Monday, June 23

Follow-Up: The Final Countdown: BCS 1-84

It's been a week since we ranked the 84 BCS participants and there's one week until our first fantasy college football writeups are due. Perfect time for some inane followups on that massive post that our more sane readers are probably just finishing, eh?

Here's a few of the more interesting things from those rankings:


Miami's 2001 squad was arguably the greatest college football team of all time... in my opinion, only 1995 Nebraska is comparable among teams who have played since I've been following the sport.

Only one game was decided by less than 10 points - a 26-24 victory over Va Tech in Blacksburg. The Boston College game was also a good one, with the Canes leading just 12-7 in the fourth quarter. Among modern teams, only 1995 Nebraska dominated their schedule more intensely - their closest game was a 14 point victory over Washington State, which the Huskers lead 35-7 in the fourth quarter. (it was just one of two games where the opponent reached half of NU's points total - the other being a 49-25 victory over a Kansas State that lost just one other game) Other great teams like 2004 USC and 2005 Texas often found themselves in dogfights, even trailing at critical moments in games. Nobody was even able to do that much against these Hurricanes.

Miami's Depth Chart at the beginning of 2001:
Eventually, a record 28 of these players were drafted into the NFL, including a record 16 first-rounders. You'll recognize many as pro bowlers.

(regular season only -
Rush Offense: #21 (205 ypg, 5.33 ypc, 25 TD)
Pass Offense: #35 (250 ypg, 8.09 ypa, 57% comp, 24 TD, 9 INT, 143.09 rating (#15))
Total Offense: #8 (454 ypg, 6.57 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #3 (43.18 ppg)
Rush Defense: #40 (133 ypg, 3.12 ypc, 7 TD)
Pass Defense: #2 (138 ypg, 5.24 ypa, 44% comp, 5 TD, 27 INT, 75.60 rating (#1))
Total Defense: #6 (271 ypg, 3.93 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #1 (9.4 ppg)
Turnovers: #1 (18 fum rec, 27 INT, 10 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +26, +2.36/game)

These ridiculous statistics were compiled against the #18 regular season schedule in the country.

Offensively, they were too good at everything to appear statistically great at any one thing. They preferred to run with three future NFL running backs and a future NFL fullback, but had plenty of aerial talent with Dorsey, Davis, and Shockey.

Defensively the team looks lopsided; however, a 3.12 rushing average is actually good for a defense (typically in the #15-20 range). Teams just stopped passing the ball when they realized that for every TD they threw, they threw 5 INTs. I've never seen a statistic like that before -- which makes it not at all surprising that Mike Rumph, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor, Phillip Buchanon, and Antrel Rolle all went on to play pro ball. Indeed against Nebraska, the #1 rushing offense in the country by far in 2001, Miami proved that their rushing defense was very stout - just preferable to the interception factory that was their secondary. In reality, this is by far the best defense we have seen in the BCS era - you'd have to compare them to some of the historic Nebraska and Alabama defensive squads to find something comparable. (95 Nebraska's defense gives them a run for their money)

Miami's Pythagoeran Expectation was 95.98%, four percentage points higher than 2005 Texas and 2004 USC. 1999 Florida State (whom ESPN had as the #3 BCS champion -- ??) is a full ten percentage points below these Canes.

Oregon being ranked #2 in the polls and finishing #4 in the BCS was some combination of hilarity, absurdity, and insult - but this isn't even talked about outside of Eugene for this very reason. There's been maybe three teams in the last 25 years within spitting distance of how good this bunch was.


Do you remember the most controversial of the BCS' first five seasons? (ok, the BCS in 2000 was also pretty retarded) In summary, Nebraska and Miami were #1 and #2 as of Nov 19 as the nation's only two unbeatens (and BYU lol). Oklahoma, Florida, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, and Maryland all had 1 loss and were ranked in that order. What we saw next was a mini-preview of 2007, only without the #2 team (Miami was below Nebraska when both were unbeaten) losing.

