FanPost

American NCG Odds

AAC: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?

NCG: I'd say more like one out of a million

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via i.qkme.me

The hottest topic coming out of the AAC this year is whether Louisville even has a chance to make it to the National Championship. The obvious reason being a severely diminished strength of schedule. You Cardinals are fortunate enough to only be dealing with this situation for one year, unlike my Bearcats. Since UC didn't pull the conference realignment golden ticket this will be a talking point for the unforeseeable future. Our unfortunate situation got me thinking; How close have other teams from similar conferences come to playing in the NCG? I’ve combed thru the final BCS rankings since 1998 to gain some perspective. My research and conclusions were guided by a couple principles. One - any team from an AAC like conference would have to go undefeated. Two - an AAC like team, having achieved an undefeated schedule, would still be competing with other undefeated and one loss (possibly even two loss) teams for inclusion within the NCG.

So, to begin answering this question I first decided to calculate how many teams, on average, actually do finish the regular season with zero or one loss in a given year. I’ve included two loss teams as well to provide an extra data point.

Year Zero One Two
1998 2 6 5
1999 3 2 5
2000 1 6 7
2001 1 4 7
2002 2 2 6
2003 0 6 7
2004 5 3 6
2005 2 4 11
2006 2 4 10
2007 1 2 10
2008 2 8 4
2009 5 1 6
2010 3 6 7
2011 1 5 9
2012 1 5 13
Avg 2.1 4.3 7.5

In quantitative terms, the pool of BCS NCG candidates will consist of, on average, 2 undefeated teams and 4 one loss teams. In other words, an undefeated AAC like team is most likely competing against 5 other teams, on average. The 2007 season included the smallest number of zero and one loss teams with 3. Those three were OSU (I refuse to put the lower case "t" in front), LSU and VT. A 12-0 Hawaii, out of the WAC, was actually the highest ranked (#10) among non AQ teams.

The next step is to filter out all of the AQ conference teams. I further removed any team with more than one loss.

Team Rank Year Record Conference
TCU 3 2010 12-0 MWC
TCU 4 2009 12-0 MWC
Utah 6 2004 11-0 MWC
Utah 6 2008 12-0 MWC
Boise State 6 2009 13-0 WAC
Boise State 7 2011 11-1 MWC
Boise State 8 2006 12-0 WAC
Boise State 9 2004 11-0 WAC
Boise State 9 2008 12-0 WAC
Tulane 10 1998 11-0 CUSA
Louisville 10 2004 10-1 CUSA
Hawaii 10 2007 12-0 WAC
Boise State 10 2010 11-1 WAC
Miami (Ohio) 11 2003 12-1 MAC
Marshall 12 1999 12-0 MAC
TCU 14 2000 10-1 WAC
TCU 14 2005 10-1 MWC
Nevada 15 2010 12-1 WAC
Northern Illinois 15 2012 12-1 MAC
Boise State 17 2003 12-1 WAC
TCU 18 2003 11-1 CUSA
Houston 19 2011 12-1 CUSA
Ball State 22 2008 12-1 MAC

I performed some basic research on TCU’s, them being the clear front runner, 2009 and 2010 seasons. I also selected Louisville’s 2004 season for comparison.

Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score) Key Opponents Bowl
TCU 3 2010 12-0 MWC #76, 68.38 Utah (MWC, #19) Rose
Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score) Key Opponents Bowl
TCU 4 2009 12-0 MWC #60, 70.59 BYU (MWC, #14), Utah (MWC, #23) Fiesta
Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score) Key Opponents Bowl
Louisville 10 2004 10-1 CUSA #82, 68.32 Miami (ACC, #14) Liberty

Although obvious before any of the previous analysis, my takeaway is that any AAC like team’s schedule REQUIRES wins against opponents that finish ranked to even break into the top 5, regardless of whether they finish undefeated. An interesting note is that Louisville’s loss at Miami actually increased their rank since your Cards played them so close. Had Louisville won and Miami pulled out another win somewhere else a top 5 finish may have been likely.

With the implementation of the Playoff structure next year us little guys could have a slightly better chance of getting into the top 4 but I don’t think it will change the fact that an AAC like team needs to go undefeated and win against ranked teams. In fact, I think it will be even more important with the selection process moving away from a computer formula and towards a selection panel. Even tho the computer formulas include human polls in the calculation I like to think they help smooth out some of the inconsistent voting. I fear a human only selection process will lead to an even greater bias against teams not in a traditional power conference.

How about you guys just have Jurich pull some strings in the ACC for my Bearcats and make this problem go away. He might even get a Christmas card out of it.

Other interesting data from charts above:

Highest ranked one loss team

Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score)
Boise State 7 2011 11-1 MWC #75, 68.29

Lowest ranked zero loss team

Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score)
Marshall 12 1999 12-0 MAC #111, 59.76

Highest ranked two loss team

Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score)
TCU 11 2008 10-2 MWC #69, 69.77

Highest ranked three loss team

Team Rank Year Record Conference SOS (Rank, Score)
Utah 23 2009 9-3 MWC #75, 69.06

Sources:

BCS data was compiled from College Football Poll.

SOS from USA Today's Sagarin rankings.

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