The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was created with two goals in mind. First is to complete the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) season with the crowning of a single undisputed National Champion. Previously, it was not uncommon for two or more teams to claim the championship, based on the results of multiple rankings (for example the AP and Coaches polls). The second BCS goal is to have the two best teams in the 120-member FBS play each other, head to head, in a National Championship Game.
An LSU-Alabama rematch in the 2012 BCS Championship Game, to be played January 9, 2012, in New Orleans, may not accomplish either of the BCS Goals.
1. If Alabama were to beat LSU in New Orleans, each team would have beaten the other one time. There is no justification to the argument that a Crimson Tide win on January 9th is worth more than the Tigers victory on November 5th. Forget about having an undisputed champion.
2. In determining the champion in any sports competition, contrary to the life philosophy we teach our youth, winning IS everything. Since there are 120 teams in the FBS, most of whom play 12 games per season, you need a ranking system to determine the two best teams. I use a simple three-step system to rank teams based on victories, both their own and those of the opponents they play.
Who are the “winningest” teams in the FBS, the easiest step. A team receives 1 point for each victory against an FBS opponent (I don’t count games played against schools from lower divisions). The victory total is then divided by their winning percentage. As of November 27, 2011, the seven winningest teams in the FBS are:
1. LSU and Houston are each 11-0 (Northwestern State and Georgia State are not FBS teams, so do not count). 11 pts X 1.000 = 11 pts.
3. Stanford is 11-1 (no non-FBS opponents). 11 pts X .917 = 10.087 pts.
4. Alabama, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Boise State are all 10-1 (Oklahoma State and Boise State did not play any non-FBS opponents). 10 pts X .909 = 9.09 pts.
Strength of non-conference schedule. Multiply the above score by a team’s non-conference opponents winning percentage against all other FBS teams. LSU played the strongest non-conference schedule, Stanford the weakest. The new rankings of these seven teams are:
1. LSU, non-conference opponents were 23-7 = .767 X 11 pts above = 8.437.
2. Boise State, 33-16 = .673 X 9.09 = 6.118.
3. Houston, 17-15 = .531 X 11 = 5.841.
4. Virginia Tech, 20-13 = .606 X 9.09 = 5.509.
5. Oklahoma State, 19-14 = .576 X 9.09 = 5.236.
6. Stanford, 16-17 = .485 X 10.087 = 4.892.
7. Alabama, 16-14 = .533 X 9.09 = 4.845.
Finally, we need to rank strength of the conference you play in. I use winning percentage for the teams you played within your own conference, against their non-conference opponents. Oklahoma State played the strongest conference schedule, Houston the weakest. Adding this factor, we get a simple “final” ranking of these seven teams as:
1. LSU, conference opponents, 19-5 = .792 X 8.437 = Final Point Total of 6.682.
2. Oklahoma State, 15-3 = .833 X 5.236 = 4.362.
3. Alabama, 20-5 = .800 X 4.845 = 3.876.
4. Virginia Tech, 13-11 = 5.42 X 5.509 = 2.986.
5. Boise State, 10-12 = .455 X 6.118 = 2.784.
6. Stanford, 10-10 = .500 X 4.892 = 2.446.
7. Houston, 7-22 = .259 X 5.841 = 1.513.
After applying this same formula to all the FBS teams with two losses, I’m confident the above would not be the Top Seven. This article simply points out that Alabama is not a clearly superior candidate over Oklahoma State at this time. Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Houston each will play Top 25 opponents on December 3rd, with a chance to improve their ratings.
The media experts always harp about the dominance of the SEC, and I agree that top to bottom it may be the strongest in the FBS. However, if you look only at the teams that the above seven actually played against, Oklahoma State’s conference opponents were stronger. Remember that LSU and Alabama avoided both Georgia and South Carolina, leaving Arkansas as their only opponent with a winning record in SEC conference play.
A battle between the only two teams with perfect 13-0 records, LSU vs Houston, would be more appropriate than an LSU vs Alabama rematch. You never know what might happen if the Tigers and Cougars actually played on the field. Remember Boise State vs Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl?
Enjoy the games of the coming week. Tune in on December 4th to see what two teams will really play in the 2012 BCS Championship Game in New Orleans.