SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
10/15/2006 05:47:00 PM
SEC Gets Some BCS Love
Tre Smith and Auburn have jumped back into the title chase.
Marvin Gentry/US PRESSWIRE
1) Apparently, the SEC’s national-title hopes aren’t dead after all.
As expected, 7-0 Ohio State, 6-0 USC and 7-0 Michigan were 1-2-3 in the first BCS standings of the season released Sunday. Since the Buckeyes and Wolverines play each other, all three undefeated teams control their own destiny on the road to Glendale.
The surprise, however, is who’s next in line should the Trojans, or both the Buckeyes and Wolverines, stumble: 6-1 Auburn. That’s right, the same Auburn team that fell 27-10 to Arkansas a little over a week ago debuted at No. 4 in the standings, ahead of undefeated Big East teams West Virginia and Louisville. Furthermore, Florida (6-1), the team Auburn beat last night, checks in at No. 6.
Apparently, the BCS computers -- which represent one-third of a team’s standing -- agree with Tommy Tuberville and others who contend that a one-loss team in this year’s arduous SEC shouldn’t be penalized as heavily in the national-title race. Tuberville’s team stands seventh in the two human polls used by the BCS (Coaches and Harris) but garnered an average of fifth in the computer polls. Florida, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the computers compared with ninth and 10th in the human polls. The Tigers (which beat LSU and Florida) and Gators (Tennessee and LSU), along with USC, are the only teams in the country with two wins over BCS top-20 teams.
When I spoke with CollegeBCS.com's Jerry Palm -- the reigning authority on BCS math -- shortly after the standings were released, he said the Tigers' lofty standing is likely temporary. "Auburn will get passed sooner than later," said Palm. "West Virginia is buried in the computers right now because it hasn't played the heart of its Big East schedule. Same with Louisville."
Meanwhile, the BCS computers are killing defending champion Texas (6-1), giving the ‘Horns an average ranking of 15th -- 10 spots lower than their standing in the human polls -- and their isn't as much hope of relief. Texas is stuck at ninth in the BCS standings, behind the two SEC teams, No. 5 West Virginia (6-0), No. 7 Louisville (6-0) and No. 8 Notre Dame (5-1). Games against North Texas, Sam Houston State, Rice and Baylor are apparently weighing down Mack Brown’s team, seeing as it also played the No. 1 team in the standings, Ohio State.
"[Texas' computer ranking] is going to get better, but not that much better, because their conference isn't that good," said Palm. "I doubt they'd pass a one-loss SEC team."
If the Ohio State-Michigan winner and USC both finish undefeated, the order beyond No. 3 won’t make a bit of difference. If, however, USC loses along the way -- which seems increasingly likely with each week that goes by -- you can already see the potential controversy brewing, and it’s the same one that many were speculating about before the season even began: Will an undefeated Big East team get passed up in favor of a one-loss SEC team?
Obviously, it will depend first and foremost on whether the Tigers or Gators can survive their remaining slate -- including a potential SEC title-game rematch if Arkansas slips -- unscathed. But we’ll also have to wait and see what kind of boost the Nov. 2 West Virginia-Louisville winner receives from their game. Both teams also face undefeated Rutgers, currently 16th in the standings.
As Palm noted, if, say, both Florida and West Virginia run the table, the pollsters would likely have the final say as to whether the one-loss Gators, having played one of the most grueling schedules in the country, should pass the undefeated Mountaineers, because the computer difference by then should be negligible.
One other item of note: Boise State (6-0) debuted at No. 15 in the standings, which means if the Broncos keep winning, they’ll need only to make up three spots over the next seven weeks to be guaranteed a BCS at-large berth under the new qualification rules. That's not as easy as it sounds.
Currently, Boise has a computer average of 11th while placing 17th and 18th in the human polls. Palm said the Broncos have likely peaked in the computers and will need to make up ground with the voters. "To finish in the top 12, they're likely going to have to be in the top 12 in the polls," said Palm.
I hate these polls. Granted, this is probably the first time an Arkansas fan can complain in like, 37 years, but how are we so far behind Auburn? We are both one loss teams, with their loss coming to us! Our loss is against Southern Cal, in the first week of the season, with a different QB, and our first game under Gus Malzahn's system. Oh well, we still are coached by Houston Nutt, and that probably means a win against Tennessee and LSU, but blown games against South Carolina and Ole Miss. Go Hogs
How in the world can texas be number 9. IT is rediculous. Texas has beaten every team they have played by more than 20 points other than Ohio st. who is number one. Texas should be the top ranked one loss team (Auburn) at number 4.
See, this is the problem with the whole BCS computer thing-- West Virginia is practically the *same team* as last year, they hardly lost anyone and the ones they do have are a year older and wiser now-- yet, the computer says suddenly they suck worse than last year because they're still winning??
It isn't *my* fault who West Virginia is scheduled to play-- shucks, the school claims they schedule games several years in advance... who's to say their crappy opponents this year weren't actually decent half a decade ago when the games were scheduled.
