National Title Breakdown – Week 5

By 2003alumgocanes

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
No one is left.

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) – Penn State, @Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Northwestern, Ohio State, @Minnesota
  • Michigan – @Indiana, Michigan State, Iowa, @Penn State, Illinois, @Purdue, Wisconsin, @Ohio State
  • Michigan State – Wisconsin, @Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, @Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, @Penn State
  • Northwestern – @Minnesota, Purdue, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, @Wisconsin
  • Ohio State – @Illinois, Indiana, @Wisconsin, Purdue, @Minnesota, Penn State, @Iowa, Michigan
  • Penn State(1-loss) – @Iowa, Illinois, @Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, @Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan State
  • Wisconsin – @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 – Nebraska, @Kansas, @Baylor, Oklahoma State, Texas, @Missouri, @Colorado, @North Texas
  • Missouri – Colorado, @Texas A&M, Oklahoma, @Nebraska, @Texas Tech, Kansas State, @Iowa State, Kansas
  • Nebraska – @Kansas State, Texas, @Oklahoma State, Missouri, @Iowa State, Kansas, @Texas A&M, Colorado
  • Oklahoma – 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 (1-loss) – 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 – Oregon State, @Washington State, Washington, @UCLA, @Stanford, USC, @Oregon, Arizona State
  • Oregon – Stanford, @Washington State, UCLA, @USC, Washington, @Cal, Arizona, @Oregon State
  • Stanford – @Oregon, USC, Washington State, @Washington, Arizona, @Arizona State, @California, Oregon State

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 – Florida, @South Carolina, Mississippi, @Tennessee, @LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia State, Auburn
  • Arkansas (1-loss) – Texas A&M, @Auburn, Mississippi, Vanderbilt, @South Carolina, UTEP, @Mississippi State, LSU
  • Auburn – Louisiana-Monroe, @Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, @Mississippi, Chattanooga, Georgia, @Alabama
  • Florida – @Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia, @Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Appalachian State, @Florida State
  • Kentucky (1-loss) – @Mississippi, Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia, @Mississippi State, Charleston Southern, Vanderbilt, @Tennessee
  • LSU – Tennessee, @Florida, McNeese State, @Auburn, Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi, @Arkansas
  • South Carolina (1-loss) – 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 – @New Mexico State, Toledo, @San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, @Idaho, Fresno State, @Nevada, Utah State
  • TCU – @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: Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Missouri, South Carolina

Thursday, September 16

  • 7:30PM – ESPN – Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State – There isn’t much difference here, but Texas A&M does play Arkansas next week, so if they were lose this then beat Arkansas, that would be ideal.

Friday, September 17

No Important Games.

Saturday, September 18

  • 12:00PM – Big 10 Network – Ohio State @ Illinois
  • 12:00PM – ESPNU – Louisiana-Monroe @ Auburn
  • 12:00PM – SEC Network/ESPN3 – Kentucky @ Ole Miss
  • 12:00PM – ESPN – Northwestern @ Minnesota
  • 2:00PM – MTN West Network – TCU @ Colorado State
  • 3:30PM – ESPNU – Michigan @ Indiana
  • 3:30PM – ABC/ESPN – Wisconsin @ Michigan State – this is a tough one.  Michigan State’s schedule is easier (they don’t play Ohio State, Wisconsin doesn’t play Penn State).  But, I also think that 1-loss Michigan State would never play in the title game instead of us.  1-loss Wisconsin might (especially if they beat OSU), so Michigan State is the pick.
  • 3:30 – ABC/ESPN/ESPN3 – Texas vs. Oklahoma – obviously, you want OU to pick up their first loss.
  • 3:30 – CBS – Tennessee @ LSU
  • 8:00PM – ESPN – Penn State @ Iowa – Again, no big difference, but Iowa’s schedule is tougher because they play Wisconsin and Penn State doesn’t.
  • 8:00PM – ABC/ESPN2 – Stanford @ Oregon – Both undefeated, but Oregon is more likely to finish ahead of us with 1-loss.
  • 8:00PM – CBS – Florida @ Alabama – Obviously, Florida is evil.  But there is a logical reason to want them to lose.  Both these teams will finish ahead of us with 1-loss, so that isn’t a factor. UF’s schedule is.  While Alabama plays @South Carolina and @LSU, UF gets those teams at home.
  • 8:00PM – ESPN3 – Boise State @ New Mexico State

Summary of last week and looking forward to this week

Obviously, Texas losing was big and the type of shit we need.  A bunch of teams are playing each other this week, so we need to see where they fall after they lose (assuming we beat Clemson, of course, which is obviously far from a given).  We almost got a pair of PAC 10 upsets late Saturday, but both Oregon and Arizona pulled out those games.  It would be nice if some of these teams got blown out (like UF) to increase the chances of them dropping below us, but that is obviously kind of trivial at this point, since teams like that will eventually jump back in front of us if they win out.  A lot of teams will be picking up losses this week.

There are a few things to look out for right now as trends start to emerge.

  1. Remember, the goal is to make it to #2.  Obviously, being #1 is great, but #2 is just as good by season’s end.
  2. The rematch hurts us.  That means that if Ohio State is #1 and we are #2, we might get jumped the last week of the season to avoid a rematch.
  3. Boise State/TCU – We are in deep shit with regards to these teams largely because the ACC sucks.  There is no way a 1-loss ACC team finishes in front of either of these undefeated.  Hopefully, they slip up, or play sufficiently shitty to allow us in front.
  4. The Conference Champion bias – this could work hugely in our favor.  It’s not really an issue in the Big 10, but it definitely is in the Big 12 and SEC.  Let’s say Texas beats OU, loses to Nebraska then wins out.  They will win the Big 12 South, and that would effectively eliminate even a 1-loss Oklahoma.  Then, if Texas beats an undefeated Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, we would likely be in front of 2-loss Texas, 1-loss Nebraska and 1-loss Oklahoma by winning our conference.  Same thing applies to the SEC.  If Alabama goes undefeated then loses the SEC Championship game to a 2-loss South Carolina, we would probably go in front of them (although this one is a little dubious, because the SEC slurping might get in the way here).
  5. USC is our friend.  It’s in the PAC 10 section, but it is worth repeating.  If USC somehow goes undefeated, the PAC 10 will all but be eliminated.  Technically, USC can’t win the PAC 10, but if they effectively do, it should be enough to clear the way for us.
  6. NC State is our friend.  We basically don’t have any big time opponents left to make a statement against.  If NC State can somehow go undefeated (I know, long, long shot), it will allow us to play what will most certainly be a Top 3-4 team in the ACC Championship Game and make a statement the last week of the season, which matters big time.
  7. Mark Webber is a cunt.
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