Who’s #2?


One more completed pass and Auburn is better than OSU?

Let’s deal with this subject before it gets done to death through over-saturation by the end of the week and with the knowledge that it has a good chance to be moot1 by this time next week:

Does undefeated Ohio State have a better claim to the BCS Championship game than the one-loss SEC Champion (for the sake of this discussion let’s use Auburn)?

In my opinion, no they do not.

There’s some faulty logic in use to support the case for the Buckeyes and it’s that logic I most want to address.  The pro-OSU argument holds that the Bucks have won all their games and isn’t that what counts most?

Yes, should OSU beat MSU next week they will have won all their games in their league and so be best in their league.

That’s it.

NCAA Football is not the AL Central where you can look at the all-important-loss-column to determine who is winning.  Put another way:  if the winner of the NY-Penn League went undefeated, you wouldn’t say they’re a better team than the Detroit Tigers because wins are what count most would you?  No, you would say, who have they played?


OSU fans to support NIU if NIU goes undefeated?

Unlike MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc., CFB has five or six other co-equal leagues playing the same sport and the quality of the sport varies from league to league. As result the champion of one league might be worse than middle of the pack teams in another league. For example, drop Minnesota (4-4 in conference) into C-USA and they go undefeated. Would the OSU fans back an undefeated C-USA Minny’s claim?  Doubtful.

It happens that the NCAA acknowledges this league disparity and that is why some leagues’ champions automatically qualify for BCS bowls. But even within AQ leagues, the same principles apply: LSU was 5-3 in the SEC and would probably win any other league; SEC 3rd place finisher Alabama surely would.2

In other words, no: going undefeated is not all that matters. What really matters is are you the best team nationally, now.


I grant Spencer Hall my proxy.

And since it cannot be settled on the field, other metrics get used.  Evaluations on strength of conference and strength of schedule are valid for trying to connect these dots.

But my personal favorite evaluation criterion is the eye-ball test and that’s where OSU has a problem.  My eyes just saw OSU give up SIX HUNDRED YARDS in their most important game in years to a four loss team. Then I watched Auburn hang 34 points on the undefeated top scoring defense in the country.

Thus, Auburn looks better than OSU to me.

It’s not like the soft OSU road performance was a fluke either.  Here’s OSU’s road games:  Cal (1-11), Northwestern (5-7), Purdue (1-11), Illinois (4-8), and now Michigan (7-5). Every road game not against a 1-11 team was a struggle. And Cal netted over 500 yards.

My point here is not that OSU is a bad team.  They are a good team and two years of no losses is a remarkable accomplishment.  My point is that record –any team’s record– is only one of several metrics to be used in identifying the two best teams who should play in the Championship.  It’s not the only metric.

If we’re being honest with this argument, then NIU should be in the BCS Championship game should they beat BGSU next week and OSU lose to Sparty.  That won’t happen because, and only because, NIU’s strength of schedule is weak.  If that argument can be applied to NIU, it can be applied to any team.

But OSU is ahead of Auburn in computer polls.


Penn State’s win in Madison last Saturday affected computer rankings by improving OSU’s strength of schedule.

BCS uses six computer rankings, tosses the high and low out, and the average of the remaining four comprises the ‘computer portion’ of the rank.  I admit to finding it odd that the computers see OSU on top of Auburn… but that’s where the weighting of an early season loss becomes arbitrary.  It’s where a Penn State win at #15 Wisconsin last week causes a bizarre ripple effect through the computer because OSU crushed PSU a month ago.

But don’t have too much faith in the computers because you can make them say anything depending on the algorithm.  Take Sagarin.  He publishes four ratings and BCS uses one of them.  In those rankings:

OSU is 7th [“RATING”], 4th [DIMIN_CURVE], 9th [PREDICTOR], 3rd [PURE_ELO];
Auburn is 11th, 6th, 15th, 6th.

One might say those numbers prove OSU is better than Auburn.  One might also say how are OSU 9th and Auburn 15th in the “PREDICTOR” ranking and what to make of Arizona State at #3 in that particular ranking?

Sagarin himself says:

"The PURE_ELO will be used by the BCS. However it is
less accurate in its predictions for upcoming games than is the PREDICTOR."

