“I generally use several variables — and just for background I have been covering college football for 32 years now. First, I give victories weight as they happen — to keep them in context. So if Oklahoma beats Texas when Texas is ranked, that's how I view that, even if Texas then winds up 6-6. I also go back and then review the entire season based on the way things stand as of that moment. When you have this many one-loss teams with strong cases for being the top one-loss team, I put a lot of stock in quality road wins and bad home losses. That's how you have to start separating teams, because a lot of them will get to 9-1 or 10-1 with seven home games and without playing a quality opponent on the road.”
DENNY O'BRIEN, bonesville.net (East Carolina)
“For me, it comes down to how one school compares to another. I'll take a look at the entire body of work of all of them to make a determination on my final ballot.”
GEORGE SCHROEDER, Eugene (Ore.) Register-Guard
“As the season progresses, I try to gauge a team's entire body of work. A bad loss is a big factor, but it's only a piece of the evaluation. I also look at which teams a team has beaten, and where those games were played, and how the wins occurred, and try to determine which team has the better overall resume. I'm also someone who believes a team should win its conference to play in the national title game. I know it isn't an official requirement — we've seen it before — but I think it should be. That said, I'm not going to automatically disqualify a team because it didn't win the conference, or because I don't want a rematch, or something like that.
At some point, this thing is a gut feel. Which team do I feel is better, and has accomplished more? Which team's body of work is better?”
Late BCS jumps
Since the current BCS formula was adopted in 2004, three times in recent years a team has jumped another in the final rankings, without a defeat involved:
Situation: On the final weekend, No. 2 USC was upset by UCLA. But No. 4 Florida beat Arkansas 38-28 in the SEC title game and jumped No. 3 Michigan (which was idle) in the rankings.
Losses: Florida had lost at Auburn 27-17 on Oct. 14; Auburn was 10-2 in the regular season. Michigan had lost 42-39 at Ohio State on Nov. 18.
Lesson: Voters did not want an Ohio State-Michigan rematch.
Situation: On the final weekend, No. 1 Missouri lost to No. 9 Oklahoma 38-17 in the Big 12 title game; No. 2 West Virginia lost 13-9 at home to Pittsburgh; No. 6 Virginia Tech beat Boston College 30-16 in the ACC title game; and No. 7 LSU beat Tennessee 21-14 in the SEC title game. No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Kansas were idle. Out of that carnage, Ohio State emerged No. 1 and LSU No. 2.
Losses: Missouri lost twice to Oklahoma; West Virginia also lost at South Florida in October; Ohio State lost at home to Illinois on Nov. 10; Georgia lost at home to South Carolina in September and at Tennessee in October; Kansas lost to Missouri a week earlier; Virginia Tech lost at home to Boston College on Oct. 25; LSU lost at Kentucky in October and at home to Arkansas the week before, both in multiple overtimes; and Oklahoma lost at Colorado in September and at Texas Tech on Nov. 17.
Lesson: Voters look at things like overtime losses, which can soften a defeat, and conference championships.
Situation: No. 2 Texas, No. 3 OU and No. 7 Texas Tech were in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South Division, with the BCS as the tiebreaker. In the weekend before the Big 12 title game, OU beat OSU 61-41, Texas beat Texas A&M 49-9 and Tech beat Baylor 35-28. OU jumped Texas to win the tiebreaker and advanced on to the Big 12 title game and ultimately the national championship game.
Losses: OU lost to Texas 45-35 on Oct. 11, Texas lost to Tech 39-33 on Nov. 1 and Tech lost to OU 65-21 on Nov. 22.
Lesson: The computer rankings still pack a punch. OU's prowess in the computers lifted it over Texas.