Blog Entry

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:26 am
Most of the comments on this week's bowl picks, besides questioning merely having Michigan in the BCS (one more loss and all this is moot), question why the Wolverines get in ahead of Oklahoma State, which would unquestionably be the higher ranked team.  To understand that, you have to understand the BCS bowl selection process.

You also have to understand what bowls are looking for when creating their matchups.  They want the best possible game they can get, and bowls measure that primarily in terms of ticket sales and TV viewers.  Things like rankings, records and conference standings are secondary considerations at best.  That's why there are so many bowl selection rules, like the one that automatically qualifies the highest-rated non-AQ team for the BCS, or the ACC rule that protects a team from being skipped over by a bowl for another team that won more than one fewer conference games.  If bowls could be trusted to go in conference standing/ranking order, those rules wouldn't be necessary.

The BCS has ten spots.  Six are reserved for the AQ conference champions.  In my projection, those are:

Clemson (ACC), Cincinnati (Big East), Wisconsin (Big Ten), Oklahoma (Big 12), Stanford (Pac-12), LSU (SEC).

There are also four at-large spots, but two teams automatically qualify for those in my projection:

Alabama, as the highest-rated AQ non-champion, ranked in the top four.
Boise State, as the highest-rated non-AQ conference champion, ranked in the top 12.

That only leaves two spots open.  The rest of my at-large pool contains:

Arkansas, Georgia, Houston, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Virginia Tech.

Note that with LSU and Alabama automatically qualified for the BCS and a two-team limit per conference, Arkansas and Georgia cannot be chosen.

The first thing that happens is that the top two teams go into the title game, and the other contracted conference champions get put in their bowls.  So, we start with:

Title game: LSU vs Stanford
Rose: Wisconsin vs ?
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs ?
Sugar: ? vs ?
Orange: Clemson vs ?

The next step is that the bowls that lost conference champions to the title game get to choose replacement.  They always choose teams from their conference tie-in if one is available.  The Sugar chooses first because it lost the No. 1 team, and takes Alabama.  The Rose picks Oregon to replace Stanford.  Now, we have:

Title game: LSU vs Stanford
Rose: Wisconsin vs Oregon
Fiesta: Oklahoma vs ?
Sugar: Alabama vs ?
Orange: Clemson vs ?

Boise State and Cincinnati still have to go somewhere, so only one at-large spot is open.

The Fiesta gets the first choice of selections for its game in this year's rotation, followed by the Sugar and Orange.  The Fiesta can chose from Boise State, Cincinnati, Houston, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech.

Michigan blows all of those other teams out of the water in terms of fan base and marquee value.  Not even close.  Also, Michigan's fan base would not be jaded by a recent run of success, as sometimes happens with other schools. 

However, two other choices would be much higher ranked:

Oklahoma State isn't a good choice because conference mate Oklahoma is already there.
Boise State would be OK, but the Fiesta has had the Broncos both times it has been in the BCS (including one memorable meeting with the Sooners), and would probably prefer to leave them for someone else.

So, while the Fiesta might go with Boise, but I think the allure of Michigan will be too good to pass up.

The Sugar gets the next pick, and with only Boise or Cincinnati to choose from, the Broncos are an easy choice.  The Bearcats end up in the Orange, and Oklahoma State and its 11-1 record drop out.

Them's the breaks.  Note that if either of the other bowls had first choice instead of the Fiesta, Oklahoma State would almost certainly be that choice.  Also, if the Fiesta did decide to choose Boise, OSU would almost certainly end up in the Sugar.

