Even after a wild Week 10 of college football, under the BCS system nothing would have substantively changed in the standings. While teams below them lost on Saturday, Clemson and Ohio State kept churning along. The Tigers and Buckeyes flipped order, but they remain in the top two spots and would square off for the national championship if the only methodology still existed.
Clemson looks definitively like the top team in the country at this point, with its 9-0 record and most recent win over Florida State translating into rankings that skew no lower than second in either the two human polls or among the six computers. No team is as solidified in its position as Dabo Swinney’s crew, which needs only to defeat Syracuse, Wake Forest, and South Carolina (combined record: 9-18) to arrive at the ACC championship game with a spot in the playoffs on the line. As long as they win out, the Tigers are essentially guaranteed a spot.
Meanwhile things became just as clear for the Buckeyes, who now control their own destiny in the Big Ten West after prevailing over Minnesota and then seeing the Spartans fall in conference play to the Cornhuskers. The defending national champions have felt for much of the season as though they are playing with borrowed time, but it is instructive to remember that Ohio State didn’t really put it all together last year until reaching the Big Ten championship game. As long as Urban Meyer’s crew wins again in Indianapolis, there is no reason why the Buckeyes will be denied a place at the party.
Where it becomes interesting is in how the BCS would project a four-team playoff field. With LSU and TCU losing over the weekend, their conference counterparts Alabama and Baylor were the direct beneficiaries. The Crimson Tide, who knocked off LSU at home to take control of the SEC West yet again, and the Bears both move up into the top four. Were the playoff based on these rankings, Clemson would host Baylor and Ohio State would host Alabama in a Sugar Bowl rematch from last season.
Meanwhile, other teams are beholden to the whims of pollsters and computer printouts after they suffer a defeat. Whereas the College Football Playoff selection committee can take into account incidents like Michigan State’s controversial loss against Nebraska, the human element is intentionally dampened within the BCS equation.
The BCS may be dead, but its legacy lives on in shaping the greater debate each season. After 16 tumultuous years, the ranking is a reminder of the attempt to bring objective analysis to determining national supremacy. These days, calculating out how the teams would rate based on the old formula allows for a means of comparison for our proprietary Pigskin Rating System here at Sports Unbiased, and it also allows us to better appreciate the increased mid-major access available to Group of Five schools in the current system. Most importantly, though, it continues a tradition of providing a concrete thing to argue about that has been sorely missing with the CFP selection committee’s inevitably subjective viewpoint taking away any semblance of pseudo-science from the situation.
So here’s what the BCS rankings would look like for Week 10 of the 2015 season… use them for what they’re worth, which is jack squat in today’s playoff landscape other than a fun thought exercise and a great basis for arguments.