Monday, November 5, 2012

What will it take for Oregon to get to #2 in the BCS? Do they need a Notre Dame loss?

So, this week's BCS rankings are out and Oregon moves up to #3, thanks to Notre Dame faltering a bit in the polls, but they are still behind Kansas State by enough that it isn't a given that they can catch and pass them.  So what would it take to do so?

Oregon has an advantage in the polls, 71 points or 0.0247 in the Harris Poll and 29 points or 0.0197 in the Coaches Poll.  They have a larger deficit than this advantage in the computers though, a 5th vs 3rd, but more importantly a 0.09 gap.  This gap is larger than the combined 0.0444 advantage in the polls, thus they are behind Kansas State.

Let's assume that Oregon keeps the same advantage in the polls.  This means they need to marrow the gap in the computers to at most 0.0443, or given the way the averaging works, 0.04.  This effectively means they need to move up 1 spot in every computer and 2 spots in one.  Here is how.

Kansas State is 2nd is 3 computers and 3rd in 3.  Throwing out the high and low and this is 2nd in two and 3rd in two leading to their 0.940 score.  Oregon is 4th in two, 5th in three, and 7th in one.  Throwing out their high and low and you get 4th in one and 5th in three resulting in their 0.850.  To get to the 0.900 they need, they'd need to get to 3rd in two and 4th in two, but really when the high is thrown out, it needs to be 3rd in three and 4th in two.

One of the teams ahead of them in three of the computers is Florida.  They do have a weak schedule with Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State before finishing with Florida State, but with FSU even not being respected by the computers, it is entirely plausible that Oregon gets past Florida in at least 5 of the 6 computers.  This alone would get them to 4th in the four counting or 0.880.

To get to 3rd in three like they need, they'll then need to get past Notre Dame, Kansas State, or Alabama in three of the computers.  It is unlikely they'd get by Alabama in any, particularly with Bama getting a quality opponent in the SEC title game, so it would need to be Kansas State or Notre Dame.

Kansas State's remaining schedule is good, although perhaps not quite as good as Oregon's, especially if Oregon gets a UCLA or USC that wins out in the Pac-12 title game.  So it is again entirely plausible that they get to 3rd in at least one computer simply based on schedule, probably Wolfe where they are already 4th to K-State's 3rd.  They'd need to make up a little more ground in the other computers.

That leaves perhaps 2 computers they still need to get to third in.  Notre Dame has played a tough schedule thus far, but their finish is slightly weaker than Kansas State's.  So this too opens the door for Oregon to get by.  Oregon is already 4th to Notre Dame's 3rd in one computer, so this one is likely.  The other where Notre Dame is 3rd is in Sagarin where Oregon is 7th though, so this may be tougher.

The challenge for Oregon is that if Notre Dame happens to beat USC, but USC beats UCLA, Oregon will have to play what appears to be a weaker USC in the Pac-12 title game and they may not get quite as much help from the computers.

At this point, I'd say it is likely that Oregon gets to 3rd in two computers, but may be looking for a third 3rd to get past Kansas State, it will be very close.  Of course the polls could sway things either way with just a few votes.

So what it may ultimately take for Oregon to get to #2 in the BCS is for Notre Dame to lose.  That is going to help them in the polls a bit (not as much room for improvement there), but more importantly in the computers as this would almost for sure get them close enough to K-State to make up the deficit.

My prediction is that USC does beat Notre Dame (game in Los Angeles) and so this is moot and Oregon gets the help they need to get to #2, but if they don't, they very well could get the short end of the stick and be #3 to K-State in the BCS by every so small a margin.

What do you think?  Leave a comment.