Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reviewing Resumes

So you want to play in the BCS Championship Game? Very well. Come in and have a seat. We have a few worthy candidates and you'll get your turn to state your case.

In a contentious BCS atmosphere, every end of season acts as a beauty contest. A battle not fought on the field but in the forum of public opinion. It's not a meritocracy or even a democracy. It's Politburo-style, like in the old Soviet Union: 175 unelected representatives (61 coaches and 114 Harris voters) will decide the fate of our college football nation.

You still think the Guru loves the BCS? Sure, it's good for business. But like a vegetarian meat packer - just because you sell it doesn't mean you have to eat it.

It's a lousy job, but somebody has to do it. We have to try to decipher which are the two best teams that should be pitted in the mythical national championship game. Right now, we have seven contestants. And they're ranked 1 through 7 in the current BCS standings. But as usual, there's more to it than meets the eye.

Is Alabama really the best team? Does Utah have a chance? Which conference is tougher, the SEC or Big 12? And what about USC?

The best thing to do, then, is to evaluate each team's resume and put them next to each other. So the Guru did:

Team

SOS

RS*

Loss To Best Win

vs Top 14

Alabama 66 6-11 None #10 Georgia (8-2) 1-0 (1)
Texas Tech 29 10-8 None #3 Texas (9-1) 2-0 (1)
Texas 5 9-10 Texas Tech #2 (10-0) #5 Oklahoma (9-1) 3-1
Florida 14 11-5 Ole Miss UR (5-4) #10 Georgia 1-0 (1)
Oklahoma 27 15-2 Texas #3 (9-1) #18 TCU (9-2) 0-1 (2)
USC 39 13-15 Oregon State #28 (6-3) #11 Ohio State (8-2) 1-0
Utah 58 9-9 None #18 TCU 0-0
Key: SOS = Strength of schedule average of NCAA, Sagarin and Massey
RS* = Records of opponents remaining on schedule, excluding I-AA teams

As you can see, aside from being undefeated, Alabama may have the weakest resume of the group, yet it is ranked No. 1. And every other team has some strong arguments and some holes in its presentation as well. Let's review them one by one:

No. 1 Alabama - The Tide played the softest schedule of the group. One of its two best wins - over then-No. 9 Clemson - has been thoroughly discredited as the Tigers are 4-5 and just fired their coach. Basically, Alabama is living off its one great half against Georgia. If the Tide go on and finish the season 13-0, with a win over Florida in the SEC championship game, fine, send them to the BCS title game. But one loss anywhere should immediately eliminate 'Bama from this discussion.

No. 2 Texas Tech - The Red Raiders are definitely the hottest team and with a win at Oklahoma in two weeks, there should be no argument about their legitimacy. Unlike Alabama, another loss - to Oklahoma, specifically - shouldn't be automatically disqualifying, but the timing would probably do the trick.

No. 3 Texas - The Longhorns were one second away from a perfect record and probably an unanimous No. 1 ranking. Texas has played by far the toughest schedule of anyone and has beaten three teams in the top 14 - all in consecutive weeks. And its only loss is to the second-ranked team, on the road, in the last second. By all means, should either of the two unbeaten BCS teams slip up, Texas should get right back into the title picture. But the reality is that it might not even get into the Big 12 championship game.

No. 4 Florida - The Gators probably have the two most impressive wins - over Georgia and LSU by a combined score of 100-31 - but they also have the worst loss of the teams in the group. Florida's only loss was at home to an unranked Ole Miss team that's not yet bowl eligible. But the Gator have a chance to burnish their resume down the stretch with games against two teams currently ranked in the top 25, and then top-ranked Alabama in the SEC championship game. If they run the table, there should be no denying the Gators.

No. 5 Oklahoma - The Sooners won two games against good non-conference opponents (TCU and Cincinnati) but have yet to beat a quality Big 12 team. But OU has a chance to state its case because its two remaining opponents have a combined overall record of 18-2 (15-2 against I-A teams). And winning those games just might be enough to propel Oklahoma into the Big 12 championship game and open a path to the BCS title game.

