2013 college football rankings: Simulated BCS standings have Oregon up, Ohio State down

Doug Pensinger

There won't be official 2013 BCS standings until midway through the college football season. But we know enough to know what the preseason rankings would look like if they were out, and we know the results are good for Oregon, Texas A&M, and Notre Dame (and not so much for Ohio State or Louisville).

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
1 1 Alabama 1 0.9968 1 0.9987 1 1 1 1 1 0.9985 SEC
2 2 Oregon 3 0.9013 3 0.89 2 2 2 2 0.96 0.9171 P12
3 5 Georgia 5 0.8065 5 0.8327 4 4 4 4 0.88 0.8397 SEC
4 7 Stanford 4 0.8142 4 0.8627 5 5 10 5 0.79 0.8223 P12
5 6 Texas A&M 6 0.7839 7 0.736 3 3 3 3 0.92 0.8133 SEC
6 3 Ohio State 2 0.9206 2 0.91 10 10 17 10 0.57 0.8002 B10
7 8 South Carolina 7 0.7329 6 0.7693 8 8 6 8 0.74 0.7474 SEC
8 11 Clemson 8 0.6755 8 0.722 11 11 14 11 0.57 0.6558 ACC
9 4 Notre Dame 11 0.5626 14 0.4987 6 6 9 6 0.77 0.6104 Ind
10 14 LSU 13 0.5142 12 0.5347 7 7 5 7 0.78 0.6096 SEC
11 9 Florida 10 0.6 10 0.596 12 12 7 12 0.61 0.602 SEC
12 10 Florida State 12 0.5445 11 0.5633 13 13 13 13 0.52 0.5426 ACC
13 29 Oklahoma State 14 0.4684 13 0.5033 9 9 12 9 0.65 0.5406 B12
14 13 Louisville 9 0.6516 9 0.6947



0 0.4488 AA
15 15 Oklahoma 16 0.4 16 0.386 14 14 11 14 0.51 0.432 B12
16 19 Texas 15 0.4013 15 0.4513 15 15 16 15 0.43 0.4275 B12
17 24 Michigan 17 0.38 17 0.354 19 19 20 19 0.27 0.3347 B10
18 25 Nebraska 18 0.2748 18 0.2547 24 24 25 24 0.07 0.1998 B10
19 33 TCU 20 0.2581 20 0.2153 22 22
22 0.12 0.1978 B12
20 12 Kansas State 26 0.0729 31 0.0287 16 16 8 16 0.48 0.1939 B12
21 35 Wisconsin 23 0.111 23 0.1233 17 17 19 17 0.34 0.1914 B10
22 18 Boise State 19 0.271 19 0.2187 25 25
25 0.03 0.1732 MWC
23 26 Baylor 29 0.0516 27 0.0613 18 18 15 18 0.35 0.1543 B12
24 20 Oregon State 25 0.0871 25 0.086 20 20 18 20
0.1444 P12
25 NR USC 24 0.1065 24 0.0893 21 21 24 21 0.17 0.1219 P12
26 17 Northwestern 22 0.12 22 0.1327 23 23
23 0.09 0.1142 B10
27 31 UCLA 21 0.1303 21 0.1907



0 0.107 P12
28 NR Miami (Fla.) 27 0.0652 29 0.0567



0 0.0406 ACC
29 NR Michigan State 28 0.0574 26 0.0633



0 0.0403 B10
30 NR Virginia Tech 30 0.0419 28 0.0573



0 0.0331 ACC
31 23 Vanderbilt 34 0.0187 33 0.0127

21
0.05 0.0271 SEC
32 NR Arizona State 32 0.0329 30 0.0353



0 0.0227 P12
33 NR Ole Miss 33 0.0206 36 0.0073

22
0.04 0.0227 SEC
34 NR Fresno State 31 0.04 32 0.024



0 0.0213 MWC
35 NR BYU 36 0.0129 43 0.0007

23
0.03 0.0145 Ind
36 22 Northern Illinois 37 0.0123 35 0.0107



0 0.0076 MAC
37 16 Utah State 35 0.0148 37 0.0053



0 0.0067 MWC
38 NR North Carolina 37 0.0123 39 0.002



0 0.0048 ACC
39 NR Washington 43 0.0019 34 0.0113



0 0.0044 P12
40 30 Tulsa 39 0.0058 0



0 0.0019 CUSA
41 NR Arizona 42 0.0032 39 0.002



0 0.0017 P12
42 NR Ohio 40 0.0052 0



0 0.0017 MAC
43 21 San Jose State 40 0.0052 0



0 0.0017 MWC
44 NR Georgia Tech 0 38 0.004



0 0.0013 ACC
45 28 Cincinnati 43 0.0019 39 0.002



0 0.0013 AA
46 NR East Carolina 43 0.0019 0


0 0.0006 CUSA
46 NR Kent State 43 0.0019 0



0 0.0006 MAC
46 NR Mississippi State 43 0.0019 0



0 0.0006 SEC
49 27 Penn State* 0 42 0.0013



0 0.0004 B10
50 33 Central Florida 48 0.0013 0



0 0.0004 AA
51 32 Arkansas State 49 0.0006 0



0 0.0002 Sun
51 NR Arkansas 49 0.0006 0



0 0.0002 SEC
51 NR Rutgers 49 0.0006 0



0 0.0002 AA
51 NR Tennessee 49 0.0006 0



0 0.0002 SEC
51 NR Toledo 49 0.0006 0



0 0.0002 MAC

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.

It's likely Louisville will lose traction in the polls without losing games.

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.

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