What Are Style Points, and Are They Overrated?

Michael InglisAnalyst INovember 6, 2008

In today's world of college football, there are a lot of factors that go into the equation to determine which teams are the best of the best.

There's strength of schedule, wins and losses, conference strength, statement games, and that overhyped one, style points.

Style points are classified as how much you beat your opponent by. If your favorite team plays someone who isn't very good and only beats them by a small margin, then they will be criticized. However, if your favorite team beats a strong opponent by a large margin, then they will get extra praise.

I'm here to dispel the myth that style points are a legitimate way of determining which teams are the best in the country.

Let's take a look at the BCS Era, which started in 1998 and runs through present times.

The two biggest underdogs in the National Championship game were the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes (who faced Miami) and the 2006 Florida Gators (who faced Ohio State).

Ohio State (2002) won all of their conference games by 12 points. They also won half of their games by a touchdown or less.

In the National Championship game they played the heavily favored Miami Hurricanes. The previous year Miami won the National Championship and were considered by many the best or at least the most talented team ever.

Miami had won all if its conference games by an average of 22.5 points, which included a 25-point victory over the Gators in the Swamp.

Of course, Ohio State not only stayed in the game but actually won 31-24 in OT.

In 2006, the Florida Gators won their conference games by an average of 7.75 points, which is the lowest of any of the 20 teams that have played for the National Championship. They were led by Chris Leak, who before that game and even after was considered an underachiever by many Florida fans.

On the other hand, Ohio State (2006) won all of their conference games by an average of 26.6 points. They also had the Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith, leading them.

In this case, Florida not only won the game but also had the most dominating performance in the BCS Championship Era. Just check the stats out if you don't believe me.

Most critics would say that two instances don't prove that style points are overrated, and I would agree. However, in seven of the 10 National Championship games, the team with the lowest margin of victory during the regular season has won.

What is also interesting is that the 2004 Oklahoma Sooners, who got blown out by USC, had a larger margin of victory than the Auburn Tigers, who went undefeated. Maybe that's why the obviously overrated Sooners got in over the Tigers.

Something else to note is that the SEC, which has had four teams play in and win the National Championship, has the lowest margin of victory of any conference.

I recently read an article where the author was handing out grades for each of the top teams at the time. Somehow an undefeated Alabama team got a B+ while a one-loss Florida team got an A+. Not only did that loss come in the Swamp, it also came to a rebuilding and unranked Ole Miss team. I'm sure many of you read this same article.

Now, the reasoning behind the grades was that Alabama wasn't playing like the number two team in the country. It has almost gotten to the point where losing is actually better than playing close games.

But it is time for that to stop.