Since: Nov 3, 2006
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:29 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Thanks, Jerry, for the explanation.  Most of us know these 'bowl rules' but, in our passions, do not take the time to do the math.  I disagree a little with your expectations:  I expect that Oregon will defeat Stanford;  There is a good chance, then, that USC will defeat Oregon.  I expect that OU will beat Oklahoma State (Dec. 3) and possibly jump to BCS #2 because of the Stanford loss and the high computer and polls jump with the SOS of the OU win.
Also an outside chance of OU falling to Ok State but still being invited to the Sugar.  Most people, even some OU haters, realize that Oklahoma is still one of the strongest teams in the nation.
I also would expect that Michigan isn't going to travel well to the Arizona desert and Boise, even though from a small state, would create a more nationally interesting TV game in the Fiesta.  I also expect that BSU fans would travel pretty darn  well to Arizona because of their history there.
As these things unfold I will keep reading your projections and 'cold calculations' for the bowls and I do appreciate this service being available.
Post script: Watch the TCU game, this weekend.  They are a real good team, this year, and play the kind of football that could upset BSU.  I suspect that TCU is the last team that might be able to do that, this year.

Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:28 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

michigan state would have to lose 2 more and neb would have to lose to mich and beat iowa.mich has to play osu and neb they will lose one of those.and msu has prob one tough game left unless they play like they did agenst min

Since: May 21, 2011
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:23 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Michigan WONT PLAY in the B1G championship game UNLESS MSU losses 2 of their next 3 games against Iowa, Indiana, and Northwestern.  Quick people, what are the chances that happens?  If that happens AND Michigan wins out, Michigan has a chance to play in the B1G championship game.  Now if MSU wins out as does Michigan, Michigan is a 10-2 team just like MSU and MSU goes to the B1G championship game to play whoever comes out of PSU, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  A 10-2 Michigan team will be in the top 14 in the BCS standings.  

The chances of Michigan playing in the B1G championship game is almost zero, but that might be a good thing for them.  The key for Michigan is winning out, if they do can you knock a team that found a way to go 10-2 with a new coach?  I'm not saying that Michigan is going to pull this off, but if they do...what is wrong with that.  

I have seen alot of people say they are certain Michigan will lose again, but I am sure that NO ONE thought that OU was going to lose to Texas Tech at home.  This is college football, its a goofy thing and goofy things happen.  There is a chance that Michigan could pull it off.  Sure, alot of things need to happen, but there are a number of games that could still mess this all up.  What happens if Oregon beats Stanford and then loses to Oregon St.  How bout if Arkansas beats LSU or Georgia wins the SEC championship game.  So many things could happen still.  Last year Boise was a shoe in for a BCS game until Nevada beat them.  Anything can happen still so if a few teams lose and Michigan wins out (its possible, you cant deny it) Michigan can find itself in a BCS game.   

Since: Oct 27, 2010
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:22 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

this retard is the stupidest person i have ever seen.mich has 2 big 10 losses. michigan state would have to lose 3 more games for michigan to even go to the big 10 champinchip?palm has no idea how to make picks.being a msu fan i think osu will beat state in the big 10 champ game and then osu will be in rose and state in suger.

Since: Mar 1, 2009
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:20 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Yet you are predicting that Wisconsin will beat Michigan in the Big 10 conference championship game? Wouldn't that count as "one more loss"?
<script type="text/javascript"></script> <form action="" method="post">Not necessarily because even if Michigan wins out and finishes at 6-2 in conference they may not be in the Conference Championship. They have lost to MSU and Iowa. So if Mich wins out then Neb has 3 losses. But UM loses any tiebreaker with MSU and IA and wouldn't play for Rose bowl. The only likely way UM plays for Rose Bowl is if it wins division outright. So Ia would have to beat MSU and lose to NEB and MSU would have to lose to IA and also lose to IND or NU. That would put NEB MSU and IA all with 3 losses and UM winning out at 2 conference losses.

But if UM finishes in a 3 way tie or even a 4 way tie with MSU, IA, and/or Neb it porbably loses the tie-breaker and doesn't play in the conf championship.  Since he has Wisconsin winning that game you add another loss for MSU or Iowa ore Neb.  In a 3 way tie  with UM winning out (6-2 conf) Neb has to have lost to UM and IA has to beat MSU and Neb. So if all 3 have two losses IA wins the tie-breaker.

In a 2 way tie with UM at 6-2 (conf) it loses the tie breaker with either IA or MSU.

