Disclaimer: I know there are a lot of games to be played… this is admittedly pure speculation… and MSU controls its own destiny… just win, baby.
That being said, I disagree with the Spartan fans who say that it doesn’t matter which bowl the Spartans play in if they don’t make the Rose Bowl. A BCS Bowl game is a much better consolation prize if MSU happens to lose in Indianapolis.
Up until yesterday, I was on the optimistic side of the field about MSU’s chances to make a BCS Bowl game even if they lose to Ohio State in the B1G Championship Game. But when the Week 4 BCS Standings came out last night, my optimism turned to pessimism. While the two human polls continued to move MSU up the board, the computers dramatically crashed the Spartans down from 13th to 21st. This resulted in a one spot move from 17 to 16 instead of up to 14 where many experts (and myself) expected them to land. I had a feeling it *might* happen after Michigan and Notre Dame both lost on Saturday, dealing a huge blow to MSU’s strength of schedule.
From all indications, it appears that for MSU’s BCS Bowl aspirations, it is indeed “Rose Bowl or Bust” for the Green and White. I even made a friendly wager with Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press. We agree that if the Spartans win their next 3 games to close out the season, they will be sniffing the top 10 of the BCS. Where we disagree is what happens if MSU loses the Big Ten Championship game. Based on all indications to date, I think that MSU will indeed fall to 15 or below in that scenario, which most likely knocks them out of the chance to play in their first ever BCS Bowl game.
I’ve been wrong before. I’d be happy to be wrong again. It might be a photo finish at this point. Spartan fans need to root for the teams that it played to keep winning, improving their standing in the computers. If you can’t stand to do that (Wolverines, Irish, etc) then realize that, without help, it is most likely Rose Bowl or Bust regarding the BCS for the Spartans.
UPDATE (11/8/2013): In MSU’s bid for its first ever BCS Bowl, the Spartans made some progress this week – even though they don’t play a game this weekend. The results from the Thursday night games are positive for Spartan fans who are asking how the Stanford victory over Oregon and the Oklahoma loss to Baylor affected MSU’s BCS Bowl hopes.
They affected them in a few ways.
First, Oklahoma will certainly drop below MSU in the new rankings.
Second, and more importantly, this clears the way for Ohio State to move up to #3 in the BCS standings when they are released on Sunday. Some people might think that they will get leaped by Stanford or Baylor but I don’t think so.
First of all, Stanford has a loss to Utah. Utah. There is no way that Stanford jumps an undefeated Ohio State team with a loss to Utah on its resume. So that brings us to Baylor. Baylor is currently undefeated and ranked 6th in the BCS. Before we can discuss why they won’t pass the 4th-ranked Buckeyes in the BCS, you have to first understand how the BCS Standings work.
The Harris Interactive Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll and computer rankings each comprise one-third of the BCS Standings. To derive the percentages that are avereaged, each team’s total points in the Harris and USA Today polls are divided by the maximum possible points (2,625 for Harris and 1,550 for USA Today). The computer rankings percentage is calculated by dropping the highest and lowest ranking for each team and then dividing the remaining total by 100 (the maximum possible points). The BCS Average is calculated by averaging the percentage totals of the Harris Interactive Poll, USA Today Poll, and computer rankings. The teams’ BCS Averages are ranked to produce the BCS Standings.
