Now the BCS debates begin in earnest, complete with regional biases, different ranking interpretations, convoluted tie-breaker rules and a variety of expletives directed at the system.
The issue is fueled by the fact that unbeaten Stanford remained at No. 4 in the BCS standings, behind Alabama, even though Alabama lost on Saturday to LSU. The issue figures to become more contentious with Stanford hosting Oregon and Boise State hosting TCU this weekend.
— Debate No. 1: Will Stanford move ahead of Alabama if it beats Oregon at Stanford on Saturday?
Probably. Not only would a win over the Ducks (No. 7 in the BCS) sway a lot of voters the polls, it should help the Cardinal’s computer ranking significantly. The fact that Stanford is only No. 7 in the BCS computers is what is holding the Cardinal back at the moment, because it is No. 2 in the USA Today poll and No. 3 in the Harris poll, which make up two-thirds of the BCS formula.
How decisively Stanford wins would be a factor too. Some voters are still unsure how good Stanford is, but a big win over the Ducks might vault them well ahead of Oklahoma State. The total number of votes a team gets in the polls is what matters in the BCS formula, not its rank. Stanford has only a slim lead over Oklahoma State in the coaches poll, and increasing that margin will have a significant effect on the Cardinal’s BCS standing.
— Debate No. 2: Where should Alabama be ranked in human polls, both of which have the Tide at No. 4?
After playing LSU to a virtual tie, many believe Alabama is still the second-best team in the country and should be ranked accordingly. But should pollsters vote based on which teams they believe are the best or which teams have had the best results? They are not the same. If voters base their rankings on results, a one-loss team from one conference should not be ranked ahead of an unbeaten team from a comparable conference. If voting is based on the perception of which team is better, Alabama probably would be No. 2. However, by that logic, perhaps Alabama should still be No. 1, because the Tide might be considered the better team after outgaining LSU 300-222 during regulation time and having more scoring opportunities but losing only because its kickers had a bad game.
— Debate No. 3: How could the Southeastern Conference’s complicated tie-breaker method for determining SEC title game participants keep a team that will play in the national championship game out of the SEC title game?
Let’s assume No. 7 Arkansas beats No. 1 LSU on Nov. 25 and LSU, Arkansas and Alabama end in a three-way in the SEC West. The BCS standings would determine the SEC West representative – but in a strange, complicated way. The team with the highest BCS ranking would be the SEC representative, unless the tied team with second-highest BCS ranking is within five spots of the SEC’s highest ranked BCS team and beat the higher ranked team head-to-head, in which case the lower ranked team would play in the SEC title game.
Consider this possibility, if the three finish tied:
If the Dec. 4 BSC standings have Alabama No. 2, LSU No. 4 and Arkansas No. 5 – which seems logical if Arkansas should beat LSU — LSU would go to the SEC title game because it would be within five spots of Alabama in the BCS standings and beat Alabama head-to-head . Nonetheless, Alabama would go to the national title game.
The Big One in the Bay Area
Even though it has three more games left, Stanford would clinch a berth in the Pac-12 championship game as well as homefield advantage for that title game if it beats Oregon on Saturday, which will be the first time in history that two top-10 teams have played a football game at Stanford. The magnitude of the game is why ESPN’s “College Gameday” will be on the Stanford campus Saturday, to broadcast its morning preview show.