Monday, November 14, 2011

But what if Oklahoma State AND LSU lose? Scenarios galore, must read.

With Stanford and Boise State losing, "order" is restored and we have a clear #1 and #2 in the BCS rankings.  If LSU and Oklahoma State win out, they play in the title game and there is no confusion or debate.

But there are some, myself included, that think there is a good chance that Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, and the nature of the system is that OU could find themselves #2 in the BCS.  I discussed this a few weeks ago in describing how an undefeated Boise State and even Stanford could potentially be passed by a 1-loss team, OU the most likely in my analysis.  The quick summary on why OU would pass Alabama is that they are already ahead of Alabama in one computer and only 1 spot behind in 3 others, and by beating a team that half the computers have #1 (the other half #2), they would move ahead of Alabama in the computers.  Couple that with having such a big win late influencing the voters, and voila, OU moves ahead of Alabama and into the #2 spot in the BCS.  And even if it is close between OU and Alabama or Oregon, the pollsters desires to not see a re-match will cause them to leave OU's way.

Now, my computer says Oklahoma State is the better team and they get the game at home, so it isn't picking the upset, but lets assume it happens.  Then what if LSU loses too?  Does the result of Bedlam cause, well, bedlam in the BCS?

LSU should roll at Mississippi this weekend (unless they start looking ahead too soon), but then hosts Arkansas the following week.  The Razorbacks have been playing well, up to #6 in the BCS (#8 in my computer), so they have a shot at the upset.  Even if LSU gets by that game, they'd have to likely play a Georgia team that has been playing well.  My computer does not predict an upset in either game, and doesn't even project the chance of losing one is greater than winning out, but it could happen.

If they lose to Arkansas, things get whacky.  You'd likely have a 3-way tie in the SEC West and tie-breakers kick in to determine who goes to the championship game.  Unfortunately, it isn't as simple as the highest in the BCS, as if the top-2 teams are close enough in the rankings it reverts to head-to-head.

Let's assume that because LSU's loss would be the latest that the pollsters drop them the most an in the polls it is Alabama, Arkansas, then LSU.  I'd be hard pressed to justify this, Arkansas' schedule to date is the weakest of the 1-loss teams (weaker than Boise State's thus far) so my computer would likely have them the third of that group, but pollsters like what happened lately.  However, for reasons similar to why my computer wouldn't move Arkansas up as far, the BCS computers might not as well.  However, some of the BCS computers are themselves a little questionable so who knows what happens.  It should be extremely close and it will boil down to how Arkansas wins (if they do) and how the polls react.

As a quick test, I added an Arkansas win over LSU to my BCS algorithm and it results in LSU #2, Arkansas #3, and Alabama #5.  If the BCS computers did that, you could easily have Arkansas at least the 2nd of the group behind LSU and that would put them in the championship game.  Again, my regular algorithm wouldn't think they are worthy based on their entire season, but it could happen.

The Scenarios

So who would the top-2 teams be after all the title games should this whackiness occur?  Again, let's use my BCS algorithm to do some tests.  All of these assume Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State and Oregon wins out including a win over ASU in the Pac-12 title game.

If LSU loses to Arkansas but goes to and wins the SEC title game over Georgia, my BCS algorithm has OU and Oklahoma State #1 and #2.  The polls wouldn't keep the Cowboys high enough though so we look to #3 and that is LSU and you have an LSU/OU BCS title game.

If LSU loses to Arkansas and Arkansas goes to and wins the SEC title game over Georgia, the top-2 are the same again and looking to #3 we have Arkansas narrowly ahead of LSU resulting in OU/Arkansas in the finale.

If LSU loses to Arkansas and Alabama goes to and wins the SEC title game over Georgia, the top-2 are again OU/OkSt and Arkansas is still a narrow #3 over Alabama.  The polls would likely bump Alabama into the BCS title game though giving them more credit for playing and winning the title game even if Arkansas were ahead of them in the BCS going into the game.

Now, for a few other whacky scenarios.

If LSU beats Arkansas but loses to Georgia in the SEC title game, my BCS algorithm has OU/OkSt still the top-2 but keeps LSU #3.  It would be hard to see the polls drop LSU behind the two teams they beat,  so it becomes a debate in the polls about LSU or Oklahoma State, or perhaps Oregon gets an opportunity in this case.

Now, if LSU loses to Arkansas, still gets to the SEC title game, but loses there, they fall all the way to #6 in my BCS algorithm, Arkansas being #3 and Alabama #4, those two making their case with the polls deciding which should go.

You'll notice I discount Oklahoma State even though the BCS computers are likely to have them ranked high even with the loss.  This is because I think the polls will drop them from consideration.

You'll also notice that I only mention Oregon getting a shot in one scenario above.  That is because the computers have them #4 today and they have limited opportunity to improve much as their schedule isn't as strong as the others and while USC is a good opponent, closing with a bad Oregon State team and just an ok ASU will hurt them while their 1-loss competition is playing top-10 foes.  The Big-12 and SEC are the strongest conferences this year and all else being equal, I have no issue with them fielding the 2 teams in the BCS title game.

It should be fun!