There are a number of dissenting comments on my piece - The Meaninglessness of Computers. A couple of posters didn't quite agree with my analysis and a few others simply think that this year will be different. That this year, for the first time since the last BCS formula overhaul in 2004, a team that's either No. 1 or No. 2 in the polls will miss the BCS title game.
My response: Still not going to happen.
The primary reason why a No. 2 team (let along a No. 1) in the polls will not be jumped by another team in the BCS title game is this: The voters have learned over the years to game the system. They know how much power they wield, but more importantly, they know how to use that power.
Because the BCS formula is set up so heavily titled in favor of the human element, the voters essentially have veto power over the computers. That veto power is manifested in the way they've voted in the two teams they want to see in the BCS championship game.
The last time the computers might have made a difference was 2006, when Florida and Michigan were jockeying for the No. 2 spot to face Ohio State in the BCS title game. But the computers finished in a dead heat between these two teams, so the voters' desire to shift to the Gators proved decisive.
It hasn't been close since.
Since 2006, the voters have learned that the way to make sure their 1-2 choices would face each other is to make very clear who's No. 2. In the BCS setup, the differential between each place in each of the three components is .0400. Of course, that margin may expand or shrink based on the actual vote count. But if every voter put Team A at No. 2 and Team B at No. 3, the gap would be .0400 in that poll.
Now, take a look at the voting results between the second and third place teams from 2007-2009, in each of those years a team ranked either first or second in the computers failed to make the BCS title game:
2007: Coaches poll gap - .0386, Harris poll gap - .0580. Total - .0966
2008: Coaches poll gap - .0294, Harris poll gap - .0478. Total - .0772
2009: Coaches poll gap - .0495, Harris poll gap - .0498. Total - .0993
Those kinds of gaps are difficult for the computers to overcome. In essence, the aforementioned Team B would need to be 3 full places ahead of Team A in all computers to overcome the difference. It doesn't happen.
In 2007, Virginia Tech was No. 1 in the computers, but the yawning gap in the polls that LSU owned ensured the Tigers got to play for the BCS title. The same went for computer No. 2s Texas and Cincinnati, respectively against Florida and Texas in '08 and '09.
So of course in 2010 this hypothesis will be applied to Boise State. At the moment, it's easy to deduce that the Broncos, despite being No. 2 in the polls, may fall short in the final standings because of their deficiencies in the computer rankings.
But we're not at the final weekend yet, where the standings will be the only one that matters. The voters are typically vacillating with their ballots right now. And with the protection of anonymity, they're free to make dramatic changes without having to give any reason or being detected by anyone.
On the final weekend of the season, their views will harden and they will make a determination on whom they want in the BCS title game. While the voters don't vote as an entire bloc in either poll, a consensus usually emerges and most everyone toes the line. Besides, some voters have been known to rig their ballots by placing a competitor team way down to diminish its chances.
While the voters seem content to place Boise State at No. 2 right now, don't be so sure that they'll still feel that way if Auburn goes through the rest of the schedule unscathed. Conversely, should Auburn, Michigan State and Missouri all lose a game before the end of the season as expected, then the voters will make a clear determination between Boise State and TCU/Utah, and that will be enough for the Broncos to overcome whatever might be their computer deficit.
The only wild card this year is Alabama, which is the only one-loss team that has the potential to jump Boise State in the polls. All other one-loss teams currently in contention lost to teams that are still ahead of them but behind Boise State, making such a jump extremely unlikely.
But even if the Tide re-emerge as a factor, the computer-ranking differential between Alabama and Boise State will not be as significant as what the voters ultimately decide. If they feel that a one-loss Alabama is more worthy than an undefeated Boise State, then expect them to defect to the Tide at No. 2 en masse, once again rendering the computer rankings meaningless.
So it's back to the polls. This is where truly every vote counts.