Tag:Alabama
Posted on: November 19, 2011 9:10 am
Edited on: November 19, 2011 11:36 am
 

It's not even Saturday yet...

...and already the BCS is turned on its head again.  Iowa State stunned No. 2 Oklahoma State 37-31 in double OT and knocked the Cowboys from the ranks of the unbeaten.  It was the biggest late-season loss by a top two team since Pitt decked West Virginia in 2007.  That year, No. 1 and No. 2 both lost on each of the last two weeks of the season.  That Pitt team's defense was lead by coordinator Paul Rhoads, now the Cyclones coach.

Now, if LSU wins out, it will surely face a one-loss team, and today, it's a little more likely that team will be one it already defeated.

Alabama and Oregon are the next two teams in line in the BCS standings, and assuming both win today, you'll probably see Alabama at No. 2 this week, but it's not a given they'll stay there.  Voters like conference champions, and as things stand now, Alabama isn't going to win the SEC, but nobody else has won a conference championship yet either.

On the last day of 2006, Florida jumped Michigan after it won the SEC title.  On the last day of 2011, Alabama could get jumped by Oregon because it wins the Pac-12 title.  Or maybe even the Bedlam winner.  Or, maybe Georgia, even with its two losses. 

Oh, you don't think that Georgia can make that move?  In 2007, LSU jumped from seventh to second on the final day of the season after winning the SEC championship over Tennessee.  They moved past the former No. 1 and No. 2 teams, both of which lost, the No. 6 team, Virginia Tech, which won the ACC that day, and No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Kansas, neither of which played in their conference title games.  One difference though is that LSU ended with the best record of any SEC team that year.

The point is that unless something changes, Alabama is not playing football the last weekend of the season, and that can hurt them.

And everything I just wrote could get blown up before the ink dries because Saturday hasn't even happened yet.  Gotta love the BCS.


Posted on: November 14, 2011 1:49 am
 

BCS, bowl thoughts, Nov. 13

The more I think about it, the more I think Bedlam will decide one participant in the BCS title game.  Obviously, Oklahoma State controls its own destiny as one of the last two major undefeated teams.  However, if we are in a situation where the Cowboys get beat, especially if Oklahoma is the team to beat them, the Sooners may be the voters only reasonable option if they want to avoid a rematch for LSU.

If that scenario arises, we are looking at three likely opponent choices for LSU:

1. Alabama, which gave the Tigers the better game, but it was a short time ago and the Tide lost to LSU at home.  Alabama won't even be a division champion.

2. Oregon, which was not especially competitive in its season opening loss to LSU, which took place in Dallas.  The Ducks would be Pac-12 champs though.

3. Oklahoma.  The Sooners haven't lost to LSU yet, which would probably appeal to voters, and would also be a confernece champ.  The champion, in fact, of the highest rated league.  Of course, their one loss was a pretty yucky one (yes, that is a scientific term).

I think what little history we have shows voters would go for the Sooners, and the computers would likely back that up.

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I recevied some comments about Penn State being so low in the Big Ten bowl food chain in this week's projections.  I think bowls may shy away from the Nittany Lions so that their story doesn't become the bowl's story as well.  There is an old saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  I would suggest this is an exception.

The Big Ten has a one-win rule for bowl selections, so Penn State can only drop so far, depending on how other Big Ten teams do.

Is this fair to the players?  No, of course not, but bowl selection has never been about fairness.

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Boise State is the highest rated non-AQ team this week at No. 10, but because it very likely won't win the Mountain West, it cannot automatically qualify for an at-large BCS berth.

Houston at No. 11 controls its own destiny for that berth, which goes to the highest-rated, non-AQ conference champion as long as it is in the top 12 of the standings, or in the top 16, but ahead of one of the AQ champions.  With the Big East cannibalizing each other, it's pretty likely top 16 is good enough again this year.

That means, if Houston falls, TCU, which is currently No. 19, could end up with that spot.  Or even Southern Miss at No. 20, if the Golden Eagles were to win out and knock the Cougars from the ranks of the unbeated in the C-USA championship game.

Southern Miss in the BCS.  We are a ways still from that happening, but who had that at the beginning of the year?  Put your hands down, liars.

Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:24 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 4:09 pm
 

BCS projections, Nov.12, Stanford, Boise fall

The BCS projections are up for this morning.  I have Stanford dropping to 9th, just above Houston, and Boise State down to 12th after each team suffered its first loss of the season yesterday.

Voters could be in a conudrum if Oklahoma St goes down, especially if it's Oklahoma that beats them.  Right now, lined up behind No. 2 Oklahoma St is Alabama and Oregon, each of which suffered its only loss of the season at the hands of No. 1 LSU.  Voters looking to avoid a rematch may have no good option except the Sooners.

Also, Houston is now in the cat-bird seat for the non-AQ at-large spot.  Even if the Cougars lose, Boise St would not be eligible unless someone beats TCU and the Bronocs are at least league co-champions.  BCS rules say that the non-AQ spot is reserved for a conference champion.,

All data is projected top 25 in each ranking component except the Harris and coaches' polls, Colley and Sagarin, which are actual data through yesterday's games.

The coaches poll showed Boise State doing better than I expected, so I have re-projected Harris to reflect similar thinking.  The result of that has the Broncos now 10th, ahead of Houston.  That does not impact the AQ status for either team.

The Harris poll will was pretty similar.  Stanford is seventh in Harris, but ninth in the coaches' poll.  Virginia Tech is the opposite.

The official BCS release will be at about 8:30 PM ET.


Posted on: November 8, 2011 10:26 am
 

BCS selection process: Michigan vs Oklahoma St

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.
Posted on: November 6, 2011 9:13 pm
 

BCS thoughts, Nov. 5

This week's ratings are out, and Alabama did in fact sneak ahead of Stanford for No. 3, but if both keep winning, that will eventually change.  Stanford has a significant advantage in the polls, and will eventually get close enough to the Tide in the computers to move ahead overall.

As I said earlier though, this week's ratings don't necessarily have any bearing on what might happen a month from now if Oklahoma State and Stanford pick up a loss somewhere along the way.

Right now, voters are not voting for Alabama or Boise State or anyone but Oklahoma State and Stanford for No. 2.  They are not lining up teams for what might happen later on.  Voters not only have no short-term memory, they have no long-term vision.  If it gets to the point where they have to make a decision among the teams piled up behind OSU and Stanford in the polls, then they'll consider that at the time, and votes could change.

Other things could have an impact then.  What if Georgia wins out to the SEC title game and gives LSU a fight?  Voters will be reminded that Boise spanked the Bulldogs in week one, and maybe that inspires them to give the Broncos a shot at the big prize.  Maybe Oklahoma ends up winning the Big 12, and the voters, which have always shown a bias for conference champions (in the BCS era, the voters have never put a team in the top two of the final regular season poll that did not win its conference), will move the Sooners to the top of the list.  Undefeated Boise State would be a conference champion as well.

Or maybe they'll go against what they have done before and create an LSU-Alabama (or LSU-Oregon?) rematch.

For now, the Cowboys are in the driver's seat for a matchup with LSU in the title game.  Stanford, despite this week's ratings, needs just one of those two to lose.  After that, we'll see.

Houston is up to No. 11 and would automatically qualify if the Cougars finish undefeated and someone beats Boise State.

Cincinnati is the highest-rated Big East team at No. 23.  You get the feeling the Bearcats could win out and not crack the top 15.

It's a good thing for the Big Ten that there is still a month left.  As it stands right now, Penn State is the only team ranked high enough to be in the BCS at-large pool.  It would help if a couple of teams would step up and win out (I still have faith in Michigan, so you all can keep calling me crazy for at least another week).  The Big Ten has put an at-large team in the BCS every year since 2004.

Posted on: November 6, 2011 9:54 am
Edited on: November 6, 2011 6:42 pm
 

BCS projections, Nov. 5

The Harris poll is out.  There are very few differences between the two polls.  Alabama is close enough to Stanford in the projection that if the Cardinal is not as good in the computers as I expect, they could actually be behind Alabama overall this week.  Not that it matters at all, long-term.

