Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Worst BCS team ever?

ESPN had a cow about Northern Illinois being a disgrace to the BCS. How dare they play in a big came when other "more deserving" schools are shut out. Northern Illinois did not exactly come out of nowhere. Less than 10 years ago (in 2003), they had been ranked #10 in the BCS, and had a victory over Alabama (in Alabama) under the belt, as well as a victory over Iowa State and a top 20 Maryland team. Alas, they lost a couple conference games and "only" finished 10-2. Their bowl reward? They got to stay home.

Now we have people complaining that they go to the BCS after winning their conference when teams like Oklahoma and Texas A&M are "stuck" in the Cotton Bowl. At least they get somewhere after going 10-2 and not winning their conference. That's much more than you can say about the 2003 Northern Illinois team.

Perhaps Northern Illinois is used to deflect the true "worst team" to make it to a BCS game, Wisconsin. They have five losses, and only managed to get in because two teams in their 6 team division were not eligible for the post-season. They blew out Nebraska in the title game, so they do appear to be on a roll. But, by their record, they are the worst the BCS has seen.

Wisconsin and Northern Illinois have also both recently had their coach leave for another job.

The other tragedy of the bowl season is "bad teams" making the bowls over good teams. 6-7 Georgia Tech will be playing USC. Middle Tennessee finished 8-4. They beat Georgia Tech (in Atlanta) by 21 points. They will not be going to a bowl.

9-3 Louisiana Tech will not be going to a bowl. They lost by 2 to Texas A&M. Alabama lost by 4, and get to play in the national championship. 6-6 Mississippi lost by 3 to A&M and gets a bowl game.

The biggest knock on the two teams is that they played in the WAC and Sun Belt. Had they been in a "BCS" conference, they would surely be bowling. Even Conference USA or Mountain West would have likely sent them to a bowl. Looking at Sagarin rankings, #88 East Carolina, #107 Air Force and #103 Rice finished lower than #84 Middle Tennessee and are both going to bowls.

Those ratings also can help us objectively identify who may truly be the worst BCS team ever.

Wisconsin, in spite of its record comes in at #21. Northern Illinois looks pretty pitiful down there at #34. (They are even behind WAC schools Utah State and San Jose State.) At 34, they must be one of the worst teams ever, right?

Nope. Not even for this season. Way down at #52 (5 spots below non-bowling Louisiana Tech) sits Louisville. Yep. The candidate for true "worst team" ever is the Big East representative in the BCS Sugar bowl against Florida.

Lets see how the games turn out.

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