Monday, November 29, 2010

Does Auburn Have a Bye on Saturday?

Should Gene Chizik hold out Cam Newton and most of his starters on Saturday, not because of eligibility issues, but to rest them for the BCS title game?

Absurd thought, right? But not as far fetched as you think. There's a chance that Auburn can lose to South Carolina in the SEC championship game and still get in the BCS title game.

It's happened before, twice, when a team that lost its final game and still played for the BCS title: Nebraska in 2001 and Oklahoma in 2003. But it's not happened since '03 because of the most recent change in the BCS formula, which now grants two-thirds of its weight toward human polls.

So if Auburn loses on Saturday, the 173 voters in the coaches and Harris polls will be the judges in this beauty pageant that, if you think about it, is pretty much like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

This is how it works. Even with a loss, Auburn is expected to be No. 1 in at least 3 computers. Its final computer score will be No. 1, ahead of both Oregon and TCU, even with a loss. At worst, Auburn will have a .980 computer score.

Now, if TCU wants to get past Auburn, it had better hope that every voter has the Horned Frogs at no worse than No. 2. If that's the case, fine, TCU gets to play Oregon. If enough voters waffle on who should be No. 2 and split them up between TCU and Auburn, then TCU might not get that date with the Ducks.

There is already plenty of chatter about TCU's worthiness for the BCS title game, a battle joined by Rodney Gilmore during ESPN's show on Sunday, during which he brazenly discredited almost everything the Horned Frogs did this season. There is little doubt that such sentiment is shared by some of those voters, who will look for every excuse to prevent TCU from becoming the first non-AQ team to play for the BCS title.

That fear is clearly reflected in the school's rushed decision today to basically destroy all of its athletic programs by joining the Big East, in a vain quest to be part of the BCS crowd. Case-in-point: TCU has a powerhouse baseball program that soon must play UConn, Rutgers and Georgetown and nowhere near Texas, that's really going to help its recruiting tremendously.

But that's a different post for a different day. For now, here are the scenarios for BCS games:

Oregon and Auburn both win:

BCS Championship - Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl - TCU vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl - Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl - ACC Champ vs. Big East Champ
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Champ vs. Stanford

Oregon loses, Auburn wins or loses:

BCS Championship - Auburn vs. TCU
Rose Bowl - Oregon vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl - Arkansas or South Carolina vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl - ACC Champ vs. Big East Champ
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Champ vs. Stanford

Oregon wins, Auburn loses:

(if 85% or more voters put Auburn third or worse)

BCS Championship - Oregon vs. TCU
Rose Bowl - Stanford vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl - South Carolina vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl - ACC Champ vs. Auburn
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Champ vs. Big East Champ

(if 15% or more voters put Auburn third or better)

BCS Championship - Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl - TCU vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl - South Carolina vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl - ACC Champ vs. Big East Champ
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Champ vs. Stanford

Of course, Chizik would do no such thing as holding out his best players, but the fact remains that as long as the Tigers don't get blown out of the building, they have a real shot to play for the BCS title even if they lose. No team other than the top three in the BCS standings has a prayer of getting into the title game no matter what happens Saturday, as Oregon will not be dropped behind Stanford after having beaten the Cardinal by 21 points earlier in the season.

As for the Rose Bowl, since I am the man who made the famous flub, of course I should predict, with utter confidence, that Wisconsin is in. No matter what happens this weekend, Badger fans, you can book your tickets to Pasadena now. The Guru says so. (And as a former resident of Pasadena, I may even offer you some tips.)


LAprGuy said...

Good call here, Guru.

The "what we don't know" component is whether the Coaches and Mysterious Harris Voters will sufficiently "punish" Auburn enough in their rankings to ensure they don't end up number two. That's where I think Gilmore or James was heading on Sunday: That how will the voters re-evalutate their ballots to manipulate the game they want -- no longer an automatic slotting but a deliberate reordering of Top 10s to change the system. (And then there was Gilmore's whole point of unlinking Boise and TCU, which he didn't explain well, but I can see where Coaches and MHVs might do this.)

Along those lines, whose to say that 30 coaches won't reorder the Big Ten rankings to change the Rose Bowl order? It probably won't happen ... but it could.

Stanford's still the third best team I've watched on TV. If Auburn loses, the Cardinal are to get screwed by Coaches and MHVs to ensure they don't rematch with Oregon -- I'd bet their voter rankings will fall below the Big Ten 11-1 teams.

LAprGuy said...

(The above, of course, was in the event of an Auburn loss. And I still think we'd see verrry funny voting if that happened to manipulate the BCS games. Ah well.)

Anonymous said...

What if both Oregon and Auburn were to lose and the "coaches" want to vote in a deliberate way to ensure a TCU vs Wisconsin matchup in the BCS Championship Game by filling in their ballots in the following way:

1. TCU
2. Wisconsin
3. Ohio State
4. Oregon
5. Auburn
6. Stanford

Would that guarantee a TCU vs Wisconsin BCS Championship Game?