In other words, the computer ranks can be used to support whatever your bias is so I take them with a grain of salt.

Here’s how I rank em.

Without a whole lot of thought and relying on the criterion of who would beat whom on the field based on what I have seen, here’s how I stack em:

FSU, Auburn, Alabama, OSU, Mizzou, OkSt, Sparty, SCar, ASU, UCF.

And if you don’t plodding through a muddy polling apparatus,3 I’d be interested in seeing how you rank them.  (This polling software is a bit clunky, so I think you need to rank all the teams until there is a critical mass.  Ie., if you down vote FSU, it goes to #20, not #2…)  (Hey, it’s something.)

12-2-2013 BCS Ranking Poll


  1. OSU will have their hands full with MSU; I’ve seen at least one opening line with Mizzou favored over Auburn. [back]
  2. If we want data to support our league disparity assertions, here is Sagarin’s conference ratings page.

    1. SEC-West (Auburn, Bama),
    2. PAC-12S (ASU, UCLA),
    3. PAC-12N (Stanford, Oregon),
    4. SEC-East (Mizzou, SC, UGA),
    5. B1G-Legends (Sparty, Iowa),
    6. Big 12 (OKST, Baylor),
    7. ACC-Coastal (Duke,)
    8. B1G-Leaders (OSU),
    9. ACC-Atlantic (FSU).

    . [back]

  3. I promise I looked high and low for a plug-in or script that let me create a poll like this one at the Freep.  Couldn’t find one. [back]

23 Responses

  1. mgbode says:

    if Alabama had a kicker, then Auburn would be way behind OSU. It’s football, one play means alot. The Tide completely outplayed the Tigers in the Iron Bowl, but one dumb coaching move and a complete lack of a kicking game did them in.

    The same reason that Oklahoma State lost to West Virginia incidentally (though just having those reasons be why you lost to such a wretched team is less defensible).

    Auburn is alot like the 2002 Buckeye team. They are “finding ways to win” at the end of games. That’s great and next year they’d have a playoff ticket punched if they could beat Mizzou, but that’s not the system in place right now.

    With all the talk about Auburn v. Ohio State this week though, it’s making me think that both Mizzou & Michigan State are going to win.

    • jimkanicki says:

      hey if my aunt had balls, right?

      the ‘if game’ works better for the uga game anyway. against bama, auburn rushed for THREE HUNDRED YARDS; hardly flukey, hardly indicative of being completely outplayed. in fact, the opposite: it says auburn owned the LOS. and in the bama game, a 99yd pass is pretty damn flukey too.

      ohio state backers should be aware though about talking about lucky plays (cough-2PTCONV-cough) and who out-played whom (cough-600yds-cough) anyway.

      more on this coming up. auburn will be my essay pick and it’s built itself into a full post.

      • mgbode says:

        ?? you started it. the IF statement was in direct response to:
        “One more completed pass and Auburn is better than OSU?”

        I am more apt to agree that you are what your play on the field has said you are.

        I also agree that the Wolverines at least played even with the Buckeyes in that game if not outplayed them. It was eerily reminiscent of the #1 v. #2 matchup in The Game. Also glad that the Buckeyes proved their merit in both of those games and won them.

  2. You clearly did not get the memo that nothing that happened against Michigan should be held against Ohio State because it is “a rivalry game.” Those three words apparently have the magic power to erase any and all bad performances.

    Lived in Ohio almost all my life and have never been able to figure out why anyone things the Big Ten is any good as a conference.

    In the old days it was OSU and Michigan and everyone else. Now it is Ohio State and everyone else, mostly. And that has to be taken into consideration when you talk about teams on a national level. The fanboys don’t want to hear it, but you speak the truth here.

    • CLEVTA says:

      So do we really think S Florida is equal to UCF? Or Oregon St is neck and neck with Oregon? Or maybe Arkansas and LSU are on par with each other? Because those are three examples of games with spreads much much larger than OSU/Michigan and all three favorites were at home and should’ve lost. Weird things happen in kitchen sink games. Doesn’t mean that one sample should override an entire season of results. It’s not erasing a bad defensive performance from OSU but it’s also not the end all be all.

