Sunday, November 6, 2011

Post LSU/Bama BCS analysis: Could there be a rematch?

LSU defeated Alabama so will clearly be #1 in the polls, but where will things fall in the BCS rankings?  And how far will Alabama fall?  And what will that mean for potential championship scenarios?

LSU will be #1 in the BCS.  While they weren't #1 in some computers last week, even as low as #3, playing and beating Alabama will improve their rating by the computers and they could get to #1 in some.  The other team getting most of the other #1/#2 votes and computer rankings should be Oklahoma State meaning that if they win out, it is very very likely that those would meet in the BCS championship game.

But what if they don't win out?  LSU does have Arkansas and potentially Georgia left which would not be pushovers, but you'd have to think they'd win those.  Oklahoma State has Texas Tech on the road which would likely be another shoot-out but you'd think they win, and then host Oklahoma.

The Cowboys/Sooners game could effectively be the 2nd national semi-final, the winner playing LSU, for a few reasons.  Oklahoma was already #5 or #6 in all the computers, even ahead of Stanford and Boise State in a few, and #7 in the polls.  Beating Texas A&M isn't going to hurt them in the computers and will likely help them a bit, plus in addition to the Cowboys they have Baylor and Iowa State, two solid teams according to the computers.  Their strength of schedule will go up and they could move ahead of Stanford and Boise State in a few more computers as well as Oklahoma State if they win.  Moving up to #2 or #3 in the computers is possible, and with them being behind Oregon and Stanford in the polls they'll move up on them, Oklahoma State, possibly Boise State, as well as possibly Alabama, and get to #3, behind only LSU and Stanford.

But Alabama could also have a very similar profile to Oklahoma.  They won't fall that far in the computers, so it will depend on how far they drop in the polls.  Stanford is fortunate that the computers and pollsters may have to split support for the best 1-loss team between these and that could keep them ahead in the final analysis.

To see what a few computers may do after yesterday's games, see my BCS algorithm's rankings as these are similar to Sagarin's and Massey's systems.  These have OU and Bama close to each other at #3 and #4, ahead of Boise State (#7) and Stanford (#10).

I'd say that if Alabama and OU win out, Stanford could eke into the #2 BCS spot due to the polls, they'll be fighting a deficit to Alabama and OU in the computers.  And even in this case it could be close and it would be interesting to see if Alabama or OU is higher.

If Oklahoma State loses, and just one of Alabama or OU win out, I think it gets more interesting.  With fewer 1-loss teams for the computers and polls to fight over and the best 1-loss team likely being ahead in the computers, I wouldn't be surprised to see the 1-loss team ahead of Stanford.  Now, the pollsters may do their part to make sure the 1-loss team is far enough back, but it will be close.