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The BCS Title Game Is Almost Guaranteed To Feature Two Of The Current Top Four Teams

Take a good, long look at the current top four in the BCS standings: Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon.  All are 8-0.  And if history is a guide, it’s almost a lock that the BCS Championship Game will feature two of those four squads.

Oh, sure, we tell ourselves that upsets happen and that those teams still have some losable games left on their schedules.  But a quick check of the BCS standings over the last 14 years suggests that even if there are upsets, the two teams who’ll reach Miami and battle in the title game are already ranked among the top four.

We went back through all of those standings lists so you wouldn’t have to.  We compared the standings from Week Three of the BCS rankings — because the current rankings are indeed the third standings chart released this year — to the final standings in every year from 1998 through 2011.  The BCS formula has been tweaked and shuffled a few times since it’s inception, so what we found can’t be considered a pure apples-to-apples comparison.

But our findings were still telling.  Very telling.

In 14 BCS seasons, only three championship game invitees — out of a possible 28 — were ranked outside the top four in the standings in the Week Three release.  In 2003, LSU jumped from #7 in the Week Three standings to #2.  (They eventually won the title game, too.)  In 2008, both Florida and Oklahoma rose from outside the top four.  In Week Three of that season, the Gators were #5 and the Sooners were #6.  They finished with OU #1 and UF #2… only to have Florida beat Oklahoma in the BCS Championship Game.

That isn’t particularly promising for the four other SEC teams ranked between #5 and #8 in this week’s rankings: LSU, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.  Using that three-out-of-28 number from above, those teams outside the top four in the current standings have only about a 10% chance of rising all the way to the title contest in Miami.  Not good.

Before we show you the movement in each of those 14 seasons, here’s a quick look at where the #1 and #2 teams at the end of each season were ranked in that season’s Week Three standings:

 

  Season   Week 3 Ranking of Year-End #1   Week 3 Ranking of Year-End #2
  1998   #1   #4
  1999   #1   #3
  2000   #1   #2
  2001   #2   #1
  2002   #3   #2
  2003   #1   #7
  2004   #1   #2
  2005   #1   #2
  2006   #1   #4
  2007   #1   #3
  2008   #6   #5
  2009   #3   #2
  2010   #2   #1
  2011   #1   #2

 

Alabama fans have to like the look of that.  In nine of the 14 BCS seasons, the #1 team in the Week Three standings wound up #1 at the end of year (and heading into the BCS title game).  Two other times the #1 team dropped to #2, but they still reached the championship game.  So only three times in 14 years has the squad ranked #1 in the BCS’ Week Three standings not reached the BCS title game.

Those years were 2002, 2008 and 2009.

Six times in the last 14 seasons have the teams ranked #1 and #2 in the Week Three standings both made the title game.  That’s nearly half the time… which should give Kansas State fans a reason to smile.

Here’s a look at the movement at the top of the standings table in each BCS season to date (teams in BCS title game in bold):

 

1998

Week Three Standings:  1 Tennessee, 2 UCLA, 3 Kansas State, 4 Florida State

Final Standings:  1 Tennessee, 2 Florida State, 3 Kansas State, 4 Ohio State

 

1999

Week Three Standings:  1 Florida State, 2 Tennessee, 3 Virginia Tech, 4 Florida

Final Standings:  1 Florida State, 2 Virginia Tech, 3 Nebraska, 4 Alabama

 

2000

Week Three Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 Florida State, 3 Miami, 4 Nebraska

Final Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 Florida State, 3 Miami, 4 Washington

 

2001

Week Three Standings:  1 Nebraska, 2 Miami, 3 Oklahoma, 4 Tennessee

Final Standings:  1 Miami, 2 Nebraska, 3 Colorado, 4 Oregon

 

2002

Week Three Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 Ohio State, 3 Miami, 4 Texas

Final Standings:  1 Miami, 2 Ohio State, 3 Georgia, 4 Southern Cal

 

2003

Week Three Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 Southern Cal, 3 Florida State, 4 Miami

Final Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 LSU*, 3 Southern Cal, 4 Michigan

(*LSU had been ranked #7 in the Week Three Standings)

 

2004

Week Three Standings:  1 Southern Cal, 2 Oklahoma, 3 Auburn, 4 California

Final Standings:  1 Southern Cal, 2 Oklahoma, 3 Auburn, 4 Texas

 

2005

Week Three Standings:  1 Southern Cal, 2 Texas, 3 Virginia Tech, 4 Alabama

Final Standings:  1 Southern Cal, 2 Texas, 3 Penn State, 4 Ohio State

 

2006

Week Three Standings:  1 Ohio State, 2 Michigan, 3 West Virginia, 4 Florida

Final Standings:  1 Ohio State, 2 Florida, 3 Michigan, 4 LSU

 

2007

Week Three Standings:  1 Ohio State, 2 Boston College, 3 LSU, 4 Arizona State

Final Standings:  1 Ohio State, 2 LSU, 3 Virginia Tech, 4 Oklahoma

 

2008

Week Three Standings:  1 Alabama, 2 Texas Tech, 3 Penn State, 4 Texas

Final Standings:  1 Oklahoma, 2 Florida*, 3 Texas, 4 Alabama

(*Oklahoma had been ranked #6 and Florida #5 in the Week Three Standings)

 

2009

Week Three Standings:  1 Florida, 2 Texas, 3 Alabama, 4 Iowa

Final Standings:  1 Alabama, 2 Texas, 3 Cincinnati, 4 TCU

 

2010

Week Three Standings:  1 Oregon, 2 Auburn, 3 TCU, 4 Boise State

Final Standings:  1 Auburn, 2 Oregon, 3 TCU, 4 Stanford

 

2011

Week Three Standings:  1 LSU, 2 Alabama, 3 Oklahoma State, 4 Stanford

Final Standings:  1 LSU, 2 Alabama, 3 Oklahoma State, 4 Stanford

 

Last season was the first time in BCS history that the teams ranked #1 through #4 in the Week Three Standings (always released around the first of November) all held onto their places in order over the season’s final month.

So do these findings guarantee that Alabama will reach the BCS title game, that Kansas State will most likely be the Tide’s opponent, or that Notre Dame or Oregon will rise if one of those first two stumbles?  No.  It doesn’t guarantee that’s what we’ll see happen.

But it darn sure suggests that’s what will happen.  ‘Cause there’s a lot less November shuffling at the top of the BCS standings than some might think.

 


1 comments
DawgHopes
DawgHopes

In 2007 LSU and Ohio state fell out of the top 4 then came back after week 12 of the season.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] – Last week, we showed you that teams outside the top four in the Week Three BCS standings have a slim chance of making it into the title game.  Just three teams out of 28 title contenders in the 14-year BCS era have made such a big jump in [...]

  2. 2005 Final Four Teams…

    [...] U and Ohio state fell out of the top 4 then came back after week 12 of the seaso [...]…

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