BCS Standings thread and rooting guide

Submitted by mfan_in_ohio on November 27th, 2011 at 7:53 PM

So everyone seems to think that Michigan is going to face Houston in the Sugar Bowl.  Of course, in order for that to happen, Michigan has to finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings.  The current BCS standings come out at 8:15 pm tonight.  This has been an overanalyzed topic on the MGoBoard, but there are some interesting and somewhat overlooked things that could happen next week to affect Michigan's BCS hopes.  The consensus round these parts has been that if LSU beats Georgia, we should be in the top 14 and thus selected to the Sugar Bowl.  However, even if that happens, there are some other teams that we should be concerned about:

1. Michigan State.  If they lose to Wisconsin in a close game, it is not unreasonable to think that they might stay above us.  Yes, they have 3 losses to our 2, but they beat us by two touchdowns.  They have moved up to 9th (barely) in the Coaches poll and are 11th in the Harris poll.  The computers have us (just) ahead of MSU, so if they drop to one spot ahead of us in the polls, the BCS rankings will probably have us ahead of them. For State to stay in the top 14, they'd have to only drop a couple of spots after a loss.  A State win in the B1G championship game, while deeply unsatisfying to my fandom, would actually benefit Michigan, as Wisconsin would almost definitely drop below us, and with MSU as one of our opponents, it would help our computer rankings.  It would still, however, make me nauseated.

2.  Baylor.  This is the one that really scares me.  The computers LOVE the Big 12.  Two of the computer rankings had Baylor 7th overall last week, even with losses to Kansas St. and Texas A&M.  My guess is that Baylor and Michigan will almost be exactly tied in this week's rankings, with Michigan having a slight edge.  The good news is that they might have dropped a little in the computer rankings, as their win over Texas Tech will not help them as much as South Carolina's win over Clemson, for example.  That same game helped Michigan to move in front of Clemson in several computer polls.  In any case, Baylor's game next weekend against Texas may decide Michigan's bowl fate.

3.  Oklahoma.  An Oklahoma win over Ok. St. keeps both in the  top 14.  I have no doubt that the Sugar Bowl would take us over the Cowboys, but we'd have to make the top 14 for that to matter.  An Oklahoma loss should drop them past Michigan in the human polls, but they were 6th in the computer polls last week.  A loss to Ok. St. (#2 in the computers last week) is not going to hurt them too much, and they'll probably stay in the top 10 in the computer rankings.  That means they'd have to drop to at least about 17th in the human polls to fall past Michigan.  I don't know if that will happen.

The overall math is this: We will be 16th in tonight's rankings.  We need two teams to drop past us with no teams moving ahead of us. (or three drop and one moves ahead of us.) We need the following to happen:

1. Georgia loss to LSU.  A Georgia win eliminates the Sugar Bowl slot.  Nobody, not even Mark Richt's mother, thinks this will happen. 

2.  The B1G loser to drop at least 4 spots in the human polls.  That should happen, but hope for a blowout either way (run it up, Bielema).

3a.  Texas beats Baylor.  A Baylor win probably puts them ahead of Michigan and leaves us at 15th in the BCS, which means we can't be selected over other eligible teams.

3b.  Oklahoma loses badly enough to Ok. St. that the human polls drop them to about 18th, allowing Michigan to slide ahead of them in the BCS. 

3c. UCLA beats Oregon. The Pac-12 championship game should be irrelevant, as UCLA won't beat Oregon, but if they do, Oregon should drop out of the top 15 in the BCS. That would be great, as it would pretty much lock up a spot in the top 14 for Michigan, and it would give the B1G a winnable Rose Bowl.  Go Bruins!

We also should hope that Virginia Tech beats Clemson.  A Clemson win is dangerous because it hurts us in the computer polls, and it gives a bowl game the opportunity to take Virginia Tech as an at-large instead of Michigan (unlikely, but possible).  I don't think Clemson overtakes Michigan in the human polls with three losses, but it would probably be close.

The BCS standings come out at 8:15.  What to watch for: the gap between Michigan and Baylor, and both teams' positions in the computer rankings.  I expect Michigan to be at almost exactly 0.400 overall (probably a little above), and Baylor to be just a little below 0.400.  If the gap is big enough, it could be hard for Baylor to overcome even with a win over Texas, especially if Baylor gets pushed down by other teams in the computer polls.  Last week the computers had them at 0.550; hopefully they have dropped from this spot.

