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BCS Busting, Oh the Humanity! Edition

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Oh, it's ugly, fans, just gruesome. A moment of silence for the fallen. Among even Series-haters, strains of sympathy, confusion and awe in the wake of such dramatic turnover are as inevtiable as bloodthirsty giddiness. The third, fifth, sixth and eighth-ranked teams in the BCS all went down hard, Number Four only narrowly escaping the ambush by a matter of inches, and the official collaboration this week feels as cobbled together and held in place by Baind-Aids as anything in line to be submitted to the BlogPoll:

Updated BCS Standings, 11-12
1. Ohio State (0.9765)
2. Michigan (0.9736)
3. Southern Cal (0.8699)
4. Florida (0.8495)
5. Notre Dame (0.8193)
6. Rutgers (0.7866)
7. Arkansas (0.7567)
8. West Virginia (0.6575)
9. Wisconsin (0.6428)
10. Louisville (0.6408)

The new driver's seat belongs to Southern Cal, though it could certainly be imagined Notre Dame also controls its own destiny with the Trojans looming. Assuming (dangerously, as always) the Arkansas-Florida winner still has but one loss, it may be able to leap the Irish; its chances increase greatly with an ND loss to USC and a Cal or UCLA win over USC. But it does seem clear the Trojans are en route again so long as they successfuly ward off unsightly blemishes.


Just when you thought it was gone, the SC monster emerges from the pack

Notes on the arbitrary natue of opinions concerning the Big East: Rutgers is very much in the mix here, though it will have to win and obviously get some help from opponents of the three teams immediately in front of it and, considering Arkansas' upcoming schedule, poll positions and point proximity a mere spot behind the Knights, probably also the surging Razorbacks. A couple of those are going to take care of each other: either Michigan or Ohio State will lose, either Southern Cal or Notre Dame will lose, either Arkansas or Florida will lose (assuming the Razorbacks beat Mississippi State and lock up the steel cage title match with the Gators). Specifically, getting the Knights into the championship game is going to require a scenario SMQ laid out earlier today: Ohio State, Southern Cal and Arkansas need to win those head to head matchups, but Rutgers needs Arkansas to lose to LSU and USC to Cal before they get to the other games (technically, from an RU perspective, USC could also lose to UCLA, but this is less likely than a loss to Cal). Any one of those teams, if it remains standing at one loss, is apparently going to be too far ahead of Rutgers to be caught from behind without a slip-up; SMQ would also guess the Ohio State-Michigan loser, if it's reasonably close - and especially if the loser is Ohio State, as if the invincible Buckeyes could conceivably lose to completely overmatched, sad sack, no-shot Michigan - would also get the nod ahead of the Knights. But this is not foregone, and certainly much more likely in the wake of Saturday's revolution.

Most interesting regarding Rutgers: the computers actually like RU better than Ohio State, collectively ranking the Knights second to Michigan, ahead of the third-ranked Buckeyes. This grid shows Rutgers ahead of OSU in the estimation of numbers spit out by Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin, the improbably-named Peter Wolfe and, most of all, the omnious Colley Matrix, which astoundingly ranks the Buckeyes sixth, behind their undefeated counterparts as well as USC, Florida and Notre Dame; remember, though, this result - along with the only one that ranks Ohio State first, the computer of Richard Billingsley - is tossed from the final average as an outlier. But Michigan (first in every poll but Billingsley's, where it's second) and Rutgers (second in four polls, third in the other two) are the only teams the machines agree on to that degree. So the computers certainly deem the Knights legit, even if they don't know everything (that omission of margin of victory matters - check out the major differences in Jeff Sagarin's "real" rankings, under the purple "RATING" column, and the ones used by the BCS, under the red "ELO_CHESS" header, a gap caused entirely by the oddities of the BCS formula requirements).

Pete Thamel says pretty much all this in an article just up at The New York Times.

Now, on the more "arbitrary" front: every relevant hu-man poll - both the Harris and the Coaches, along with the AP - ranks West Virginia ahead of Louisville. The coaches even rank the Mountaineers ahead of Rutgers. How quickly we forget! Is there any permissable argument that casts this irrational WVU love in a justifiable light? The computers, of course, love Rutgers in equally irrational fashion, as mentioned, but at least are sensible enough to keep Louisville ahead of the Mountaineer team it handled by double digits just two weeks ago (UL is 7th by the machines, West Virginia 11th, and the margin between the two is as wide as six spots, via Wolfe's poll). Remember, the Cards lost on a last-second field goal to an undefeated team with a killer pass rush; they were not by any measure run out of New Jersey in shame. Maybe the big win by Maryland, WVU's big out-of-conference trophy from September, over hurting Miami, Louisville'smost high-profile interleague kill, propelled the Mountaineers up. But then, the Cards would have been boosted by K-State, a team it beat by 17 without Brian Brohm, taking out mighty Texas. So we're really just dealing with taste and haste.

Related and recommended: Blessed simplicity in brackets for the 24-team Division II and 32-team Division III playoffs, quietly released this afternoon along with the quasi-political chaos of their Bowl Subdivision counterparts. Certainly there is controversy over the inclusion of three-loss Albany (Ga.) State and Merrimack, but these schools at least have the opportunity to work their differences out on the field. Also, in Division III, SMQ's neighborhood Millsaps Majors make it in under Coach Mike DuBose at 7-3 after an upset Saturday of Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference playoff mainstay Trinity College. The Majors have a first round date at undefeated Carnegie-Mellon, their first playoff appearance since SMQ's uncle wrote the school's receiving records 30 years ago.


Mike DuBose, in the midst of building an SCAC powerhouse