As the college football season reaches its final stanza — just three weeks remain in the regular season — the discussion about which teams deserve a place in the top two of the BCS rankings, and thus a spot in the national championship, has intensified.
Each of the top four teams, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor, are undefeated and can make an argument for being one of those two teams.
Although Alabama and Florida State currently hold a considerable lead over the Buckeyes and Bears, do they deserve to?
If you take away the names of the schools and their current rankings, how would each team stack up against the others?
So that’s what I did. Using Jerry Palm of CBSSports’ extended BCS rankings, which rank every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, I came up with blind résumés of each of the four undefeated teams to line up against each other.
I also factored out any team that is not eligible for the BCS rankings since their numbers cannot be a part of the process. This means teams that are not members of the Football Bowl Subdivision or are ineligible for postseason play are excluded.
Team 1 has played against nine BCS eligible opponents with an average ranking of 58.3. It has a margin of victory of 40.9 points against these teams and have three wins against top 50 teams, with one top-10 victory.
Team 2 has played against eight BCS eligible opponents with an average ranking of 64.3. It has a margin of victory of 41 points against these teams and has three wins against top 50 teams, with no top-10 victories.
Team 3 has played against eight BCS eligible opponents with an average ranking of 68.3. It has a margin of victory of 22.6 points against these teams and has two wins against top 50 teams, with no top-10 victories.
Team 4 has played against nine BCS eligible opponents with an average ranking of 54.2. It has a margin of victory of 27.1 points against these teams and has four wins against top 50 teams, with no top-10 victories.
Based on the numbers, the teams would most likely be placed with Team 4 at the top of the polls, followed by Team 1, Team 2 with Team 3 bringing up the rear.
Putting names of the schools back in the rankings, No. 1 would end up being Alabama, No. 2 Florida State, No. 3 Baylor and No. 4 OSU.
Alabama’s schedule helps them immensely in terms of rankings, even though their scores have not been as dominant as Florida State or Baylor’s, and the better rankings of their opponents helps keep them ahead of Florida State.
The biggest thing separating Florida State and Baylor for the second spot is the Seminoles 37-point win against No. 7 Clemson Oct. 19. Baylor’s schedule does get harder in the coming weeks, with a road trip to take on No. 10 Oklahoma State set for Saturday at 8 p.m., but for now, the Bears remain just behind Florida State.
OSU brings up the rear in both average team rankings and margin of victory against BCS eligible teams. The Buckeyes are hurt by Penn State being ineligible for the 2013 postseason. The Nittany Lions fell to OSU 63-14 Oct. 26, and would likely be ranked either in or around the top 50.
Although you can’t base everything on statistics and have to factor in how each team plays any given Saturday, it is hard to look at the numbers and argue OSU should be in the national title game, let alone ahead of Baylor.
With plenty of games left to play this year before the final BCS standings are announced, a lot could still change, but as of now OSU and Baylor will be at home Jan. 6 watching Florida State and Alabama duke it out for college football’s ultimate prize.