BCS Rankings and Standings for Week 13 Reveal Chaos of Polls and Computers

Jeremy Eckstein@https://twitter.com/#!/JeremyEckstein1Featured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hugs Manti T'eo #5 during a game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Notre Dame Stadium on November 17, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Wake Forest 38-0.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The BCS rankings and standings are controversial enough with the USA Today Coaches poll and the Harris poll. Most of all, the enigmatic differences between the six BCS computers show severe discrepancies and bias in figuring the strength of schedule for college football teams.

November chaos reigned supreme last week with heavily favored Alabama losing at home. This week’s upsets included highly regarded Kansas St., Oregon and USC all going down to defeat. Does this mean they are all overrated with the polls and rankings?

Actually, all of the Top 10 teams, with the exception of undefeated Notre Dame, have run into a deep college football field. There are many other strong teams who can beat the best on a given night depending on performance and matchups. College football’s parity at the top continues to get stronger.

It’s why the polls and rankings are useless in determining a national championship.

Consider a side-by-side schedule comparison with Notre Dame and the best three teams from the best three conferences (though it’s now debatable whether Georgia, Stanford, and Oklahoma are the best teams in their conferences).  Each team’s opponents will be listed from best to worst with week 12 BCS rankings to compare relative strengths of schedules.

     Kansas St.                 Oregon                 Notre Dame                 Alabama

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@ #12 Oklahoma        (L) #13 Stanford       @ #12 Oklahoma         @ #7 LSU

#15 Texas                   #16 Oregon St.         @ #17 USC                 (L) #8 Texas A&M 

#23 Texas Tech          @ #17  USC              #13 Stanford                 #21 Michigan

#24 Okla St.               #22 Arizona              #21 Michigan                Mississippi St.

@ W.Virginia              #23 Washington        @Michigan St.             @ Missouri

@ TCU                      @ Arizona St.                BYU                             Ole Miss

@ Iowa St.                 Arkansas St.               Miami                          @Tennessee

(L) @ Baylor              Fresno St.                  Navy                            @Arkansas

Miami                        @California                 Purdue                        Auburn

N. Texas                    @Washington St.        Wake Forest                W. Kentucky  

Kansas                      Colorado                      Pittsburgh                    Florida Atlantic

Missouri St.                Tennessee Tech         @Boston College        W. Carolina

With last week’s BCS computers scores, Notre Dame (.99) and Kansas St. (.97) were ranked with significantly higher schedule strengths than Oregon (.87). Even Alabama (.85) with a loss at home was considered relatively equal to Oregon in the computer calculations.

In reality, there is not much to choose from all four sets of schedules if scoring margin is not considered.

Suppose we give these teams 10 points for each win against an opponent that is currently ranked in the BCS Top 10. We give nine points for each team in the Top 25, eight points for each team that would still be a Top-50 team, and seven points for all other wins.

Kansas St.    = 9, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7    Average score strength = 8.08

Oregon         = 9, 9, 9, 9 ,9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7     Average score strength = 8.08

Notre Dame  = 9, 9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7     Average score strength = 7.92

Alabama      = 10, 10, 9, 8, 8, 8, 8, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7  Average score strength = 8.0

Schedules are All Debatable

Kansas St. and Oregon have played schedules with a very even degree of difficulty. The Big 12 has only one cupcake in Kansas. In this case, strength of schedule can determine a true conference champion without a conference championship.

The Pac-12 trotted out five Top-25 teams that Oregon will face. This matters greatly, as we learned from Stanford defeating Oregon, Washington defeating Stanford and UCLA figuring in the conference championship. Preseason favorite USC is strong, but may be in the deepest conference in college football.

Alabama defeated one Top-10 team and lost to the other. The very top of the SEC is elite, but as Alabama’s schedule shows, teams can play relatively soft schedules with only eight games in conference. Michigan is their second largest win, and they have played eight teams outside the Top 25. This is further proof that SEC schools only play partial conference schedules that are sprinkled with cupcakes.

Notre Dame has proved impressive in going undefeated, but their schedule is weaker than the other three. However, they are deserving of the No. 1 ranking, despite a few close escapes. They are undefeated and need only to finish off USC for a well-deserved national title opportunity.

The BCS Playoff

In two years, there will be a four-team playoff decided by some kind of committee. This is a dangerous concept that will continue to provide BCS controversy. Whenever college football writers, coaches, pundits, fans are involved, there will continue to be biases and inaccurate looks at numbers. It’s an impossible task to be objective.

If the BSC were looking for fairness, it would expand to an eight-team playoff and give automatic bids to the top six conferences and a find a way to select two at-large bids. Conferences could decide their own way to select champions without having to battle the bias and hypothetical eye-tests with inter-regional comparisons.

This year, the three best conferences are the SEC, Pac-12 and Big-12. Their champions, still to be determined, would be in the driver’s seat for three of four slots, while Notre Dame would obviously be the No. 1 seed. Of course Florida St. can make their case in the Top 4 as well.

Additionally, if Notre Dame loses at USC, it's possible Florida or Oregon could still find its way into the national championship game without even playing for their own conference title. That should not happen if college football fans are to believe that conferences even matter.

Four teams will not be enough. The BCS bias and controversy will continue, and the polls and computers have proven to be a farce.  

 1. Notre Dame
 2. Alabama
 3. Georgia
 4. Florida
 5. Oregon
 6. Kansas State
 7. LSU
 8. Stanford
 9. Texas A&M
 10. Florida State
 11. Clemson
 12. South Carolina
 13. Oklahoma
 14. Nebraska
 15. Oregon State
 16. Texas
 17. UCLA
 18. Rutgers
 19. Michigan 
 20. Louisville
 21. Oklahoma State
 22. Boise State
 23. Kent State
 24. Arizona
 25. Washington