Would that also end up screwing Stanford out of the BCS (because Stanford would drop to #5 or #6 in the final BCS rankings), as the bowls would select the following teams?

BCS Championship - # 1 TCU vs #2 Wisconsin
Rose Bowl - #5 Oregon vs #3 Ohio State
Sugar Bowl - South Carolina vs #14 Oklahoma State
Orange Bowl - ACC Champion vs #4 Auburn
Fiesta Bowl - Big 12 Champion vs Big East Champion

Kurt Sahr said...

Doesn't the order of choosing of Stanford and the Big East champ depend largely on who the Big East champ is? With the Orange Bowl choosing before the Fiesta, wouldn't they choose Stanford over UConn, should that scenario arise, sending UConn to the Fiesta? I understand West Virginia's more desirable than Stanford, but UConn?

Anonymous said...

After a loss, the smallest marginal loss in the teams' BCS rating was .25, plus or minus a few thousandths. That type of drop would put them at #5-#8.

Why do you think that auburn with a loss will go up from .9779 to .9800?

Ivan Maisel has essentially said it's impossible for auburn or oregon to play for the national championship with a loss in week 15, but to Ivan you would say "not so fast"?

LAprGuy said...

Bob Davie on Colin Cowherd: How can you leave Auburn out of the NCG after playing one of the greatest college football games (ever), while TCU is playing New Mexico?

Again, going to be interesting to see how the coaches put their pens to paper if Auburn (or Oregon) loses. It's not going to be a simple as simple moving up or down 1 spot. But since we can't see how the coaches are ranking the teams individually now, we won't know which coaches will be rigging the system.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how the voters would conscientiously choose to allow Auburn to play in the National Championship game after losing to South Carolina.

With all of the suspicion and smoke surrounding Cam Newton, why risk having a National Championship game forfeiture possibility down the road? Why would you possibly give Auburn the benefit of the doubt at this point when it's entirely plausible that Newton will be ruled ineligible after the season is over?

The voters will use the Auburn loss as a chance to ensure that there will be no asterisks on this season. It'd be impossible for them to do that now with Auburn still undefeated, but once Auburn loses, they will fall far enough where there will be a championship game that doesn't have a dark cloud hanging over it.

Patrick said...

As much as I would like to see TCU play for the BCS title, it's probably best in the long run that they don't. If they do go, the BCS big wigs will say "See, it works for everyone" and set the push for a playoff behind a little bit.

What happens if both Oregon and Auburn lose? TCU would be in, but would Wisconsin get the nod because they actually won their conference?

LAprGuy said...

Sagarin's strength of schedules:
60. Michigan State
62. Boise State
64. Ohio State
71. Wisconsin
76. TCU

Six Pac-10 teams are in the top nine.

Just pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

TCU destroying all of its athletic programs? Really?

Hardly. Men's BBall, yes. Everything else? No sir.

Anonymous said...

If TCU beats Wisconsin, will that reduce Wisconsin to "Little Sisters of the Poor" status. If so, what would that mean to Ohio State who lost to Wisconsin.

I do agree that if Connecticut is the Big East champion, the Orange Bowl will strongly consider Stanford in spite of their poor travel status.

PeteP said...

TCU is not destroying any of its athletic programs by joining the Big East.

And while its MBB has been pretty bad, it has been improving in a very underrated MWC (4 of 9 teams in the Big Dance last season, 3 ranked teams currently).

All of TCU's sports will be getting a huge upgrade and TCU will no longer have to worry about playing 4 bad MWC teams that drag on its computer rankings....

PeteP said...

If Auburn and Oregon lose, then it is open season to the voters. TCU will be No. 1 but No. 2 will be a battle between Wisconsin and Stanford.

Stanford might win out --- it has better computer numbers, and the Big Ten vote will be split between Ohio State and Wisconsin. I think a lot of folks will respect Stanford's road loss to Oregon a lot more than Oregon's loss to a very average Oregon State team.

As to Auburn, a lot of voters are disgusted with the Cam Newton scandal and really would like a reason to punish Auburn. But SEC folks will vote for Auburn in into the BCS CG (and get help from voters from the Sun Belt schools and even fellow Southerners in the ACC)....

Bill Brown said...

I must confess that the ESPN blowhards who were talking all year long about Boise State "could beat any team in one game" suddenly shifted gears the moment that Nevada beat the Broncos. Now they suddenly want to talk about the Frogs' "easy schedule."

I can concur with a lot of those points. But those points did not suddenly become true just because Boise lost; they were ALREADY true. The one difference is that TCU does not demand home-and-home as part of the ruse.

It's funny to watch the media arbiters of reality. I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that TCU tends to play more games on networks like Fox Southwest than Boise plays on ESPN (which seemed to be nearly every week).