FBS status.  In the first three years there, he successfully recruits the next Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Anthony Gonzalez, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Iupati, Andy Levitre, Ryan Clady, and Joe Staley to start on offense.  On defense, he signs Geno Atkins, Vince Wilfork, J.J. Watt, Julius Peppers, Patrick Willis, Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, Darrelle Revis, Charles Tillman, Earl Thomas, and Eric Berry to start on defense.


Without a doubt, no team in college football could equal talent like this.  Not only are these guys obvious first team all-Americans, every one is a future first team All-NFL.  Even Alabama could not compete against this team.


Now, this ODU team’s schedule is: Georgia State, Charlotte, Appalachian St., Louisiana-Monroe, Massachusetts, Troy, South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas St., Georgia Southern, Texas St., and Army.  There is no doubt that they will go 12-0 and outscore this dozen by about 500-700 points.  Yet, the strength of schedule may rank this team around #20.  If this were this season, they would not even compete for an at-large BCS Bowl Bid, and they would have to settle for something like the New Orleans or Military Bowl.


This has been the case in the past.  In 1970, Arizona State had the best team in the nation.  They did not get a chance to play in a big bowl and had to settle for the Peach, where they won handily.  Nebraska was two touchdowns weaker in 1970 than they would be in 1971, and the Sun Devils had the better team in 1970, when they ran the table and proved unstoppable on offense.


In 1969, Penn State was probably a little better than Texas.  The Longhorns’ new Wishbone offense proved to be an excellent weapon, but by the end of the season, teams had figured out how to slow it down.  Only a miracle comeback even got UT to the Cotton Bowl, and then in the Cotton Bowl, they had trouble with a very good but not great Notre Dame team.  Meanwhile, Penn State had perhaps the best college defense in the last eight years.  This defense and the special teams actually scored or set up the score for more points than they gave up.  Additionally, it was a team that went 11-0 for the second consecutive season and would place a host of players in the NFL.  How strong was that Penn St. team?  Their second and third running options were Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell, two future NFL stars.  Their quarterback, Chuck Burkhart NEVER lost a game where he was the starting QB—that includes college, high school, and junior high—undefeated for life!


The end of the BCS era does not signal the end of this travesty.  Still, big name schools with gaudy schedules will beat out other schools for one of the four playoff berths.  There should be no selection of playoff berths.  There should be set guidelines that allow each team to qualify for a berth by winning on the field just like the NFL.  The last several Super Bowl Champs might never have been in the playoffs to begin with if they had to be selected as one of the top four teams.   Baltimore would have been left out last year.  The Green Bay Packers and New York Giants would not have qualified when they won their most recent Super Bowls.  It is our opinion, that this tournament needs to be eight-deep with each of the eight teams qualifying by winning on the field and clinching a spot based only on games played and never on human selection.


5. You used to report for Vanderbilt, and you stated that you married into a University of Wisconsin and Green Bay Packer family.  How do we know that you do not fudge on these teams and rate them higher than they deserve?


Answer: You are confusing ranking and rating.  Ranking might bring into play human partiality, but we are trying to rate teams based on how this rating can be used to select against the spread.  We would be quite happy for these three teams to win every week, but what most excites us is picking all the winners against the spread.  So, our love of being accurate is really all that matters.  We have no influence over the rankings, so it really matters not which teams we cheer for.  And, to tell you the truth, some of us root for different teams.  And, we are not fanatical fans.  Our founder has cultivated friendships with athletic officials at numerous schools including those at the University of Tennessee, the University of Minnesota, and personnel with the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns.  He never roots against anybody.  His love of the game is what keeps his interest going, and as a long-time coach in football and basketball, his first love is watching teams practice.  As most long-time coaches will agree, they miss the practices when they retire.  They don’t really miss the games, the schmoozing with alumni, the media, etc.


6. What happened to your Computer Simulations?

Answer: We regret to say that we lost access to the college campus computer that allowed us to run these simulations.  So, unless this changes, we will not be able to offer this service in the future.


7. I want to make my own ratings.  Can you offer help?

Answer: This is one we get a lot.  If you want to make your own ratings, do what we did when we started out in 1969.  Begin with your own personal belief about each team.  Begin with each conference and rank the teams within the conference.  Then, take the best teams in each conference and rank against each other.  It should look something like it looked for our founder in October 1969:


Southwest Conference:

Arkansas 0, Texas -1, Texas Tech -27, TCU -29, SMU -30, Texas A&M -30, Rice -34, Baylor -41.


He did this for every conference as well as the numerous independents, which he had broken down into four regions since there were so many then.


At the time, Ohio St. was number one overall.  They received the top rating at 120, or 20 points better than the average team and about 40 points better than the typical weak team.  He had Arkansas as the third best of the teams, about 3 points weaker than Ohio St.  Thus for the SWC, the teams had these ratings:


Arkansas 117, Texas 116, Texas Tech, 90, TCU 88. SMU 87, Texas A&M 87, Rice 83, and Baylor 76.


At the time, he gave every team with a large stadium 4 points home field advantage, every team with an average stadium 3 points, and every team with a small stadium 2 points.


After each game, he raised or lowered the rating from 1 to 6 points based on the outcome of the game, or left it the same.  Whatever he gave to one team, he took the opposite away from the other.  It was crude, but he was 9 years old.   

8. Have you ever considered using more colors in your blog?

Answer: That was a great suggestion, and we took your advice this summer and began using team colors.

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