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The BCS Computers

I'm beginning to think the whole point of the BCS formula is merely to make sure there's no one to blame when things go wrong. All the talk of "the BCS computers" and the complicated mathematical formula is bounced around to distract the public from the simple fact that two-thirds of the BCS is people, voting in polls, just like the best team was decided in the previous hundred years. It's only the other third that's divided up among six computer rankings. If you're unhappy where your team is in the standings, blame the voters, not the math geeks.

One thing I do enjoy, however, is the differences between the six dumb computer systems and the expert voters, who actually see the games (in theory) and can judge talent (again, in theory) in ways silicon can't. Of course, I turst the number crunchers, so in that respect, I bring you the most overrated and underrated teams, as determined by the BCS:


Wisconsin (11-1) Anyone arguing that nonconference scheduling doesn't matter, meet the Badgers. From the moment their schedule came out, their seaon was one game long, and that game, a 27-13 loss to Michigan put them entirely at the mercy of the voters. In a down year for the Big 10, Wisconsin put together a Virginia Tech-level nonconference slate, lining up Bowling Green (4-8), Western Illinois (5-6) San Diego State (2-9), and Buffalo (2-10). The voters find this impressive, putting them sixth in both polls (and 7th in the unrelated AP). The computers, not so much. One formula - Richard Billingsly's - puts the Badgers 6th, but the other five slot them at 14th, 11th, 13th, 10th, and 11th. Even with an average computer ranking of 12th, Wisconsin only falls to 7th in the BCS standings. The voters have their thumbs on the scales.

Oklahoma (10-2) This is a little more understandable, as the voters know what the computers cannot, that the Sooners were denied the win against Oregon through gross incompetence from the referees. A week Big 12 schedule doesn't help matters, but this discrepancy - 10th and 11th in the polls, but with five computer rankings putting them between 15th and 17th. Again Richard Billingsly is the exception, as he has the Sooners at 11th as well. What Oklahoma really needs is for the AP to be involved in the BCS again - they have the Sooners at 8th.

Also overrated by the voters are Texas (17th in votes, unranked in two computer polls and no higher than 19th in the others) and Nebraska. There's a bit of discrepancy in the impressiveness of the Big 12, it seems.


Tennessee (9-3) The Volunteers' three losses kick them down to 18th and 19th in the polls - the AP is more reasonable, and puts them at 17th. However, the losses are to Florida, LSU, and Arkansas, all Top 10 teams, and an opening season win over California is also impressive. The end result is computer rankings of 12th, 16th, 14th, 12th, 12th, and 13th, enough to bump Tennessee up two places in the BCS.

California (8-3) Again losses don't matter so much when they're to Tennessee and Southern Cal. Computers put the Berkeley Bears anywhere from 11th to 14th - except for Billingsly, who has them at 19th. That's still a step higher than the voters, who like Cal at 20th or 21st. Except the computer numbers to be dragged back to earth after next weekend's Big Game, when Stanford's 1-10 record becomes a millstone around their opponent's necks.

Also better amongst polls that don't take names into consideration are old favorite Rutgers (13th among voters, but three computers put them in the Top 10) and oddly enough Oregon State, who despite not coming close to cracking any voter's Top 25, is 15th in Massey's and Sagarin's rankings, presumably on the strength of their USC win.