11/23:Nebraska gets rolled by Colorado, 62-36

11/24:Oklahoma chokes against Oklahoma State, 16-13

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. The Dragon, 3. Texas, 4. Nebraska, 5. Oregon, 6. Tennessee

12/1:Florida loses 34-32 to Tennessee on a failed 2-point conversion.

Texas loses the Big 12 Championship to Colorado, 39-37. The score with Chris Simms in the game is 36-0 Buffs, and Major Applewhite only outscored CU 37-3 thanks to a questionable 15-yard penalty and a long field goal. Texas had previously beaten the Buffs 41-7.

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. Tennessee, 3. Nebraska, 4. Colorado, 5. Oregon, 6. Sexy Rexy

12/8:Tennessee loses the SEC Championship to LSU, 31-20. They had beaten LSU 26-18 earlier that season.

New BCS rankings: 1. Miami, 2. Nebraska, 3. Colorado, 4. Oregon, 5. Rexstacy

Most people think Oregon should have gone over Nebraska. They're probably right, but that's not really what we're here to discuss.

Who was the second-best team, even if not deserving to face Miami?

I mean, obviously the talent and level of performance of the team matters. Illinois and Maryland both finished the regular season 10-1, but their seasons were chalked full of unimpressive victories over pathetic opposition (illinois' most impressive against a 7-5 Ohio State squad, Maryland's against 8-5 Georgia Tech).


Rush Offense: #8 (229 ypg, 4.77 ypc, 27 TD)
Pass Offense: #70 (206 ypg, 7.95 ypa, 60% comp, 15 TD, 11 INT, 135.38 rating (#28))
Total Offense: #20 (434 ypg, 5.88 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #23 (33.0 ppg)
Rush Defense: #36 (129 ypg, 3.81 ypa, 15 TD)
Pass Defense: #71 (229 ypg, 3.93 ypa, 17 TD, 17 INT, 111.62 rating (#32))
Total Defense: #44 (357 ypg, 5.12 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #43 (23.3 ppg)
Turnovers: #57 (5 fum rec, 17 INT, 11 fum lost, 11 INT thrown, +0, +0/game)
Strength of Schedule: #2

Rush Offense: #85 (122 ypg, 4.15 ypc, 16 TD)
Pass Offense: #1 (405 ypg, 9.61 ypa, 64% comp, 43 TD, 13 INT, 170.07 rating (#1))
Total Offense: #2 (528 ypg, 7.36 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #2 (43.82 ppg)
Rush Defense: #12 (100 ypg, 3.17 ypa, 14 TD)
Pass Defense: #28 (190 ypg, 5.73 ypa, 55% comp, 5 TD, 12 INT, 101.17 rating (#13))
Total Defense: #9 (290 ypg, 4.48 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #5 (14.1 ppg)
Turnovers: #79 (10 fum rec, 12 INT, 13 fum lost, 13 INT thrown, -4, -.36/game)
Strength of Schedule: #19

Rush Offense: #62 (150 ypg, 3.54 ypc, 13 TD)
Pass Offense: #21 (275 ypg, 7.92 ypa, 55% comp, 24 TD, 14 INT, 135.12 rating (#30))
Total Offense: #27 (425 ypg, 5.51 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #26 (32.36 ppg)
Rush Defense: #56 (147 ypg, 3.91 ypa, 13 TD)
Pass Defense: #51 (215 ypg, 5.97 ypa, 49% comp, 16 TD, 18 INT, 103.07 rating (#15))
Total Defense: #50 (362 ypg, 4.92 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #31 (21.6 ppg)
Turnovers: #28 (8 fum rec, 18 INT, 7 fum lost, 14 INT thrown, +5, +.45/game)
Strength of Schedule: #37

