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Weekly BCS Briefing: Week Seven

The first official BCS rankings have the Oklahoma Sooners rolling into the number 1 spot.

We are going to have a slightly different format from here on out. Since I no longer need to calculate anything with the official rankings out now, I'll be analyzing what the BCS poll is telling us. For those that are interested, you can read about how the BCS calculations are made here.

The rankings are available, after the jump...

Yellow highlights indicate the number one ranking in each particular poll. Pink/Red highlights indicate teams that would be "automatic BCS Bowl qualifiers" if the season ended today. Light blue highlights indicate teams that would be eligible in the at large pool for the BCS bowl games.

  BCS Harris Poll USA Today Computer Rankings
1 Oklahoma .9215 NR 4 2486 .8800 3 1334 .9044 1 3 3 1 1 1 1 .980
2 Oregon .8921 NR 1 2774 .9819 1 1452 .9844 8 9 7 9 8 2 11 .710
3 Boise State .8898 NR 2 2685 .9504 2 1385 .9390 7 6 2 7 7 6 7 .780
4 Auburn .8641 NR 5 2410 .8531 5 1238 .8393 3 2 8 3 5 4 2 .900
5 TCU .8573 NR 3 2516 .8906 4 1300 .8814 5 7 5 6 6 7 5 .800
6 LSU .8245 NR 6 2164 .7660 6 1132 .7675 2 1 1 2 4 8 3 .940
7 Michigan State .7628 NR 8 1964 .6952 8 1037 .7031 4 4 12 4 3 3 4 .890
8 Alabama .6654 NR 7 2092 .7405 7 1085 .7356 12 10 4 11 16 20 15 .520
9 Utah .6540 NR 9 1925 .6814 9 1004 .6807 11 11 6 12 11 12 10 .600
10 Ohio State .5726 NR 10 1761 .6234 10 936 .6346 14 16 14 13 21 14 14 .460
11 Missouri .5491 NR 16 1196 .4234 16 640 .4339 6 5 0 5 2 9 6 .790
12 Stanford .5374 NR 13 1455 .5150 14 689 .4671 10 12 17 10 10 5 9 .630
13 Wisconsin .5335 NR 11 1646 .5827 11 867 .5878 16 18 13 17 19 10 13 .430
14 Oklahoma State .5261 NR 15 1247 .4414 15 659 .4468 9 8 10 8 9 19 8 .690
15 Iowa .4824 NR 12 1511 .5349 12 785 .5322 17 19 9 18 17 15 16 .380
16 Nebraska .4295 NR 14 1322 .4680 13 768 .5207 20 23 16 23 14 16 19 .300
17 Florida State .4267 NR 17 1124 .3979 17 608 .4122 13 15 15 15 18 11 12 .470
18 Arizona .3807 NR 18 1037 .3671 18 494 .3349 15 13 18 16 12 13 18 .440
19 Texas .2214 NR 22 397 .1405 22 256 .1736 18 17 11 25 15 17 20 .350
20 West Virginia .1812 NR 19 663 .2347 19 323 .2190 23 25 22 21 0 0 22 .090
21 South Carolina .1555 NR 21 576 .2039 20 284 .1925 24 22 23 0 24 0 24 .070
22 Kansas State .1422 NR 25 143 .0506 NR 53 .0359 19 14 0 14 13 21 21 .340
23 Arkansas .1302 NR 20 579 .2050 21 274 .1858 28 0 24 0 0 0 0 .000
24 Mississippi State .1253 NR NR 129 .0457 24 133 .0902 21 20 19 19 22 22 17 .240
25 Virginia Tech .0658 NR 23 242 .0857 23 165 .1119 28 0 25 0 0 0 0 .000

Top 25 by Conference

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

None ranked: 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.

Well it looks like what I said last week has panned out:

I know a lot of people will look at the edge Boise State has [at number 1] and immediately think that it will be tough to play catch-up. However, history shows that this is entirely possible, and even likely.

Admittedly, I didn't think that edge would be made up in a week, but that was the case when the BCS rankings were released this week. I have a feeling that this would be a match-up that a lot of Sooner fans would like to see so that we could exact revenge for what happened in Eugene a few years ago. Of course, the bigger story here is the national media being unwilling to give OU any credit for being undefeated. I took the following screen capture from ESPN's front page today:


Jordan and Matt had touched on this in the latest Sooner Nation broadcast. According to them, someone on ESPN said that Oklahoma is "not in control of their own destiny". ESPN's BCS Expert Brad Edwards, posted online:

I honestly don't think any team controls its destiny right now. As long as there are several major undefeated teams, I can see any of them getting leaped in the polls by putting together a couple of squeakers against middle-of-the-pack conference competition.

