Friday, December 02, 2005

The "what if" game, BCS version

Let's inject a bit of reality into Penn State's Rose Bowl hopes.

Here are the current BCS top 4 standings, with the Harris/Coaches/Computer percentages.

  1. USC: 0.986 (0.995/0.994/0.970)

  2. Texas: 0.974 (0.965/0.966/0.990)

  3. Penn State: 0.899 (0.894/0.883/0.920)

  4. LSU: 0.849 (0.885/0.901/0.760)



What'll happen if USC loses this weekend? Well, thankfully, the Colley Rankings allow us to test just that. USC losing and Texas winning moves Penn State into second place in the computer rankings. The "0.990, 0.970, 0.920" rankings above for Texas/USC/UCLA are saying that Texas is almost univerally first, USC second, Penn State third (though not quite: that would be 1.000, 0.960, 0.920). The computer rankings aren't really that different - it's safe to say that USC losing drops them from 2 to 3. Penn State is a completely universal #3, so it's safe to say they'll be a completely universal #2.

USC's human poll ranking will definitely go down. How far do they have to go down for Penn State to leapfrog them? Going down to #2 will give them a BCS ranking of 0.950, and Penn State a ranking of 0.915. Penn State's current spot in the Harris/Coaches' poll is really a "3.5" - 3 is 0.920, and 4 is 0.880. So right now, voters are split as to who to put at #3. Half put LSU, half put Penn State. If it were only PSU/USC as options for 2/3, PSU would need at least one quarter of the voters to put Penn State #2. It's more complicated with LSU, obviously, but unless USC gets a significant number of votes for #4, that result stays the same - a quarter of the voters.

Now, what happens if Texas loses this week? USC then claims the top computer spot, and Texas drops to #3. This is the same situation as above - but now it's easier because Texas started off at #2, and its hard to imagine voters not wavering at all after a loss to Colorado, and given that half the voters in Harris/Coaches polls already have Penn State at #3, you'd only need half of that half to waver after a loss to Colorado.

And if Texas and USC both lose? That's an easy one. That puts Penn State at the top of most computer rankings, at which point Penn State would only need about an eighth of the voters placing them #2 for them to be a guaranteed lock.

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