I needed a break from endless work last night and put together a comparison of the top 5 teams from the AP poll this week. The results shocked me a little.
Some of the results were what I expected to see, of course. Out of Conference scheduling is pretty weak compared to in conference competition. Some of that is not the fault of those doing the scheduling, some is. Big games and rivalries played important roles in the results column and in how each team's perceived nationally.
The resulting rank of each team's composite, when just comparing them to each other is what surprised me. (Though it was not as surprising as the SOS published on ESPN for the SEC Championship contenders. 38th and 45th... REALLY? Absynthe much?) Here are the results of the resume comparison.
Auburn finished slightly ahead of Florida State, who in turn was slightly ahead of Alabama. A distant 4th out of the 5 was MIZZOU, not Ohio State.
85 points were available when comparing their schedules and results. Factored into the comparison were scheduling risks and results, the results of their opponents, bowl eligibility of their opponents, the ranking of opponents, strength of performance, and consistency of performance. Auburn finished with 22 points, Florida State 21, Alabama 20, Missouri 12, and Ohio State had 10 points.
The biggest surprises I found in my comparison were the consistent performances of all but Ohio State.
The Tide and Seminoles were dominant all year. Auburn and Missouri were consistently not, though both Auburn and Ohio State DID dominate some opponents completely. Missouri was somewhat dominant at times, but allowed their opponents to stay in games more often than not.
Ohio State was all over the map. Dominant or struggling, playing down to their opponents' levels or destroying others outright. Some of their results against common opponents were little different than those of Northern Illinois, also 12-0 to this point.
What surprised me most was just how tough Auburn's schedule was top to bottom, but perhaps that's exactly what prepared them to beat Alabama. 9 Bowl eligible teams, 7 from the Big6 conferences, make up the bulk of the Tigers' schedule. The others have 6 or so. Playing such teams and in so many close games may have gotten them over the hump against the Tide (though your opponent missing 4 FGs makes for a good catapult).
While all of the teams in the top 5 had their cupcake opponents, which is to be expected, OSU played 6 teams with losing records. FSU played 5, Bama played 4 in a row in the middle of their schedule, and Mizzou played 4 as well.
I also see where Florida State is not adequately judged by the numbers in these comparisons. The level of dominance they have shown against high level competition is impressive beyond what my numbers here can show. They stomped Clemson, dismantled Miami, and completely humbled Florida. Only one team came within 20pts of them all year.
While there's no question also that the Crimson Tide are a better team, all things considered, than Auburn, and that the Buckeyes have a greater ceiling and a lower basement than Missouri, there's little question that the polls are most certainly going to leave an SEC team out of the BCS title game unless Michigan State wins and either Auburn or Missouri do so convincingly. Should FSU win, Ohio State lose, and Missouri win convincingly, Bama will be in the title game with FSU. Should FSU win, Ohio State lose, and Auburn win convincingly, the southern Tigers will be in the title game with FSU. Should Auburn win, and the Buckeyes and Seminoles both lose, last week's game will be revisited and an all SEC BCS Championship will happen.
No way the officials of either the ACC or BigTweleventen will allow that to happen.
No matter what happens, it would be a shame if Ohio State was given a berth in the title game, having played no better with a stacked roster than NIU against common opponents, having played one of the weakest schedules of any top 10 team, and having been so inconsistent in doing so the whole season. Either scheduling matters or it doesn't. Either NIU is worthy of the BCS or OSU is not title game worthy. Either NIU should be rewarded for playing a risky OOC and winning, or the Buckeyes shouldn't be rewarded for merely showing up half the season.
None of this is more than just fodder, of course, since all but Bama have a game to play this week. As it stands right now, though, only 4 teams of the top 5 should even be in the discussion for any reason other than talent (which OSU surely has in abundance). Where we'll be at this time next week, who knows. Maybe it will sort itself out real nice, contrary to Murphy's Law.