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We’re past the midway point of the season in high school football, and the new playoff system is generating standings with OSI replacing the Born Power Index as 60% of the UPR.

But since the Born Power Index continues on its own, we can take a look at all four formulas being used, and compare apples to apples.

So which system is better?  The Born Power Index, the Opponent Strength Index, traditional Power Points (averaged), or the UPR, which combines 60% of a team’s OSI ranking and 40% of a team’s Power Point ranking?

One note:  We still have four weeks of football to play, and a lot can and will change, so making a complete judgement on the current playoff system based on this analysis may or may not be fair.  We’ll reserve judgement ’til after cutoff weekend.

For a detailed look at the teams is provided in the graphic at the top of this story; please download the complete comparison file in .pdf format by clicking here:Playoff Comparison thru Week 4 – North 5, then click on the red link.

Note that in the attached .pdf, playoff teams are in bold, sub-.500 teams in the playoffs are red, above-.500 teams out of the playoffs are green, and .500 teams out of the playoffs are in gold.

Overall, it looks like each system has its pluses and minuses.

Here are the facts, and you can judge if you like.  Feel free to reach out to @MikePavlichko on Twitter.

Top Seed

The Born Power Index puts Ridge as the top team in the section, with a record of 3-1, over 5-0 Union and 4-0 Ridgewood.  Part of that is likely due to Ridge’s strong performance against Phillipsburg, which looks very strong this year.  (The Red Devils lost in double OT.

UPR and OSI put Ridgewood as the top seed, although one might say they had a slightly less difficult schedule than Ridge, but more balanced.  Ridge has played teams with 1, 2, 5, and 4 wins in 4 games, while three of Ridgewood’s opponents have 3 wins, and their fourth opponent has 2.

Going by traditional power points (although not completely traditional, since we’re using an average, and the old method was a total, but an average is more accurate) the top seed would go to West Orange, with a 4-1 record.  This is because of the “multiplier,” as they got 36 power points for losing 50-18 to Don Bosco Prep.

Of note is that there are only two undefeated teams in the section:  Ridgewood and Union.  The Born Power Index ranks Union the highest, in second.  The Farmers rank 4th in UPR, 3rd in OSI and 6th in power points.

Sub-.500s in

Interestingly, the Born Power Index and Power Points get the least number of teams under .500 in the playoffs, each allowing two in.  But those teams are different.

Born admits 2-3 Bridgewater-Raritan and 2-3 Montclair.  In the Born Power Index, Bridgewater is the highest-ranked sub-.500 team, at 7th.  Montclair is 11th.

Power Points admits Hackensack in 10th – also 2-3 – but also Livingston at 1-4 in 15th.  How?  You guessed it:  Livingston got 32 points for losing to Pope John – a “multiplier” – 41-0.  In this case, and as with West Orange above, the multipliers cause a drastically different result.  Montclair also gets in at 16th

UPR allows three sub.-.500 teams in the playoffs, all at 2-3 (Hackensack, Bridgewater and Montclair).  But it also keeps them the lowest of all four formulas:  13th, 14th and 16th.

The same three teams are in using OSI alone, but Bridgewater jumps up to 10th, while Hackensack is 14th and Montclair is 16th.

Above .500 teams left out

All four formulas left the same two above-.500 teams out of the playoffs:  Columbia and Bergen Tech, both at 3-2.  Both have played fairly weak schedules early, and both face tougher teams in the final four weeks of the season.

However, Columbia is much closer in the UPR, OSI and Power Points than in Born.  They rank 25th in the BPI, but are just outside at 17th in the UPR and OSI, and are 19th in traditional power point average.

Bottom line:  its too early to make a judgement call here, and the point may be moot come cutoff weekend.

Teams right at .500

The Born Power Index only left three 2-2 teams on the outside looking in:  Eastside-Paterson, Morristown and Perth Amboy.  The other three formulas also left out Kennedy-Paterson.  All are within 6-8 places of the final playoff spot, so with four games to play, it’s too early to make a judgement call here as well.

But what’s interesting to note are these comparison numbers:

Born Power Index:  2 sub-.500s in, 3 above-.500s left out
UPR, OSI and Power Points:  3 subs in, 4 above left out

Just win, baby

That was the mantra last year in the face of a new playoff formula, and it seems to be the case this year.  Many coaches say they just want to get in the playoffs, and if they’re good enough, they don’t care who they play and where; if they’re the best team, they’ll win a state title.

So, consider these points:

  • Both undefeated teams, Ridgewood (4-0) and Union (5-0) are well into the playoffs.  In the BPI, UPR and OSI, they all rank in the Top 4.  That means they’ll get at least a Top 2 seed in whatever section they land, guaranteeing at least two first round home games through the sectional semifinals.
  • Only one team with more than 2 losses through 5 games cracked the Top 8, which means a first round home game:  Bridgewater is 7th in the Born Power Index, but 14th in UPR, 10th in OSI, and left out using power points.
  • The same three .500 teams are left out of all four formulas:  Eastside, Morristown, and Perth Amboy, all 2-2.  Kennedy (2-2) makes it in the Born Power Index at 14th, but misses in the UPR, OSI and Power Points.

What does it all mean?

The formulas all seem very similar, but have a few differences.

Is Ridge deserving of the top-seed over two undefeated teams?  Does that rely too much on strength of schedule, or just the right amount?

Are multipliers having too much effect on the playoff standings?  Maybe just in power points, but OSI balances that out?

All the formulas allow sub-.500 teams in, and keep above-.500 teams out.  They’re mostly similar, but with the few differences, are they the right teams?  Is UPR best because – while allowing sub-.500s in, it seeds them lowest?

Stay tuned over the next four weeks, and hopefully we’ll have some more clarity, and some answers.