BCS Analysis – The Undefeateds

As Scipio posted previously, the first BCS standings are out. There weren't very many surprises in there, although most of the media was probably shocked to learn that the only unbiased sources out there (computers) rank the Big 12 as the toughest conference in the nation. It's far too early to address all the possible permutations, so let's focus on the undefeateds and their probabilities for remaining that way.

To do so I will use the normal approach of the power rating and standard deviation of each team available on my EWP ratings page. Each team's remaining schedule, including assumed opponents in conference championship games where applicable, will be posted along with their probability of a victory in each game. Their current BCS information will also be posted, as well as their current schedule strength and forecast final schedule strength via Kenneth Massey's BCS rankings (the best non-MOV schedule source). Keep in mind that Massey's final schedule calculation does not include a conference championship game forecast. After that, a short discussion of the implications.

LSU (BCS - #1 - 0.9522) - Current Schedule 20, Final Schedule 13

Site Opponent Win %
Home Auburn 96.7%
Road Alabama 47.0%
Home Western Kentucky 100%
Road Mississippi 99.3%
Home Arkansas 87.2%
Neutral South Carolina 88.3%
---- Undefeated Prob. 34.7%

Alabama (BCS - #2 - 0.9519) - Current Schedule 17, Final Schedule 12

Site Opponent Win %
Home Tennessee 96.1%
Home LSU 53.0%
Road Mississippi St. 99.1%
Home Georgia Southern 100%
Road Auburn 97.8%
Neutral South Carolina 92.5%
---- Undefeated Prob. 45.7%

Probability of an Undefeated SEC Champion - 80.4%

Oklahoma (BCS - #3 - 0.9301) - Current Schedule 10, Final Schedule 5

Site Opponent Win %
Home Texas Tech 98.2%
Road Kansas St. 89.1%
Home Texas A&M 78.4%
Road Baylor 94.8%
Home Iowa St. 99.8%
Road Oklahoma St. 67.7%
---- Undefeated Prob. 43.9%

Oklahoma St. (BCS - #4 - 0.8568) - Current Schedule 5, Final Schedule 6

Site Opponent Win %
Road Missouri 79.6%
Home Baylor 98.6%
Home Kansas St. 97.7%
Road Texas Tech 97.6%
Road Iowa St. 99.7%
Home Oklahoma 32.3%
---- Undefeated Prob. 24.1%

Kansas St. (BCS - #11 - 0.5688) - Current Schedule 46, Final Schedule 10

Site Opponent Win %
Road Kansas 94.0%
Home Oklahoma 10.9%
Road Oklahoma St. 2.3%
Home Texas A&M 37.1%
Road Texas 62.2%
Home Iowa St. 99.1%
---- Undefeated Prob. 0.1%

Probability of an Undefeated Big 12 Champion - 68.1%

Boise St. (BCS - #5 - 0.8027) - Current Schedule 42, Final Schedule 75

Site Opponent Win %
Home Air Force 100%
Road UNLV 97.3%
Home TCU 99.7%
Road San Diego St. 98.3%
Home Wyoming 99.3%
Home New Mexico 100%
---- Undefeated Prob. 94.7%

Wisconsin (BCS - #6 - 0.7708) - Current Schedule 114, Final Schedule 71

Site Opponent Win %
Road Michigan St. 82.5%
Road Ohio St. 93.7%
Home Purdue 99.6%
Road Minnesota 99.4%
Road Illinois 95.7%
Home Penn St. 96.5%
Neutral Michigan St. 85.8%
---- Undefeated Prob. 60.7%

Clemson (BCS - #7 - 0.7582) - Current Schedule 19, Final Schedule 14

Site Opponent Win %
Home North Carolina 97.0%
Road Georgia Tech 62.8%
Home Wake Forest 94.0%
Road North Carolina St. 99.0%
Road South Carolina 53.9%
Neutral Georgia Tech 68.5%
---- Undefeated Prob. 20.9%

Stanford (BCS - #8 - 0.7484) - Current Schedule 103, Final Schedule 57

Site Opponent Win %
Home Washington 96.8%
Road Southern Cal 91.8%
Road Oregon St. 99.8%
Home Oregon 54.5%
Home California 100%
Home Notre Dame 91.3%
Home Arizona St. 89.2%
---- Undefeated Prob. 39.4%

Houston (BCS - #19 - 0.2863) - Current Schedule 119, Final Schedule 110

Site Opponent Win %
Home Marshall 88.0%
Home Rice 96.6%
Road UAB 94.8%
Road Tulane 88.8%
Home SMU 62.2%
Road Tulsa 65.9%
Home Marshall 88.0%
---- Undefeated Prob. 25.8%

BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?

First, a few probabilities of events we're all interested in:

Undefeated Big 12 and SEC - 54.7%
Undefeated All 7 - 0.7%
Undefeated All 5 AQ - 2.7%
Undefeated 4 AQ - 18.3%
Undefeated 3 AQ - 37.3%
Undefeated 2 AQ - 30.3%
Undefeated 1 AQ - 10.3%
Undefeated 0 AQ - 1.2%

That first number means that no matter what Boise State, Wisconsin, Clemson, and Stanford do from here on out there is a better than 50/50 chance they will be left out of the championship game. Some of the win probabilities seem a little high on a game-by-game basis to me, so it may not be that bad. Those are mostly due to low standard deviations of performance so far this year, so the numbers will fluctuate on a weekly basis. Still, it has to be disheartening to be looking at a situation where even as an undefeated conference champion you are still more likely to be left out of the national title game than you are to be let in. Especially if you're in a supposedly major conference.

BCS disaster rates pretty well right now, too, as the probability that we have more than two automatic qualifier conference champions end up undefeated comes out to 58.3% (the sum of 5, 4, and 3 undefeated AQ probabiities). Combine that with Boise State's soft schedule down the stretch and right now it is shaping up as 2004 all over again.

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