Tide making a charge, but Oregon holds onto top spot in UPS Index

Updated: September 30, 2013, 3:11 PM ET
Associated Press

The defending national champions comfortably hold the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll, and now they're making a push for the top spot in the UPS Team Performance Index.

They'll have to leap a couple of Pac-12 powerhouses to get there, though.

Using an advanced proprietary formula featuring offensive yards per play, defensive yards allowed per play, quality of opponent, various special teams statistics and a microindex of miscues that rewards disciplined teams, UPS has teamed with STATS LLC to normalize those numbers across 125 FBS schools.

From there, overall balance is measured across all of a team's individual units, with the final index weighted toward excellence in those areas as well as overall winning percentage.

Alabama (4-0) turned a highly anticipated SEC matchup with then-No. 21 Mississippi into a rout Saturday, winning 25-0 while outgaining the Rebels 434-205 in total yards. That performance shot the Crimson Tide up 10 spots to third in the Index -- behind Oregon and Stanford -- with a total rating of 132.58.

Coach Nick Saban's team has a defensive percentage rating of 103.61 that is the lowest of any squad ranked in the top of 15 of the Index, but he was pleased with how his defense was able to shut down the potentially explosive Mississippi offense.

"Ole Miss has a really good team and a really good offensive team, so for us to shut them out was a great job by the defense," Saban said. "So many players out there played a lot of plays, and they all did a good job."

Alabama's improvement in the Index can also be attributed to playing yet another quality opponent. Its 112.13 opponent efficiency rating ranks third in the nation behind SEC rival Georgia (116.67) and California (112.44).

The Bulldogs (3-1), ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, jumped from 39th to 17th in the Index with an overall rating of 119.45 after beating then-No. 6 LSU 44-41 on Saturday. The Tigers (4-1) slipped from fourth to 10th and have a 125.91 overall rating.

"Right this very minute, our resume looks pretty good," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, whose team's lone loss was a 38-35 setback to now-No. 3 Clemson in the season-opener. "It's not going to be that pretty if we get whipped in the next week or two. If October is a crummy month, then everybody is going to forget about it."

Oregon (4-0), ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, remained atop the Index with a 144.19 overall rating after beating Cal 55-16 on Saturday despite gaining a season-low 381 total yards and committing its first two turnovers of the year. The Ducks had five takeaways, though, and are tied for 10th in the country with 12 forced turnovers to help give them a defensive percentage rating of 130.07 that ranks fifth in the Index.

Their offense ranks third with a 142.05 rating -- and third in the nation at 599.3 total yards per game -- but running back De'Anthony Thomas hurt his right ankle on the opening kickoff against the Bears last week. Backup Byron Marshall rushed for 130 yards and two scores in his place, but Thomas hopes to play Saturday against Colorado.

"I'm feeling great," Thomas told the team's official website after the game. "Just gotta get back, see what's going on and stay positive, keep working hard."

Creeping up behind Oregon in the Index is Stanford (4-0), which routed Washington State 55-17 on Saturday after gaining a season-best 560 total yards. The Cardinal jumped four spots to second with a 133.02 overall rating.

The Pac-12 has three teams in the top six of the Index after Washington (4-0) moved up nine spots from 15th with a 31-13 win over Arizona. Stanford faces the Huskies, who are No. 15 in the AP poll, next week. Washington won last season's matchup 17-13, dealing the Cardinal one of their two defeats.

"Remembering what happened last year is not going to change the way we play next week," Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov said.

While Oregon, Stanford and Washington are representing the conference well, Southern California is not. It dropped 10 spots to 42nd after setting a school record for points allowed in a 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, leading to the firing of coach Lane Kiffin.

"It's an unfortunate day today that a coach got let go, but we understand the circumstances," said Ed Orgeron, who was promoted from assisted head coach to interim coach. "I want to tell you we're here as a staff to answer the bell. We're all accountable for what happened as a staff and as players. Us Trojans know how to do it."

Kiffin's former school, Tennessee (3-2), made the week's biggest jump in the Index. The Volunteers moved up 34 spots to 33rd with a rating of 110.27 after a 31-24 win over South Alabama (2-2), which ranks as the Index's most balanced team with a standard deviation of 0.82 between its offensive, defensive, special teams and miscues ranks.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, however, those unit-by-unit scores are just a touch below the FBS average.

Baylor (3-0), which ranks first in the nation in average yards per game (751.3) and points per game (69.7), moved up four spots to fourth in the Index with an overall rating of 130.22 despite having a bye week. The Bears' 169.15 offensive percentage is by far the best in the nation -- Florida State is second, more than 20 points behind.

Idle Louisville (4-0), which has an overall rating of 129.73, also moved into the Index's top five after jumping two spots. Clemson (4-0) jumped 10 spots to ninth after a 56-7 victory over Wake Forest and has a 126.54 overall rating.

Winless Georgia State, which faces Alabama this week, rounds out the Index with a 60.26 rating.


Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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