BCS Rankings 2010: How The College Football BCS Standings Are Calculated

Christopher Adams@@ChrisAdams3Correspondent IOctober 12, 2010

On Sunday, Oct. 17, the first official 2010 college football BCS Rankings will be released.

As we all anxiously await the rankings to be released, let's take a look at exactly what components are put into the BCS rankings.

There are three components that play a hand in the BCS calculations: The Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll and the computer rankings.

Most are familiar with the Harris and Coaches Polls, so let's take a basic inside look at the six computer rankings used to calculate one-third of the overall BCS Rankings.


1. Anderson & Hester Ratings

Unlike other polls, these computer rankings do not account for margin of victory, but rather are rewarded for beating quality opponents and does not take into account the running up of scores.

Also, these rankings do not prejudge teams. The computer rankings come out after Week 5, basing everything off of each teams' play during the current season.

A unique feature incorporated into these rankings is the calculation of strength of schedule, which is in the overall formula.

Each team's opponents, and opponents' opponents, are judged not only by their current record, but also their conference's strength—based solely according to the conference's record and strength of schedule against non-conference teams.

Overall, the strength-of-schedule formula plays the biggest part, along with wins/losses.


2. Jeff Sagarin Ratings

Jeff Sagarin's rankings are computed using the Elo Chess rating system, used internationally to rank chess players.

In simple form, the Elo Chess is calculated by wins and losses and the quality of opponent the team defeated or lost to (strength of schedule), and does not take scoring margin into account.

Official Jeff Sagarin Website


3. Richard Billingsley Rankings

Richard Billingsley's formula is primarily composed of won-loss records, and opponent strength (based on the opponent’s record, rating and rank).

But what sets Billingsley's formula aside from the rest is the strong emphasis on the most recent performance, which he describes as an "improved AP Poll" because they correlate well. But his computer rankings contain no regional or team bias, or a coach voting for another team in their conference.

Official Billingsley Website


4. Colley Matrix Computer Rankings

The Colley Matrix is based on very simple statistical principles, and uses only Div. I-A wins and losses as input—margin of victory does not matter.

The scheme adjusts effectively for strength of schedule, in a way that is free of bias toward conference, tradition, or region. The strength of schedule is the heart of these rankings, but does not take home-field advantage into account, treating every matchup equal.

The "bias-free" rankings do not account for the previous season's performance by each of the teams, but rather, all teams start the season as equal, where clear differences can be seen in comparison to human polls.

Official Colley Matrix Website


5. Kenneth Massey Computer Rankings

Kenneth Massey developed a complex rating system that is based primarily off scoring, home-field advantage, strength of schedule, and win/loss.

Also inside the tangled web of formulas are offensive and defensive power rankings to combine for an overall power ranking and adding, conference ratings, and the probability of the winning to team to beat the defeated team in a rematch.

Massey Ratings Website


6. Dr. Peter Wolfe Computer Rankings

Dr. Peter Wolfe uses a win-loss model, taking into account the location of the game as a factor.

He also uses a maximum likelihood estimate that states that all college football teams can be compared and ranked through the mutual connection of schedules, which can be a confusing aspect of his rankings.

Wolfe Ratings Website


Of the six computer rankings used, each team's highest and lowest computer ranking will be discarded, and the remaining four will be used to determine the team's average ranking.

Once the average computer rankings are calculated, they are combined with the USA Today Coaches Poll and the Harris Poll to determine an overall average for the team in percentage form.


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