Edit: There has been a lot of consternation in this thread and the others that have popped up tonight about Baylor.  Basically, the fear is that a Baylor win over Texas bumps them ahead of Michigan.  I should know, since I said it above.  Having seen the updated standings, I don't think it will happen.  A Baylor win is not going to help them in the human polls.  We all know that the voters have a tendency to "ladder" their votes, meaning that teams usually only drop when they lose, or if a team behind them has an impressive win.  Beating Texas is not that impressive; a lot of other teams have done it too.  So Baylor should stay two spots behind us in the human polls even with a win (assuming TCU beats a 2-9 UNLV team at home).  In the computer polls, Baylor can only move up about one spot (ahead of South Carolina) if Houston, Boise, Va. Tech and Oregon win (as they should).  The Michigan-Baylor gap is 0.04, which corresponds to exactly one spot on average between the three polls.  Since Baylor can't move up in the human polls, and can move up at most a spot and a half in the computers, that gap should only narrow to about half of what it is now.  Also, either Georgia or the B1G loser should drop between Michigan and Baylor in the human polls, which should increase the gap.  In short, I think the Baylor-Texas game shouldn't matter.  We should just need LSU to win, and the voters to drop the B1G loser below us.




November 27th, 2011 at 8:08 PM ^

I'm not 100% sure that the Houston loss would knock them out of the top 14 (although it probably will), but it certainly eliminates them from automatic qualifier status for the BCS.  It also opens up the possibility of  A K-State loss serves the same purpose as a Baylor loss, as it would pretty much clinch the top 14 for Michigan.


November 27th, 2011 at 9:09 PM ^

My hope is that the Baylor win over Texas doesn't do anything for them in the human polls, since TCU is the only team between us and Baylor, and TCU plays a horrible UNLV team on Saturday.  The computer polls don't give them a lot of room to move up.  South Carolina is just ahead of Baylor, so I think Baylor will move ahead of them.  The next two computer spots up are Oregon and Virginia Tech, who should both win next week.  The two above that are Boise State and Houston, who should also win next week.  I think Baylor can only move up one computer spot.  My hope is that the B1G loser and/or Georgia drop below Michigan but ahead of Baylor.  That would make it virtually impossible for Baylor to get ahead of Michigan.


November 27th, 2011 at 8:38 PM ^

The best scenario for M is a Wisconsin blowout win.  That will drop Michigan State significantly in the human polls.  Also, they are very close to Michigan in all of the computer rankings, so a MSU loss not only hurts them, it also boosts Michigan. 

Ali G Bomaye

November 28th, 2011 at 12:05 PM ^

Every major ranking, including the BCS, has every 2-loss AQ team ahead of every 3-loss AQ team (also, every 1-loss AQ team is ahead of every 2-loss AQ team).  There is no way the human voters would rank a 3-loss MSU ahead of a 2-loss Michigan.  The computers used to be more objective, but various outcries and tweaks over the years have basically ensured that the BCS can't rank a 3-loss team ahead of a 2-loss team.  Thus, I feel very confident that the loser of the B1G Championship, whether MSU or Wisconsin, will be below Michigan in the BCS rankings.

Also, I find it very strange that Michigan is the lowest-ranked 2-loss team.  In my opinion, the following teams are ranked ahead of Michigan without a compelling reason:

  • Kansas State: only win over a ranked team was by 1 point over 8-3 Baylor, at home.  Lost by 41 to Oklahoma.
  • South Carolina: only win over a ranked team was over 9-3 Clemson, at home.  Lost by  16 to Arkansas, the only other ranked team on their schedule.
  • Georgia: did not beat a single ranked team.  Lost at home to Boise State and South Carolina.  Beat bad teams Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Kentucky by 9 points or less.
  • Oklahoma: wins over ranked teams Kansas State (9-2) and Florida State (8-4).  Lost to 8-3 Baylor and 5-7 Texas Tech.
  • Arkansas: only win over a ranked team is over 10-2 South Carolina.  Got blown out by LSU and Alabama, although we can't fault them for that.

Michigan's only win over a ranked team was the Nebraska blowout, but we don't have any really bad losses (MSU is top-15, and Iowa was a nailbiter to a bowl team).  We have a really similar profile to these other teams, but are ranked below them for some reason.