No. 6 USC - The Trojans' one bad half against Oregon State not only is keeping them at arm's length of the BCS title game, but might also prevent them from earning a Rose Bowl berth. In retrospect, the loss to the Beavers was not as bad as originally thought - on the road against an OSU team that's now 6-3 and controls its own destiny for the Pac-10 title. And USC has no chance to impress the voters with games against Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA remaining. Despite the fact that USC's defense, which has surrendered an ungodly 6.7 points per game, may finish as the best unit of all time, the Pac-10's weakness this season is not helping the Trojans' cause.

No. 7 Utah - Can the Utes get into the BCS title game? Yes. The possibility exists. If every team ahead of them loses at least one more game - and Alabama loses twice - then Utah conceivably may end up in the championship game. Short of that, Utah will have to be content with a BCS bowl berth, which will be a lock if it beats San Diego State and BYU to finish the season.

As a bonus, here's the Guru's latest BCS bowl projections -

  • BCS Championship - Florida vs. Texas Tech

  • Rose Bowl - USC vs. Penn State

  • Fiesta Bowl - Texas vs. Ohio State

  • Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs. Utah

  • Orange Bowl - ACC champion vs. Big East champion

14 comments:

SteveHolt8472 said...

Regarding the bowl projections, I understand picking Florida to be in the NC game insofar as they will be favored to win their remaining schedule. From an impartial position, that is a logical pick. Texas Tech, however, is not. Tech will not be favored to win in Norman. Mike Leach has never won there. In fact, Texas Tech's only win in Norman came in 1996 against an OU team that finished the season 3-8. And in that past 10 seasons, OU has lost only 2 games at home. In picking Tech to win this year, you seem to be relying more on a gut feeling rather than statistical probabilities.

Trayton said...

Regarding the choice for the Orange and Sugar Bowls, I've been wrestling with the decision between Utah/BoiseSt/TCU/BallSt and the Big East champ.

Utah, Boise St., and Hawaii were all the last kid picked in their respective years. Are the mid-majors really more lucrative than whoever survives the Big East?

Given ACC vs BE on January 1st, at least Miami also gets the MNC.

The Guru said...

Assuming Cincinnati or Pittsburgh wins the Big East, then Utah will be a more attractive team than the Big East champ. And especially if Florida loses the SEC title game, then the Sugar Bowl would love to have an Urban Meyer Bowl.

As for the bowl projections, yes, I did take a little liberty with a forecast instead of a down-the-line numbers pick. I just think that TT will pull it out this time. But of course, I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Mountain West Question ...
Let's say Utah's luck runs out against BYU and they lose a close game to the Cougars ....

That leaves a three way tie at the top of the Mountain West with BYU, Utah and TCU, which each having a 1-1 record against eachother.

Question 1: Which of those three would likely be the highest rank MWC team? BYU would have the ugliest lose of the three, but also have played both games on the road. TCU would have the best win, but also a second loss to Oklahoma. Utah would probably still have the best non-Conference win over Oregon State and the best SOS, but also the most recent loss. Anyway, which of those three would be the highest ranked?

Question 2: Would any one of those three be ranked above an undefeated Boise State? What about a 1 loss Boise State? What about a undefeated Ball State?

Anonymous said...

Mountain West Question ...
Let's say Utah's luck runs out against BYU and they lose a close game to the Cougars ....

That leaves a three way tie at the top of the Mountain West with BYU, Utah and TCU, which each having a 1-1 record against eachother.

Question 1: Which of those three would likely be the highest rank MWC team? BYU would have the ugliest lose of the three, but also have played both games on the road. TCU would have the best win, but also a second loss to Oklahoma. Utah would probably still have the best non-Conference win over Oregon State and the best SOS, but also the most recent loss. Anyway, which of those three would be the highest ranked?

Question 2: Would any one of those three be ranked above an undefeated Boise State? What about a 1 loss Boise State? What about a undefeated Ball State?

