Football’s fall in BCS rankings not all bad


Freshman linebacker Jamaal Payton (33) takes down the Eagles’ ball carrier Saturday against Eastern Michigan.

By Frank Gogola

Although it may sound strange, NIU fans should not be that upset the Huskies (9-0, 5-0 MAC) fell to No. 18 (.3169) in the latest BCS standings.

In Week Three of the BCS standings, the Huskies came in at No. 20 (.2770) in the Harris Poll, No. 20 (.2639) in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 14 (.410) in the Computer Rankings. The Huskies were .0334 percentage points behind the No. 16 Fresno State Bulldogs (.3675) last week but saw that difference increase to .0506.

The reason fans should not be getting worked up about the dip in the rankings is the Huskies are garnering some well-deserved respect from the human voters, who make up two-thirds of the standings.

Since the initial BCS standings, the Huskies moved up .0797 in the Harris Poll and .0716 in the Coaches Poll. On the other hand, the Bulldogs have moved up only .0263 in the Harris Poll and only .0226 in the Coaches Poll since the first standings came out.

The Huskies won their nine games by a combined 173 points (19.2 points per game), while the Bulldogs won their eight games by a combined 119 points (14.9 points per game). Added to that, the Huskies beat their last two opponents by a combined score of 122-39, and the Huskies have had some more eyes looking at them.

But where the Huskies gained, they also lost.

The problem for the Huskies is the non-human element: the computer rankings, which make up one-third of the standings. The Huskies have fallen each week in the computer rankings, starting at .520 and now sitting at .410; the Bulldogs started at .320 and have moved up to .360.

While the formulas they use are complex, the reason for the drop in the computer rankings can be seen partially in the Huskies’ opponents’ records, because the six computer rankings all take strength of schedule into account in their formulas.

The Huskies’ two victories since the initial BCS standings came against teams that have a combined 2-16 record, and the nine Huskie wins this season have come against opponents who have combined to go 25-56 (.309), with eight of those wins belonging to FCS’s Eastern Illinois. In contrast, the Bulldogs’ opponents have combined to go 28-41 (.406).

So, while the Huskies’ last two wins have resonated with the voters, they have conversely cost them in the computer rankings.

With the Huskies taking on Ball State (8-1, 5-0 MAC) and Toledo (6-3, 4-1 MAC) in their next two games, they should be able to rise in the computer rankings if they win. And if they play well and win convincingly in those two mid-week, nationally televised games, they Huskies should definitely earn some more respect — and votes — from the voters.

While the Huskies dropped to No. 18 and the Bulldogs remained at No. 16, there’s still a long time to go before the final BCS standings are released, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Huskies find themselves ranked ahead of the Bulldogs before season’s end.