Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Horns No. 2, But For How Long?

After Oklahoma gutted Texas Tech on Saturday, the Big 12 South debate officially raged on. Will Texas hold off Oklahoma for the coveted No. 2 spot, assuring a berth in the Big 12 title game? Or will OU overtake UT, despite having lost to the Longhorns on a neutral field?

The latest BCS standings still favor the Longhorns, but here's a message before you start humming "The Eyes of Texas": Don't get too comfortable.

Just how thin is Texas' advantage over Oklahoma? If the Sooners move up one spot in three of the computers, then they'd be ahead of the Longhorns. Or, if about a third of the voters decide to swap OU ahead of UT on their ballots, that'd do it, too.

The former is far more likely to happen than the latter, as Oklahoma plays at No. 13 Oklahoma State whereas Texas faces woeful Texas A&M at home. There's much more room for Oklahoma to improve its computer rankings while the 'Horns are basically "maxed out." Texas also wants to pay particular attention to the Alabama game, as an Auburn win in the Iron Bowl will certainly provide the computer boost that OU needs - IF the poll results stay relatively static.

So the big question is, will Texas hold Oklahoma off for one more week? Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Texas coach Mack Brown has a vote in the coaches poll whereas OU coach Bob Stoops does not. Not to call his integrity into question, but since it's a secret ballot, what's to stop Brown from putting OU as low as 10th on his ballot?

Sitting in wait is No. 4 Florida. With games against Florida State and No. 1 Alabama remaining on the schedule, the Gators should be able to move up the standings - particularly with Texas and Oklahoma in a deadlock, potentially splitting valuable votes. An Oklahoma upset loss to Oklahoma State would clear the path for Florida, though it might not be entirely necessary.

The team that's doomed is No. 5 USC. Even with a couple of upsets in the final two weekends, there is no conceivable way for the Trojans to climb into the top 2, thus a spot in the BCS title game. USC's weak computer rankings will not alter much with games against mediocre Notre Dame and UCLA left - and that weakness will torpedo USC's quest even if it finishes in the top 2 in the human polls. The only way the Trojans can win the 2008 national championship is via the AP poll.

A split championship? Yep, that possibility is alive and well. But that's a topic for another day.


collegefootballcapsules said...

In this 3-way tie, logically you cannot apply the head to head analysis since that only takes you in circles. (TX beat OU, TT beat TX, OU beat TT). = circular reasoning = illogical.

That's why Texas fan and others are falsely framing this as a 2-way tie between OU v. TX so only their head to head win v. OU counts and everyone forgets they lost to Texas Tech

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Texas won one by a little and lost one by a little.

Tech won one by a little and lost one by a lot.

OK won one by a lot and lost one by a little.

It looks like OK has a legit argument. You can total the stats of the three teams in the games against each other (including pts for and against, yards for and against) and it's pretty clear that OK should come out on top.

Adam said...

Okay, I'm no BCS expert, but is a Texas/OU rematch possible? I remember all of the talk about an Ohio State/Michigan rematch 2 years ago. What happens if Florida wins SEC, but doesn't jump Texas or OU for that matter?

Florida doesn't stand a chance in the computer polls! It will all come down to voters to put them in and we saw that the OU blowout didn't jump Texas. how can Florida even be considered unless they score 100-0?

Babic said...


You seem to be very keen on a USC split title scenario. What if, and this is a big what if, PSU would beat USC in the Rose Bowl. Where do you think PSU would end up in the AP and BCS?

TCU said...

Hello Boise state has not lost one game. They have showed they can handle a BCS game. it sound like politics to me

C-Pain said...


Barring an upset in Corvalis this weekend, PSU is not playing USC in the Rose Bowl so your question would be moot.

Anonymous said...

Why does the BCS computer rankings show OU with a 22 ranking for Jeff Sagarin when Sagarin's website has OU at #2, which is a 24 ranking?

Henry Louis Gomez said...

Adam, Florida's computer rankings will improve dramatically if they beat Florida State and then NUMBER ONE Alabama. If Alabama beats Auburn and Florida then they will be in for sure. The chances of an OU/TX rematch are zero.

Anon, OU is currently ranked 4th in Sagarin's ELO_CHESS rating which is the one the BCS uses. The number 2 rating you see is a synthesis of ELO_CHESS and the PREDICTOR ratings.

The difference between the two ratings is Margin of Victory. The BCS doesn't want to use MoV in its rankings because it "encourages running up the score".

Florida is ranked 2nd in Sagarin's PREDICTOR which he feels is the better of the two systems but ranked 7th in the "politically correct" ELO_CHESS.

Anonymous said...

The human pollsters are doing everything they can to screw Texas, including putting Florida ahead of of Texas. The reason the computers still like Texas over OU (and, especially, Florida), is the overall ranking of the teams Texas has beat compared to OU or Florida. Florida's schedule does not even compare to Texas'...yet, but I predict OU will surpass Texas in the computers if they beat OSU, and that's still a big if.

If we're not going to have playoffs, we should eliminate the human polls that corrupt the process and work out a purely statistical system (no MoV!). The human polls exist solely to influence the outcome of the bowl selections because of the money at stake.

Brian said...

@ Henry Louis Gomez

The chances of a OU/TX rematch are slim, not zero. I could imagine the following scenario:

OU beats OSU and Mizzou and wins the Big XII and Florida/Bama could each lose this weekend. Florida beats Bama in the SEC Championship but not impressively so.

Final polls have 1-loss OU #1, 1-loss Texas #2 above 1-loss USC, Utah, Penn State and 2 loss Bama/UF.

It's certainly not probable, but also not inconceivable. Fans of chaos should root for an SEC meltdown.

GAPSUFAN said...

Does USC have a weaker schedule than PSU? If so, how can they be ranked ahead of PSU? I believe USC has only two wins over currently ranked teams whereas PSU has three.
Looks like a Dog and Pony Show to me.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

USC lost early. PSU lost relatively late. It's the dumb system we have.