Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Preseason BCS: Buckeyes No. 1, Again

Without a doubt we have been here before: Ohio State is No. 1 in the BCS standings.

Just like at the end of the 2007 regular season, and the 2006 regular season, the Buckeyes are once again on top of the BCS standings. Despite Georgia's lofty status as the top team in both the AP and coaches preseason polls, Ohio State is ranked No. 1 in the preseason BCS standings after the computers have spoken.

Georgia is not even No. 2, in fact -- that spot goes to USC. The Bulldogs, eyeing their first national championship since 1980, are at No. 3, followed by Oklahoma, Florida and Missouri. Defending BCS champion LSU is No. 7, with West Virginia, Clemson and Texas rounding up the Top 10.

See the complete preseason BCS standings, all the way down to No. 57s Hawaii and Washington. Every team that received at least a single vote in the AP or coaches poll is placed in the BCS standings

So what is the methodology of our preseason standings, you ask? Well, it's the same formula that produces the official BCS standings, with two exceptions: 1) Since the Harris Interactive Poll that accounts for 1/3 of the standings won't be available until late September, the AP poll is used in its place; 2) None of the six BCS computers has published preseason ratings, so ratings from 20 computers that do are used. The highest and lowest ratings for each team are discarded, and the remaining 18 averaged to produce the computer score.

How important is it to be No. 1 in the preseason? Well, it's far from meaningless. Or let's put it this way: you don't want to be way down in the standings to begin the season if you have any aspirations of getting into the BCS championship game. Just ask Auburn of 2004, which began the year No. 17 in the polls and never made it all the way to the top despite not losing a game.

For Ohio State, being No. 1 is nothing special, but finishing No. 1 has proved elusive. The Buckeyes have been to the last two BCS title games -- and got blown out in each. Their legitimacy will be severely questioned every step of way because of that history, and it doesn't help that the Big Ten will be even weaker than last season, particularly with Michigan seemingly on a rebuilding trail.

Luckily for Ohio State, it has an opportunity to quiet most of its critics early in the season. The Buckeyes have a date at the L.A. Coliseum on Sept. 13 against No. 2 USC. With an inexperienced offense and the availability of QB Mark Sanchez in question after dislocating his knee last week, the Trojans may be vulnerable. But USC, which hasn't lost a non-conference regular season game since 2002, has a stout defense of its own led by All-American linebackers Ray Maualuga and Brian Cushing.

The winner of the game that night should be on top of the unofficial BCS standings while Georgia, without a strong early-season test until the Sept. 20 game at No. 17 Arizona State, might hang on as No. 1 in both polls.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the OSU vs. USC game is on the 13th, not the 15th. And, oh by the way, the Big Ten will be a little better this year.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Guru, Sagarin has his preseason ratings out.