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Introduction to the Retrodictive Ratings

"One Game Does Not a Champion Make"

You will notice that in some years the team that won the championship did not have the top spot in my ratings. The statement above says it all - One game does not a champion make. My retrodictive ratings treat every game the same.

The Retrodictive Ratings are a modern solution to rating teams logically based upon the information that is available. I think it is the most logical way to stack the teams. It does not use margin of victory but its predictive version does surprisingly well at predicting game outcomes without considering the margin of victory. The ratings go from the first year (1869) until the present.

Here are some of the problems when there is a lack of information, i.e., the early years:

1869: Since margin of victory is not used, There was no clear winner between Princeton and Rutgers, each winning one game.

1872: Princeton only played Rutgers; Yale only played Columbia. How they compare can only be decided by their opponents' ratings.

1873: Princeton only played Yale. Since that was Yale's only loss, we can only assume that Princeton was better.

1874: Princeton and Yale alone were undefeated. Princeton beat better teams. What can I say?

1875: Same thing as the year before: Harvard and Princeton didn't play each other.

1876: Where do you put Rutgers? They were 1-0 and the team they beat was tied in last place.

1877: Where do you put Tufts? They were 0-3 but lost only to top teams. Three undefeated teams this time.

The Retrodictive Ratings consider all the games in a team's season. They do not give extra weight to bowl games. Thus the national champion does not always finish at the top. Here is a comparison of my Retrodictive Ratings to the actual national champions:

year my ratings national champion
1869 Princeton, Rutgers Princeton
1870 Princeton Princeton
1872 Princeton Princeton
1873 Princeton Princeton
1874 Princeton Yale, Princeton
1875 Harvard Harvard, Princeton
1876 Yale Yale
1877 Yale, Princeton Yale
1878 Princeton Princeton
1879 Princeton Princeton
1880 Princeton, Yale Yale, Princeton
1881 Yale Yale, Princeton
1882 Yale Yale
1883 Yale Yale
1884 Princeton, Yale Yale
1885 Princeton Princeton
1886 Princeton, Yale Yale
1887 Yale Yale
1888 Yale Yale
1889 Princeton Princeton
1890 Harvard Harvard
1891 Yale Yale
1892 Yale Yale
1893 Princeton Princeton
1894 Yale Yale
1895 Penn Penn
1896 Princeton, Lafayette Princeton, Lafayette
1897 Penn Penn
1898 Harvard Harvard
1899 Princeton Harvard
1900 Yale Yale
1901 Harvard Michigan, Harvard
1902 Yale Michigan
1903 Princeton Michigan, Princeton
1904 Penn Michigan, Penn
1905 Chicago Chicago
1906 Wisconsin Princeton, Vanderbilt
1907 Penn Yale, Penn
1908 Chicago Penn, LSU
1909 Yale Yale
1910 Navy Harvard, Pittsburgh
1911 Minnesota Penn State, Princeton
1912 Harvard Harvard, Penn State
1913 Harvard Harvard, Auburn
1914 Illinois Illinois, Army
1915 Cornell Cornell, Nebraska
1916 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
1917 Pittsburgh Georgia Tech
1918 Pittsburgh Michigan, Pittsburgh
1919 Centre Harvard, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
1920 California California
1921 Iowa Iowa, Cornell
1922 Iowa Princeton, California
1923 Illinois Illinois, Michigan
1924 Notre Dame Notre Dame
1925 Alabama Alabama
1926 Alabama, Stanford Alabama, Stanford
1927 Texas A&M Illinois
1928 Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
1929 Notre Dame Notre Dame
1930 Notre Dame Notre Dame
1931 USC USC
1932 USC USC
1933 Princeton Michigan
1934 Minnesota Minnesota
1935 Minnesota Minnesota
1936 Minnesota Minnesota
1937 Santa Clara Pittsburgh
1938 Tennessee TCU
1939 Texas A&M Texas A&M
1940 Minnesota Minnesota
1941 Minnesota Minnesota
1942 Georgia Ohio State
1943 Purdue Notre Dame
1944 Norman NAS Army, Ohio State
1945 Oklahoma State Army, Alabama
1946 Notre Dame, Army Notre Dame
1947 Notre Dame Notre Dame, Michigan
1948 Michigan Michigan
1949 Notre Dame Notre Dame
1950 Princeton Oklahoma
1951 Maryland Tennessee
1952 Georgia Tech Michigan State
1953 Notre Dame Maryland
1954 Ohio State Ohio State, UCLA
1955 Oklahoma Oklahoma
1956 Oklahoma Oklahoma
1957 Auburn Auburn, Ohio State
1958 LSU LSU
1959 Syracuse Syracuse
1960 Iowa Minnesota
1961 Alabama Alabama
1962 Mississippi USC
1963 Texas Texas
1964 Arkansas Alabama
1965 Michigan State Michigan State, Alabama
1966 Michigan State, Notre Dame Notre Dame
1967 USC USC
1968 Ohio State Ohio State
1969 Penn State Texas
1970 Notre Dame Nebraska, Texas
1971 Nebraska Nebraska
1972 USC USC
1973 Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan Notre Dame, Alabama
1974 Oklahoma Oklahoma, USC
1975 Arizona State Oklahoma
1976 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh
1977 Texas Notre Dame
1978 Alabama Alabama, USC
1979 Alabama Alabama
1980 Georgia Georgia
1981 Clemson Clemson
1982 Penn State Penn State
1983 Auburn Miami
1984 Florida BYU
1985 Oklahoma Oklahoma
1986 Penn State Penn State
1987 Miami Miami
1988 Notre Dame Notre Dame
1989 Notre Dame Miami
1990 Colorado Colorado
1991 Miami Miami, Washington
1992 Alabama Alabama
1993 Auburn Florida State
1994 Nebraska Nebraska
1995 Nebraska Nebraska
1996 Florida, Florida State Florida
1997 Nebraska Nebraska, Michigan
1998 Tennessee Tennessee
1999 Florida State Florida State
2000 Oklahoma Oklahoma
2001 Miami Miami
2002 Ohio State Ohio State
2004 USC USC

Thus, the champions line up this way, with the number of accumulated championships:

16 - Princeton; 14 - Yale; 10 1/3 - Notre Dame; 6 - Harvard, Minnesota; 5 1/2 - Alabama; 5 - USC, Oklahoma; 4 - Penn, Pittsburgh, Nebraska; 3 1/3 - Ohio State; 3 - Iowa, Auburn, Penn State, Miami; 2 - Chicago, Texas A&M, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, Texas; 1 1/2 - Michigan State, Florida, Florida State; 1 1/3 - Michigan; 1 - Wisconsin, Navy, Cornell, Centre, California, Santa Clara, Purdue, Norman NAS, Oklahoma State, Maryland, Syracuse, Mississippi, Arkansas, Arizona State, Clemson, Colorado; 1/2 - Rutgers, Lafayette, Stanford, Army

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See how my Retro compares to other polls and systems since 1869 at College Football Data Warehouse

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