  3. bupalos says:

    I think Auburn #2 is a VAST overreaction to a small handful of weird plays. Yes I was impressed that Auburn was able to barely hang with the field-goal-and-4th-down-challenged Alabama, keep it close, and got some last minute magic and bizarre luck/Saban brainfarting. But that was in their crib, in their big rivalry, and it was crazy. They had an equally lucky win over Georgia. The run game looks impressive, but I just don’t know. I think they’re just right on the same level with about 10 other teams that you could scramble up from #5 to #15. Alabama looked like the better team to me in that game, and stack season for season and Alabama is CLEARLY better and if there is anything to talk about it’s that. Is it supposed to be an argument of who is the better team this season, or who played the better game last week?

    I think the more valid question is whether Ohio State belongs ahead of Alabama. I would say no, but then I don’t really understand how they let Auburn blast them between the tackles like that, and I have to wonder if tOSU could do the same only better with Hyde and Miller.

    Anyway, it’s hard to get too charged up about the ranking thing at all. There is a tried and true formula for getting to the NC and that is simply win all your games, or hope everyone else loses one and if you’re from the SEC you get the tiebreaker regardless of what those games actually looked like. Everyone knows this going in.

    • jimkanicki says:

      you mean the vast overreaction to the small handful of weird plays that netted 300 rush yards? 52 rush attempts is greater than a small handful and running the ball is hardly weird. auburn doubled the run total of any other bama opponent in the biggest game on the biggest stage. 5.7 yds/pop. … but as long as were talking about weird plays .. 99 yd td passes where grown-ass men get lost in plain sight are weird too.

      but like i said to TA, no probs man. all will revealed on saturday.

      • bupalos says:

        Yeah I said I was impressed with the run game, but the 99 yard pass was only weird in how horribly it was covered and what a terrible angle their safety took, not any kind of freakish good luck. It’s little evidence of anything other than a bad secondary.

        Meanwhile, Auburn simply would have been out of the game if Bama had even a second rate kicker. They missed an easy one and passed on a pretty easy one because they guy can’t kick. And then you take back a field goal 109 yards? Following on a last minute tip-ball miracle to beat Georgia (a team that got themselves got wiped by Vandy I hear.) Folks are just caught up in the moment. So I’ll take Mizzou for 26 cheddar points Sat. please, thanks.

  4. CLEVTA says:

    Im in the camp that Mizzou is the better team btw vs Auburn. Hopefully this is the all play this week. All my numbers tell me as such. They’ve been undervalued all year and I will admit I was part of that group. But they have the most impressive off/def combo btw the two teams. The fact that they have beaten all their opponents by 10+ outside of the loss to SC should say as much. The only problem is they didn’t face two of the 3 best SEC teams in Bama and LSU. And also beat a Georgia team that was literally without 8(?) starters? Anyway, this argument about who deserves to get in can go on forever and each would have a real point. I just think the bashing OSU gets is so undeserved. It’s as if the game is only played on one side of the ball. While everyone knobs off A&M, Oregon, etc because of their offense, OSU gets no recognition for perhaps the best running QB/RB combo in the last decade. I fully expect OSU to run well v MSU this week. Yes MSU will fill the box but lets remember who they’ve faced this year. The only legit run team that defense faced is Nebraska who put up nearly 200 rush yds and over 5 yds per carry. If you add up all their opponents offensive rush rankings nationally, MSU has faced the 111th ranked rush schedule. They have played NOBODY who can run like the Buckeyes. Not to spoil it but OSU will be my essay this week.