Anonymous said...

Why do all the bowl projectuions have Alabama playing Utah? Is there some automatic tie-in for Utah to play in the Sugar Bowl or just bias against Alabama to make them play the worst team in the BCS? Why not an Alabama-Texas matchup if neither is in the title game, or even an Alabama-Penn State match-up?

Adam said...

Let's get REAL!!! Florida has a good chance to beat Bama, but does that make them the best 1 loss team? For anyone who follows Texas football, Tech is real good! However, their win over Texas was a first half fluke!

OU will teach Tech a lesson in fundamentals next week and will win by 10+.

Now, is where things get interesting. SEC is a joke compared to Big 12 (South). How can Florida possibly jump Texas? Also, OU lost to Texas and have had the easier schedule! There is no reason they should jump too!

One last rant... What about a Florida loss between now and SEC champ and a Tech win in Norman? Will Florida still make it to SEC champ and possibly beat Bama! If so, do we expect a Texas & Texas Tech rematch?

jason said...

you forget that the big 12 just started playing each other{the good ones anyway}. while the sec has been playing each other from the beginning. there for when the big 12 teams lose, they don't drop as far cause they were so high ranked due to being undefeated til the end of the season. i can't believe no one else notices that.

Trayton said...

Re Alabama-Utah:
For the sake of argument, let's have a MNC of Big12 vs SEC.
Fiesta and Sugar are going to replace #1 and #2 with teams from the same conference. Rose has Pac10-Big10 automatically.

That leaves (in order of at-large selection)
Fiesta: Big12 vs AtL
Sugar: SEC vs AtL
Orange: ACC vs AtL
with MidMajorOfChoice, BigEast, and an at-large berth (probably tOSU, possibly USC if Oregon St. wins out).

The Fiesta will want either of tOSU and USC. Sugar is left with the choice of MidMajor (Utah/BSU/BSU) or the Big East champ (Cincinnati? Pittsburgh?).

While Hawaii may have left a not so sweet taste in the mouths for the Sugar Bowl, Utah and Boise St. have proven themselves capable of playing with the big boys (see Fiesta '05, '07).

As for your suggestions of PSU and UT, PSU will be committed to the Rose Bowl and UT (if available) would likely go to the Fiesta.

Now, if we go all the way back up to the top and have the Big12 exploding in chaos, Fiesta would take the Big12 champ (Mizzou/Oklahoma) and Texas *might* be available for the Sugar to pick up.

Anonymous said...

how is utahs strength of schedule tougher than alabamas. that doesnt sense.

SteveHolt8472 said...

Well, Utah does have 3 fairly decent wins:

TCU (9-2)
Air Force (8-2)
Oregon State (6-3)

Whereas Alabama really only has two:

Georgia (8-2)
LSU (6-3)

SteveHolt8472 said...

Regarding the respective strength of schedules of OU and Texas; Oklahoma's strength of schedule will improve dramatically after its final two games. The difference between the two teams SOS's will at that point be negligible.

Also worth noting: OU and Florida can both gain ground on Texas in the computer averages if BYU beats Utah. (Utah is ranked 4th by the computers.) Which matters not at all to Florida who will jump Texas regardless if they win out. But a Utah loss should cut Texas' already fledgling lead over OU from 0.0354 to 0.0187.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your Orange Bowl prediction.....ACC champ vs. Big East Champ......

As if to say, "who really cares about this game???"

That's classic...we're not even gonna waste time guessing who these teams will be...they're just going to play each other in this meaningless BCS bowl game.

C-Pain said...

Here's my hopeful projections as an 'SC fan barring all the teams ahed of SC losing twice

Rose: PSU vs. Oregon St.
Fiesta: USC vs. Texas
Sugar: Alabama vs. Utah
Orange: Miami vs. Pitt
BCS Title game: Florida v. Oklahoma

Beating a Big 10 team in the Rose is starting to get old. I'd rather have a competitive game against a Big 12 team in the Fiesta.

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