What if the BCS formula was used to decide the top four teams each of the last 16 years?
The answers (and the trends) may prove to be surprising.
The College Football Playoff Committee has shown through its first two sets of top 25 rankings that teams are loosely ordered from fewest to most losses. In the first rankings, East Carolina and Duke (then 1-loss teams) were the only teams ranked out of loss order, each ranked below five 1-loss teams. In the committee’s second set of rankings, Mississippi (7-2) remained ahead of several 1-loss teams, West Virginia (6-3) was ahead of two 2-loss teams, and 7-1 Duke was ranked below eight 1-loss teams.
In the 16-year BCS era, this “loss order” also held true in many cases. Though not absolute, teams from BCS conferences were often times ranked by losses in ascending order. Teams from non-BCS conferences (now non-Power 5 conferences) were often jumped by teams from then-BCS conferences.
|Number of Losses by Top 10 teams in Final BCS Standings (1998-2013)|
|Rank/Year||’98||’99||’00||’01||’02||’03||’04||’05||’06||’07||’08||’09||’10||’11||’12||’13||Avg No. of Losses||0-Loss||1-Loss||2-Loss||3-Loss|
- 13 of 16 teams who finished #1 in the BCS Standings had zero losses. The other three #1 teams finished with one loss, an average of 0.19 losses per #1 ranked team.
- One 2-loss team made the BCS Championship (LSU in 2007). LSU won the SEC Championship Game that season.
- A total of nine of the 64 teams who finished in the top four of the BCS Standings (14%) had two losses, accounting for a 2-loss team in a four team playoff about once every two years. All nine of those teams finished in the top four between 1999-2007 (three of the nine came in 2007). The highest ranking of a two-loss team by year since 2007: 10th (2008), 7th (2009), 7th (2010), 5th (2011), 6th (2012), and 5th (2013). The average ranking of the highest ranked two-loss team in the last six years is #6.67.
- Eight of the nine teams that finished in the top four with two losses won their conference championship (five won championship games, three were conference champions in conferences without title games that year). The only 2-loss team finishing in the top four in the last 16 years without a conference title was LSU in 2006 (finished 10-2).
|2-Loss Teams to finish in Top 4 of BCS Standings|
|1999||4||Alabama||10-2||Won SEC Championship Game|
|2001||3||Colorado||10-2||Won Big 12 Championship Game|
|2003||4||Michigan||10-2||Big Ten Champion|
|2005||4||Ohio State||9-2||Big Ten Co-Champion|
|2006||4||LSU||10-2||Did not play in SEC Championship Game|
|2007||2||LSU||11-2||Won SEC Championship Game|
|2007||3||Virginia Tech||11-2||Won ACC Championship Game|
|2007||4||Oklahoma||11-2||Won Big 12 Championship Game|
- 50% of the top four teams finished with one loss. 36% finished undefeated.
- The 0-loss teams who finished in the top ten, but not in the top four: Tulane (1998, 11-0), Utah (2004, 11-0), Boise State (2004, 11-0), Boise State (2006, 12-0), Hawaii (2007, 12-0), Utah (2008, 12-0), Boise State (2008, 12-0), and Boise State (2009, 13-0). All were from non-BCS conferences at that time.
- The 1-loss teams in the top ten who finished outside the top four in years where a 2-loss team finished inside the top four: Kansas State (1999, 10-1), Illinois (2001, 10-1), Maryland (2001, 10-1), Iowa (2002, 11-1), Oregon (2005, 10-1), Louisville (2006, 11-1), Wisconsin (2006, 11-1), and Kansas (2007, 11-1). Of those eight teams, four won or shared a conference championship. None of the eight played in a conference championship game (though several of the team’s conferences didn’t have games scheduled those years).
What does this mean? So far, the trend we may be seeing from the committee is following the same trend as the final BCS Standings from many of its 16 years. It’s easy for many people to make early judgments on which teams do or do not control their own destiny. In reality, we don’t know for sure what each team needs to do. The line between the fourth and fifth ranked teams is a moving target.
If the committee holds true to some very distinct BCS trends, the following criteria will hold true:
- Undefeated teams from Power 5 conferences are in the playoff.
- A 1-loss Power 5 conference champion will make the playoff ahead of a 2-loss team that did not win their conference.
- Strength of schedule and strength of victory are tie-breakers between teams with the same number of losses. Jumping a team with a better record is possible, but the SOS and SOV need to give a significant edge.
We will see if the criteria hold true soon enough. Until we have a full data set for the entire season it is difficult to judge a system that has a good chance to get it right.
The Eliminator: The Eliminator assumes (not necessarily justly) that a Power 5 conference team with three or more losses and a Group of 5 team with one or more losses will not make the playoff. Under that assumption, 28 teams remain in play for the postseason playoff.
- ACC (4): Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Duke
- BIG 12 (4): TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor
- BIG TEN (6): Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa
- CONFERENCE USA (1): Marshall
- PAC-12 (5): Oregon, UCLA, Arizona State, Arizona, Utah
- SEC (7): Auburn, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Missouri
- INDEPENDENT (1): Notre Dame
Top Week 11 Games ranked by G-Score (KPI Rankings entering Thursday’s games)
- #6 Alabama (7-1, 4-1 SEC) at #9 LSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC), Saturday 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT, CBS
- #16 Kansas State (7-1, 5-0 Big 12) at #8 TCU (7-1, 4-1 Big 12), Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT, FOX
- #17 Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) at #13 Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten), Saturday 8 p.m. ET, ABC
- #23 Notre Dame (7-1) at #10 Arizona State (7-1, 5-1 Pac-12), Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. MT, ABC
- #5 Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) at #29 Utah (6-2, 3-2 Pac-12), Saturday 10 p.m. ET/8 p.m. MT, ESPN
- #28 Baylor (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) at #15 Oklahoma (6-2, 3-2 Big 12), Saturday 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT, FOX Sports 1
- #36 Texas A&M (6-3, 2-3 SEC) at #1 Auburn (7-1, 4-1 SEC), Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. CT, CBS
- #7 UCLA (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) at #41 Washington (6-3, 2-3 Pac-12), Saturday 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, FOX Sports 1
- #35 Louisville (6-3, 4-3 ACC) at #39 Boston College (6-3, 3-2 ACC), Saturday 7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2
- #26 Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC) at #49 North Carolina State (5-4, 1-4 ACC), Saturday 12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3