Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Will Unbeaten Mizzou Be Shut Out of BCS Title Game?

Only a week ago, the SEC's dominance of the BCS seemed unquestioned in college football.

Three conference teams were ranked in the top seven of the simulated BCS standings, with three more in the top 15. The SEC champion was destined to be in the BCS title game for an eighth straight season, whether it be Alabama or somebody else.

A week later, after a slew of upsets, only two SEC teams are still in the Top 10 of the official BCS standings. Unheralded Missouri checked in at No. 5, as it's now one of only two unbeaten SEC teams, along with top-ranked Alabama. In fact, only one other SEC team has fewer than two losses—No. 11 Auburn.

This naturally brings up the question: If Alabama should stumble somewhere along the way, could Mizzou win the SEC without a loss, but get shut out of the BCS title game?

The answer is: possibly, but probably not.

The Tigers are currently ranked sixth and seventh in the Harris and Coaches polls, respectively, but are third in the computer rankings. They will have an opportunity to improve their poll positions with games against South Carolina, Ole Miss and Texas A&M still to come. How much of a boost they get in the polls will ultimately decide whether or not they have a shot at the BCS championship.

Since the adoption of the current formula for the BCS in 2004, every team that finished first or second in the final BCS standings has played in the title game, regardless of their computer rankings. It's a beauty pageant with 170-plus judges while the computers are merely window dressing.


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