Rush Offense: #11 (221 ypg, 4.62 ypc, 33)
Pass Offense: #57 (219 ypg, 6.96 ypa, 59% comp, 13 TD, 9 INT, 124.38 rating (#58))
Total Offense: #16 (440 ypg, 5.55 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #12 (35.45 ppg)
Rush Defense: #9 (91 ypg, 2.58 ypa, 5 TD)
Pass Defense: #82 (240 ypg, 6.65 ypa, 55% comp, 16 TD, 24 INT, 112.03 rating (#34))
Total Defense: #30 (331 ypg, 4.64 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #18 (19.1 ppg)
Turnovers: #4 (10 fum rec, 24 INT, 9 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +16, +1.45/game)
Strength of Schedule: #78

Rush Offense: #1 (315 ypg, 5.62 ypc, 47 TD)
Pass Offense: #110 (137 ypg, 8.23 ypa, 56% comp, 8 TD, 11 INT, 127.15 rating (#43))
Total Offense: #12 (451 ypg, 6.22 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #7 (37.42 ppg)
Rush Defense: #22 (117 ypg, 3.36 ypa, 14 TD)
Pass Defense: #9 (170 ypg, 5.17 ypa, 43% comp, 8 TD, 19 INT, 83.81 rating (#2))
Total Defense: #8 (287 ypg, 4.24 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #6 (15.8 ppg)
Turnovers: #55 (7 fum rec, 19 INT, 14 fum lost, 11 INT, +1, +.08/game)
Strength of Schedule: #14

Rush Offense: #25 (197 ypg, 5.17 ypc, 23 TD)
Pass Offense: #50 (234 ypg, 7.67 ypa, 58% comp, 24 TD, 5 INT, 143.02 rating (#16))
Total Offense: #22 (430 ypg, 6.29 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #19 (34.0 ppg)
Rush Defense: #28 (121 ypg, 3.49 ypa, 16 TD)
Pass Defense: #110 (285 ypg, 7.28 ypa, 50% comp, 14 TD, 18 INT, 113.81 rating (#39))
Total Defense: #81 (406 ypg, 5.50 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #33 (21.8 ppg)
Turnovers: #5 (7 fum rec, 18 INT, 6 fum lost, 5 INT, +14, +1.27/game)
Strength of Schedule: #31

Rush Offense: #57 (154 ypg, 4.08 ypc, 19 TD)
Pass Offense: #37 (248 ypg, 8.28 ypa, 64% comp, 22 TD, 9 INT, 148.60 rating (#9))
Total Offense: #42 (402 ypg, 5.94 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #35 (29.58 ppg)
Rush Defense: #3 (85 ypg, 2.67 ypa, 6 TD)
Pass Defense: #59 (218 ypg, 6.65 ypa, 53% comp, 17 TD, 12 INT, 117.28 rating (#48))
Total Defense: #13 (304 ypg, 4.68 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #21 (19.5 ppg)
Turnovers: #45 (9 fum rec, 12 INT, 9 fum lost, 9 INT thrown, +3, +.25/game)
Strength of Schedule: #3

Rush Offense: #51 (162 ypg, 4.09 ypc, 28 TD)
Pass Offense: #34 (250 ypg, 7.32 ypa, 60% comp, 26 TD, 12 INT, 136.10 rating (#27))
Total Offense: #38 (413 ypg, 5.59 ypp)
Scoring Offense: #6 (39.17 ppg)Rush Defense: #6 (90 ypg, 2.79 ypa, 13 TD)
Pass Defense: #3 (147 ypg, 4.77 ypa, 51% comp, 6 TD, 15 INT, 88.00 rating (#4))
Total Defense: #1 (236 ypg, 3.76 ypp)
Scoring Defense: #3 (13.7 ppg)
Turnovers: #12 (13 fum rec, 15 INT, 5 fum lost, 12 INT, +11, +.92/game)
Strength of Schedule: #33
I want to point out that Simms threw 11 picks to Applewhite's 1. Fucking Chris Simms.

Three defenses ranked in the top ten: Florida, Nebraska, and Texas. Texas ranked in the top ten in every defensive category. On the other end of the spectrum, Colorado's defense ranked #43 in scoring to finish as the worst of the group. Illinois and Oregon were not in the top 30 - the Illini for general mediocrity and the Ducks for having one of the nation's worst pass defenses.