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Call off the alerts.  The National Guard can stand down.  Alabama is ahead of Boise State in the coaches poll and will be ahead in the BCS as well.  The projection has also been changed to reflect Alabama ahead of the Broncos in the Harris poll.  The caution not to overreact to this week is still in effect.

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Someone might want to alert the seismologists.  And perhaps the medical centers in the Southeast.  Because if the current BCS projections hold true, Alabama will slot behind Boise State into fifth place.  Come to think of it, the National Guard in that part of the country should probably be on stand-by also.

I caution you not to overreact to where Alabama ends up this week, good, bad or indifferent.  Voters may be inclined to rethink it later, even if the Tide keeps, um, rolling from here.

Of course, that plea will fall on deaf ears in the Southeast.  SEC fans will be absolutely apoplectic if the Tide drops behind the Broncos.  There is, of course, a chance they won't -- the projection is very close.  Voters have an interesting decision to make this week.

Any other year, or with a team from any other league other than the almighty SEC, Bama would drop to seventh in the polls, behind not just Boise St, but Oklahoma and Oregon also, even after a tightly played (if not especially well played) loss at home in OT to the No. 1 team.  You know if the name on the front of their jerseys said "Oklahoma State" and not "Alabama," that would be true.

While a No. 7 spot in the polls is in the range of possibilities, it isn't very likely.  A battle for 4th with Boise State is more likely, and if the Tide comes out on top, they will be ahead of the Broncos in the BCS as well.  Alabama will be the better computer team, so simply being close in the point totals to Boise Sate without being ahead would be good enough to keep the Tide in front of the Broncos in the BCS overall.  We'll know more when the coaches' poll comes out around Noon ET.

Looking long term, Oklahoma State should still control its own destiny for the title game, along with LSU, of course.  Stanford is on deck.

If both the Cowboys and Cardinal go down at some point, the debate gets very interesting.  I think if it comes to that (and don't let this week be a guide -- voters are not long-term thinkers), I would expect the voters to go with either Boise State or a one-loss Oklahoma ahead of an Alabama rematch.

It really gets interesting if the voters are left with a choice of only Alabama or Oregon, either of which would be rematches for LSU.  I think you'd have to like the Tide there.

Also, Georgia's good run of play continues to bolster Boise State.  Voters probably don't remember now that the Bronocs smacked the Bulldogs in the season opener, but if UGa wins out and plays LSU for the SEC title, how Georgia performs in that game could impact Boise State.

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The projected numbers currently include data through this week's game for Colley and Sagarin, and projected top 25 rankings for the other components.  The chart will get updated as data becomes available.





Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:55 pm
 

LSU-Alabama, the prequel?

A lot of the speculation surrounding this game isn't just about which team will win, but whether or not this game even matters?  That is because many think we could see this matchup again on Jan. 9th in New Orleans.

I don't think that's a very likely event.  Obviously, Oklahoma State and Stanford have to lose to even have the discussion.  The loser on Saturday will have a couple of things going against them in the eyes of voters.  First, while there isn't a whole lot of precedent on this, voters have shied away from a rematch if there was another good choice available.

In 2006, after a pretty exciting Ohio State-Michigan game that ended 42-39 in favor of the Buckeyes, Michigan fell only to third in the polls, just behind one-loss USC and ahead of six other one-loss teams, led by Florida.  That was the final game of the regular season for the Big Ten schools.

Entering the final week of the season, the Wolverines were still sandwiched between USC and Florida.  That weekend, USC lost to UCLA, opening the door for a rematch.  However, after Florida beat Arkansas for the SEC title, voters pushed the Gators ahead of Michigan and into the BCS title game.

The desire to avoid a rematch wasn't the only thing working against Michigan.  Florida was also a conference champion.  In the 14-year history of the BCS, the top two teams in the final polls have always been conference champions.  Earlier versions of the BCS formula overruled the will of the voters a couple of times and put a non-champion in the BCS title game.  It is harder to do that in this version of the formula, which gives 2/3 of the weight to the voters.

The loser of this game figures to be in the same boat as Michigan.  I think if there is any other reasonable choice, including undefeated Boise State or one-loss Oklahoma, the voters will ultimately go that route, even if they don't do so this week.  And I think that is true no matter how good the game is on Saturday, although obviously a good game is more helpful to the rematch cause than a poor one.

