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Numbers Game: BCS Analysis

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Enough with the niceties.  Down to the nitty-gritty of the BCS numbers.  Note that the 1 member of the Harrris Poll that forgot to vote last week is back so the "Last Week's Points" amount is irrelevant for that poll.

Harris Poll
Last Wk Pts Expected Pts Actual Pts Diff. from Expected Team
-- 2850 2839 -11 Alabama
-- 2736 2644 -92 Florida
-- 2622 2598 -24 OU
-- 2508 2577 +31 Texas
-- 2394 2387 -7 USC
-- 2280 2187 -93 PSU
-- 2166 2118 -48 Tx Tech
-- 2052 2113 +61 Utah
USA Today Coaches Poll
Last Wk Pts
Expected Pts Actual Pts Diff. from Expected
1525 1518
-7 Alabama
1464 1412 -52 OU
1403 1401 -2 Florida
1342 1370
+28 Texas
1281 1288
+7 USC
1220 1157
-63 PSU
1159 1153
-6 Utah
1465 1098 1073 -25 Tx Tech

Analysis?  You want analysis?  Follow me after the jump.

Fact 1 Pisses Me Off : OU jumped Texas in both human polls.  This is disheartening, but not entirely unexpected given the infantile memory capacity of most human voters.  "Ooh, OU is shiny!  Gimme Gimme!" 

Fact 2 Provides a Glimmer of Hope: Texas still has a chance, albeit a slim one, to be ranked ahead of OU in the BCS even if OU beats OSU.  Texas is barely behind OU in the Harris Poll and it seems as though Florida might be a buffer between OU and Texas on many ballots.  A Florida loss to Florida State might just give Texas enough points in the human polls assuming Texas retains it's computer advantage, which is of course not a given.

Fact 3 Thanks the Red Raiders for Playing: Brad Edwards' speculation notwithstanding, Texas Tech is no longer in the national championship conversation.  This fact is unspeakably HUGE for Texas.  Even if OU loses to OSU and Tech goes to Kansas City and beats Missouri, I am about 90% certain that Tech cannot pass Texas in the BCS (as unfair as that might sound), meaning Texas will go to Miami.  If OU goes to KC and loses to Missouri, Tech will likewise not pass Texas in the BCS.

For the Preceding Reasons, Fact 4: If OU loses another game and Texas beats A&M, the Horns will in all likelihood be headed to Miami.

Fact 5 Gives You Rooting Directions: Above all else, root for Baylor to beat Texas Tech and Florida State to beat Florida.  If Baylor wins, then OU doesn't matter and that's pretty great.  If Florida loses, there are two benefits.  First, it eliminates any buffer in between OU and Texas in the human polls, increasing the possibility that Texas will be ranked ahead of OU in the BCS, and second, it dramatically increases the possibility of SEC chaos (i.e. 2-loss Florida wins the SEC) that would automatically send Texas to Miami if Texas wins out.  A lower-level rooting interest would be OSU over OU.  I think this sends Texas to the national championship game, but it also eliminates Texas from the Big 12 race (unless Baylor beats Tech).  Also, hell, root for Auburn against Bama.  Chaos in the SEC is good for Texas.

Just to Reiterate Fact 6 Yet Again: USC is out of this, barring some serious chaos.  In any event, USC will not under any circumstances pass Texas if Texas wins out.  Stop worrying about USC.  They are way too far behind in both the human and the computer polls.  Look at the numbers from the human polls: USC is basically right where you'd expect a #5 team to be, points-wise, whereas Texas is way ahead of where you'd expect a #4 to be.  Plus USC is way behind in the computers and has no good games left with which to move up (Notre Dame and UCLA).

To the Computers!

Computers Poll
A&H Billingsley Colley Massey Sagarin Wolfe Average Diff. from Expected Team
25 25 24 22 23 25 .970 -.030 Alabama
23 23 25 24 25 24 .960 Even Texas
22 24 21 25 22 22 .900 -.020 Oklahoma
21 22 20 23 24 23 .890 +.010 Texas Tech
24 20 23 21 21 21 .860 +.020 Utah
20 19 22 20 19 19 .780 -.020 Florida
19 16 19 17 18 20 .730 -.030 Penn State
16 21 18 19 16 18 .710 -.010 USC

Encouraging Fact 7 That's Actually Not That Encouraging: Texas is still ranked quite a bit ahead of OU, though the margin is decreasing.  Note though that OU is a weak #3, below what we would expect from a consensus #3.  This means that even without overtaking Texas, they can still increase their computer scores relative to Texas.  That's not good.

Speculation That I'm Not Even Going to Pretend is Fact 8: OU probably isn't going to pass Texas in the computers as a whole even with a win over Oklahoma State.  They will be close, however.  Right now, the computers are what's keeping Texas ahead of OU in the BCS.  I'm not sure it's going to be enough unless a few human voters change their minds.  Which, for the record, I think is entirely possible.  Many human voters undoubtedly got caught up in the Sooners' awe-inspiring final score vs. Tech.  But a week later, with the magical pixie dust wiped from their eyes, will some voters think to themselves, "You know, I have Texas Tech ranked #8 on my ballot, so this isn't really a discussion of a 3-way tie.  This is between Texas and OU.  And I do seem to vaguely recall Texas beating OU...maybe I'll make a change"?  Possibly a few might be so clear-headed.  Or possibly a team like Florida might lose, eliminating a buffer between Texas and OU in the rankings and increasing Texas' points in the human polls more than OU's.  I don't know.  But either is certainly possible.

Fact 9 is Something I Recently Realized But I'm Scared of Publicizing: Florida is doing so terribly in the computers that it's possible (though not probable) that a 1-loss SEC champion Florida might be ranked behind non-division champ Texas in the BCS.  If Florida and Oklahoma both with their conference championships, they will split the #1 human vote while Texas will be a near-unanimous #3.  That means that even if Florida is ranked #1, they will be a weak #1.  Florida will undoubtedly move up in the computers with wins over FSU and Bama, but look how far behind they are right now.  Not only are they 6th in the computers, they're a WEAK 6th.  Can they make that distance up?  I don't think so.  They'd have to bank on being a near-unanimous #1 over Oklahoma in the human polls, and I'm not sure that would be the case.  We've all assumed that the winner of the SEC championship would be in Miami (and if it's Bama, I think that's still true, even with a loss to Auburn), but Florida is currently 4th in the BCS and two teams ahead of them (Texas and OU) might not lose the rest of the way.  Something to think about.

Speculation Posing as Fact 10 Breaks Down the Ways Texas Gets to Miami:  (NB: these all assume a Texas win over A&M.)  These are in order from most likely to send Texas to Miami to least likely.  To be clear, they are not in order of most likely to actually occur to least likely to actually occur.

  1. Baylor beats Tech; Texas beats Missouri.
  2. OU loses to OSU; Tech loses to Missouri.
  3. Texas wins tiebreaker with OU; Texas beats Missouri.
  4. Florida loses to Florida State; Florida beats Alabama.
  5. OU loses to Missouri.
  6. OU loses to OSU, Texas Tech beats Missouri.
  7. Bama loses to Auburn; Bama beats Florida.
  8. Florida, OU and Texas all win out (see Fact 9 infra -- if Florida doesn't pass Texas in the BCS, Texas will definitely go to Miami, but the likelihood of this happening is slim).

There are lots of different things that can happen and there's a lot of football left to be played.  So, um, Yes We Can!