Monday, October 29, 2007

Only Eight Left

With the avalanche of upsets coming to a halt, the 2007 BCS picture has become a little bit more clear following the release of the new BCS standings. Eight teams, each with no or one loss, still have a shot at reaching the BCS championship game in New Orleans. The rest of them are simply playing for a share from the big bag of money.

Before we get to the business at hand, the Guru would just like to say this: OK, so I gloated a bit after nailing the release of the first 2007 BCS standings. And this week, I had the top nine in the exact order ... but you're not gonna hear me crow -- because it's just so unbecoming.

And there's this little affair of a week ago, when I admittedly whiffed on a couple of projections, specifically projecting LSU to top Boston College for No. 2. The reason for those calculation errors is:

a) I had a bad case of flu while attending a wedding
b) My traveling laptop didn't have all the important data
c) I hurried so I can get to the next round of golf
d) The whole thing is just a scam: The Guru was just throwing darts on a board anyway

I could've picked one or all of the above, but I will instead blame the voters. The projection business is part mathematics and part psychology. While I can pretty consistently nail down the computer rankings, getting the human votes right is much, much harder. Think about it: Between the coaches poll and Harris poll, there are 174 potential voters, each with a mind of his own. They might do what's expected of a rational human being, or they might vote Troy as the 21st best team in the country, as one did this past week.

The point is this: I expected quite a few more voters to cast their ballots for LSU vis-a-vis Boston College, and they thought otherwise. And at this point of the season, the voters will decide everything. Yes, just like last year, when the voters mandated that there would be no rematch between Ohio State and Michigan, they will let us know whom they want in the BCS title game.

Right now, it looks like Ohio State and Boston College.

With mostly only conference games remaining for every team, it's unlikely that you'll see a seismic shift in the computer rankings if a team keeps winning. This is why November is the time to score style points. While computers are not allowed to use margin of victory in their formulas, the voters can freely interpret the meaning of the outcome of each game. Win impressively, you might siphon a few votes from your competitors. Win barely, you'll be punished.

For now, these are the resumes of the Elite Eight:

For sure, one of those teams will be eliminated this weekend, as Oregon and Arizona State clash in Eugene. The loser will not have a chance to play for the national title, and probably be out of the Pac-10 race as well. And then, on Nov. 17, two huge games involving the current Nos. 1 and 2 will either cement their places in New Orleans, or blow the whole thing wide open.

Finally, as promised, this is the Guru's take on Hawai'i: Not good, but improving somewhat. The Rainbow Warriors currently occupy the 14th spot in the BCS rankings, two below what's needed for a guaranteed berth. Hawai'i's computer rankings are 14, 26, 31, 33, 47 and 54. So far, the Warriors are getting no points in the computer ratings and it looks as though they might get just a tad at the end of the season.

So again, it will come down to the human voters. Assuming Hawai'i gets .100 in the computers, it will need to rank about a consensus eighth or ninth in the human polls to pull it off. It will test the willingness of human voters to put a team that so far has played the easiest schedule in all of Division I-A in the Top 10. To me, that seems unlikely.

Then again, if I can divine the intentions of every human voter, then I'm in the wrong business.

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