Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How Does Wisconsin Get to the BCS?

The other day I expressed near certainty that the Badgers will get into the top 14 of the BCS. The argument is simple: every other major conference, two-loss team in similar circumstances, except for perhaps one, has finished in the top 14. (And even that one outlier got into the top 14 before falling back out.)

But apparently I haven't been very convincing. People look at all the teams in front of Wisconsin and wonder how the Badgers can move in front of eight of them. Here's how: a bunch of those teams are going to lose games. This is a true certainty, since there are (at least) five games left between teams currently ranked between 8 and 21 in the standings:

1) LSU v. Texas A&M
2) ASU v. UCLA
3) Oklahoma State v. Oklahoma
4) Clemson v. South Carolina
5) Texas A&M v. Missouri

So at least four teams (not five, because Texas A&M could lose twice) currently ranked between 8 and 21 will lose. It's a lock that Wisconsin would move past LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, ASU, Texas A&M, or South Carolina if they lost, as they would all have three losses or more. I think it's very likely they move ahead of a two-loss Clemson team as well, particularly if they get waxed by South Carolina. So you can mentally move Wisconsin up to 19th just by virtue of these five games, because they will move past the loser of games 1 and 2 for sure, and will almost certainly move past the losers of at least one of 3, 4, and 5.

Once you do that, it doesn't look so daunting. The other teams they'd be behind are teams like Fresno St., Northern Illinois, Central Florida and Michigan State. I think Wisconsin would move ahead of those non-majors organically, even if they don't lose, and I think Michigan State will almost certainly lose again (possibly twice). Then there's Louisville, currently at #20, which is another team I think Wisconsin will just move past if it finishes with three more wins.

Anyhow, here's a bunch of plausible occurrences that could all occur, each of which would move Wisconsin up a spot for sure:

1) Clemson over SCar
2) Oklahoma State over Oklahoma
3) Baylor and Texas over Oklahoma State
4) USC over UCLA
5) Missouri over Texas A&M
6) Houston over Louisville
7) Rutgers or S. Florida over UCF
8) Georgia and Alabama over Auburn
9) Ball State or Toledo over NIU
10) Nebraska or Northwestern or Minnesota over MSU
11) New Mex. or San Jose State over Fresno.
12) UCLA over ASU
13) Texas A&M over LSU
14) USC and Notre Dame over Stanford

Now, not all of these things are probable, but many of them are more likely to happen than not. And if eight of these 14 outcomes happen, the Badgers almost certainly get to the top 14. If fewer than eight of them happen, there are still many, many ways that the Badgers move up (e.g., by moving up organically over Louisville, NIU, Fresno, and/or UCF).

Here's my prediction: if the Badgers win out, they'll finished ranked 13th in the BCS standings.

For the sake of completeness, here's the remaining schedule of the teams currently ranked 21 to 7 (current losses in parentheses):

21) LSU (3): Texas A&M, Ark.

20) Louisville (1): Houston, Memphis, @Cincy

19) ASU (2): Ore. St., @UCLA, Az.

18) Oklahoma (2): Iowa St., @K State, Oklahoma State

17) UCF (1): @Temple, Rutgers, South FLorida, @SMU

16) MSU (1): @Nebraska, @Northwestern, Minnesota

15) NIU (0): Ball ST., @Toledo, W. MIch.

14) Fresno St. (0): New Mex., @SJS

13) UCLA (2) Washington, ASU, @USC

12) Ok. ST. (1): @Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma

11) Texas A&M (2): @LSU, Missouri

10) S. Carolina (2): Florida, Coast. Car., Clemson

9) Missouri(1): @Ole Miss, Tex. A&M

8) Clemson (1): Ga Tech, Citadel, @South Carolina

7) Auburn (1): Georgia, Alabama

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