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BCS BUSTIN': THE WEEK IN REALPOLITIK

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Third verse, same as the second. Just hit 'shuffle':

Updated BCS Standings, 11-04
Rank Team BCS Pts. Harris Coaches Comp. Avg.
1. Ohio State .995 1 1 1
2. LSU .941 2 2 2
3. Oregon .918 3 3 3
4. Kansas .843 5 5 4
5. Oklahoma .839 4 4 7
6. Missouri .743 7 7 8
7. West Virginia .742 6 6 12
8. Boston College .698 8 8 6
9. Arizona State .693 9 9 5
10. Georgia .608 11 10 9

Ohio State’s is the only death grip, because LSU’s lead over Oregon is small and the Tigers are about to run into a problem – a pair of problems, actually, namely Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss, non-televised games that will wreak havoc on LSU’s current savior in this equation, strength of schedule. Even if the irrationally loyal hu-mahn voters continue to favor the Tigers, the computers are already wavering. LSU’s lead over Oregon according to the machines is a tiny four-hundredths of a point in the official standings, and even narrower once all six machines’ results are taken into account (each team’s high and low computer scores are tossed, remember), because Anderson & Hester ranks the Tigers fifth, lower than any other equation places LSU or Oregon. Hester is also the only computer right now that has Oregon ahead of LSU, by three spots, but again, it doesn’t count until it moves more in line with the others.

Still, LSU’s position is precarious. Kansas trails by a little less than a full tenth of a point, which is less than it picked up this week alone from leaping Oklahoma and plummeting B.C. and Arizona State. Given the Jayhawks’ remaining schedule, and Oklahoma, the gap on LSU and Oregon is hardly insurmountable:

BCS Top Six: Remaining Schedules (Points Back)
Ohio State (-) LSU (-) Oregon (–.023) Kansas (–.098) Oklahoma (–.108) Missouri (–.198)
Illinois Louisiana Tech at Arizona at Oklahoma State Baylor Texas A&M
at Michigan at Ole Miss at UCLA Iowa State at Texas Tech at Kansas State
Arkansas Oregon State vs. Missouri Oklahoma State vs. Kansas
SEC Champ. Big 12 Champ. Big 12 Champ. Big 12 Champ.

As a matter of fact, LSU could win the next two weeks and still find itself fourth by mid-November if Oregon and Kansas are impressive enough against slightly tougher competition. This is purely speculating based on the value of beating UCLA and Oklahoma State, respectively, which is better than the value of beating Ole Miss, but a full tenth of a point better? That’s up to the algorithms and which ones stay in the end and which ones go.


Mangino was told there would be no math. Don’t worry about the decimals coach: just keep winning.

Mike Bellotti? You might want to think about running it up.
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This move probably has to happen before the conference championships, because it’s not likely to occur after that weekend, barring some specific circumstances and human-swaying margins of victory. Oregon must be in second place by that point to have any chance, unless LSU were to lose and either one-loss Oklahoma or Missouri wins the Big 12 championship. If Kansas runs the table with neutral site wins over Missouri (the game is in Kansas City) and Oklahoma, the 13-0 Jayhawks will certainly leap the idle Ducks; the only question at that point is whether Kansas has enough juice to leap LSU, and that probably depends on their respective margins in the championship games, and possibly their opponents, as well. Kansas needs Mizzou and Oklahoma at "full strength" to gain even the slightest edge over LSU, who will have to beat Georgia or Tennessee. At this point, the Vols’ win over UGA notwithstanding, LSU would probably prefer to get Georgia, which is at least 13 spots higher in every poll right now than Tennessee, though UT actually controls its own destiny in the East.

Missouri and Oklahoma are tougher, because it’s unlikely either can jump LSU with one loss. Oregon, possibly, with a good showing in the Big 12 championship game – as I said above, Oregon is in bad position here unless LSU and Kansas both lose, and maybe even then if OU or Mizzou looks good enough – but if LSU wins its last four, the only team with a very good chance of realistically challenging to overtake the Tigers is, incredibly, Kansas. The pull of an undefeated team from any BCS conference could be stronger than voters’ respect for the SEC and LSU’s brand recognition, and Kansas is the only team that can still deliver that. If an undefeated Big 12 champion isn’t good enough in voters’ minds to leap a one-loss SEC champion, there will be wailing and some kind of retribution from the heartland and probably beyond. But if the Jayhawks go down, it’s LSU’s trip to lose.

God help us if Ohio State loses. In the most cynical, realist mindset I can muster, I’m not prepared to deal with the scenarios if that happens. My guess would be an extension of what I said above: if they win out, it’s going to come down to LSU and Kansas. I do not think Ohio State could recover from a loss in either of its last two games, especially if it’s to Michigan, because it would cost OSU the Big Ten championship and voters have a Pavlovian drop response to losing. But even if OSU loses to Illinois and beats Michigan, securing the automatic Big Ten title bid and redeeming itself in one of the biggest games of the year, the odds are probably in favor of the Buckeyes being jumped by LSU (obviously) and the Big 12 champion, particularly if that champion is Kansas. If Ohio State loses and Missouri or Oklahoma wins the Big 12, it’s LSU and a four-way battle royale for number two between Mizzou/Oklahoma, Ohio State and Oregon.

I think we should hope for that scenario going into the championship weekend, and then an LSU loss in the SEC championship on top of that, just for good measure. Let’s see some sparks fly.

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Speaking of Anderson&Hester, the poll's Jeff Anderson offered this last week on Hawaii, one day after I blasted the Warriors' schedule. Actually, almost every computer in the process is 'thinking' critically about Hawaii, but not the human voters: the Coaches and Harris polls rank the Warriors tenth and twelfth, respectively. The machines, on the other hand, are almost unanimous in their disgust: five of the six still refuse to allow UH near the top 25, and their official BCS poll percentage is 0.000. The only only algorithm that includes Hawaii (Peter Wolfe's, which ranks the islanders 15th) is tossed from the standings as the high outlier, though the human opinion is still good enough to get them to 16th in the poll at large. Listen to the machines, people.