For college football's postseason, these are the days before 1991. The Berlin Wall is soon to fall. The Soviet Union is scheduled to be dissolved. There is a fin de siècle feel. No matter what happens, we know for certain that the much-maligned BCS will be consigned to the ash heap of history at the end of the season.
Few will mourn the passing of the BCS as we leap into a new, unknown age. But some day, we might look back to the BCS era with some fondness, reminiscing about when there was so much transparency to how things are settled. Under the College Football Playoff, there could be no standings, formulas, publicly available polls, or computer rankings to dissect. The fate of the playoff aspirants could be decided in a smoke
-filled -free conference room on the last day of the regular season.
So while we can, we have put together simulated preseason BCS standings. The method is the same as before: We used the AP poll to stand in for the Harris poll and the median rankings of 24 computer ratings to replace the six official computer rankings to produce a facsimile of what the BCS standings would look like 10 days before the season's first kickoff:
|Rank||2012||Team||Coaches||Coaches %||AP||AP %%||Md*||JS||KM||RB||Computers %||BCS||Conference|
|43||21||San Jose State||40||0.0052||0||0||0.0017||MWC|
Keys: 2012 = Final 2012 Associated Press poll; Md = Median ranking of 24 computer ratings; JS = Jeff Sagarin; KM = Kenneth Massey MOV; RB = Richard Billingsley.
Explanation: This rankings method is a simulation of the actual BCS standings with the following variations: 1) The AP Poll is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll, which is not published until after the first weekend of October; 2) Three of the six BCS computer ratings are available -- Jeff Sagarin, Kenneth Massey and Richard Billingsley; 3) The other three computer ratings -- Anderson & Hester, Colley Matrix and Peter Wolfe -- will not be available until mid-September or October, so they're replaced by the median ranking of 24 computer ratings.
* Penn State isn't eligible for the actual BCS standings.
Even though computer rankings tend to be very volatile early in the season, you can already see some patterns emerging.
The simulated standings do not closely conform to the two polls, even though the polls account for two-thirds of the standings and are nearly identical. We can clearly forecast that one top team will have a lot of trouble with the computers: Louisville.
The Cardinals will spend their final season in the former Big East -- newly minted as the American Athletic Conference -- before moving on to the ACC next season. After walloping Florida in the Sugar Bowl, expectations are high for Charlie Strong's team, as reflected in the lofty poll rankings (No. 9 in both the AP and Coaches polls). But the computers are not nearly as high on the Cardinals.
Massey's MOV ratings (different from the BCS ratings, which do not account for margin of victory) have the Cardinals at No. 46, to go with their median computer ranking outside the top 25. Louisville's schedule, which is ranked outside of the top 100, likely will prove to be its Achilles heel.
Louisville plays eight nondescript AAC games plus four pretty dreadful non-conference opponents: home games against Ohio, FIU, and FCS Eastern Kentucky and a road game at SEC bottom-feeder Kentucky. Ohio, at No. 42 in the simulated BCS standings, is actually the highest-ranked team among the Cardinals' opponents. After Louisville at No. 14, there's not another AAC team in sight until Cincinnati checks in at No. 43.
It's likely Louisville will lose traction in the polls without losing games. There is not one high-profile opponent on the Cardinals' schedule, which means they're a prime candidate to get leapfrogged by another team with a more impressive victory. So even if they run the table at 12-0 (as the AAC does not have a conference championship game), it's probable that the Cardinals will be jumped by a one-loss team or two from the power conferences.
Beyond Louisville, the simulated standings also offer some other clues about the upcoming season:
- With six teams in the top 11, it's nearly assured that the SEC champion will be in the BCS title game for the eighth consecutive season. Unless all SEC teams finish with at least two losses, it's hard to see how the conference would be denied a shot at an eighth straight BCS title (and 10th in 16 years).
- The voters are down on Notre Dame, no doubt because of last season's shellacking by Alabama in the BCS title game and the loss of QB Everett Golson. But the computers are giving the Irish a lot more respect. With a reasonably tough schedule including a number of marquee games, Notre Dame will be in the mix for another BCS bowl bid, if not the national championship.
- Ohio State, despite being ranked No. 2 in both human polls, has some catching up to do in the computers, as it's barely hovering in the top 10. The Buckeyes also have a relatively soft schedule, with no Michigan State or Nebraska and their only major challenge being the regular-season finale against archrival Michigan at the Big House.
- Six of the Big 12's 10 teams are in the top 25, but none higher than No. 14 Oklahoma State. Unless one team emerges to dominate the rest of the conference, it looks like the Big 12's BCS title game drought will stretch to four years.
- Even before the College Football Playoff kicks in next season, when the big boys will really have a stranglehold on the system, a significant gap between the haves and have-nots has already opened up in this final BCS season. Only one non-BCS team is in the top 34 spots of the standings: Boise State at No. 22. Do keep in mind, however, that last season Northern Illinois did manage to claim a BCS bowl spot despite opening the season at No. 46.