What happens if one-loss Auburn or Mizzou wins out?

NCAA Football: Auburn at Tennessee

When the final BCS rankings release in a couple weeks, we may have to ask ourselves the dreaded question next year’s four-team playoff system is hoping avoid — Who is college football’s best one-loss team?

The SEC could have a dog in the fight, perhaps two if Auburn beats Alabama in the Iron Bowl on Nov. 30 then wins the following week in Atlanta. There’s Mizzou as well who is quietly sitting at 9-1 with a team strong enough on both sides of the football to also win out.

Hypothetically speaking, if Auburn — currently 6th in the BCS — finishes its season with wins over top-ranked Alabama and a possible Top 6 Mizzou, it would be the nation’s most attractive one-loss team. The computers, which make up one-third of the BCS formula, love Auburn. The Tigers are ranked third in 3-of-6 computer polls. They aren’t nearly as fond of Mizzou, currently as low as 11th by one of the computers (Billingsley).

Mizzou would catapult itself up the rankings with three consecutive wins over Top 25s (Ole Miss, A&M and Alabama/Auburn) to end the season, but it’s unlikely that would be enough to unseat other one-loss teams ahead of the Tigers should they win out.

In this scenario, a 12-win Auburn could cause a BCS meltdown in Columbus should the Tigers finish percentage points higher than say, an unbeaten Ohio State. Jumping over BCS newcomer Baylor would be more difficult since the Bears will likely move in front of the Buckeyes this weekend if they take care of business at 10th-ranked Oklahoma State.

It all remains a bit fuzzy, but that’s what makes games in late November so much fun in a sport where the regular season really does matter.

Here’s a projected look at what would happen if Auburn or Mizzou wins out and Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor all remain unbeaten:

Auburn: 12-1 (late-season wins over No. 1 Alabama + Top 10-ranked South Carolina OR Mizzou) = At best, it appears the Tigers could finish third in the final BCS rankings, ahead of Ohio State but behind Florida State and Baylor. Though Auburn’s in a similar predicament that Mizzou’s in behind one-loss Oregon, the Tigers wouldn’t have to make up near as much ground to pass the Ducks and they’d have two wins over ranked teams to boot.

Mizzou: 12-1 (late-season wins over No. 24 Ole Miss, No. 12 Texas A&M + Top 10-ranked Alabama OR Auburn) = Though this team’s final-month charge with three quality wins would be impressive, the Tigers would need South Carolina to beat Clemson on Nov. 30 to take those Tigers’ spot in the polls and hope Oregon looks less than impressive over its final two contests and in the conference title game. In Mizzou’s case, it would be more beneficial to beat a No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta instead of a No. 4 or 5 Auburn.

To avoid title game hysteria, the BCS wants two deserving unbeatens in the final game and at this point, Alabama and Florida State appear to be college football’s two best teams. The picture becomes cloudy after the Crimson Tide and Seminoles however with as many as six teams good enough to be in those Nos. 3 through 5 spots.



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  • The fans want to know who is the best team. The programs want to know. The media wants to know. Everybodies’ accountant wants to know. So what have we been doing for 100 years?, answer: voting for our favorite teams. It’s a crock of manure. The greatest game ever invented by mankind has always been denied a real champion, partly by limits the human body can endure, and partly by old man winter, but mostly by politicians. The game would still be great if media could just bring themselves to say things like: We just don’t know who is number blank, or number blank blank. The game will be ok if we go from 4 to 8 team play-off. The game will continue to compromised if we keep trying to make rankings based on information we just don’t have. So I’m asking the media to only rank teams late in the season and only rank the ones that have solid evidence like a conference championship, head to head comparisons, conference power based on real inter-conference results during the current year. Finally and most importantly they should do what Jon Cooper often does when he puts teams/athletes in strata. Then comes honest acceptance. 127 teams, 12 games, big geography, sometimes the right ranking is going to be a half dozen teams could share this ranking. Then the bowls have a chance to add real comparisons of value.

    • Your like that girl in that movie Mean Girls. Stop saying “fetch” dude, it’s never gonna catch on.

      • ha, already is dude, next year’s #1 will not be the sole result of a vote. Thanks for your idea though humor may not be required but it’s always welcome

      • and the BCS also moved this way by not ranking till Oct. something. I just want the change to happen faster. Just get on board and keep up with today’s sentiment. The folks who don’t want it to change are the politicians.

        • #!. There will never be an 8 team playoff. Next years season is gonna be 15 games for 2 teams and neither the NCAA nor the College Presidents are gonna allow a 17 game football season to happen for student athletes. #2. The National Championship will continue to be decided as it has in the last 3 out of 4 years by two teams slugging it out on the field with and ultimate outcome, a Bama victory. There’s your playoff. Bama vs Somebody Else U.

  • I’d like to see an 8 team playoff. They’ve already got the bowls to do it in the Sugar, Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Cotton, and Peach. They bid out the championship like they plan to for the 4 team model. Let the big 4 rotate every year between hosting a semifinal game or a quarterfinal game with either the #1 or #2 seed. It would be a win for everyone. It’s more money for the TV people and the schools, more schools get an actual chance at a championship, and for the fans, better bowl match ups.

  • I like the old system. there’s an AP champion and a UPI champion. and sometimes they are the same. nothing has changed really. and it doesn’t matter how much you expand it. now you vote for four teams instead of one each. how many deserving teams that leave out. what if it were 8, you still be leaving out at least 8 deserving teams. if you want a playoff system then create four conferences of 18 games you each. divided into two divisions that play a round robin in their division each division champ plays for one of four spots. that way you’re giving 72% of the top 80 or 90 programs a chance

    • the Division 2 and 3 already have more complete playoffs. Thanks Zoucat, but how are two, three, or four polls better than letting, for example, one group of 3 bowl games try to sort out the 1-4,, another group of 3 bowl games try to sort out 5-12. Still another three bowls 13-20, and finally another 3 bowls to sort out 21-28. 56 teams get invited the rest of the 127 start getting ready for next year.

  • that was supposed to read for conferences of 18 teams. and you give 72 teams off the top 80 or 90 teams a shot. throw in a bylaw that allows up and coming teams to replace the weaker teams in each super conference

  • The final paragraph of this article is exactly why the playoff system will not work better than the current system. If you think it’s difficult determining who the two best teams are, just think about how difficult it is to determine the best 4 or 8 or whatever. It always gets murkier the farther down the list you go because there are a bunch of teams deserving of the 4 spot or 8 spot, etc. This is why the NCAA basketball tournament has grown to such ridiculous numbers…and people still get upset when they don’t make it into the top 70!

    • this is a somewhat accurate attitude, that’s why I suggest having 3 bowl games, single elimiantion, 4 teams to sort out 1-4, another 3 bowl games for 5-8, etc.. Still the weaker your credentials the less the beef fans have.

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