National Title Breakdown – Week 4

By 2003alumgocanes

Background
This article is not meant to be a prediction of future events. Given that it is possible for teams with 1-loss, particularly those that lose early, to play in the BCS National Championship, this is simply a week-by-week breakdown of what is in the Hurricane’s best interest in their effort to be a 1-loss team that makes the championship game. I am well aware of the odds against the team actually winning 11 games in a row from this point on, but this breakdown obviously assumes that that somewhat unlikely event is going to happen.

The Methodology
How are teams chosen? The general rule of thumb is:

  1. Any undefeated BCS team will play in the national title game in front of a 1-loss team.
  2. Out of the non-BCS conference teams, Notre Dame, Boise State and TCU are definite factors. By factors, I mean a “threat”, not that they would necessarily be in front of us. This article considers any potential threats, and that situation is fluid, so 1-loss ND team could definitely be considered a threat. Obviously, a team like Utah could knock off TCU, go undefeated, and become a threat.
  3. Any 1-loss SEC team would probably get the benefit of the doubt in terms of placement, even if we are ranked ahead of them prior to championship week.
  4. More weight is given to “name schools”, because that is how voters think. For example, a 1-loss Oregon team would be a threat, but a 1-loss Arizona team most likely would not.
  5. USC is on probation and can therefore provide a huge boost. If they win the PAC 10, they obviously won’t technically be the PAC 10 champion, but everyone will know they were the best team in the conference. A 1-loss Oregon team that actually did not win their conference would likely be severely tainted in national championship discussions.
  6. In general, I will keep 1-loss BCS teams “alive” for a while, exceptions being teams that obviously have no chance of being in front of us if they finish with 1-loss(see Kansas).
  7. Obviously, the teams dwindle as the season goes on. Essentially, you are looking conference to conference and assuming only 1 candidate will emerge out of each. The Big East has no chance of putting a 1-loss team in ahead of us, so those teams won’t be considered. Furthermore, since we represent the ACC, we can take care of those teams ourselves, and therefore it is in our best interest for those teams to win OOC games.
  8. Keep in mind that this is not a science, and therefore the methodology can be questionable and inconsistent at times. You will see teams drop off one week, return the next, etc. Also, I will try and explain why a team is removed. On non-obvious games, I will explain my reasoning for selecting a certain team to win, and that reasoning might or might not make sense as the season progresses (for example, right now we want Wisconsin to lose to Arizona State this week. But if Arizona State wins and then keeps winning, going undefeated, and Wisconsin ends up with 3-losses, it would have been better in retrospect if Wisconsin had won the game).

The Teams
Here are the contenders. This is a list of teams we need out of the way to get into the National Title Game with 1-loss. The team’s remaining schedule is in parenthesis.

Big East
Obviously, if USF or Pitt wins the Big East, it helps our resume.

  • West Virginia – @LSU, UNLV, USF, Syracuse, @UCONN, Cincy, @Louisville, @Pitt, Rutgers
  • Rutgers – North Carolina, Tulane, UCONN, Army, @Pitt, @USF, Syracuse, @Cincy, Louisville, @WVU

Big 10
Some of these teams are more likely to get in front of us with 1-loss than others. We obviously need Ohio State to lose twice.

  • Iowa (1-loss) – Ball State, Penn State, @Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Northwestern, Ohio State, @Minnesota
  • Michigan – Bowling Green, @Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa, @Penn State, Illinois, @Purdue, Wisconsin, @Ohio State
  • Michigan State – Northern Colorado, Wisconsin, @Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, @Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, @Penn State
  • Northwestern – Central Michigan, @Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, @Wisconsin
  • Ohio State – Eastern Michigan, @Illinois, Indiana, @Wisconsin, Purdue, @Minnesota, Penn State, @Iowa, Michigan
  • Penn State(1-loss) – Temple, @Iowa, Illinois, @Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, @Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State
  • Wisconsin – Austin Peay, @Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, @Iowa, @Purdue, Indiana, @Michigan, Northwestern

Big 12
The only 2 1-loss teams that I think would finish ahead of us would be Oklahoma and Texas, but that might change as the season plays out. Maybe Nebraska. We definitely need OU and UT to lose twice.

Dropped out this week:  Baylor, Texas Tech

  • Kansas State – UCF, Nebraska, @Kansas, @Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, @Missouri, @Colorado, @North Texas
  • Missouri – Miami (OH), Colorado, @Texas A&M, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, @Texas Tech, Kansas State, @Iowa State, Kansas
  • Nebraska – South Dakota State, @Kansas State, Texas, @Oklahoma State, Missouri, @Iowa State, Kansas, @Texas A&M, Colorado
  • Oklahoma – @Cincinnati, Texas, Iowa State, @Missouri, Colorado, @Texas A&M, Texas Tech, @Baylor, @Oklahoma State
  • Oklahoma State – Texas A&M, @Louisiana-Lafayette, @Texas Tech, Nebraska, @Kansas State, Baylor, @Texas, @Kansas, Oklahoma
  • Texas – UCLA, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, Iowa State, Baylor, @Kansas State, Oklahoma State, FAU, Texas A&M
  • Texas A&M – @Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Missouri, @Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, @Baylor, Nebraska, @Texas

Pac 10
Obviously, USC isn’t included. Oregon and maybe Cal are the only 1-loss teams I can see ahead of us. Our best case scenario is USC winning the conference.