Here is where the top teams stood as of last week:
- Alabama .9797
- Florida State .9525
- Oregon .9435
- Ohio State .8720
- Stanford .7930
- Baylor .7745
- Alabama 2613
- Oregon 2491
- Florida State 2444
- Ohio State 2317
- Stanford 2102
- Baylor 2167
USA Today Poll
- Alabama 1540
- Oregon 1475
- Florida State 1436
- Ohio State 1369
- Baylor 1299
- Stanford 1222
- Florida State 1.000
- Alabama 0.950
- Oregon 0.930
- Ohio State 0.850
- Stanford (tie) 0.790
- Missouri (tie) 0.790
- Auburn 0.750
- Clemson 0.740
- Baylor 0.660
- S. Carolina 0.620
- Oklahoma 0.600
I went all the way to 11 in the computer rankings to prove a point. While last night’s Oklahoma vs. Baylor game was a #6 vs. #10 matchup according to the BCS, it was only a #9 vs. #11 according to the computers. Baylor trails Ohio State significantly in the computer rankings. In fact, when you compare the 6 computer ratings, they look like this:
Ohio State: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8
Baylor: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
When dropping the best and the worst (which is what the BCS does), it looks like this:
Ohio State: 3, 4, 5, 7
Baylor: 8, 9, 10, 11
It is possible that Baylor will move ahead of Ohio State in the USA Today poll. It is very unlikely that Baylor will move ahead of them in the Harris Poll or the computer poll. Remember, because the BCS uses percentages to determine its standings and not just the rankings, there is a dramatic difference between OSU’s 85% and Baylor’s 66% in the computer rankings. Also, in the Harris Poll, OSU has 88.27% of all points available while Baylor only has 82.55%. In the USA Today Poll, Ohio State has 88.32% of the points available and Baylor has 83.81%. These are the percentages that are averaged in order to come up with the overall BCS Standings.
That is a very long, convoluted way of saying that OSU is likely to move up to #3 in the BCS Standings this week. That makes it feasible that the Buckeyes could make the National Championship game this year. While they still need help, they only need one loss from either Alabama or Florida State.
Of course, that is important for the Spartans only if MSU loses to OSU in the Big Ten Championship Game. If MSU wins, it plays in its first ever BCS Bowl game and first Rose Bowl since 1988. But if MSU loses, it wants OSU to go to the National Championship game. That would all but guarantee a second Big Ten team in a BCS Bowl (and it doesn’t appear Wisconsin will become eligible to be that team – see update below). In this scenario, it is possible that MSU can go to the Rose Bowl REGARDLESS of it beats OSU in Indianapolis, as long as Ohio State is in position to go the BCS National Championship game with a victory.
Also, in other action around the country, Spartan fans can rest assured that the LSU/Alabama game will help the Spartans either way it goes down. Either Alabama wins and drops LSU even further down the BCS Standings (most definitely below the Spartans) or LSU wins and gives OSU the #2 spot in the BCS.
There is a lot of football still to be played this season – heck, a lot still to be played this weekend – but the Thursday night football games last night most definitely helped MSU’s BCS Bowl aspirations.
UPDATE (11/6/2013): Disagreeing somewhat with ESPN’s Edwards — who sees the Orange Bowl likely turning to the Big Ten for its at-large spot if Notre Dame doesn’t get into the top 14 — CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm tweeted out today that a 2-loss MSU is “unlikely” to get a BCS at-large bid. When I asked Jerry via Twitter,
even if the 2nd loss comes in a tight B1G championship with undefeated OSU? Would have road wins at Iowa, Neb & NW.
Especially if it comes then.
Mixed opinions from national prognosticators is not surprising and what I’ve said many times before bears repeating: MSU is still in control of it’s BCS Bowl hopes. Just win, baby.
UPDATE (11/5/2013): ESPN’s BCS guru Brad Edwards says that it is unlikely for Wisconsin to get BCS-bowl-eligible given it’s remaining schedule. Although it is obviously not official in any manner, this would be great news for Michigan State’s BCS hopes in the event that they themselves become BCS bowl-eligible.
“I’m not really worried about Wisconsin reaching the top 14… it sits one spot behind ND and has much less left on the schedule.” — Brad Edwards
Wisconsin is currently 24th in the BCS and would have to get all the way to number 14 in order to be eligible to be picked by the BCS (in most plausible scenarios, anyway… see below for unlikely scenarios). To do so, it would have to hope that sweeping the rest of its schedule vault it 10 spots; I just don’t see it: home games against BYU and Indiana, an away game at Minnesota, and a home game against Penn State in its season finale.