Basically, BCS is making itself like a country club among country clubs-- belong to the SEC country club and you're favored and respected, but belong to the Big East country club and you're stomped on and told you suck, if not by the pollsters then by the computers themselves.
It is a bit suspect to have Cal about Tennessee. I am a HUGE Cal fan, but I would have to disagree. Also, Tennessee should be ranked higher than they are (not only above Cal, but others, too).
Computers always screw with the system. But humans do it, too. Every year there is something wrong. Whether it is Oklahoma making the championship over LSU, or Cal missing the Rose Bowl because of a screwed BCS system, this thing will never make everyone happy. It is laughable.
I do think Cal is a top 10 team, and I dont think WVU is a top 10 team. Rutgers and Clemson are also overrated, and so is Boise State.
I hate the BCS as much as the next guy, but I believe things will work out. I see only two undefeated teams at the end of the year. The Michigan/OSU winner and the WVU/Louisville winner. I see a Ohio State vs. WVU Title game and since OSU has a hard time stopping the run it looks like WVU could be King of the Mountain.
Interesting the comment about WVU moving up the list if they win out because they haven't played the "heart" of their schedule. Conversely, does that mean that Auburn or Florida will drop because they've played through the majority of their tough oppponents?
Tommy Tubberville complains about the BCS's bias against losses resulting from tough conference play. By the same token, is it fair to penalize Texas for the rest of the Big 12's slump? Surely the conference did not expect the demise of OU (and now seemingly Texas Tech), which will push Texas' quality of victory further down. Texas has done their part so far (including scheduling the concensus #1 Ohio St) and should be ranked higher than 9.
Further...if Ohio State is the only undefeated team, how can you put a one-loss team like Auburn who lost to Arkansas in when you may have a one-loss Texas team whose only loss was to the No. 1 team? That's ridiculous.
People that think Texas should be higher are crazy.
They have played a bunch of glorified high school teams that they blew out....big deal. They beat an OU team that everyone knows is not that good....big deal. And of course they got flat out dominated by Ohio State....If they played in the SEC or the Big 10 they would have three losses already.
The sad thing is they will probably get into a BCS game becuase the second half of their schedule is even weaker than the first half....what a joke
West Virginia should be thankful to be ranked as high as they are. The teams they have played combine for a 14-25 record. In response to the schedules being made 6 or 7 years in advance, I don't think that Eastern Washington and East Carolina were exactly blazing a trail up the polls around 2000 either. Be grateful for this ranking with this patticake schedule.
yes texas fan, you scheduled North Texas, Rice and Sam Houston State. You play in the worst BCS conference. You have no quality wins, and that will not change for the rest of the season. You deserve to be out of the top 10. Hope you learned your lesson.
If a one-loss team may find it's way into the BCS championship game, is it possible, if Ohio State and Michigan are undefeated and 1 and 2 in the polls going into their game on November 18, that the loser of that game could STILL make it to the championship game?
Does anyone else find it ridiculous that USC is #1 in the computer polls? This year's USC team has barely won it's last several games against teams it should have blown out. How can they be #1 in the computers or even #2 over-all when there are other teams who actually have blown out the competition(WVU, MU), or lost close fought games to higher ranked teams(UF, AU, UT)?
Sorry vol fans, but cal is ahead of you b/c the computers say their strength of schedule is better and margin of victory does not count. But this is moot considering 3 teams from one conference cannot go to bcs bowls. Basically, you need auburn to lose. Think the rose bowl will deny a #14 cal team again if usc goes to the national champisonship? Neither do I.
What truly surprises me is the fact that USC is number one in the computer polls, and Michigan number two. The Buckeyes have handled everyone on thier schedule easily thus far, and have had a much more difficult schedule, yet are number three.
CAL over Tennessee?????? How do they come up with this, I have read the formula and stuff and still have no idea how Cal who got blown out by UT and is in the PAC10 is ranked ahead of UT who is in the SEC with two other teams in the top ten. Ridiculous
This all shows why the BCS needs to go. It's ridiculous. I'm sorry, but Jerry Palm is a jerk. "Oh, it'll be right later" is crap. If he even admits (albeit alluding to it) that the rankings are wrong, then it's wrong. Isn't it time for a playoff?
Tennessee did roll over Cal. Cal came into the hardest stadium to play on the road in the nation for their first game of the season with a quarterback who had played one game total year before. Maybe the polls are wrong and TN deserves to be ahead of Cal, but its not ridiculous to think that what Cal has done since that game is more impressive than what TN has done.
Look, the computer rankings are just a hash of strength of schedule, win-loss records, and in some of them, home-field advantage effects. They're not allowed to factor in margin of victory/defeat (which I think is wrong, and so do the computer guys, but the BCS seems to think it would give incentive to run up the score, as if impressing pollsters wasn't sufficient), so the Vols loss to a top-ten-ish Florida team at home actually looks worse to at least some of the computers than the Bears loss to a top-ten-ish Tennessee team on the road. Other than those losses, both have won all their games, and Cal's schedule to date certainly looks tougher to a computer (and probably to most humans outside of SEC country). Hence the computers think the Bears are better.