Midseason Check-Up: Biggest Upsets of the Year

What was so nuts that it's still unbelievable?

We're just past the halfway point of the season. Here's some stuff about stuff.

There has been a lot of chatter in the comments lately about the season's biggest upsets so far. Canisius' evisceration of Albany helped cement the notion that some crazy stuff has been going down this year, but the question remained: Which games have had the most mind-bending results at this point in the season?

LaxPower, for years, has been tracking upsets. Those upsets, though, are based on LaxPower's rating systems. It's a good starting point, but I was interested in something else: Using a log5 analysis in a tempo-free environment to determine the season’s biggest upsets. The log5 determination isn't static to the day that the game was played; rather, it's dynamic, accounting for performances before and after the day of the result. This gives perspective as to the nature of the result as teams develop.

Instead of doing a top 10 of upsets, I limited the analysis to games where the winner had less than a 30 percent chance of victory against the favorite. Six games fell into the pool, and the craziest of the bunch -- VMI beating Air Force -- is of little surprise:

TOP SIX UPSETS OF 2014 (SO FAR)
RANK UNDERDOG FAVORITE UNDERDOG LOG5 FAVORITE LOG5 SCORE LAXPOWER UPSET RANK
1. VMI Air Force 13.43% 86.57% 6-4 1.
2. Canisius Albany 15.21% 84.79% 14-10 3.
3. Lafayette Colgate 22.13% 77.87% 8-7 2.
4. Drexel Albany 23.68% 76.32% 14-13 9.
5. Virginia Loyola 27.33% 72.67% 14-13 7.
6. Penn State Notre Dame 28.72% 71.28%. 8-7 5.

Some notes:

  • I still have trouble understanding how VMI beat Air Force in Lexington. I did an entire examination of the game and the result still creates dissonance in my head. I would be shocked if Keydets-Falcons doesn't finish the year as the season's insanest result.
  • Albany appears twice on the list, a scary thought for a team that many considered a dark horse for Championship Weekend this season. Drexel-Albany may fall out of the top six as the season unfolds, but the Great Danes have -- in two spots -- put in less-than-expected efforts against opponents it should have put away. This raises questions as to whether Albany will run through a pretty decent America East without issue.
  • It's easy to look at the names and assume that the result wasn't an upset. But when you look into the nitty gritty of these teams' profiles and how they perform, the delineations as upsets -- regardless of the talent that dots the roster or the team's poll positions -- make sense at the moment. That can be a difficult concept to grasp and it often leads to confusion. A good team beating a great team can serve as a big upset relative to the rest of the country, and that's kind of what Penn State-Notre Dame and Virginia-Loyola were.
  • A handful of games just missed the cut: Bryant over Albany, Providence over Fairfield, and Michigan over Bellarmine. Depending on how the season plays out, these results could become more prominent on the upset scene.
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