'What do you mean, we're in the BCS?'
By the time the BCS rankings were officially announced, it was something of a dud. We had all already heard that Alabama and LSU were headed for a rematch and that some bizarre bowl selections might be in the offing. But we still had not seen the final BCS Top 10, and how many other SEC teams might have made a cut that wouldn't matter with the Tigers and the Tide taking up the two bowl spots.
Turns out, there were two more teams not only in the Top 14 -- the cutoff for at-large eligibility -- but the Top 10, in the form of 10-win teams Arkansas and South Carolina. That was, by far, the most among any conference in the final regular-season edition.
3 Oklahoma State
7 Boise State
8 Kansas State
9 South Carolina
Full rankings here.
If having four teams in the BCS Top 10 isn't an argument for lifting the two-team cap, I don't know what is. Then again, the rest of the country is already sick of us for having two teams in the BCS National Championship Game, so maybe it's all for the best.
In any case, let's break down the Alabama vs. Oklahoma State matchup, which turned out something like this:
|Team||Coaches Rank||Coaches Score||Harris Rank||Harris Score||A&H||Billingsley||Colley||Massey||Sagarin||Wolfe||CPU Rank||CPU Score||BCS|
As we had kind of surmised after Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State, it boiled down to whether the Cowboys could build up a big lead over the Tide in the computers and then divide the human vote closely enough to swing the results. And they came close, just not close enough to get into the national title game.
In fact, the Tide won the human polls in a landslide, picking up almost 99 percent of their possible points once LSU swept the No. 1 vote. Alabama got 2,723 points, compared to 2,760 points if they had swept the second-place votes, in the Harris Poll (98.7 percent). And the Tide got 1,399 points of 1,416 points in the coaches' poll (98.8), coasting past the Pokes in both polls.
There was actually not a bunch of really bizarre stuff in the Top 10 -- as you can see -- but things got fun later in the rankings. Virginia Tech remains ranked No. 11 in part thanks to the human voters, who are apparently all blind. The computers, who have the excuse of not being able to watch the games or take margin of victory into account, at least had the Hokies down at No. 13 on the combined ballot. But the humans put the Hokies at No. 11 despite the fact that they got clobbered twice by Clemson ... ranked 14th by the humans.
But wait -- there's more. Oklahoma clocks in at No. 14 this week. That one's on the computers; the humans had the Sooners 19th, but the chips put them at seventh overall. Seventh. They're ahead of Oregon. That helped cost TCU its spot in the Top 16, which would have given the Horned Frogs a likely Sugar Bowl berth, sparing us -- well, we'll get to that in a moment.
And then things got really, really strange. Texas is No. 24 despite having seven combined points in the human polls. Which is appropriate, because the Longhorns only have seven wins this year. But the computers' googly-eyes for the Big 12 goes to ridiculous heights in this one: Only Billingsley has Texas unranked, and two of the computer polls put the Longhorns at No. 13. Yes, Richard Billingsley has become the voice of reason among the BCS chips.
Auburn, which got not a point from the coaches' poll, still rounds out the poll at No. 25. Colley is the only computer that doesn't rank the Tigers, and Sagarin has them 14th. If you wanted to know why Sagarin wants little to do with the ELO_CHESS results, that's your answer.
But the most bizarre stuff had less to do with the rankings than on one of the bowl matches they produced. Our final BCS bowl projections were pretty close, but we apparently used too much logic on one of the guesses.
|Bowl||TSK Projection||Actual Matchup|
|BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP||LSU vs. Alabama||LSU vs. Alabama|
|ROSE||Oregon vs. Wisconsin||Oregon vs. Wisconsin|
|FIESTA||Oklahoma State vs. Stanford||Oklahoma State vs. Stanford|
|SUGAR||Michigan vs. Kansas State||Michigan vs. Virginia Tech|
|ORANGE||Clemson vs. West Virginia||Clemson vs. West Virginia|
Yes, Virginia Tech somehow turned a 28-point shellacking against Clemson into an invitation to take on an arguably better opponent in what should be a higher-profile game. And that was the second time Clemson defeated them this year.
We'll have more analysis on all of the SEC bowl games later on, and much more over the next several weeks. But for now, it's hard to argue that the BCS system is not in some way broken -- and maybe irretrievably. Even a rematch opponent ought to be able to see that, right now, that's really the least of the BCS' problems.