I think this is due to two things: preseason ranking bias and SEC bias.  We were unranked in the preseason, and human voters stupidly have a problem "jumping" teams over each other if they have similar records.  However, it should be obvious that preseason rankings should have no bearing on polls 12 games later.  Also, I think the annual bias toward SEC strength of schedule is largely unwarranted this year.  There's no doubt that LSU and Alabama have looked more impressive than any other teams in the country, but after that, there's not a lot of other good teams in the SEC (Arkansas may be, but they haven't really shown it against anybody good).  This is particularly infuriating when a team like Georgia gets a "SEC bump" despite being lucky enough to miss the two heavyweights.  Can anyone really look at Georgia's schedule and say it's significantly tougher than Michigan's?


November 27th, 2011 at 8:30 PM ^

The gap is a little bigger than I thought it would be.  The computers must have really liked Michigan's win over Ohio.  Remember that Baylor's strength is driven by the computers, and it's hard for them to go much higher in some of those polls.  A Baylor win might not be enough to push them ahead of Michigan if it doesn't push them up in the human polls. 


November 27th, 2011 at 8:43 PM ^

Well, not really, since LSU wears white for all of its games anyway.  I think it would end up with Alabama #1, LSU #2.  LSU's schedule strength is so outstanding that even with a loss to Georgia, they still have a way better resume than Oklahoma State, who lost to unranked Iowa State, or Stanford, who lost at home to a team (Oregon) that LSU beat by two touchdowns. 


November 27th, 2011 at 8:39 PM ^

Where in the world are you getting these numbers!?!? No one has ok st that high nor oklahoma that high.  Any 3 loss team is going to be below us.  Georgia loss will make our bid to the sugar bowl concrete. Really what computer polls are you referring to b/c the bcs official computer polls are seriously far from what youre reporting.  


November 27th, 2011 at 9:02 PM ^


Ok. State is now slightly below Alabama in the computers.  Both have some 2nds and some 3rds, but Alabama has more 2nds.  Of note: Baylor is now 13th in the computers to Michigan's 15th, with Georgia 14th.  A win over Texas would boost them one or two spots, probably.  A Baylor win takes them no higher than 12th in the computers unless Oregon or Virginia Tech (tied for 10th) lose.  A Georgia loss bumps Michigan up one, but the B1G winner will probably jump us (and maybe Baylor as well).  So worst case, we are three spots behind Baylor in the computers.  If we can stay two spots ahead of them in the human polls, we should be ok.  Right now, TCU holds that buffer spot, so it would help us if they beat UNLV next weekend.  Since UNLV is 2-9, I'm not worried. 


November 27th, 2011 at 8:40 PM ^

Why would MSU (ranked 14) stay ahead of us with a loss while Oregon (ranked 10) fall out of the top 15th with a loss? 

Human voters are going to see 3 losses and drop them, but if they both lose, Oregon is going to be above MSU.


November 27th, 2011 at 8:52 PM ^

Oregon would be losing to a 6-6 UCLA team that just lost to USC 50-0.  That's bad.  Michigan State would be losing to a 10-2, top 15 Wisconsin team that will be playing on Jan. 2nd whether they win or lose.  Losing to UCLA is equivalent at this point to losing to Purdue.  That should drop Oregon a whole bunch, especially since they will have two losses in the last three weeks.  Also, I was talking about the human polls, where Michigan State is ranked 9th and 11th.  I don't think a close loss will be enough for MSU, since we should beat them in the computers, but I wouldn't be surprised if the voters at least keep MSU ahead of us based on the head-to-head, and the fact that MSU had to play an extra game against a highly ranked team.


November 27th, 2011 at 9:38 PM ^

Just read this from Mark Schlabach at ESPN.


The No. 15 Badgers play No. 13 Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday. The losing team figures to drop out of the top 14 of the BCS standings, which would leave the winner as the only Big Ten team ranked in the top 14.


Under BCS rules, a team must finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings to be considered for a BCS at-large berth -- unless there's only one team from its conference in the top 14. So if only one Big Ten team finishes in the top 14 of the final BCS standings, Michigan could still receive an at-large bid as long as it finishes in the top 18.

Zone Left

November 27th, 2011 at 10:12 PM ^

As usual, ESPN is wrong:


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.

If expansion of the pool to 18 teams does not result in 10 teams eligible for selection, then the pool shall be expanded by blocks of 4 teams until 10 eligible teams are available 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 or lower, a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14.

There will be enough eligible teams in the Top-14. Schlabach can't do basic research.


