Weekly BCS Briefing: Week Six

The latest simulated BCS Rankings would match the Boise State Broncos and the Oregon Ducks in the national title game. There is, of course, a lot of time left.

We have only one week left until the official BCS rankings are released, and once that happens, we'll have a bit of a change in the format of this weekly article. Once the official BCS rankings are released, I'll simply be reacting to what was released, and I'll be breaking down the math and scenarios instead. For now we have one more week of simulated rankings. Mine may be a bit different than others floating around on the net, as I've thrown out the low and high computer rankings, which is done in the real BCS process. You can read about how the BCS calculations are made here.

The rankings are available, after the jump...

We have some new color coding this week. In the "Team" column, teams that are highlighted yellow would receive an automatic qualifying berth to the BCS with the current rankings. Teams that are highlighted light blue would be eligible for an at-large selection. This selection process will be explained below. As in past editions, the highest ranking in each poll is highlighted (this time in orange) and bolded. In the "Chg" column, green indicates teams that have moved up, and red indicates teams that have moved down.

Top 25 By Conference

SEC (6), Big 10 (5), Big 12 (4), Pac 10 (4), MWC (3), WAC (2), ACC (1)

None ranked: Big East, Sun Belt, MAC, Independents, Conference USA

BCS Qualification Analysis

*All qualification procedures described in quotes will be excerpted from the BCS website.

Championship Game

1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings (see below) shall play in the National Championship Game.

Boise State and Oregon took over the #1 and #2 spots respectively this week, as there was a shakeup in the rankings resulting from Alabama's upset loss to South Carolina. Certainly, the defeat of such a clear-cut #1 team opens the playing field, and will make the rest of the season very interesting with respect to the race for the national championship game. The question here is whether or not Boise State stands a chance to hang in there for the national title game. They hold a pretty sizable lead over the #2 Oregon Ducks, so that works in their benefit. Last year, they started off in the first official BCS rankings with a score of 0.8083, and ended with a score of 0.8106, so they actually improved their score slightly. However, the problem was that other teams around them improved more as they played tougher conference schedules - Boise State fell from #4 to #6 by the final BCS poll after conference championship weekend. Compare Boise's Week 7 to Week 14 trends to other undefeated teams in 2009:

Team
Chg BCS Rank
Chg BCS Pts
Times Greater Than BSU
TCU
+4
+0.1697
73.8
Cincinnati
+2
+0.1008
43.8
Texas
0
+0.0522
22.7
Alabama
+1
+0.0452
19.7
Boise State
-2
+0.0023
N/A

As you can see, every other undefeated team in FBS had an increase in their BCS point average of at least 19 times greater than Boise State last season from the first poll to the last poll. Not only that, but every other team at least held their position, and 3 of the 4 improved their position in the polls. Boise State slid back two spots. 

I know a lot of people will look at the edge Boise State has and immediately think that it will be tough to play catch-up. However, history shows that this is entirely possible, and even likely. In the history of the BCS, using formula as it stands today (since 2005-2006 season), no undefeated team from an automatic qualifying conference has ever finished with a point total lower than 0.8878. That was Cincinnati in 2009-2010. If you throw out teams from the weaker ACC and Big East, the lowest point total is 0.9433 (Texas in 2009-2010). 

Of course, the caveat is that I think that this year, finally, an undefeated Boise State team has enough of an edge to make it into the national title game ahead of a 1-loss team from any other automatic qualification conference.

BCS Automatic Qualifications

2. The champions of the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, and Southeastern Conferences will have automatic berths in one of the participating bowls through the 2013 regular season.

3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference (hereinafter "non-AQ group") will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or

B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. No more than one such team from the non-AQ group shall earn an automatic berth in any year. (Note: A second team may be eligible for at-large eligibility as noted below.) If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team or teams will be considered for at-large selection if it meets the criteria.

Right now, I've just used the highest ranked team in the BCS in each conference as that conference's champion, despite the fact that some other teams are still tied for first place. Here are teams that are still tied for conference leads:

  • Big 12: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Missouri
  • Big 10: Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue
  • SEC:  LSU, Auburn
  • ACC:  Florida State, Maryland, Virginia Tech
  • Big East:  6 teams with no conference losses.

You may be asking why TCU is not included in this list as they are from the Mountain West Conference and are ranked in the Top 12 (3, A, above). However, since Boise State is the higher ranked team that isn't from an automatic qualifying conference, they would be the only team that would receive an automatic berth.

I think it is very likely that we will see an automatic qualifier from a non-AQ conference with Boise State, TCU, and Utah all in the Top 12 at the moment. Therefore, we should have 3 at large berths available this year with 6 automatic qualifier conferences, and one team receiving an AQ berth this year by finishing in the Top 12.

It's also important to note that not all of these teams in this "automatic qualifier" section are in the running for the national title hunt. Right now, I would break the national title hunt down to these teams:

Boise State and Oregon in the lead. Also includes, TCU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU, and Nebraska. 6 of those 7 teams would need to lose to open the door for the likes of Auburn, Michigan State, and Alabama.

At Large Eligible Teams

If there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers, then the bowls will select at-large participants to fill the remaining berths. An at-large team is any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:

A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, and

B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings.

No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings.

If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the Bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings, subject to the two-team limit noted above and also subject to the following: (1) If any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected, and (2) from the teams ranked 15-18, a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14.

Right now I've struck the requirement to win 9 games, as we are too early in the season to consider that. Right now these are the teams that are essentially in limbo. They are high enough in the rankings that continued good play would merit them consideration as an at large BCS team (of which there are likely to be 3 this year). However, they are also teams that are going to need some help with losses by teams ahead of them.

If The Season Ended Today...

National Championship Game: Boise State vs. Oregon 
Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. Nebraska
Sugar Bowl: LSU vs. TCU
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Auburn
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia

I'm using the team selection procedures listed on the BCS website. Since the Rose Bowl would lose one of their conference champion tie-ins to the NCG (Oregon, Pac 10), they would get first crack at selecting an at-large team. Right now, that would probably be Nebraska whose fan base travels well, and who would make for an attractive matchup. Obviously, Nebraska would face the Big 12 South champion, and could wind up losing, blah blah blah, and that would impact the rankings. However, I am basing this on the simulated rankings that I have above.

Up next would be the Sugar Bowl, who would be able to choose from the remaining at-large pool or West Virginia, the Big East Champion. I think that the Big East Champion is likely to fall to the Fiesta Bowl this year, because the Fiesta Bowl picks last, and the Big East Champ will probably be the least attractive selection. The only scenario I can envision in which that would be avoided is if the Big 12 gets its champion into the NCG. This makes it a choice between Auburn and TCU at this point, and the Sugar Bowl would probably opt for higher ranked TCU - especially after the success of Utah in their bowl game a couple years ago. 

Now obviously, this will change. Some of these teams will actually be playing each other. Once again, this is not a prediction, this is merely a statement of where I think teams stand at this point.

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