The same three teams ranked in the top ten for scoring offense. Florida held the nation's top passing offense, while Nebraska was the nations' top rushing attack. Texas ran a well-rounded pro-style attack, but actually didn't gain that many yards... they just didn't fumble (believe me Simms threw interceptions when it mattered) and converted well in the red zone. Maryland came in as the nation's #12 scoring offense but DEAR GOD AGAINST THE #78 SCHEDULE?? Tennessee was the only team here not to average at least 30 ppg.

Only Oregon and Maryland ranked in the top ten for turnover margin. Again, Maryland played against absolutely nobody. Surprisingly, Texas finished #12 averaging barely under +1/game. Florida was the only team here to finish with a negative turnover margin, although Colorado was dead even and Nebraska was just +1 for the entire season. Frankly, I am puzzled how offenses led by Joey Harrington and Chris Simms ranked so highly in turnover margin. Are the other college QBs really that bad?

Only Colorado and Tennessee had schedules ranking in the top ten. Nebraska's and Florida's ranked in the top 20. Maryland's was officially pathetic.

Pythagoeran Expectations:
Colorado: 67.81%
Florida: 91.98%
Illinois: 70.39%
Maryland: 79.10%
Nebraska: 86.53%
Oregon: 72.19%
Tennessee: 71.02%
Texas: 90.58%
Keep in mind SOS when looking at these. (hi, Maryland!)

The two strongest performers seem to be Florida and Texas. Texas was namely held back by the fact that a) they refused to start Applewhite over Simms and b) Mack Brown was their coach (see a). When I reflect back on that team, the only defense in the country as consistently dominant as Miami's and all the talent they had on offense, Texas probably would have been the #2 team in the country if only Applewhite had been the starter. Oh well, I guess you could say Brown made up for it when he actually let Vince Young start all 13 games in the 2005 season. Good job, Coach.

So that really does leave us with the Sex Cannon looking like a strong #2. I don't know how it happened, but The Dragon's team played great football in all but one or two games (I don't hold a close loss to another top 10 team with a key injury as necessarily damning in terms of rating their talent level). Their ten wins were all in convincing fashion, both losses could have gone either way... the loss to Tennessee is somewhat excusable although losing to Auburn is a bad loss.

Oregon is underrated by their pythagoeran, but remember that they had a lot of games where they barely got by. Blowing out Colorado was really the first time this team looked good since the first half of October. I don't know if they got bored or what, although the secondary was legitimately awful. The Dragon had wet dreams about going 10/10 for 800 yards against this group. Then again, the same numbers make Colorado look like the worst team of this bunch. I don't think that's too far off.

Speaking of which, Colorado was way overrated to even be included in the title game discussion. I have been saying this for years and am glad I finally got around to finding more reasons than the fact that they lost a home game to Fresno State and lost 41-7 to Texas to show exactly why they were left out of the title game. They properly belong closer to the Illinois/Maryland group than to the Sex Cannon.

We only talk about this, though, because when we were ranking the teams we became convinced that it's actually true. We didn't intentionally create controversial rankings, but at the same time didn't go out of our way to avoid them. In fact I'd feel a little disappointed if this list essentially read: title game winners, title game losers, other winners, other losers. The system isn't perfect, so, who'd it miss? We think 2001 Florida was one of the teams who gets really overlooked when talking about this season, although entirely of their own fault (see: 2 losses).

Not that it would have made much difference against the decade's top team.


Choosing the #1 team of the BCS was one of the easiest selections of the bunch, rivaled only by choosing the worst BCS team. #2, on the other hand, was a virtual deadlock. Both had ridiculous amounts of talent (over 20 players drafted). On one side, you had two Heisman winners. On the other side, probably the best player of the last decade. Both teams were stacked at all positions - dominant on both sides of the line, loaded with speed and playmaking ability at the skill positions. In the end, it came down to two conflicting arguments:

For 2004 USC: 05 Texas beat a defensively inferior USC team by 3 points. While all of the offensive players are a year less experienced, they also still have Norm Chow as offensive coordinator. Call the offensive changes a wash, and the difference between this Trojan defense and their 05 counterparts is the difference.

