College Football Mailbag (cont.)
Posted: Wednesday November 14, 2007 12:18PM; Updated: Wednesday November 14, 2007 1:14PM
I'm an Oklahoma fan. All season, OU has been ranked higher in the AP, coaches and Harris polls than in the BCS standings. The computer polls have allowed teams to continually leapfrog Oklahoma in the BCS. I just looked at this week's computer polls and OU is ranked ninth behind 8-2 Virginia Tech in one of the polls. The average rank is 7.75 for the computer polls. Why the huge discrepancy? How do the computer polls work?
I don't have nearly the mathematical competency to explain exactly how those computer polls work (and in fact some of them don't even make their methodology public), but it's not hard to see why the machines are treating the Sooners less favorably than the humans. For one, as per BCS rules, the computers don't take into account margin-of-victory, so all those 79-10 and 52-21 wins look no different to the computers than if Oklahoma had won those games 21-20. And secondly, the computers seem to be much more bothered by the fact that the Sooners lost to a team that is now 5-6 (Colorado) than do the humans. There's no way to couch it: That was a really bad loss, much more so than Virginia Tech's to 9-1 LSU (which, again, as far as the computers know, was by a score of 10-7, not 48-7) and 8-2 Boston College.
While I'm sure that seems frustrating if you're a Sooners fan, personally, I think the computers may have it right. It's no secret we, as human voters, are easily swayed by repeated, lopsided victories, not to mention history and tradition. With all due respect to Oklahoma, which has had a great season, I'm not sure why voters aren't more bothered by not only that loss at Colorado but a similarly underwhelming performance at then-1-6 Iowa State, where the normally high-scoring Sooners won 17-7 and didn't put the game away until the final minutes. I realize every team has its inevitable down weeks, but to me it's somewhat troubling that Oklahoma, and in particular QB Sam Bradford, struggled so badly in their only true road games to date (Tulsa was a de facto home game, and Texas was at a neutral site). My confidence in the Sooners will be appeased, however, if they take care of business this week at Texas Tech.
My question pertains to the Indiana Hoosiers and their possible bowl game. The Big Ten was average this year and has more bowl eligible teams than most years. Indiana seems like the team left out unless they upset Purdue this weekend. What are the chances that one of the other conferences will not have enough bowl eligible teams and Hep's vision becomes a reality?
You're right, the Big Ten's bowl roster is extremely overcrowded, and even if the Hoosiers get a seventh win this weekend, it's not an absolute guarantee (though it would certainly help). The conference has seven bowl partners (eight if it gets two BCS bids) and already has six teams with at least seven victories. Iowa will likely get there as well with a win over Western Michigan this weekend. Then you've got Indiana, Northwestern and Michigan State all sitting there at six wins. And remember, the league's No. 7 bowl, the Motor City, was founded by former Michigan State coach George Perles and would almost certainly take the Spartans if possible.
But that doesn't necessarily render the Hoosiers homeless. The Pac-10 should have at least one, if not two open spots, as could the WAC (if it sends a team to the BCS) or Conference USA. In my latest projections, I had the Las Vegas Bowl selecting Indiana to fill its vacant Pac-10 spot for the very reason you mentioned -- I would think a game like that would be honored to fulfill the late Hoeppner's vision. It's hard to predict how well Indiana would travel since it has not been to a bowl since 1993 and does not do particularly well attendance-wise regularly, but I would think such a unique circumstance would elicit a good turnout.
That's the long answer. The short answer: Better beat Purdue to be safe.
Why, with his stats and his single-handed game-winning performances (not to take away from other West Virginia players), has Pat White dropped out of Heisman discussion? I think he is the most exciting college football player to watch.
White still has a quarter of his season (three games) left to play, so it's not too late for him to race back into the discussion, but he suffered a significant setback with his injury in the loss to USF and he's been struggling to make up ground ever since. I don't disagree that he's exciting to watch -- he has been for three year now -- but I'm afraid the "stats" part of your argument doesn't hold water, at least not so far. The past two games marked his first 100-yard rushing performances since the second week of the season.
Given the staggering numbers I mentioned before from two other spread-option QBs, Tim Tebow and Dennis Dixon, how could any Heisman voter justify going instead with a guy who's thrown for less than half as many yards as either (1,251) while rushing for only slightly more yards (803 to 718) and nearly half as many touchdowns (10) as Tebow. Granted, each guy's situation is different -- Tebow does not have a Steve Slaton or Jonathan Stewart to hand off to -- but again, as I said earlier, that only amplifies his individual achievement.