Dropped out:  Arizona State, California

  • Arizona – California, Oregon State, @Washington State, Washington, @UCLA, @Stanford, USC, @Oregon, Arizona State
  • Oregon – @Arizona State, Stanford, @Washington State, UCLA, @USC, Washington, @Cal, Arizona, @Oregon State
  • Stanford – @Notre Dame, @Oregon, USC, Washington State, @Washington, Arizona, @Arizona State, @California, Oregon State

SEC
This is where it gets difficult. Based on past experience, it is reasonable to assume that any SEC team that has 1-loss will automatically get placed in the title game in front of any other 1-loss teams, without anyone stopping to evaluate the merits. Because of this eventuality, one SEC team will most likely be in the title game unless the entire conference loses twice. For now, the only team eliminated is 2-loss Vanderbilt.

Dropped Out: Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee

  • Alabama – @Arkansas, Florida, @South Carolina, Mississippi, @Tennessee, @LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia State, Auburn
  • Arkansas – Alabama, Texas A&M, @Auburn, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, @South Carolina, UTEP, @Mississippi State, LSU
  • Auburn – South Carolina, Louisiana-Monroe, @Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, @Mississippi, Chattanooga, Georgia, @Alabama
  • Florida – Kentucky, @Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia, @Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Appalachian State, @Florida State
  • Kentucky – @Florida, @Mississippi, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, @Mississippi State, Charleston Southern, Vanderbilt, @Tennessee
  • LSU – West Virginia, Tennessee, @Florida, McNeese State, @Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi, @Arkansas
  • South Carolina – @Auburn, Alabama, @Kentucky, @Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas, @Florida, Troy, @Clemson

Non-BCS Conference
These are teams from non-BCS conferences that can make the championship game. Houston and Utah are on the radar. A 1-loss ND team certainly would have a chance to go to the championship game.

Dropped Out: Notre Dame

  • Boise State – Oregon State, @New Mexico State, Toledo, @San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, @Idaho, Fresno State, @Nevada, Utah State
  • TCU – @Southern Methodist, @Colorado State, Wyoming, Brigham Young, Air Force, @UNLV, @Utah, San Diego State, @New Mexico

This Week’s Games
This section will contain relevant games. The team we want to win is in bold, and an explanation is provided where who we want to win is non-obvious.

Byes this week:Oklahoma State, Texas A&M

Thursday, September 16
None (well, other than the most important game)

Friday, September 17

  • 8:00PM – ESPN/ESPN3 – TCU @ SMU

Saturday, September 18

  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Ball State @ Iowa
  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Northern Colorado @ Michigan State
  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Central Michigan @ Northwestern
  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Austin Peay @ Wisconsin
  • 12:00PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – Bowling Green @ Michigan
  • 12:30PM – FSN Regional – UCF @ Kansas State
  • 2:00PM – NO TV – Miami(OH) @ Missouri
  • 3:30PM – ESPNU – North Carolina @ Rutgers
  • 3:30PM – CBS – Alabama @ Arkansas – something is going to go here, so this is good thing. It’s possible for us to finish ahead of a 1-loss Arkansas (although unlikely). Obviously, we have no chance at finishing ahead of a 1-loss Alabama.
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN – Eastern Michigan @ Ohio State
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN3 – UCLA @ Texas
  • 3:30PM – NBC – Stanford @ Notre Dame
  • 3:30PM – Big 10 Network – Temple @ Penn State
  • 6:00PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – Oklahoma @ Cincinnati
  • 7:00PM – FSN PPV – South Dakota State @ Nebraska
  • 7:00PM – ESPNU – Kentucky @ Florida
  • 7:45PM – ESPN/ESPN3 – South Carolina @ Auburn – The SEC East is much worse than the SEC West, so it is more important that South Carolina loses a crossover game here against an SEC West opponent.
  • 8:00PM – ABC – Oregon State @ Boise State
  • 9:15PM – ESPN2/ESPN3 – West Virginia @ LSU – both are undefeated, but LSU has to lose twice.
  • 10:00PM – FCS Pacific – California @ Arizona
  • 10:30PM – FSN – Oregon @ Arizona State

Summary of last week and looking forward to this week

Well, last week was pretty much a bust because of a play here and there (Clemson winning would have helped).  Cal did lose to Nevada, Iowa picked up a loss, and a bunch of 1-loss teams lost again.  This week, the Big 10 is playing a large pile of crap, so don’t expect anything there.  WVU and LSU are playing, so something is going to go there.  In fact, all 7 of the SEC teams left are playing other teams on the list, so there will be some movement by necessity.  We need some upsets to happen…hopefully with Arizona having a letdown against Cal, or Cincinnati upsetting Oklahoma while Oklahoma looks forward to Texas.  At least that’s a road game.  Obviously, the biggie from a non-BCS standpoint is Boise State playing Oregon State, which might be the best chance for them to lose (although Nevada isn’t bad).  Next week will be huge.

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