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Berry Tramel  


Oklahoma State football: Guess the odds on making the Big Bowl

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 20, 2013 at 9:35 am •  Published: November 20, 2013

Last week, we figured the odds of OU winning the Big 12 championship at 50,000-to-1. This week, I figured we could have some more fun. What are the odds that OSU reaches the Big Bowl?

Is it still possible? Could the Cowboys win out and have enough help to be in the BCS’ top two on Dec. 8?

Here’s what would have to happen:

* OSU would have to win out, beating both Baylor and OU.

* OSU would have to jump all but one of these teams.

Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Baylor, Oregon, Auburn, Clemson, Missouri and Stanford.

* OSU would need to stave off the likes of South Carolina, Michigan State and UCLA.

OK. So what are the odds?

Winning out, let’s give OSU a 40 percent chance of winning against Baylor. I actually think it’s a 50-50 game, but the point spread is still around 101/2, which is so high to entice bettors tired of losing money on Baylor. Hard to justify a 101/2-point spread as a 50-50 game. So let’s go 40 percent. Then for Bedlam, let’s give OSU a 65 percent chance of winning. The Cowboys are playing well, the Sooners not so much. So 65 percent sounds about right. Multiply .65 times .40, and you get 26 percent. OSU has a 26 percent chance of winning out.

Staving off the people below? To pass OSU, South Carolina would have to win out, which would include winning the SEC title. That’s not likely to happen. Same with UCLA, which would have to win out, then beat probably Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Again, not likely.  Michigan State is the chief threat from below. The Spartans play at Northwestern, host Minnesota and then Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. The Spartans’ chances of sweeping all three are somewhere around 5-10 percent. That means OSU has a 90 percent chance of holding off Michigan State, and that number doesn’t go way down when factoring the UCLA and South Carolina chances, either. So let’s say OSU has an 85 percent chance of staying ahead of the pack.

That means the Cowboys have a 22 percent chance of winning out AND not getting jumped.

So what are OSU’s chances of jumping others? First off, by beating Baylor, the Cowboys likely would scramble over Clemson, Missouri and Stanford, plus would jump Baylor.  All would have the chance to jump back ahead, though Clemson would have to beat South Carolina; Mizzou would have to beat Ole Miss, Texas A&M and the Alabama/Auburn winner, the latter in the SEC title game; and Stanford would have to beat Cal and Notre Dame. And frankly, only Missouri would be in good shape to jump the Cowboys. I give Mizzou just about a five percent chance of sweeping that trio of games, so that reduces OSU’s chances to about 1.1 percent. If you want to drop the Cowboys a bit for the outside chances of Clemson and Stanford, OK. Let’s make it 1.0 percent just for easiness sake.

So then, what are OSU’s chances of catching four of these five: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Oregon and Auburn?

Alabama and Auburn play each other, so that helps. Here are the remaining games for the five:

Alabama: Chattanooga, at Auburn, potential SEC title game against Missouri or South Carolina.

FloridaState: Idaho, at Florida, ACC title game against Lord knows who.

Ohio State: Indiana, at Michigan, potential Big Ten title game, probably against MichiganState.

Oregon: at Arizona, Oregon State, potential Pac-12 title game against Arizona State, Southern Cal or UCLA.

Auburn: Alabama, then a potential SEC title game.

I’d give Bama a 60 percent chance of winning out.

I’d give Florida State a 64 percent chance of winning out.

I’d give Ohio State a 41 percent chance of winning out.

I’d give Oregon a 44 percent chance of winning out.

I’d give Auburn a 15 percent chance of winning out.

So what does that mean for OSU? There’s a 38 percent chance both Alabama and Florida State win out, so that ends all debate.

But let’s say Bama loses to Auburn. The Cowboys almost certainly would need Auburn to lose the SEC title game. But if it’s Missouri that wins the SEC, the 12-1 Tigers would jump OSU. So if Bama loses to Auburn, OSU needs A&M or Ole Miss to beat Missouri, then South Carolina to beat Auburn.

If Bama beats Auburn but loses the SEC title game, it needs to be South Carolina, not Missouri, that does the beating. But OSU also would need South Carolina to lose to Clemson in that scenario. If South Carolina beats Clemson and Alabama or Auburn, the 11-2 Gamecocks would make a really good case to jump an 11-1 OSU.

So really, what OSU needs is for Alabama to win out and secure one of the spots. That would eliminate all the other SEC teams.

Then OSU needs someone to beat Florida State. Florida is the most likely suspect.

The odds of Bama winning out and Florida State losing are about 12.7 percent.

Then OSU needs Ohio State to lose. And Oregon to lose. The odds of both happening, coupled with Bama winning out and Florida State losing, are 4.2 percent.

So you multiply 1.0 percent (chances of OSU winning out and Clemson and Stanford not jumping the Cowboys) times 12.7 percent (the odds of Bama winning out and Florida State losing) times 4.2 percent (the odds of both Ohio State and Oregon losing).

Ouch. Now we’re talking some long odds. That’s 0.0000534 percent.

Which is something close to 200,000-to-one.

So it was 50,000-to-one for OU winning the Big 12 (the Sooners have been eliminated, at least from winning the tiebreaker to go to the Fiesta Bowl). And now it’s four times as unlikely that the Cowboys go to Pasadena for the Big Bowl.

Some might say that my OU cipherings are Dumb and my OSU cipherings are Dumber. Right on; 50,000-to-one, 200-to-one. All I’m saying is there is a chance.





by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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