The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


It's that time again: Time to rate which Bowl games are best (and worst) for this year's run to the mythical BCS Championship Game.

Rankings are based on two factors: the combined BCS Rating of both teams (Strength) and the difference between the BCS Ratings of both teams (Spread). BCS Rating is used with the same basic formula as the actual rankings, but with the rankings extended to all Division I-BCS teams.

For teams that are unranked in the two polls, teams are given a ranking of 41 in the Harris and 41.5 in the Coaches' Poll. Florida leads the nation with a BCS Rating of .97418, with Oklahoma second at .97296 and Texas third at .94282. The lowest ranked team is North Texas, with a rating of .00208 (three rankings of 119, two 120 and a 117 in the six computer rankings).

The average Division I-BCS team has a rating of .23718; Clemson is closest to that mark with a rating of .23889, good for 36th overall. This is a major drawback to the rankings, as teams that are not ranked in the two human polls suffer by over-reliance on the computer rankings.

To derive a particular Bowl's Quality Rating, the combined BCS Ratings for each game is averaged out (.72120), as is the average difference between the two teams' BCS Ratings (.09668). Then, the combined Strength rating for the game is divided by the average, and multiplied by 100. The Spread between the two teams is similarly divided by the average and multiplied by 100. Then, the Strength percentage is reduced by the Spread percentage to produce the Bowl's Quality Rating.

The "average" Bowl game would rank at exactly 0; Bowl Games ranked 100 or better tend to be the best games, while games ranked -100 or worse tend to be stinkers.

The Five Best Bowl Games This Season
  1. The BCS Championship Game, Florida vs. Oklahoma (Miami, Florida, January 8, 2009). Duh, you say. After all, the BCS Ratings were geared for this, right? Well, you can't aruge with the fact that this one has the highest combined BCS Ratings along with the second lowest spread between the two teams. This one has "dandy" written all over it.
  2. Rose Bowl, USC vs. Penn State (Pasadena, CA, January 1, 2009). This may very well be another "duh" moment. The two elite teams from the Pac-10 and Big 10 are meeting on the big stage, and JoePa's bunch are competitive enough that they may give Pete Carroll's Trojan squad a game.
  3. Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Utah (New Orleans, LA, January 2, 2009). The most surprising thing about this one is how well the two teams did in the BCS Ratings. This is number 4 Alabama going up against number 7 (and undefeated) Utah. Though this may be very one sided for the Crimson Tide, it's also Utah's chance to prove it belongs in the BCS mix. If they win, they probably will move all the way up to... fourth in the final polls.
  4. Holiday Bowl, Oklahoma State vs. Oregon (San Diego, CA, December 30, 2008). This one is surprising because the Spread between the two teams is rather modest (46.86%) than the other three non-Championship Bowls listed here. It's not exactly a powerhouse Bowl in terms of BCS Rating Strength (6th overall), but it could prove to be a good game. It's the best of the non-New Years games.
  5. Poinsettia Bowl, Boise State vs. TCU (San Francisco, CA, December 23, 2008). This is the non-BCS-team championship game, of sorts; the best of the Mountain West (the Horned Frogs) against the best of the WAC (the undefeated Broncos). Though this matchup has the highest Spread in the top 10 Bowl Games (87.02%), it's the talent of Boise State that carries this one. Too bad they won't get the winner of Florida/Oklahoma, though.
The Five Worst Bowl Games This Season
  1. The Cotton Bowl, Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss, (Dallas, TX, January 2, 2009). The Cotton Bowl deserves better than this for its swan song. The Red Raiders, who once had visions of playing in the BCS Championship game before the snafu that was the Big 12's Southern Division tiebreaker, are paired with a Mississippi team that is no where near their equal. Ole Miss lost three conference games and has as many losses in conference as the three SEC teams ranked ahead of them in the BCS standings. The Spread between the two teams in the BCS Ratings is a whopping .48403, or over 500% of the average. That total would be enough to land all but four of the remaining 33 bowl games with the worst Q-Rating in Division I-BCS. This game is easily the worst of the New Year's games.
  2. Chick-fil-A Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. LSU (Atlanta, GA, December 31, 2008). The defending National Champions have fallen very hard. The Tigers got no votes in the last regular season Coaches Poll, and got no love from the computers. When South Florida finishes ahead of you in the BCS Ratings, you know you've hit bottom. Meanwhile, they face the ACC's third-best team in the Yellow Jackets, who didn't make it to their conference title game because of a loss to Virginia Tech. The Ramblin' Wreck actually finished ahead of the Hokies in the BCS Ratings because of more votes in the two human polls, but VT got the championship game gig – and the Orange Bowl berth for winning the ACC title. The spread is second only to the Cotton Bowl, with Georgia Tech holding a .38545 advantage over LSU. The former Peach Bowl is more of a bowl of pits for this one.
  3. Las Vegas Bowl, BYU vs. Arizona (Las Vegas, NV, December 20, 2008). This is what the oddsmakers at the local casino sports books would call a "bad bet." This one features the third largest spread between two teams (.36652, 379.10%), with a combined BCS Rating total of a poor .69297 (96.09%). The Cougars could make this one a snorer – and also a big hurt to the casinos, who won't be getting many of BYU's Mormon alumni to hit the slots and blackjack tables while waiting for the trouncing of the U of A Wildcats.
  4. GMAC Bowl, Ball State vs. Tulsa (Charlotte, NC, January 6, 2009). This is a prime example of what happens when there are too many Bowls. Ball State got this gig because they posted the best record in the Mid-America Conference (but lost the title game to Buffalo). Tulsa got this gig because they were the runner-up in the Conference USA championship game (losing to East Carolina). Tulsa is ranked behind the Bowl-ineligible Virginia Cavaliers in the BCS Ratings, which makes this a case of two lightly-regarded also-rans with a lot of distance between them.
  5. Orange Bowl, Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (Miami, FL, January 1, 2009). When you host the BCS Championship, your other Bowl game gets the royal shaft. It's not the Orange Bowl committee's fault that they didn't take Texas Tech or TCU; they just wanted to have a conference champion in their game. That's what the Bearcats are: Big East champions. And Virginia Tech won the ACC championship game over Boston College, so it's a matchup of two conference champs. Too bad the computers don't particularly like the Hokies (ranked 17th in the computer ranking component). Of the games actually held on New Year's Day, this one might not be a good way to end the day.

Four More Bowls Of Interest (and Revulsion)