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Texas #2 in the BCS: A Quick Look

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The BCS standings just came out and, ooh looky there, Texas is now #2.  It's still early and I think the majority of us are largely unconcerned with the exact placement of Texas in the rankings because it seems pretty clear that Texas just has to win out and they'll be heading to Pasadena.  But for those of you still scared about Iowa, this should do quite a lot to alleviate those fears.  Why?  Take a look at the chart below:

How BCS Components Rank Texas
BCS Total
.8927 (#3) .9227 (#2) +.0300 +.0158 +.0192 -.0284
USA Today Coaches .9424 (#3) .9458 (#2) +.0034 +.0508 +.0027 -.0061
Harris .9458 (#3) .9523 (#2) +.0065 +.0367 +.0047 -.0009
Computers Poll .7900 (#5) .8700 (#3t) +.0800 -.0400 +.0500 -.0700
AH #5 #4 +1 spot -1 spot +1 spot same
RB #3 #2 +1 spot same +1 spot -2 spots
CM #4 #3 +1 spot -1 spot +2 spots -2 spots
KM #10 #6 +4 spots -1 spot +2 spots -2 spots
JS #14 #9 +5 spots -1 spot +1 spot -4 spots
PW #6 #4 +2 spots same same -3 spots

Follow me through the jump for some analysis of the numbers.

First, while Texas did become #2 in both human polls, the jumps were very minor, point-wise.  We moved up in ranking because we were so close to Alabama last week and we gained just enough points in each human poll that we overtook the Tide, but only by about as much as they led us by last week.  The real jump came in the computers, where we improved our score 8 times more than in both human polls combined.  As predicted last week, we jumped TCU (and, not as predicted, tied Alabama) and Florida overtook Iowa. This lines up with the theory that Iowa had nowhere to go but down in the computers and Texas had nowhere to go but up.  I'm surprised that it happened this quickly, but it was certainly bound to happen.  The reason the computer points fluctuate to a much greater degree than the human ones is that humans have largely made up their minds by this point (unfortunately for the system as a whole) while computers are incapable of having their minds made up about anything.  To put it another way, while humans pollsters often use continuing results to confirm their existing rankings, computers constantly take in the data provided by continuing results and refine their rankings.  As we get closer to the end of the season, the computers will have enough data to have relatively stable rankings and the large week-to-week changes won't be as common.  Good thing we're moving up now.

Now, conversely, I did say last week that Iowa had a lot of room to move up in the human polls while Texas didn't have much room to do the same.  But you'll note that, even though a team ranked ahead of Iowa lost (USC), Texas still moved up about the same amount in the computers as Iowa did in the human polls (mostly because humans have the ability to see and comprehend just how terribly Iowa plays in each and every football game), while Iowa moved down quite a bit in the computers.  Thus, you'll also note, Texas' BCS score as a whole increased by nearly twice the amount that Iowa's score increased.  We're tied for #3 in the computers with Iowa as #2, and there is no possibility that Iowa will pass us in the human polls.  Anyone still legitimately worried that the Hawkeyes will overtake us even if they somehow manage to escape the Horseshoe alive?  Me neither.

Now, this is fun and all, but what does this ranking means for Texas this week?  Absolutely nothing.  Whether we're currently #1, #2, #3, or #4, I don't care.  The only BCS rankings that matter are the ones that come out after the conference championship games and if we take care of business between now and then, we will be #1 or #2.  We can just think about football now.  Thankfully.