Edwards says that the Fighting Irish will likely make the top 14 if they win out — and he puts the Irish first in line for the at-large spot in the Discover Orange Bowl, which has the first at-large selection after all of the other conferences fill their commitments. If Notre Dame does not qualify, Edwards sees the Orange Bowl likely turning to the Big Ten for its at-large spot. The best case scenario for Spartan fans to root for is probably that Notre Dame beats Pittsburgh and BYU and then loses to Stanford in its finale. This would help MSU’s strength of schedule but ultimately keep the Irish from taking a spot from the Spartans, especially since ND beat MSU earlier this year.
Of course, all that speculation can be avoided if MSU simply wins the rest of its games, including the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis on December 7. Read on for the original article, that goes into much depth about how the BCS works and what options MSU has for playing in one of the BCS bowls for the first time in its history.
ORIGINAL POST BELOW:
The Michigan State Football 2013 Renaissance continues.
Following the demolition of their in-state rival on Saturday, MSU found itself making the biggest jump in the BCS rankings this week, moving from 22 to 17. Unsurprisingly, the Spartans also made the largest moves in the actual polls this week as well, from 24 to 18 in the AP poll and from 24 to 19 in the USA Today poll. The computers have Michigan State number 13 this week, up from 18 last week.Remember, this is only the 3rd week that the BCS Standings have been published. MSU went from unranked in the first week to #17 in the third week. As you’ll see below, the BCS Standings are very important when trying to figure out if MSU will be playing in its first-ever BCS bowl game this year. After taking a year off from having to worry about the BCS standings last year, Spartan fans can now fully immerse themselves in all things BCS. So, here we go:
A reminder: the BCS Standings are comprised by The Harris Interactive Poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll and by a composite of the computer rankings (1/3 each). The BCS Average is calculated by averaging the percentage totals of the Harris Interactive Poll, USA Today Poll, and computer rankings. The teams’ BCS Averages are ranked to produce the BCS Standings. The six computer ranking providers (with MSU’s current ranking in parenthesis) are as follows:
- Anderson & Hester (16)
- Richard Billingsley (21)
- Wes Colley (12)
- Kenneth Massey (14)
- Jeff Sagarin (16)
- Peter Wolfe (15).
I would expect that, given time, the human polls will catch MSU up to the computer polls if the Spartans keep winning. There are 10 teams with 1 or 2 losses that are currently ahead of MSU in the BCS standings. If you are curious as to how MSU compares to those teams, here they are:
#5 Stanford: lost at Utah (Utah is currently 4-4)
#7 Clemson: lost at home vs. Florida State (FSU is currently 8-0)
#8 Missouri: lost at home vs. South Carolina (SC is currently 7-2)
#9 Auburn: lost at LSU (LSU is currently 7-2)
#10 Oklahoma: lost at home vs. Texas (currently 6-2)
#11 Miami: lost at Florida State (currently 8-0)
#12 South Carolina: lost at Georgia (currently 5-3) and at Tennessee (currently 4-5)
#13 LSU: lost at Georgia (currently 5-3) and at Ole Miss (currently 5-3)
#14 Oklahoma St: lost at West Virginia (currently 4-5)
#15 Texas A&M: lost at home vs. Alabama (currently 8-0) & at home vs. Auburn (currently 8-1)
For comparison purposes, the only team that MSU lost to – Notre Dame on the road – re-entered the Top 25 this week and came in at 23 in the BCS. Notre Dame is 7-2 with its only losses on the road to Michigan and at home vs. Oklahoma. It is my opinion that MSU’s loss is a better loss than most of the people on this list. But, of course, MSU’s signature win so far is Michigan… which just fell out of the BCS this week.
Continue reading below this week’s standings to see what Michigan State must do in order to ensure themselves a BCS Bowl game.
Here are the full BCS Standings thru games as of 11/3/13:
BCS Standings – Week 3
2. Florida State
4. Ohio State
12. South Carolina
14. Oklahoma State
15. Texas A&M
16. Fresno State
17. Michigan State
18. Northern Illinois
22. Arizona State
23. Notre Dame
25. Texas Tech
What will it take for MSU to make it to a BCS Bowl?
The first way is the easiest way: win out. If MSU wins out (and the rest of the top 15 don’t implode over the last month of the season), the Spartans will head to Pasadena for the first time in 26 years. The BCS National Championship is theoretically possible still – but highly, highly, highly unlikely.
