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
Alabama (BCS - #2 - 0.9519) - Current Schedule 17, Final Schedule 12
Probability of an Undefeated SEC Champion - 80.4%
Oklahoma (BCS - #3 - 0.9301) - Current Schedule 10, Final Schedule 5
Oklahoma St. (BCS - #4 - 0.8568) - Current Schedule 5, Final Schedule 6
Kansas St. (BCS - #11 - 0.5688) - Current Schedule 46, Final Schedule 10
Probability of an Undefeated Big 12 Champion - 68.1%
Boise St. (BCS - #5 - 0.8027) - Current Schedule 42, Final Schedule 75
|Road||San Diego St.||98.3%|
Wisconsin (BCS - #6 - 0.7708) - Current Schedule 114, Final Schedule 71
Clemson (BCS - #7 - 0.7582) - Current Schedule 19, Final Schedule 14
|Road||North Carolina St.||99.0%|
Stanford (BCS - #8 - 0.7484) - Current Schedule 103, Final Schedule 57
Houston (BCS - #19 - 0.2863) - Current Schedule 119, Final Schedule 110
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.