Quick personal note: I enjoyed my first Alabama game since 2008 this weekend. Yes, cupcake games provide meaningless wins that hurt our SOS (at best), but for ex-pats like me trying to follow the Tide on a budget, they're a godsend. Now to whom at Bryant-Denny can pitch my idea for a sunscreen kiosk?
OK, now that my sunburn has subsided, let's check out the new Sagarin rankings (http://sagarin.com/sports/cfsend.htm). You may note that last week rankings correctly picked Auburn to upset Ole Miss and suggested that LSU could have problems with State, so kudos there (please disregard the flailing whiff on pegging the margin of the South Carolina-Kentucky game, as well as picking Vandy over Mizzou). What does this week have in store?
SEC-EAST 1. Florida 86.88 #9 (#17) 2. Georgia 86.10 #12 (#13) 3. Missouri 81.91 #21 4. South Carolina 81.66 #22 5. Tennessee 74.45 #49 6. Vanderbilt 72.65 #59 7. Kentucky 68.70 #77 ______________________________ SEC-WEST 1. Alabama 93.49 #1 (#2)
2. LSU 89.28 #4
3. Texas A&M 86.13 #11 4. Auburn 79.08 #32
5. Ole Miss 75.38 #47
6. Mississippi State 74.12 #52
7. Arkansas 73.73 #53
I've put Sagarin's ELO_CHESS rankings in parentheses for comparison; these are the rankings that are incorporated into the BCS (due to its insistence that margin of victory not be considered), but the PREDICTOR rankings are what we've been using all season (and are according to the man himself the more accurate ranking).
With these new numbers and a 4.28-point homefield advantage, we can see a clear picture of how the season will unfold according to Sagarin...
SEC-EAST 1. Florida 9-3 (7-1) Chick-fil-A Bowl 2. Georgia 10-2 (7-1) Sugar Bowl 3. Missouri 10-2 (6-2) Outback Bowl 4. South Carolina 8-4 (5-3) Gator Bowl? 5. Tennessee 5-7 (2-6) 6. Vanderbilt 5-7 (1-7) 7. Kentucky 2-10 (0-8) ______________________________ SEC-WEST 1. Alabama 12-0 (8-0) BCS National Championship Game 2. LSU 10-2 (6-2) Capital One Bowl 3. Texas A&M 9-3 (5-3) Cotton Bowl 4. Auburn 8-4 (4-4) Music City Bowl? 5. Ole Miss 6-6 (2-6) Liberty Bowl? 6. Mississippi State 5-7 (2-6) 7. Arkansas 4-8 (1-7) ______________________________ SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Alabama (-7) over Florida
The most shocking development: the model is predicting Mizzou over TAMU. Is this an "Auburn will upset Ole Miss" prediction or a "Kentucky can't go four quarters with South Carolina" prediction? We'll see.
For now, let's look at the BCS contenders. After the AQ conference champions (assuming no non-AQ champs nor a Notre Dame ranked high enough to bust in), we have the at-larges: BCS rules require 9 regular season wins and top 14 ranking. Who's got a shot?
Pac 12Oregon's two-game season starts this weekend, as they play the first of two games they're projected to win by less than a single point. As the math stands now, the Ducks should roll to 13-0 and a possible spot in the BCS National Championship game. Stanford (11-1) would be the clear BCS At-Large, but UCLA (10-3) and Arizona State (9-3) would both be eligible.
ACCFSU is projected for the first time to win out, 13-0 and ACC Champions. Clemson is the all-but certain BCS At-Large at 11-1, but Miami would deserve consideration finishing 11-2 with both losses on the road to the Seminoles. Also eligible: Virginia Tech (10-2), Maryland (9-3)
Big TenNothing at this point is standing in between Ohio State and an undefeated season; at 13-0, they'll be an attractive BCSNCG candidate. Wisconsin (10-2), Nebraska (9-4), Michigan State (9-3) are dark horse (reeeeal dark) BCS At-Large contenders.
Big 12Also for the fist time this season, Baylor is projected to win their conference 11-0. Oklahoma at 10-1 would be the At-Large, with Texas Tech (9-2) also eligible.
AACThere are two games left that Louisville has even a chance of losing, and they'll be two-possession favorites in both. 12-0 with an AAC championship and a BCS berth is their ceiling. Cincinnati, Rutger, Houston, and UCF may end the season BCS-eligible, but are not worthy of serious consideration.
None of the non-AQ conference champs are projected to win out, and Notre Dame isn't sniffing the top 8. We're done here.
This leaves us with 6 undefeateds: Alabama (currently #1 in the simulated BCS standings), Oregon (#3), FSU (#5), Ohio State (#6), Louisville (#10), and Baylor (#14). We can safely assume that Alabama and Oregon will lock down the human voters; not only is it the matchup that the fans are screaming for, but those teams have held the #1 and #2 spot since week 1 (and I don't think AP voters like admitting they are wrong). The only question is, can the chips push FSU or Ohio State over the top? What about Baylor? What about LouisLOLOLOL nope OK moving on.
FSU currently has the second highest computer ranking (behind Alabama), and might be able to gain some ground with a win over Clemson (current #2) and two wins over Miami (#13). Alabama, however, has opportunities at well, against LSU (#9) and the SEC East champ (currently #17 Florida but potentially #7 Georgia). Oregon, meanwhile, can boost their SOS with wins over Washington (#18), Stanford (#4), and potentially UCLA (#12). No such luck for Ohio State, who has only one top 25 win left on their schedule (#16 Michigan), and Baylor started too low to make up meaningful ground, even with three quality wins (#8 Oklahoma, #19 Texas Tech, and #25 Oklahoma State).
So with that in mind (and the at-large candidates outlined earlier), I would predict the following BCS bowl matchups:
BCS Matchups:BCS National Championship Game: Alabama (-1) over Oregon
Rose Bowl: Stanford (-2) over Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Florida State (-6) over Oklahoma
Sugar Bowl: Georgia (-1) over Louisville
Fiesta Bowl: Clemson (-1) over Baylor