There are, of course, scenarios in which MSU doesn’t need to win out and can still make the Rose Bowl. The biggest obstacle right now is Nebraska who needs another loss (if not from MSU, then from either Michigan, Penn State or Iowa). Theoretically, Minnesota is still eligible as well. But one loss to Penn State, Wisconsin or Michigan State most likely eliminates them from the Big Ten Championship Game.
The second way for the Green and White to make a BCS Bowl comes into play if MSU makes it to the Big Ten Championship Game but loses in a close manner to Ohio State (or, theoretically, Wisconsin – but that is not likely). If that happens, the following BCS dance plays out. Put on your reading glasses, people, because it gets complicated:
1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings shall play in the National Championship Game.
2. The champions of the Atlantic Coast, American Athletic (formerly Big East), Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and Southeastern conferences will have automatic berths in one of the participating bowls.
3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:
A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year.
4. Notre Dame will have an automatic berth if it is in the top eight of the final BCS Standings.
5. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 4, and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 3 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier, provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.
6. If any of the 10 slots remain open after application of provisions 1 through 5, and if no team qualifies under paragraph No. 5 and an at-large team from a conference with an annual automatic berth for its champion is ranked No. 4 in the final BCS Standings, that team will become an automatic qualifier provided that no at-large team from the same conference qualifies for the national championship game.
If there are fewer than 10 automatic qualifiers, then the bowls will select at-large participants to fill the remaining berths. An at-large team is any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible and meets the following requirements:
A. Has won at least nine regular-season games, and
B. Is among the top 14 teams in the final BCS Standings.
No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS Standings.
If fewer than 10 teams are eligible for selection, then the Bowls can select as an at-large team any Football Bowl Subdivision team that is bowl-eligible, has won at least nine regular-season games and is among the top 18 teams in the final BCS Standings subject to the two-team limit noted above and also subject to the following:
(1) if any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected and
(2) from the teams ranked 15-18, a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14.
If expansion of the pool to 18 teams does not result in 10 teams eligible for selection, then the pool shall be expanded by blocks of 4 teams until 10 eligible teams are available subject to the two-team limit noted above and also subject to the following: (1) if any conference has two or more teams in the top 14, then two of those teams must be selected and (2) from the teams ranked 15 or lower, a bowl can select only a team from a conference that has fewer than two teams in the top 14.
Relative to the two preceding paragraphs, all teams ranked in the top 14, other than those from conferences which have already had two teams selected, must be included in the bowl selections.
Note: in order to participate in a BCS Bowl game, a team
(a) must be eligible for post-season play under the rules of the NCAA and, if it not an independent, under the rules of its conference and
(b) must not have imposed sanctions upon itself prohibiting participation in a post-season game for infractions of the rules of the NCAA or the rules of its conference.
Team Selection Procedures
The bowls will select their participants from two pools: (1) automatic qualifiers, all of which must be selected, and, (2) at-large teams, if fewer than 10 teams qualify automatically. The following sequence will be used when establishing pairings:
1. The top two teams in the final BCS Standings will be placed in the National Championship Game (“NCG”).
2. Unless they qualify to play in the NCG, the champions of selected conferences are contractually committed to host selected games:
- Atlantic Coast Conference-Orange Bowl
- Big Ten Conference-Rose Bowl
- Big 12 Conference-Fiesta Bowl
- Pac-12 Conference-Rose Bowl
- Southeastern Conference-Sugar Bowl
3. If a bowl loses a host team to the NCG, then such bowl shall select a replacement team from among the automatic-qualifying teams and the at-large teams before any other selections are made. If two bowls lose host teams to the NCG, each bowl will get a replacement pick before any other selections are made. In such case, the bowl losing the No. 1 team gets the first replacement pick, and the bowl losing the No. 2 team gets the second replacement pick. If the Rose Bowl loses both the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions to the NCG, it will receive two replacement picks.
(For the games of January 2011 through 2014, the first year the Rose Bowl loses a team to the NCG and a team from the non-AQ group is an automatic qualifier, that non-AQ team will play in the Rose Bowl.)