November 28th, 2011 at 7:45 AM ^

I was listening to ESPN radio as they went through bcs scenarios, and there was something in there about 2 or fewer losses. Looking at the rankings either MSU or Wisconsin will have three, and if OSU beats Oklahoma or LSU beats Georgia that creates another 3 loss team. (I guess there is Iowa States vs K-State or UCLA vs Oregon as well, but those are long shots.

As we all know from our experience in '06, it ain't over until the voters gang up and fix the obvious deficiencies, and that doesn't happen until next week.

Zone Left

November 27th, 2011 at 10:03 PM ^


Boise will get in as a second non-AQ before K-State. The Wildcats have zero draw.

We're lucky nine of the next eleven teams above us play on Saturday and that the non-AQ teams are most highly ranked. Houston has a pretty decent shot at losing to Southern Miss and will fall like a stone if they lose.

K-State could lose to Iowa State. Georgia should lose. MSU or Wisconsin will lose (hopefully by many points).

This wouldn't be a problem if margin of victory was taken into account. Sagarin's Predictor has us at #9. We're understanding why non-traditional powers hate the system. Starting out of the rankings gives teams with the same record a serious penalty.


November 27th, 2011 at 10:28 PM ^

Look, LSU is going to dismantle Georgia, book it.  That's one.  Clemson isn't going to beat VT.  That's two.  Wisconsin isn't going to let MSU beat them on a neutral field and embarass Bielema again.  Wisconsin beat MSU by at least 14 and we're in.  Oklahoma may also very well lose to Okie State.

There are enough possibilities that are fairly likely that I think we're in.  UNLESS, the replay official from Saturday(and Iowa) has anything to say about it.



November 27th, 2011 at 11:49 PM ^

Thinking UCLA will lose to Oregon, let alone score on them is a pipedream. I am a UCLA fan as I am from the area (and despise USC) and watching last night's game was just painful. IIRC the announcers mentioned that UCLA losing in the Pac 12 Championship Game would make them bowl game ineligible because it would make them 6-7.

But yea fat chance in hell they beat Oregon. Neuheisel needs to be fired.


November 28th, 2011 at 1:21 AM ^

Probably Necessary:

  • LSU over Georgia
  • OK State over Oklahoma

Plan B:

  • SMU over Houston
  • ISU over KSU

Potentially useful but probably irrelevant:

  • Texas over Baylor
  • UCLA over Oregon
  • MSU over Wisc
  • VaTech over Clemson




November 28th, 2011 at 1:59 AM ^

Blowouts wanted in:

#1. OK State's favor over Oklahoma.

#2. B1G CG for either side, with MSU benefitting Michigan slightly more

#3. LSU favor over Georgia


Sadly though, we missed out on the big opportunities to root against teams.  ND over Stanford would have been nice to have, as would have TTU over Baylor.


November 28th, 2011 at 7:49 AM ^

Oklahoma St. had a late season loss to an unranked team, why are they so high.  Stanford has one loss to Oregon, a top 10 team.  It seems that this year in particular the old standards don't apply, late loss (especially to an unranked team) behind the other one loss teams who have only lost to a ranked team.


November 29th, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

OU lost twice to un-ranked teams.  And all the high ranked teams they played early in the season are no longer ranked.  The BCS computers has some crazy algorithms for ranking big 12 teams high. Even if OU loses they will probably be ranked ahead of us with 3 losses, may be in the human poles they may drop only a few spots behind  us...but in the final BCS poll OU may be ranked higher?

It will suck if LSU, OSU and WI all win and we are still not ranked 14th!

BS Preacher

November 28th, 2011 at 10:24 AM ^

According to this ESPN article


In order to be eligible to be selected as at At-Large team for a BCS bowl, a team needs to either finish in the Top 14.  However, if only one team from that conference finished in the Top 14 then a team only has to finish in the Top 18.  Since the loser of the Sparty Wisonsin game will almost certainly fall out of the Top 14 (unless perhaps it is a very very close game) then we will be eligible to be selected ... Thus advancing to the Sugar Bowl.  The point is, we don't even need to root for Sparty (Thank God).  With the standings exactly as they are, we have already qualified ... even if Baylor jumps us.    


November 28th, 2011 at 10:28 AM ^

A 3-loss state team will not be ranked ahead of Michigan. I guarentee it. I think it's perfectly fine to root for Wisconsin in that game.

As long as Georgia loses to LSU we'll be fine.