Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Could Oklahoma State pass Alabama for the #2 spot in the BCS?

Note: See the more recent post on what it will take for Oklahoma State to pass Alabama.

A comment was added to my discussion of David Shaw's criticism of the BCS asking if the computers could help Oklahoma State jump ahead of Alabama.  It is a worthwhile question so let's answer it.

First, for this discussion to be relevant, we probably have to assume that LSU beats Arkansas eliminating them (they are #3 in the BCS between Alabama and Oklahoma State).  Also, Alabama needs to beat Auburn, otherwise Oklahoma State is probably gift wrapped the #2 spot.

Second, the the Cowboys are ahead of Alabama in 4 of the 6 computers and are immediately behind them in the other 2 giving them a 0.02 advantage from the computers.  Today this is more than offset by the polls having Oklahoma State 491 and 257 points behind leaving them over 0.1 points behind Alabama and #4 in the BCS.

So, what would it take for Oklahoma State to get to #2?

They'd need to get everything they can from the computers, and while they are already ahead of Alabama in 4 or 6 computers, they could increase their margin in the computers to 0.04 if they get ahead in all of them.  This is possible as they get to play Oklahoma with a #6 BCS computer average while Alabama plays Auburn with a #22 BCS computer average.

Then, they'd need to get close enough in the polls to not lose that entire 0.04 margin.  Since the polls are worth 2/3 in the BCS computation, that effectively means they'd have to be within 0.02 in each poll.  That equates to less than 58 votes in the Harris poll and 30 votes in the Coaches poll.  Given that they are 491 and 257 behind today, that is a long ways to go.

Now, if they beat Oklahoma convincingly, they could get a bump in the polls.  And we are assuming Arkansas loses so they'll get their share of votes there too.  But with Stanford and Virginia Tech between them and Alabama, and each of them playing a quality opponent, I doubt they can leap over both unless one or both of them lose or have a really bad showing in a narrow win.

The only way I see Oklahoma State getting ahead of Alabama is an Alabama loss, or the voters deciding this coming week or next, that they do not want to see a rematch and we see voters changing their votes to manipulate the system to avoid it, putting Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama and making up what is needed in the polls.

The beauty of this year though is that there probably will be an upset of some sort this weekend and we'll be back discussion new scenarios in a few days.