I cannot disagree more. As I pointed out in a post last night, and as people who know their BCS history know, no team that has ever opened up at #1 has fallen from that spot without losing. That is the textbook definition of "being in control of your destiny". The Sooners will be fine as long as there isn't a mass revolt amongst voters and they drop OU to #5-6 despite being undefeated. I don't see that happening, despite the animosity there is towards OU nationally right now.

Now, the problem is whether or not the team can stay undefeated after achieving that #1 ranking. That has been a problem, and only 3 of the last 9 initial #1 teams have managed to stay undefeated. The odds are against the Sooners, and that's because the #1 team always will get everyone's A-game. However, the question of whether or not the Sooners will stay undefeated, and the question of whether or not OU will hold their #1 ranking if they keep winning, are two different questions entirely.

You can argue whether or not Oklahoma is clearly the best team in the country right now, but if Oklahoma wins out and beats Missouri and Oklahoma State, whom the computers value at #6 and #9 respectively, they will easily maintain their #1 ranking. No question. Even if the human voters move an undefeated Auburn or LSU ahead of OU, the substantial edge in the computers would keep them in the top spot. Now, with the #1 ranking in hand, we truly get to find out if the Sooners are worthy over the next 6 weeks - 4 of which they'll be on the road.

And to continue my mini-rant, I'm glad that everyone is saying that OU is undeserving of the #1 ranking. I think that it adds fuel to the fire if people say you don't deserve something, rather than anointing you the best without any questions asked (see: Alabama). It will certainly help OU in tough road games against Missouri and Oklahoma State if they have a chip on their shoulder, rather than riding high with an inflated ego.

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, Missouri
  • Big 10: Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue
  • SEC:  LSU, Auburn
  • ACC:  Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Big East:  West Virginia, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

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.

The conference races are shaping up. West Virginia looks like the clear front runner in the Big East. The Big East champ has an automatic berth into a BCS Bowl, but they are not tied to a particular bowl game. The ACC front-runner is Florida State, but it looks like Virginia Tech is taking control of the other division. Since the ACC has a championship game, I would consider both teams to be in the lead for the automatic Orange Bowl berth.

Auburn and LSU will be playing to be the big kahuna in the SEC this week. However, the SEC is still up for grabs. Both Auburn and LSU still have to play Alabama. All three of those teams are from the SEC West. No other SEC team has 0 or 1 losses, so if those three teams beat up on each other, then the SEC could be out of the running for the national title game for the first year in awhile.

In the Big 10, I seriously doubt that Purdue will remain undefeated in conference (they are 4-2 overall). They've knocked off Northwestern and Minnesota to start the conference schedule. The Big 10 looks to be coming down to 4 teams, all of which have a legitimate chance to win the conference championship this year - Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Iowa is the only team that plays all three of the other contenders, so it isn't a true round robin, but it looks like Iowa will go a long way in determining the Big 10 this year.

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: Oklahoma vs. Oregon 
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Boise State
Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. LSU
Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. West Virginia

I'm using the team selection procedures listed on the BCS website. The Fiesta Bowl would lose their automatic tie-in with the Big 12 Conference champion as #1 OU would go to the NCG. The Rose Bowl would lose their automatic tie-in with the Pac 10 Conference champion as #2 Oregon would go to the NCG. Therefore, the Fiesta Bowl would get first dibs at the rest of the at-large pool, and the Rose Bowl would get second crack at it.

Since Auburn is ranked higher in the BCS, we'll "consider them the SEC champ" right now, which would automatically place them in the Sugar Bowl. The same scenario applies for Florida State (ACC, Orange Bowl), and Michigan State (Big 10, Rose Bowl). West Virginia would have to be selected as the Big East champ, and Boise State would have to be selected as the WAC champ by virtue of the procedure described above. Three more at large teams would be selected then. 

The Fiesta Bowl would get first choice. Typically, I think they would take Boise State as they have a long established relationship with that team and fan base. However, because of the following provision, Boise State would be headed to the Rose Bowl:

(For the games in January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the NCG and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl.)

Therefore, I think the Fiesta Bowl would take TCU as its first pick, because they are relatively close, highly ranked, and have a history with the Horned Frogs now. The Rose Bowl's replacement pick would be satisfied by the provision, so then at large bids would be filled in the normal selection order. This year the Sugar would then pick, and I think they would go for a big name program to get a headline matchup - and take Ohio State. Then the Orange would pick, and because of regional considerations, I think they would take the next highest ranked SEC team which would be LSU in this case. The Fiesta Bowl brings up the rear, and West Virginia would need to be selected as the Big East champ.

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.