Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NIU vs. Fresno: BCS's Best Race in 2013

When the latest BCS standings were unveiled last Sunday, the biggest surprise didn't come anywhere near the top of the standings. Rather, it was the inexplicable jump by Northern Illinois, leapfrogging Fresno State for the first time since the official BCS standings were released more than a month ago.

To be sure, the Huskies didn't get any of their boost from the humans as they lost ground to the Bulldogs in both polls last week. But they made a quantum leap in the computer rankings, going from being ranked 12th the week before to seventh in the new standings.

That NIU made that big of a jump from a victory over Toledo—a solid MAC team but otherwise nothing special—is both surprising and alarming. Very rarely has there been that much of a gain in the computers by one team this late in the season, when computer rankings are less volatile. And most problematic is that this shift seems inexplicable.

To-date, Northern Illinois has played a schedule that's ranked 89th by Kenneth Massey (one of the six BCS computers) out of 125 FBS teams. That compares favorably to Fresno State's SoS of 108th, but not a schedule worthy of a top 10 ranking.

So how do you explain the inexplicable? You can't (that's why it's called "inexplicable").


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