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 30, 2011 11:14 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 11:22 pm
 

BCS and bowl notes, Oct. 30

Stanford made its inevitable move past Boise State in the BCS this week and will now try (but ultimately fail) to close on Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma is at the top of the list of one-loss teams at No. 6, and might be able to stay there for a while.  Oregon is actually ahead of the Sooners in both the Harris and coaches' polls, but Oklahoma's computer strength might be good enough to hold off the Ducks long-term.

Arkansas is sandwiched between those two in the BCS ratings, and can't be ruled out as a contender yet.  The Hogs still have LSU on the schedule, but for them, it would really help to be the division (and conference) winner, but they do not control their own desitny.  Arkansas could be like Michigan State last year and go 11-1 and have no chance for a BCS berth because of two more desireable teams in its own league.
Of course, one more team will join that battle next week.

Houston has quietly crept up to No. 13, and if it weren't for Boise State, would be high enough in the rankings to automatically qualify for a BCS spot.  Unfortunately, that only goes to the highest rated non-AQ conference champion, and it'll take at least one Bronco loss to knock them below the Cougars.

Penn State is not really getting much respect from the voters or the computers, but the No. 16 Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten and are the last undefeated team in conference play.  Nebraska, Michigan and MSU are in a three-way tie for first in the Whatever Division.  It could have been a four-way tie, but Iowa managed to do something that not even New Mexico State and North Dakota State could accomplish -- lose to Minnesota.

And who would have thought we'd enter November with teams like Wake Forest, Virginia and UCLA still in control of their own destinies for conference titles, but Wisconsin, Florida, Georgia and Florida State needing help.

I am still one team short of the number needed in this week's bowl projections.  Toledo is left standing at the altar at the Little Caesar's Bowl.


Posted on: October 30, 2011 9:19 am
Edited on: October 30, 2011 10:56 pm
 

BCS projections, Oct. 30

This week's BCS ratings are now posted with all available data.  I will update the chart when the full missing computer rankings are released.

All components have the full rankings through Oct. 29th games except Massey, which is correct for teams that are both in the top 25 of the BCS and the top 25 of that ranking.

Also posted are the 1-120 rankings.  Look for the latest bowl projections tomorrow.



Category: NCAAF
Tags: BCS
 
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.


Posted on: October 23, 2011 11:01 pm
 

BCS/Bowl notes

The official BCS is out this week, with no real surprises.

Oklahoma State would appear to be in the best position to play the SEC champ for the BCS title if both finish undefeated.  The Cowboys have a slight edge over Stanford in the polls, but a huge lead in the computers.  Stanford will close that gap some as the season goes on, assume neither loses, but the Cardinal will never catch OSU.

Boise State and Clemson are currently between Stanford and Oklahoma St, but if all four finish undefeated, Stanford should pass the Broncos and Tigers.

Oregon and Oklahoma are in the best spots for 1-loss teams.  That may very well include the loser of the LSU-Alabama game.

A lot of people are talking about a possible rematch of those two for the BCS title.  That is getting WAY ahead of yourself.  We still could have six undefeated teams.  This is the time of year to talk about that scenario.

But since you asked, voters showed us in 2006 that they prefer not to have a rematch.  They jumped Florida over Michigan after the Gators won the SEC title.  I think there is a sense that it isn't fair to make the winner beat the loser again.

However, there does have to be some reasonable alternative.  One-loss Oregon or Oklahoma would be that, as would undefeated Boise State or Clemson.

The bowl projections require a little explanation also.

The order for choosing at-large teams for the BCS bowls is Fiesta, Sugar and Orange.

Once you get past league champions, bowl selection order is about bowl choice, not conference standings.  So, the Capital One Bowl gets the Big Ten No. 2.  That does not mean the second best team in the conference standings, or the conference championship game loser.  It means second choice of all bowl-eligible teams.  Conference standings are rarely much of a factor, although some leagues do have rules requiring they be respected to some degree.

Michigan is projected to be the choice of the Fiesta Bowl as an at-large team, but the Wolverines are not projected to win their division.  That is Michigan State.  However, Michigan is MUCH more attractive to bowls because of its massive fan base, national appeal, and in this case, a bit of a dry spell from playing at this level.

The current bowl projection also has a couple of holes in it.  I am only projecting 68 teams to be eligible for 70 spots.  At this time, the NCAA has no provision for dealing with this situation, so I am not going to assume what they will do.  This kind of thing has a way of working itself out, so we'll see.

I did end up with one strange matchup - Ohio vs Eastern Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl.  EMU was the last team I put in the grid, and the only openings were against other MAC foes.  Ohio was the only one the Eagles don't play in the regular season.  I'm sure the fans in Boise would line up early to see that one!

Finally, BYU clinched the first bowl berth of the season with its win over Idaho State.  They are contracted to the Armed Forces Bowl, however I don't believe the bid has been officially offered yet because there are still some very slim hopes that the Cougars could end up in the BCS.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 9:12 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 5:17 pm
 

BCS projections, Oct. 22

The BCS projection has been updated this morning.  Check back with this blog post for changes as the day progresses.  Actual data will become available for Sagarin and both polls before the official release, and I will update the chart and this post when they do.

The top 25 of each component has been projected through games of Oct. 22 except:

Colley, Sagarin -- Actual ratings (1-120), through Oct. 22
Coaches, Harris polls -- Actual.

The projection shows teams 4-6 as Boise State, Clemson and Stanford and they are pretty tighly bunched together.  If the Cardinal are better loved than I project by the four computers, they could move up some.

Even more tightly bunched are teams 7-10, which are Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Arkansas.  They are only separated in the projection by .023, so it would not take much computer variance to shake up the order of those teams.

 
 
 
 
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