-- Have you ever watched a game and thought, "That team is way better than the score suggests"? Or the opposite: "Geez, I cannot believe that team is unbeaten."
Of course you have. It's the eternal battle of eye test versus stat sheet, or as we're calling it, man versus metric. ESPN Stats & Information analytics writer Sharon Katz takes a run through some of the more debatable data, and then ESPN senior writer Mark Schlabach offers his take.
Let's just say they agreed to disagree ... but their conversation is engaging, just the same.
Stat sheet says Ohio State most likely to finish unbeaten
Katz: FPI projects there is a 77 percent chance that at least one Power 5 team enters bowl season undefeated, and it pins Ohio State and Clemson, each at 33 percent, as the most likely to run the table. Currently, Ohio State has the slightest edge, less than half a percentage point, over Clemson when it comes to their respective chances to win out. With games against Michigan State and Michigan, the Buckeyes have a tougher remaining schedule than Clemson, but they also have one fewer game, and one fewer chance to lose, than the Tigers. Even when a team has a 90 percent chance to win, it is still expected to lose one out of every 10 times, so the extra game makes a difference. Ohio State's offense appears to be rounding into form, which is a major reason why FPI favors the Buckeyes in all of their remaining games.
Eye test says Clemson playing well enough to run table
Schlabach: I actually think FPI might be right about the Buckeyes and Tigers, but I'd give a slight edge to Clemson in having the best chance to finish unbeaten. The Tigers have looked like the most complete team the past few weeks, and if they can beat Florida State at Death Valley on Nov. 7, I don't see them losing the rest of the way. After hosting the Seminoles, Clemson plays at Syracuse, Wake Forest at home and at South Carolina. Even in a rivalry game, I don't see these Gamecocks putting up much of a fight. The Tigers would also be favored over a Coastal Division champion, whether it's Duke, Pitt or North Carolina, in the ACC championship game. Conversely, I think Ohio State will get a competitive game from the Spartans and Wolverines, and Iowa might still be undefeated and playing with a lot of confidence by the time the Big Ten championship game gets here.
Stat sheet says Gators only slight favorite against Dawgs
Sharon Katz: ESPN's Football Power Index projects that Florida has a 55 percent chance to beat Georgia in Jacksonville, Florida, which means that the game is pretty close to a toss-up. Florida and Georgia are trending in opposite directions; the Gators ranked 21st in preseason FPI and have moved up to 13th, whereas the Bulldogs started fifth and have fallen to 14th. Georgia needed a late field goal to beat Missouri in its last outing and has struggled to replace Nick Chubb, falling from 12th to 26th in offensive efficiency. Although Florida is also missing a key member of its offense in quarterback Will Grier, Treon Harris performed admirably in Florida's loss to LSU. In these types of rivalry games, however, we might want to throw out the computers. The FPI favorite is 6-4 in the past 10 meetings of this rivalry, and Florida had a 21 percent chance to win entering last year's game before running for 418 yards en route to an 18-point victory.
Eye test says Dawgs easy pickings for Gators
Mark Schlabach: Honestly, I'm stunned FPI isn't giving the Gators about an 80 percent chance to win this game. Then again, FPI completely whiffed on this game last season, when the Gators thoroughly embarrassed the Bulldogs. I haven't seen anything from the Bulldogs the past few weeks to make me think they have a decent chance of winning this game. Georgia's offense was in trouble even before Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 38-31 loss at Tennessee on Oct. 10. The Bulldogs can't throw the ball down the field consistently enough to compete with a defense as good as Florida's. Even though Grier is suspended for the rest of this season and part of next, I think Harris is more than capable of getting the job done against Georgia's defense. He might not even have to throw the ball very often if the Gators run the ball like they did last season. The Bulldogs might surprise me, but it would be the first time they've done that in quite a while.
Stat sheet says Sooners one of nation's strongest teams
Katz: After losing to Texas, Oklahoma has won its past two games by a combined 91 points and moved up to second in ESPN's Football Power Index. First, it's worth noting that FPI's main goal is not to rate teams based on their résumés or playoff odds; rather, it is a power ranking designed to correctly predict games and season outcomes. Oklahoma certainly does not deserve a playoff spot at this juncture, but the Sooners are also not a team most want to face, because they can win in a number of ways. Oklahoma is one of two teams that ranks in the top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Last week, the Sooners ran for 405 yards and seven touchdowns after passing for 336 yards and five touchdowns the week before. Defensively, they lead the Big 12 in nearly every statistical category. Every contender has flaws this season, so Oklahoma stands out because of its efficiency on both sides of the ball.
Eye test says Sooners aren't close to being strongest in Big 12
Schlabach: Let me get this straight: I'm supposed to believe that a team that laid a Texas-sized egg in its biggest rivalry game of the season is supposed to be the second-best team in FBS? I'm not even sure the Sooners are the best team in their own state. Sure, Oklahoma has rebounded nicely since losing 24-17 to Texas, which was 1-4 then, in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 10. But let's not get too carried away about the Sooners' past two victories. They blew out a Kansas State team that was playing with its backup quarterback and then ran away from a Texas Tech team that still hasn't figured out how to play defense. I love what quarterback Baker Mayfield is doing in offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's system, and there's no question that tailbacks Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are one of the best one-two punches in the country. However, I'm not ready to say the Sooners are the second-best team in the Big 12 until after they play Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State in November.