For 2005 Texas: 04 USC wasn't as offensively developed as their 05 counterparts, averaging 14 ppg less during the regular season. Even if only half of that translates onto the scoreboard, there's still no way Vince Young in his Rose Bowl form gets held under 31 by a college defense.

You can get more into it -- like, how does the 04 USC linebacker corps compare to 05 Ohio State's, a defense which perhaps had the recipe for slowing down VY? Or, how different specifically is LenDale White in 2004 vs 05, which is critical because Texas shut down Bush and Leinart in the first half of the Rose Bowl that was played, and it was White that cracked the shell and loosened the defense up for everyone else. Who wins the chess match between Chow and Chizik?

You can look at the statistics. Texas had the highest-scoring offense in BCS history at 50 ppg. While USC's offense had growing pains during the regular season, they did score the most points ever in a BCS championship game. USC never allowed 30 points in a game, averaging just 13. Texas allowed over 30 points just once - against the second highest-scoring offense in BCS history, which bumped their average to 16. Texas's pythagorean expectation was seven tenths of a percent point higher than USC's.

You could call it a deadlock, but here at leftfieldbluffs there are no ties. We don't award shared gold medals and there's damn sure not a shared silver. If they played 1001 games, somebody would win 501 no matter how evenly-matched the teams are. That's football. The quarter never lands on its side.

The deciding logic was seriously this:
Given the equality of the teams, we'd expect each to be in a position where they should win the game about 50% of the time. Maybe each team is winning a blowout 10% of the time, a close game 40% of the time. Who's more likely to make a comeback victory? I'll take the team with VY - a QB who can run away from the sack, pick up a 4th and 10 when all the receivers are covered, etc.

There you have it. Vince Young can escape Dallas Sartz's blitz on 4th and 10 with a buck o five to play to pick up a decisive first down. Matt Leinart gets sacked by Aaron Harris. That's the razor-thin difference.


For the purpose of this snippet, I'm going to define the "underdog" in the conference championship game as the team with more losses - ie, the team who would not be conference champion if it was awarded based on record like in the Pac 10. My method is to award based on conference record first, followed by overall record, then head to head. By this creteria, we had upset champions in:

1998 Big 12: Texas A&M (10-2, 7-1) defeats Kansas State (11-0, 8-0)
TAMU goes on to lose the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State.

2001 Big 12: Colorado (9-2, 7-1) defeats Texas (10-1, 7-1).
Colorado goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to Oregon.

2001 SEC: LSU (8-3, 5-3) defeats Tennessee (10-1, 7-1).
LSU goes on to defeat Illinois in the Sugar Bowl.

2003 Big 12: Kansas State (10-3, 6-2) defeats Oklahoma (12-0, 8-0).
Kansas State goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to Ohio State.

2005 ACC: Florida State (7-4, 5-3) defeats Virginia Tech (10-1, 7-1).
Florida State goes on to lose the Orange Bowl to Penn State.

2006 ACC: Wake Forest (10-2, 6-2) defeats Georgia Tech (9-3, 7-1).
Wake Forest goes on to lose the Orange Bowl to Louisville.

2007 Big 12: Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2) defeats Missouri (11-1, 7-1).
Oklahoma goes on to lose the Fiesta Bowl to West Virginia.

The upset "champions" went a combined 1-6 in their BCS games, with the lone victory against 2001 Illinois! From this, we can safely conclude that:
a) Conference championship games screw your conference.
b) The Big 12 is retarded. They catch a lot of flak for a sub-.500 BCS record (6-8)... the 0-4 record by these chumps who belonged in the Holiday Bowl isn't helping.
c) In fairness, the ACC championship kept Reggie Ball out of the BCS. However, this only serves to make up for the previous season's debacle known as the Orange Bowl.
d) Why are Big Ten fans clamoring so much for a Big Ten championship? Because Big Ten fans are also retarded.