Our chances of passing TCU (by the numbers)

So this last weekend went about as good as it could have for passing TCU. I can't imagine falling behind TCU in the polls now since we have 3 games left against better competition than their one and only game against one of the worst teams in the FBS. So, since we ought to stay on top in the polls, it comes back to the computers as the only way we could get screwed. I am a numbers guy and I have spent a lot of time looking at the computers this season, and here are my projections for why we will, in fact, pass TCU...

Let's analyze the computers and our chances of passing TCU in each one by one:

Anderson & Hester

BSU curring ranking: 5 (.784)

TCU current ranking: 4 (.786)

Chances of jumping TCU? ~99%

Why? Our SoS is just .003 behind TCU's, and our overall rating is just .002 behind them. Unless something extreme happens (VT losing to Miami AND Virginia while Baylor upsets Oklahoma, and even that might not be enough), we will end up in front of them here.

Richard Billingsley

BSU current ranking: 4 (309.216 points)

TCU current ranking: 1 (325.120 points)

Chances of jumping TCU? ~10%

Why? Billingsley's ratings are pretty simple, if you win you get points, if you lose you lose points. If you beat a good team you get lots of points (TCU got a whopping 15 points by beating utah), if you beat a really crappy team you get next to nothing (LSU got 0.6 points for beating Louisiana Monroe). We have 16 points to make up, beating fresno will get us about 5 points, Nevada about 6 and USU about .5 points. That's about 12 points left, and we need to make up 16 points. Our best hope (for passing TCU) is actually that Oregon and Auburn catch and pass TCU so that the numbers are closer between us. Billingsley's computers are not retroactive, meaning that he does not adjust point totals based on performance after a game is played, so Utah's loss to ND did nothing to hurt TCU, even though their large lead is based almost entirely on that win. However, the one thing that is in our favor is that Billingsley weights the end of the season more than the beginning, so our only hope is that beating Nevada later will be worth more than 6 points. If it's closer to 10 points, we have a good chance here, but we won't know that until after the game has been played.

Colley Matrix

BSU current ranking: 6 (.867)

TCU current ranking: 3 (.903)

Chances of jumping TCU? ~99%

Why? The colley matrix is my favorite ratings system because they allow you to put in up to 5 hypothetical game results and see how they affect the ratings. So if you put in 3 BSU wins and 1 TCU win against their remaining opponents and if everyone else didn't play any more games the standings would end up like this:

BSU ranking: 2 (.912)

TCU ranking: 5 (.886)

Other notes on the colley matrix rankings: a more realistic ending for us is actually 4 in the CM. If LSU and Oregon win their remaining games, they'll stay ahead of us. A 1-loss Auburn also stays ahead of us, so my prediction is that we end up 4th and TCU ends up 5th

Kenneth Massey

BSU current ranking: 7 (2.593)

TCU current ranking: 5 (2.694)

Chances of jumping TCU? ~75%

Why? Massey rankings are based on the SoS played so far, but they also publish full SoS. These numbers fluctuate week to week, but our schedule played to date is 2.07 and TCU's is 2.21. The full schedule, however, is 2.18 for BSU and 2.13 for TCU, so we should catch and pass them if things continue the way they are right now. Utah and Baylor's losses were huge for us this week in the Massey rankings. If Fresno can beat Illinois, VT keeps winning, and Baylor loses to Oklahoma, we will pass TCU in the Massey rankings.

Jeff Sagarin

BSU current ranking: 12 (86.35)

TCU current ranking: 6 (89.26)

Chances of jumping TCU? ~50%

Why? Sagarin uses ELO for his BCS rankings. ELO is based purely off of w/l and is a well-documented and highly implemented algorithm for ranking one-on-one competitions. It has been used in chess forever to rank top players, and FIFA uses it to rank national teams. If I decided to take the time I could actually go through and calculate BSU's final standings under different scenarios because the algorithm isn't that hard, but I don't have that time right now. I am basing the 50% more on gut feel than anything else because Sagarin, more than any other ratings system, fluctuates based on opponents performance, so what we need is for our opponents to win and everyone else's to lose. After the Fresno game I will have a better idea on our real chances of jumping TCU in this computer rating. What gives me hope here is that  the SoS numbers for BSU and TCU are very close (66.69 and 67.82, respectively), so if Baylor loses to Oklahoma and VT wins out, we should jump them, but since all those results are still very much up in the air, I'm calling this one a coin flip.

Peter Wolfe

BSU current ranking: 8 (6.928)

TCU current ranking: 3 (7.538)

Chances of jumping TCU? Your guess is as good as mine, but the odds probably aren't good

Why? Wolfe is my computer nemesis. He is by far the most secretive of all the computers, and that is saying something. He doesn't release his standings until the BCS standings are actually released in week 8, and he only publishes one ranking number each week, which makes it hard to see what variables actually are most important in his rankings system. From what I have read and what I can tell, his rankings are based mostly off of performance against expected performance. So if you win a game you were supposed to win, then it doesn't do much for you. This is bad for BSU because we are supposed to win every game. I like to think of him as the computer version of an SEC troll. The one thing that is going for us here is that he has Nevada as 16, its highest computer ranking in any of the 6 computers.

Final Thoughts

My projections put us ahead of TCU in 3 of the 6 computers. The Wolfe and Sagarin are too convoluted to tell for sure, and Billingsley will probably keep TCU ahead. The good part is that our lowest rankings (Massey, Wolfe, and Sagarin) should increase since our last 3 games are harder, on the average, than our first 9. Also, TCU's last game will drag their SoS through the mud, which is something we know all too well about. If we are ahead in 3 computer polls and close in the other 3, then the voters will ultimately determine who is the highest non-AQ team, and since we just jumped them and we have 3 games left against better competition than their last game, I would say that we have about a 70-90% chance of finishing ahead of TCU.

I put a lot of work into this post, so please recommend it if you found it insightful

This content was not created by OBNUG and therefore may not meet our standards. On the contrary, it probably exceeds them.

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