Week 12 BCS-Style Rankings of the 2016 College Football Playoff Field

With the new College Football Playoff rankings coming out later today, let’s look at how the BCS would rank the top teams after Week 12 action.

Thanksgiving action approaches as teams across the country prepare to face one of their biggest rivals. The action will include two of the teams vying for one of the four coveted College Football Playoff spots. All of the top ten will be jockeying for position in the new system. But that begs the question of just how different the new, more subjective system is from the BCS formula of yesteryear.

Last week we saw that there really was no difference whatsoever between how the College Football Playoff committee decided to fill out their semifinal bracket and how the BCS would have filled the same role. While the current process gives greater leeway for humans to determine the final results, it also opens the door for a lot of second-guessing and opaque logic being applied to the decision-making process.

Keeping that in mind, what might the field of contenders look like if they were playing for the crystal pigskin of the BCS instead of the new CFP trophy? Here is how teams would be ranked in the old BCS system after 12 weeks of play in the 2016 season:

Three Quick Takeaways

  1. If Ohio State beats Michigan this weekend, the Buckeyes will miss out on the Big Ten championship game due to their head-to-head loss against Penn State. But Urban Meyer’s team will lock down a playoff spot in the process, a fine consolation prize. What is interesting is that the BCS would have almost certainly advanced the Buckeyes to its championship game as well, but without the advantage of the plus-one system to mitigate the impact of watching four Power Five conference champions arguing from the outside. So while the two systems don’t seem to rate the teams any differently, the College Football Playoff at least provides expanded access and fewer aggrieved parties. The question will then turn to whether Penn State or Wisconsin will land a second Big Ten spot in the playoff, denying three other leagues in the process.
  2. While Boise State and Houston would have both climbed back into the top 20 of the BCS standings, Western Michigan continues to find itself in a freefall despite remaining one of just two FBS teams with an undefeated record. The Broncos fell three spots this week in the BCS calculations, from 13th to 16th, after beating hapless Buffalo last weekend. Meanwhile, Houston surged ten spots up the standings after knocking off Louisville, while Boise State climbed four spots after beating UNLV. The WMU drop, though, was more a matter of teams such as USC, Nebraska, and Florida getting a big bump in the computer composite than anything else.
  3.  If the way the BCS rankings turn are any indication of how the committee might fluctuate this week, the biggest climbers in tonight’s rankings release are likely to be: Florida, after the Gators beat LSU to seal their position in the SEC championship game; Oklahoma State, who now controls its Big 12 fate when Bedlam hits Norman in two weeks; and Houston, whose “upset” of Louisville threw another wrench into the national rankings. The teams that will probably fall hardest are: West Virginia, looking at a double-digit fall after their loss at home to the Sooners; Utah and Washington State, as the committee questions the strength of the Pac-12; and LSU, who are destined to fall out of the committee’s Top 25 after suffering their fourth loss of the season.

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