Is it okay to lose in Week 1? Since 2005, only 23 teams have lost in Week 1 and finished in the AP Top 25. Overall chance is 6.3%. #CFB
— SportSourceAnalytics (@SportSourceA) August 28, 2014
Helluva stat, right?
On the surface, sure. In reality, not so much.
When you start to look back at good teams that lost in Week 1 in 2012, only two games jump out: 1) When Boise State lost to Michigan State. Obviously, Boise’s run was over. Except … Boise State finished 11-2, ranked 18th and 2) Remember when Michigan was throttled by Alabama that same weekend? The Wolverines also finished the season ranked (24th, 8-5 record).
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In 2011 remember how LSU beat Chip Kelly – Honey Badger’s coming out party? – in week one? Oregon ended up OK – 12-2, 4th in the nation. Also that same weekend Georgia and Mark Richt lost to Boise State, and everyone proclaimed the Bulldogs in the market for a head coach because the team was done. Georgia finished 19th in the nation with a 10-4 record.
The dirty little secret about week one: Nobody plays anybody anymore. You’ll be lucky to get two games between ranked teams every opening weekend. You know who loses in week one? Bad teams. Bad teams playing on the road. Bad teams playing on the road for a paycheck who are double-digit underdogs.
Numbers savant Jason Lisk found some meaningful numbers on ranked teams in week one during that same time period:
* Ranked teams that lost in Week 1 to an unranked team: 6 of 16 ended the season ranked (38%)
* Ranked teams that lost in Week 1 to another ranked team: 9 of 19 ended the season ranked (48%)
* Ranked teams that beat another ranked team: 15 of 19 ended the season ranked (78%)
* Ranked teams that beat an unranked team in Week 1: 111 of 171 ended the season ranked (65%)
OVERALL: 141 OF 225 teams that were ranked in the preseason are still ranked end of season (63%)
How meaningless is the 6% stat? Less than 10% of ALL preseason unranked teams – whether they win or lose in week 1 – are ranked at season’s end.
So Wisconsin and Clemson fans nervous about suffering a season-opening loss Saturday needn’t be worried about a damn thing.
Chill, Steve Spurrier.