Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Race Is On

Last year, when Eisenberg's College Football Championship Rules (the ECF) were being run and tested for the first time, it ended with six potential Champions entering the bowl games. Actually, it was five, because TCU had no chance of being declared a Champion because they had violated the Top Ten Rule (see rules for explanation), but even this number seemed normal. The ECF, after all, was designed to declare Champions "In The Absence Of A Tournament", not as something superior or even equal to a tournament. Having several champions was basic to the structure of the whole thing, because without a playoff system, there really is no way of knowing who the best team is. Anyway, the five teams with a chance to be ECF champions were all BCS teams - Miami, Ohio State, USC, Iowa, and Oklahoma. When the dust settled, we were left with the trio of Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma as the winners.

Why is any of this important now? Two reasons. First, we have only just passed the first weekend in November, and there are only nine schools still eligible in any way for the ECF, only four with any real shot of becoming a Champion, and only three teams that are also BCS-eligible. That brings us to our second reason. Can you guess which three BCS-eligible teams are also still alive in the ECF hunt? That's right, last year's Champions - Ohio State, USC, and Oklahoma.

Let's take a look at the teams that are left, their schedules the rest of the way, and their chances of finishing as an ECF Champion:

Teams Who Have Beaten, Or Will Have A Chance To Beat, A Top Ten Opponent:

1. Oklahoma - The Sooners are everyone's favorite right now, but they still have a ways to go. They will play five more games - Texas A&M, Baylor, at Texas Tech, the Big 12 Championship Game, and their bowl game. The Sooners have the luxury of being able to drop a close one at Texas Tech and still survive, but losing any of the others will eliminate them. Odds: 8-5.

2. USC - They have the easiest schedule of anyone, playing at Arizona, then getting UCLA and Oregon St at home. They are the safest of all of the teams to be alive at their bowl game, but then they might have to play Oklahoma. Odds: 2-1.

3. Ohio State - The Buckeyes have Michigan State and Purdue at home, then have to go to Ann Arbor. They have no room to stumble again, having used up their maximum level of Acceptable Losses, and I'm thinking they may lose two of those three games. Odds: 10-1.

4. Bowling Green - The Falcons have beaten two Top Ten teams - Purdue and Northern Illinois - but they still have as many as six games left, including fellow ECF survivor Miami-OH on Tuesday. That's right, Tuesday. Too far to go I think, but it should be fun to watch. Odds: 12-1.

Teams That Will Probably Not Get To Play a Top Ten Opponent:

TCU, Louisville, Miami-OH, Northern Illinois, and Boise St. Louisville's last gasp of hope died earlier this evening when TCU finished only 12th in both polls. The two teams meet on Wednesday.

So in the end, it looks like we may have a singular ECF Champion this year, the winner of the Oklahoma-USC Sugar Bowl game. But for that matchup to happen, eight games have to be won between them. A tall task, to be sure.

ECF Rules

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