National Title Breakdown – Week 6

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
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.

Dropped out this week: Penn State

  • Iowa (1-loss) – @Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Northwestern, Ohio State, @Minnesota
  • Michigan – Michigan State, Iowa, @Penn State, Illinois, @Purdue, Wisconsin, @Ohio State
  • Michigan State – @Michigan, Illinois, @Northwestern, @Iowa, Minnesota, Purdue, @Penn State
  • Northwestern – Purdue, Michigan State, @Indiana, @Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, @Wisconsin
  • Ohio State – Indiana, @Wisconsin, Purdue, @Minnesota, Penn State, @Iowa, Michigan
  • Wisconsin (1-loss) – 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:  Texas & Texas A&M

  • 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 – Iowa State, @Missouri, Colorado, @Texas A&M, Texas Tech, @Baylor, @Oklahoma State
  • Oklahoma State – @Louisiana-Lafayette, @Texas Tech, Nebraska, @Kansas State, Baylor, @Texas, @Kansas, Oklahoma

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.

  • Arizona – Oregon State, @Washington State, Washington, @UCLA, @Stanford, USC, @Oregon, Arizona State
  • Oregon – @Washington State, UCLA, @USC, Washington, @Cal, Arizona, @Oregon State
  • Stanford (1-loss) – 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: Kentucky

  • Alabama – @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 – @Kentucky, Arkansas, LSU, @Mississippi, Chattanooga, Georgia, @Alabama
  • Florida (1-loss) – LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia, @Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Appalachian State, @Florida State
  • LSU – @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.

  • Boise State – Toledo, @San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, @Idaho, Fresno State, @Nevada, Utah State
  • TCU – 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: Iowa, Oklahoma

Thursday, September 16

  • 7:30PM – ESPN – Nebraska @ Kansas State – Both teams are undefeated, but we probably, at this point, need Nebraska to lose twice then beat OU in the Big 12 title game.  Obviously, if you have seen Kansas State, they aren’t very good.

Friday, September 17

  • 9:00 – ESPN2 – Oklahoma State @ Louisiana-Lafayette

Saturday, September 18

  • 12:00 PM – ESPN – Indiana @ Ohio State
  • 12:00 PM – Big 10 Network – Minnesota @ Wisconsin
  • 3:30 PM – ABC/ESPN – Michigan State @ Michigan – Michigan State doesn’t play Ohio State, so it will be nice for them to pick up a loss.  Honestly, I don’t see any of these teams finishing with 1 or no losses, and I don’t see them even finishing ahead of us with 1-loss, so this one will be fine either way.
  • 3:30 PM – CBS Sports HD – Wyoming @ TCU
  • 3:30 PM – CBS – Alabama @ South Carolina
  • 3:30 PM – ABC/ESPN3 – Arkansas vs. Texas A&M
  • 5:00 PM – No TV – Oregon @ Washington State
  • 7:00 PM – FSN – Colorado @ Missouri
  • 7:00PM – Versus – Oregon State @ Arizona
  • 7:30 PM – Big 10 Network – Purdue @ Northwestern
  • 7:30 PM – ESPN2 – Auburn @ Kentucky
  • 7:30 PM – ESPN – LSU @ Florida – This might seem a little convoluted, and there is definitely some Florida hate here, but I will explain it later in the summary.
  • 8:00 PM – ABC/ESPN3 – Southern Cal @ Stanford
  • 8:00 PM – ESPN3 – Toledo @ Boise State

Summary of last week and looking forward to this week

I made a few decisions to pull teams off with 1-loss while leaving others off.  Texas A&M got pulled off, but they could play their way back on. I chose to leave Stanford and Wisconsin on, although I am reasonably confident that we would finish ahead of them.

  1. On the Florida-LSU thing, the SEC is it’s own beast.  Regardless of name recognition of the program, no 1-loss SEC team will be left out in our favor.  I also, looking at their schedule, cannot see Bama losing twice.  Therefore, our “best way” through is to have UF lose again and then have an upset in the SEC Championship game.  In the end, we are really looking at 1 SEC East team and 1 SEC West team as competition, and if LSU happens to be that SEC West team, then that is great for us.  But it won’t happen, given that they suck.
  2. NC State lost, which sucks (see my marquee game post from last week).  But despite that, we still want NC State to win the Atlantic.  Why?  Because of the double whammy effect, where we win the ACC Championship Game, and by doing so devalue 2 wins. For example, let’s say Clemson or FSU finishes 9-3, and we beat them in the ACC Championship game.  Now, we have made our regular season win look worse.  We didn’t beat a 9-3 team anymore, we now beat a 9-4 team.
  3. We need a major upset or two at this point.  Like Oklahoma losing to a really terrible team.  I have seen Oregon play a few times, and I think they are ripe for getting picked off.  I also think we have a reasonable chance of finishing ahead of 1-loss PAC 10 teams.  I don’t feel the same way about Big 10, Big 12 or SEC teams, so we need 2 of those (in addition to the 2 non-BCS teams) to be left out.
  4. There are a few games this week where someone will have to lose, and that will help us.  Also helping us is the easing of the schedule. Our schedule lightens considerably after FSU, and if I am still writing this article next week (meaning we have beaten FSU), then we can really relax for and let teams pick each other off.
  5. Believe it or not, Boise State is playing one of their tougher games this week.  Toledo at home.  They should win comfortably, but if you are looking for a shock upset there, this week is one to watch.
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