In a 4 way tie at 5-3 Neb and IA would be 2-1 head to head and MSU and UM would be 1-2--- Assumes UM beats NEB but loses to ILL or OU and IA beats MSU and loses to Neb. and MSU loses to NU as well.


Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:18 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

So you have Michigan winning out yet not going to the Rose Bowl.  Very interesting.  Absolutely impossible but still interesting.

Wrong face.  MICH ST has only 1 loss and they will make the BIG CG if they win out over IOWA, IN and NW.  MICH has 2 losses and MICH ST has to lose 2 of these games for MICH to play in the BIG CG.

hamil has it right.  Even if MICH wins out, it may get them to the top 14, but it is not a given.  If they dont as hamil points out, they cant receive an at large bid.

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:15 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Thank you for the explanation - I understand your process but it is assuming Michigan can win out and we see that's a longshot.  Other than that - sure feels like we've transferred the "Notre Dame" influence to Michigan; "Michigan has to be in the BCS if they're even close because they are Michigan!"   With that thought process, and the fact that the 2 Big 10 teams sporting only 2 losses after all is said and done will probably be Wisconsin (beats Penn St then Mich St in B10 Championship) and Penn St who beats Nebraska who beats Michigan who probably loses to Ohio St...

I think Boise IS the hot property and OU and Alabama are lining up to take the shot to remove them from future discussions - and guess what?  Fiesta Bowl gets first pick which is why a #5 Boise vs. #6 OU (underdog!!!) provides BCS Cred-Revenge Factor!, ETC.

Ok State should be either a BCS NC team (wins out to go) or Sugar Bowl (loss to OU).   But - Tuberville has always had the knack of sneaking up and beating good teams with a serious flaw; and OSU's flaw is run defense; clock mgmt means little IF you can make sure OSU never gets on track.   Once the OSU offense is on track, the game is a shoot out and doubtful ANY team is going to keep up.

The real fly in the ointment is going to be decided this weekend - if Oregon beats Stanford and both win out (both are in Pac12 North) -the there's the real conflict - who falls lower in the BCS?   Probably OSU who would lose LATER than Stanford and suddenly the question of who is the other half of the BCS NC gets murky.  Right now, I think OSU worst case NORMAL scenario (i.e.-losing to OU) would give us:

BCS NC: LSU / Stanford
Fiesta: OU / Boise
Sugar: OSU / Alabama
Rose: Oregon / Wisconsin
Orange: some ACC rep vs some Big East rep  (Clemson?  Cincinatti?)

A lot of football to be played - but just the math tells me the Big 10 will only send 1 team to the BCS and that's Wisky to the Rose.
Arkansas can muck up everything by beating LSU in Baton Rouge - and fluke of all flukes; Georgia beating X in the SEC Championship giving Boise the higher SOS?   Could the BCS NC be the Cinderella Ball  Bowl between OSU and Boise?   With Alabama hunkered down at #3-the predilection for SEC representation in the BCS NC overwhelming but we've seen a series of season end upsets before that ushered in a strange(r) BCS NC;   Tx Tech and OU beating OSU; Oregon beating Stanford then losing in the Pac12 Championship; Arkansas beating LSU; Georgia winning the SEC Championship; TCU beating Boise....   Not all are unfathomable - we could have a truly disputed championship again such as the LSU / USC 2003-04 season or the 2004-05 season when 5 teams finished undefeated (USC pummeled OU while Auburn, and Utah won their bowls to remain undefeated, Boise lost to Louisville in the Liberty).

A lot more football to be played...

Since: Apr 6, 2009
Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:53 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

Just imagine if there was a 16-team playoff. Conference champ from each of the 11 conferences get an auto bid, and then the top 5 remaining at-large teams in the BCS standings. All seeds determined by the BCS standings.  
Here's what it looks like going into week 11: 

Since: Jun 23, 2009
Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:39 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

You might want to learn to spell moron before you call somebody one.

Since: Mar 29, 2009
Posted on: November 8, 2011 2:35 pm

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

So you have Michigan winning out yet not going to the Rose Bowl.  Very interesting.  Absolutely impossible but still interesting.

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