College Football: Computers kind to Texas Tech

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Associated Press
Breaking down the BCS …
It’s November, which means the polls and BCS standings are provoking hypothetical discussions that inevitably leave somebody feeling cheated.
The questions are more apparent than the answers in many cases:
ó How can Texas Tech be No. 2 in the BCS standings, ahead of Penn State, if the Nittany Lions are ranked ahead of Texas Tech in both polls used in the BCS formula ó the USA Today coaches’ poll and the Harris poll?
Two reasons: The first is that the BCS computers, which count for one-third in BCS formula, have Texas Tech tied with Alabama for the top spot and place Penn State at No. 4, offsetting the polls.
The second is that Texas Tech is a close third to Penn State in the two polls. The BCS formula does not care about a team’s ordinal ranking per se; it calculates the percentage of votes each team receives.

Ultimately, will it matter?
Probably not. Texas Tech will have a hard time staying unbeaten with a game Saturday against Oklahoma State and a Nov. 22 game at Oklahoma. The bigger issue might be whether unbeaten Penn State can stay ahead of Texas, which, despite having a loss, has a better computer ranking than Penn State and figures to move up in the polls in the coming weeks ó assuming it wins.

TV pundits claim Florida is the best team, so why aren’t the Gators No. 1?
Because the No. 1 team is (or should be) the one with the best results, and that often is different from being deemed the best team. Florida’s loss to Mississippi might have been a fluke, but it happened and that’s the bottom line for poll voters.

Why should unbeaten Boise State fear it won’t get into one of the five major bowls, even though it is No. 10 in the BCS standings and a non-BCS team supposedly is assured a BCS berth if it finishes in the top 12?
Because only one non-BCS team in the top 12 is guaranteed a BCS game, and the winner of Thursday’s game between two other non-BCS teams ó No. 8 Utah and No. 12 TCU ó could finish ahead of the Broncos.

Does it matter that Texas is ahead of Oklahoma in the BCS standings despite being behind the Sooners in all the polls?
Very much. As of today, Texas would get a berth in a BCS game because teams in the top four of the BCS standings are guaranteed a spot, and Oklahoma would be out, because Texas and Texas Tech would fill the Big 12’s two-team allotment in BCS games.

Why should Joe Paterno care about the opinion of Kevin Duhe, a regional manager of the Blue Bell Ice Cream Co., or Jack White, the director of the PGA Tour’s ShotLink?
Because they are two of the 114 voters in the Harris poll, which counts for one-third in the formula used to determine the BCS standings.

Is the media to blame?
No, because the Associated Press media poll does not count in the BCS formula.

Will a Big East team get a BCS berth, even though West Virginia, at No. 25 in the standings, is the only team from that ranked?
Yes. Meanwhile, some teams in the top 10 won’t make it.