Saturday, September 27, 2008

Who's No. 1? Roll Tide!

USC's shocking loss to Oregon State, as it turned out, was merely hors d'oeuvres. Saturday was the feast.

Three more teams in the top 10 in the unofficial BCS standings also went down in defeat against underdog opponents. While Wisconsin's and Florida's losses were unexpected and monumental, they did not deliver the same reverberations as Alabama's resounding 41-30 victory at Georgia did.

The Bulldogs had been ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings and were poised to assume the top ranking after USC's loss. But with the Crimson Tide's convincing victory - the final score was tempered by a couple of late Georgia touchdowns - an argument needs to be made that Alabama, not anyone else, should be No. 1.

And the possibility exists that the Crimson Tide just might be top-ranked when the new BCS standings are unveiled early next week. Two additional elements will be introduced this weekend that should make the next standings our best facsimile yet: The Harris Interactive Poll, accounting for one-third of the standings, will be released for the first time this season; and Anderson & Hester, one of the six BCS computers, will also make its 2008 debut this weekend.

Why might Alabama end up as the new No. 1?

First, the Tide's computer ratings are better than any team in front of them that didn't lose this weekend, and they will only improve with the win over Georgia. Second, Harris voters, turning in their ballots for the first time this season, have less preconceived notions with no "preseason" rankings to consider - at least that should be the case.

Third, and most important, Alabama has been flat-out better than any of the other contenders, against a much tougher schedule.

The Tide opened the season with a 34-10 rout of then-No. 9 Clemson on a neutral site (Georgia Dome in Atlanta) and now added a road win at Athens to their resume. They've scored 90 points on their two SEC opponents and the worst team they've beaten thus far - Western Kentucky - is a respectable 2-3.

Contrast that with the other pretenders to the throne - Oklahoma, LSU, Missouri and Texas. Three of these teams played at least one I-AA opponent and the other, Texas, has feasted on nobody but overmatched cupcakes - all but one at home. Alabama's strength of schedule is among the top 30, the other four teams are much closer to 100 than 50.

About the only thing that would keep Alabama out of the top BCS spot next week, frankly, is petty jealousy among the coaches. In case you weren't paying attention, many coaches are not exactly thrilled with Nick Saban's $4 million annual package that he signed when he returned to the college game after the 2006 season. This season, the Tide have ranked considerably lower in the coaches poll than the AP poll. Last week, Alabama was 8th in the AP but No. 10 in the coaches poll.

Alabama might still emerge as the new No. 1 team in the BCS standings, even taking the potential slights from the coaches into consideration. But perhaps more poignantly, isn't it time for Saban's peers to acknowledge that the guy can recruit - and coach - just a little bit?


Utah/BYU fan said...

I just found this site. Searched for "unofficial bcs rating" on google. Thanks for this. I tried a similar thing a few years back just using a spreadsheet, so I know a little about what goes into it.

Your efforts are appreciated -- especially before the BCS poll comes out and then by fans of the teams that rank around 16-30.

Here's hoping for an undefeated Utah meeting an undefeated BYU in November and a host of high ranking BCS teams getting upset in the mean time. The only think fun about the BCS is the controversy.

quakk said...

"About the only thing that would keep Alabama out of the top BCS spot next week, frankly, is petty jealousy among the coaches."

herein lies the problem with any opinion-based ranking. each computer ranking has its advantages and disadvantages, but at least there's no "slighting" a team you don't like.

over at, there's a statistical ranking for college hockey teams - krach. i've often wondered, but i've had neither the time nor inclination to try it out, how it would work for division 1 football.

i did set it up for acha division 1 club hockey teams in the late 90s, and there was a huge backlash from the "voters" because of the deviation from the polls.

dethwing said...

Looks like you were spot on about Alabama. 2nd in the AP with 21 first place votes. 4th in coaches, with 2 first places.

Anonymous said...

"the worst team they've beaten thus far - Western Kentucky - is a respectable 2-3." Since when is winning 40% of the games you play respectable? Many coaches are run out of town for only winning half.

The Guru said...

We're talking about Western Kentucky here. All three losses were against BCS conference teams. For a startup D-IA program, 2-3 is certainly pretty respectable.