Yes, I did say Boise State up there.  Certainly, if it comes down to a choice of the Broncos or LSU/Alabama, there will be a lot of debate over how "reasonable" a choice Boise State is.  That program has built up a lot of respect with the voters over the last several years, and if the circumstance is right, voters may finally say, "let's see what they got."

Posted on: October 28, 2011 1:29 pm
 

West Virginia, Arizona Western and games to watch

Brett McMurphy has been all over the West Virginia to the Big 12 story, which became official today.  In his story, Brett said, "With the Big 12 only taking West Virginia, the Big East’s chances of retaining its BCS automatic qualifying status in 2014 is greatly improved."

I'm sure he means as opposed to taking both West Virginia and Louisville, which would have been worse because that would have meant the Big East having to find two more teams instead of just one.  However, it would have been much better for the Big 12 to have caved to some senatorial pressure and took just Louisville.  The Mountaineers have been the most consistely good program in the Big East, so while the league only needs to find one more replacement, it will be hard pressed to find one that is anywhere near the quality of West Virginia.  Note I am excluing the six programs already being pursued by the league, Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and UCF.

Note that Brett mentioned the AQ status for 2014 and beyond.  That is because the Big East is contracturally locked in as an AQ league through the 2013 season.  There is no formal process for revoking that status beyond then, but that is an issue the BCS commissioners will deal with in the next eight to ten months, according to BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock.

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Ah, the vagaries of the BCS computer rankings.  If you look at Ken Massey's BCS rankings and go far enough down the list, you'll see that the 88th ranked team is that noted football power Arizona Western JC.  Yes, a junior college.  If you look at his regular rankings, which the BCS does not use because they include margin of victory, AWJC is 30th.

This has caused a little bit of outrage because it's so comically wrong, and while I understand that, I'm not as bothered by it as most people are.  A team like AWJC is so far removed from the oppponent, opponents, opponents, etc chain of any I-A school that it could probably be removed from the database entirely without affecting the I-A rankings.

That is also the reason a team like AWJC can be so high in the rankings.  It is so far removed from the I-A schools that its rating isn't impacted by them.

Programmers who want to rank just I-A schools need to find some way to deal with opponents outside of that class.  Some, like me, deal with it by treating all such opponents as genericly bad I-A teams.  Some rank a larger set of schools to be more specific.  Some ignore those games entirely (like the RPI).  Different strokes for different folks.  I don't get too worked up about it.  It's a reliativley minor problem for the BCS compared to the fact that they have no idea how these ratings work or if they are being calculated correctly.  Also, teams don't know how they are being judged.  That's because, except for Colley, the formulas are secret.
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LSU, Alabama and Boise State are off this week, but there are still several games of interest.

Clemson is at Georgia Tech, which looked like a lot bigger game a couple weeks ago when the Yellow Jackets were still undefeated.  Georgia Tech is still dangerous, and difficult to prepare for, so Clemson better be ready.

Baylor at Oklahoma State -- Brandon Weedon vs Robert Griffin III.  Alert the engineers!  The scoreboard is going to get a workout.

Oklahoma at Kansas State -- One of these teams is still undefeated.  I think the Wildcats picked a bad week to schedule Oklahoma.

Michigan State at Nebraska -- The Spartans just finished handing Michigan and Wisconsin their first losses in back-to-back weekends, and their reward is a trip to Lincoln.  Thanks, schedule makers!

Wisconsin at Ohio State -- The Badgers try to bounce back from the loss to Michigan State last week and stay in the hunt in the Legendary Leaders division, or something like that.

Stanford at USC -- The Trojans just extinguished Notre Dame's BCS hopes last week, and now it hopes to kill off the Cardinal's national title aspirations.

Georgia vs Florida -- The World's Largest Cocktail Party usually leaves Georgia with a hangover.  Mark Richt was on one of the hottest seats to start the season, but now an East division title is a possiblity.  USC-East controls its own destiny there, but with Marcus Lattimore done for the season, the door could open for the Bulldogs.


 
 
 
 
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