  5. Tron says:

    Let me say this.
    Everyone is assuming Auburn will win the SEC and then be a one-loss SEC
    champ. This scenario presents us with a one-loss traditional SEC school
    from the deep south from the west division as the SEC champion and so deserving
    to defend the south’s seven straight titles in the Championship Game.
    This is a good argument. But what if Missouri wins? This presents
    us with a team not from the deep south, not from the west division, newly added
    to the conference coming from a weak Big 12 where a 1 loss school would get no
    consideration to leap an undefeated Ohio State team coached by Urban Meyer.
    If Missouri wins NOBODY (including, i think, you Kinick) will be calling
    for Missouri to leap-frog OSU. This fact undermines your entire argument
    because it proves that a one-loss SEC champ is not enough. It depends who
    the team is. I understand a win over Alabama is impressive but should
    Missouri beat Auburn shouldn’t this victory be just as impressive? It will not
    be viewed this way. Why is this? It’s because people are not only
    considering the present, they are also heavily influenced by the past.
    They know that Auburn was abysmal last season and they know that Alabama
    is the two-time defending champ. Fair enough but it still takes in to consideration
    events that occurred in the past. Well Ohio State has won 24 straight
    games. Ohio State was undefeated last season and has yet to lose a game
    under Urban Meyer. Urban Meyer has won two National Championships and is
    undefeated in in BCS title games. My point is that no matter who wins the
    SEC they do not deserve to jump an undefeated Ohio State team with Urban at the
    helm. Sorry. They lost, we didn’t.

    • jimkanicki says:

      well first off, i’m not making that assumption, the first sentence acknowledges that all this talk could be moot after next week. that applies to OSU also because the sparty CB strength would seem to be enable run-stuffing box-stuffing against weak passing miller. can hyde run for 200? 150? when sparty has eight in the box? if he does, i’ll be the first to say OSU should be in the BCS game.

      agreed that mizzou’s resume wouldn’t look as sharp as auburn’s if it’s an OSU-Mizzou pissing contest for #2. but it’d still look pretty good. it’s all about the eye-ball test for me. if mizzou’s defense regains the form it had before last week and can stop auburn’s offense that will be most impressive. i mean if OSU wins 14-13 on a blocked PAT and mizzou pulls a 31-7 score on auburn, ,, yeah, i might be saying mizzou. cant rule it out.

      • squeekycleen says:

        I am still befuddled as to how you can say “if Missouri regains the form it had before last week”. I thought last week was their best performance of the year and certainly the best defense anyone has played against Manziel in two years. Seriously, no idea:

        Johnny Manziel vs. Missouri (2013): 24-for-35, 195 yards, one touchdown, two sacks for 11 yards (5.0 yards per pass attempt); nine carries, 32 yards (3.6), no touchdowns

        Mike Evans vs. Missouri (2013): four targets, four catches, eight yards

        Only once all season had the Aggies been held under 41 points or 7.0 yards per play. Missouri limited them to 21 and 5.4.

        Did you see what Manziel did to Auburn’s defense?

        Mizzou lost one game, a game in which they dominated throughout, played without their starting quarterback, missed short field goals, and gave up an inexplicable 4th and 15 in the red zone which would have ended the game. It was a loss of epic fluke level. They have been lights out this year.

        • jimkanicki says:

          i saw TAMU convert 3rd downs at a 50% clip and i saw manziel miss a lot of open WRs. i saw a bunch of RBs getting long gains (~160 non-manziel rushing yds). it was good defense, but i was expecting ‘great’ defense as that’s the book on mizzou: great defense, most sacks, most TFLs. didn’t happen.

          on offense i was surprised at how ineffective james franklin was, maybe because i had just been watching nick marshall. TAMU’s defense is soft, i saw dak prescott lay 300+ yards on them and missyst is not noted for their offense… so again, mizzou was ‘fine’ but not as explosive as i’d expected and not in auburn’s class. (and the rotating QBs thing was, is, and always will be, a disastrous strategy.)

          put it this way: i won with mizzou saturday and felt like i stole one.

      • Tron says:

        Fair enough. Keep up the good work Kanicki. I love this site.