A bowl choosing a replacement team may not select any of the following:
A. A team in the NCG;
B. The host team for another BCS Bowl;
C. When two bowls lose host teams, then the bowl losing the number one team may not select a replacement team from the same conference as the number two team, unless the bowl losing the number two team consents.
4. After steps No. 1, 2 and 3 have been completed, any bowl with an unfilled slot shall select a team from the automatic qualifiers and/or at-large teams in the following order for the games played in 2007 through 2010:
A. The bowl played on the date nearest to the National Championship Game will pick first;
B. The bowl played on the date second-nearest to the National Championship Game will pick second;
C. The bowl hosting the game that is played in the time slot immediately after the Rose Bowl game will pick third.
The selection order noted in paragraphs A, B and C is as follows for the January 2014 games: Orange, Sugar, Fiesta. All teams earning automatic berths must be selected.
5. After completion of the selection process as described in Paragraph Nos. 1-4, the conferences and Notre Dame may, but are not required to, adjust the pairings taking into consideration the following:
A. whether the same team will be playing in the same bowl game for two consecutive years;
B. whether two teams that played against one another in the regular season will be paired against one another in a bowl game;
C. whether the same two teams will play against each other in a bowl game for two consecutive years; and
D. whether alternative pairings may have greater or lesser appeal to college football fans as measured by expected ticket sales for the bowls and by expected television interest, and the consequent financial impact on Fox and the bowls.
The pairings may not be altered by removing the Big Ten Champion or Pac-12 champion from the Rose Bowl.
What must MSU do?
So… MSU needs to reach the top 14 in the BCS Standings. That is definitely do-able if they win at Nebraska, at Northwestern, at home against Minnesota and play decent against OSU in Indy. There is something, however, that is out of their control: if Wisconsin also wins out but doesn’t make it to the Big Ten Championship game, the Badgers could be chosen as an at-large team in the BCS over MSU if the Spartans lose to Ohio State. Wisconsin is currently 24th in the BCS, so that is not a certainty that they can make it up to 14. But if Wisconsin does get chosen over MSU in that scenario, that would be the second time in 3 years that MSU would miss out on a BCS bowl game by making it to the Championship game and losing. It might be unlikely that the Rose Bowl would take Wisconsin again, though, this year – since they’ve basically lived there in January lately.
Check back with isportsweb week to week as this article will get updated and reposted.
Here are the current Top 25 polls:
The AP Top 25 (thru games of 11/3/13)
1. Alabama 8-0
2. Oregon 8-0
3. Florida St. 8-0
4. Ohio St. 9-0
5. Baylor 7-0
6. Stanford 7-1
7. Auburn 8-1
8. Clemson 8-1
9. Missouri 8-1
10. LSU 7-2
11. Texas A&M 7-2
12. Oklahoma 7-1
13. South Carolina 7-2
14. Miami 7-1
15. Oklahoma St. 7-1
16. UCLA 6-2
17. Fresno St. 8-0
18. Michigan St. 8-1
19. UCF 6-1
20. Louisville 7-1
21. Wisconsin 6-2
22. N. Illinois 9-0
23. Arizona St. 6-2
24. Notre Dame 7-2
25. Texas Tech 7-2
USA Today Top 25 Poll (thru games of 11/3/13)
1. Alabama 8-0
2. Oregon 8-0
3. Florida State 8-0
4. Ohio State 9-0
5. Baylor 7-0
6. Stanford 7-1
7. Clemson 8-1
8. Oklahoma 7-1
9. Missouri 8-1
10. Auburn 8-1
11. Oklahoma State 7-1
12. LSU 7-2
13. Texas A&M 7-2
14. Miami (Fla.) 7-1
15. South Carolina 7-2
16. Louisville 7-1
17. Fresno State 8-0
18. UCLA 6-2
19. Michigan State 8-1
20. Northern Illinois 9-0
21. Central Florida 6-1
22. Wisconsin 6-2
23. Texas Tech 7-2
24. Arizona State 6-2
25. Notre Dame 7-2