  6. CLEVTA says:

    Eh I had a whole write-up on why Auburn is good but not THAT good. Just not in the mood to be honest so this is modified. As posted below, I loved Auburn as a BCS sleeper in the pre season and easily cashed Auburn over 7 Ws ticket, so I know as much as anybody how good Marshall, Mason and Malzahn really are. But lets call a spade a spade, the great SEC is a very good conference but not dominant as it has been in the last few years. Nobody can deny that perennial powers Florida, LSU and Georgia just aren’t as good as the last 5 years or even just last season. Also Bama from this season would be 10 point dogs to last year’s team with all of that NFL talent. Just remember with Auburn, they lost by 14 to LSU and was down 35-14 early in the 4th. They allowed close to 7 yds/play on defense and were never even close to being in that game. And LSU is good but it’s the same team that lost at an average Ole Miss team and just barely avoided losing at home to an awful Arkansas team as 25 point favorites. Lets not act like Auburn lost to FSU or anything here. I also take umbrage to Kanick saying LSU would win most other big conferences. I just don’t believe that to be true. If they can lose at Ole Miss they would easily lose to an equivalent team like Iowa and of course a better OSU, Wisconsin, MSU team. And of course the Georgia game. Ah the Georgia game. Miracles beyond miracles to win that game where 99.8% of the time that’s an L and we aren’t even having this discussion. Lest not also forget that yes winning by 4 at A&M was a nice W but doesn’t look nearly as impressive with A&M’s true overrated colors shining through late in the year. And Auburn needed John Football to get hurt for a drive in order to take the lead in the 4th. Who knows what happens if he doesn’t hurt his shoulder with A&M up early in the 4th. There was a stat that A&M had the worst defense EVER for a top 25 team. Now they have 4 losses. And btw Auburn gave up over 600 yards to A&M so saying OSU allowed 600+ isn’t a real argument. They also allowed 550 to Georgia. It’s the new CFB, it happens. Look I’m an OSU alum but also a realist. Yes their defense is not very good and yes the Big 10 conference stinks, no doubt. But using Conference USA or the MAC as an apples to apples comparison is lunacy. It’s not the same thing to go undefeated in those conferences. Hey lets use a real comparison like the ACC. Oh that’s right nobody wants to spill the dirty little secret that the ACC is in fact a worse conference than the Big 10. But FSU passes the eye test so it doesn’t matter. Oh and why isn’t Baylor in the top 10? I thought they’d be 10-14 point favorites over OSU?

    @ClevTA I don’t think -10 is wrong at all, first take was -14. Don’t see them hanging a shootout with BU which it would be.— jim kanicki (@jimkanicki) November 18, 2013

    • jimkanicki says:

      i guess baylor could be in front of ucf.. but they seem to be trending downward after the ok state beat down. however, osu just gave up 450 yards + 4TDs to devin gardner; that’s the 34th ranked pass efficiency with michigan. baylor is the #1 ranked pass efficient offense. doesn’t seem that far fetched to expect bryce petty to run up similar numbers, probably better. i’m not saying oddsmakers would set that line at baylor -10, but that’s where i’d set it.

      i’m focusing on how the teams play now and discounting how they played at the start of the year. would lsu beat auburn today (even w healthy mettenberger)? i don’t think so. the malzahn offense has gotten crisper every week making september-auburn << december-auburn.

      w.r.t. to ole miss, lsu, uga competing against wisconsin or iowa or minny; yeah i think ole miss, lsu, uga, and even missyst would win.

      fortunately the question will be answered this weekend, i assume you think mizzou will roll on auburn? i don't see that happening but we'll know saturday.

  7. actovegin1armstrong says:

    “Who is number two?”
    I am, look at the standings.

    • GRRustlers says:

      Love this…until I realized I am number 9 and have to post all of my future picks in yellow highlighter while wearing a different mirrored helmet every week.

  8. CLEVTA says:

    Oh boy. Have lots to say about this. Back for a healthy debate later. In the meantime, just so everyone is aware that I am not an OSU homer and will be objective. A reminder of my week 1 cheddar essay. I was on Auburn train extremely early.

    “5. Auburn -16 Wazzu- Nick Marshall sleeper Heisman candidacy begins.
    Closest comp to Manziel you will find this season. Auburn will be undervalued early so jump on them now. I
    may end up looking really stupid with my Marshall Heisman sleeper talk
    by mid year but I’ll take a shot.”

  9. jimkanicki says:

    Admittedly the poll do-hickey is a mess. Meh. What the hell.. it was free. If anyone knows where I can find something like the freep’s poll page, I’d be thrilled to embed it.


  1. December 4, 2013

    […] my Monday post you can probably tell where I am on this game so I won’t kill you here with my bias.  But I […]

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