BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mark's Thoughts: What if BYU Was In a BCS Conference

Exploring how a BYU/any High Mid-Major team would handle playing in a BCS conference...

On Friday I was critical of Kirk Hirbstreit's comments in regards to the Mid-Major conferences. That he was trying to use Hawaii's lack-luster performance in the BCS bowl last year as a reason to keep the Mid-Major teams out of the BCS. Logic that is very flawed considering that the Mid-Majors are 2-1 in BCS games. After I wrote the article on Friday, my buddy Scott made a good comment about what he thought about Herbstriet.

Then he made this statement, "With that said, it has to be pointed out that strength of schedule is a big issue. BCS conference teams have a much harder schedule than non-BCS teams. Don't get mad but this is true...BYU played 2 "tough" BCS teams...Arizona was near the bottom of the Pac 10 at 5-7 and UCLA wasn't much better at 6-6 (6-7after BYU beat them in the Vegas Bowl)."

While I will concede that Scott is correct about the overall strength of schedule of BCS versus non-BCS conferences. This made me think about the what would be better for BYU. To play a lower level of talent, and always have a top record, in the top Mid-Major conference, or if they were to enter a BCS conference and play a BCS team schedule? Are the teams really better in the BCS conferences, or does the title given by the national media just make them better on paper?

To examine how BYU(I am using BYU, but I believe this would apply with any top level Mid-Major team)do in a BCS conference I took the lowest team in the conference and kicked them out and inserted BYU. Also, since this is the land of speculation, I would assume that BYU's campus would be moved and inserted to the location of the school that I kicked out of the conference. That way there wouldn't be any reason to factor in traveling across country if they were in different conference. I then took the final record for each conference and compared that to the final results the last three years in that conference to see where BYU would end up at the end of the season.

ACC - Duke
August 30 James Madison W - Easy win at home
September 6 Northwestern W - Another cake win at home
September 13 Navy W - Navy is improved, but BYU would handle them at home
September 27 Virginia W - A tougher game but at home BYU would take care of Virginia
October 4 at Georgia Tech W - Momentum would carry BYU to fifth victory
October 18 Miami W - Getting Miami at home would be the difference in a close game
October 25 at Vanderbilt W - Another win able game for BYU
November 1 at No. 23 Wake Forest W - This would be a challenge, but a win
November 8 North Carolina State W - Another victory at home.
November 15 at No. 9 Clemson L - Clemson's defense would shut down Cougars at home
November 22 at No. 17 Virginia Tech L - It would be close, but VT is tough win on the road.
November 29 North Carolina W - Cougars would crush at home to end regular season.

If BYU were to take Duke's spot in the ACC a conservative estimate would be a 10-2 overall record, and a 6-2 conference record. Over the last three years that would place the Cougars in second place in the conference; however, most likely outside of the conference championship game.

Projected finish:
2nd in Conference
Ranked #18
Bowl Game: Peach Bowl

Big 12 - Baylor
August 28 No. 23 Wake Forest W - Wake Forest at home is a win
September 6 Northwestern State W - Easy win at home
September 13 Washington State W - lower level Pac-10 win at home
September 19 at Connecticut W - Road win for Cougs
October 4 No. 4 Oklahoma L - There goes home win streak. Oklahoma would be lose at home.
October 11 Iowa State W - Rebound win for Cougs at home
October 18 at Oklahoma State L - OSU matches up well with Cougars, and play tough at home.
October 25 at Nebraska W - Tough win, but doable against Nebraska
November 1 No. 6 Missouri W - I think Missouri is overrated, Cougs win at home.
November 8 at No. 11 Texas L - Texas on the road tough loss for BYU
November 15 Texas A&M W - Break between tough games
November 29 at No. 12 Texas Tech L - Cougars end season on tough road loss

In the place a Baylor the schedule gets much harder. You could call me a homer for my pick of BYU over Missouri; however, you could call me tough for picking OSU over BYU. Overall if BYU were to take Baylor's spot in the Big 12 they would finish 8-4 overall and 4-4 in conference.

Projected Finish:
5th in conference
Ranked #24
Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl

Big East - Syracuse
August 30 at Northwestern W - Northwestern would be an opening win
September 6 Akron W - Start the home schedule with a win
September 13 No. 22 Penn State W - Penn St would be winnable at home
September 20 Northeastern W - Easy win for BYU
September 27 No. 25 Pittsburgh W - Another favorable matchup at home
October 11 at No. 8 West Virginia L - West Virginia might be underrated not going to happen on the road for BYU
October 18 at No. 19 South Florida W - Overrated South Florida team
November 1 Louisville W - Another favorable home matchup for BYU
November 8 at Rutgers W - Would be tough win
November 15 Connecticut W - Another good home victory
November 22 at Notre Dame W - I think the Irish will be down again this year, win for BYU
November 29 at Cincinnati W - Cougars end the season with a win on the road.

If BYU enters the Big East, they would be among the top teams in the conference. A strong season would come from a favorable home schedule. BYU would finish 11-1 overall and 6-1 in conference.

Projected Finish:
Tied for 1st with West Virginia or 2nd outright in conference
Ranked #7
Bowl Game: A chance at a BCS bowl game. If not, Gator Bowl.

Big Ten(Really Big Eleven) - Minnesota
August 30 Northern Illinois W - Easy
September 6 at Bowling Green W - Easier still
September 13 Montana State W - Another no brain victory
September 20 Florida Atlantic W - Really this schedule is just sad
September 27 at No. 2 Ohio State L - Ohio St on the road would a tough win for Cougars to pull off. They would be well rested for this game going in though.
October 4 Indiana W - Another cake game at home
October 11 at No. 20 Illinois W - An overrated team
October 25 at Purdue W - Purdue would be a tougher task on the road, but winable for BYU
November 1 Northwestern W - Another win at home
November 8 Michigan W - It is going to be a long year for Michigan. A young O-line will be the fault of many lopsided loses.
November 15 at No. 13 Wisconsin W - Over another overrated team
November 22 Iowa W - Finish year with victory at home.

The Big Ten(Really Eleven) is down this year. Plus Minnesota's schedule to begin the season is laughable. This would be a favorable conference for BYU to be in. They would finish 11-1, and 7-1 in the conference.

Projected Finish:
Tied for 1st in conference (Ohio St winning the tiebreaker)
Ranked #6
Bowl Game: BCS Bowl, or if shafted from an at large pick, the Citrus Bowl

Pac-10 - Stanford
(Washington was the low team last year, but since BYU is playing them this year Stanford works for the sake of argument)
August 28 Oregon State W - Good opening day win for Cougars
September 6 at No. 15 Arizona State - L Arizona State looks good, and it would be tough to beat on the road
September 13 at TCU W - Cougars have TCU's number
September 20 San Jose State W - Easy home victory
September 27 at Washington W - tough place to play, but winnable game for BYU.
October 4 at Notre Dame W - Irish down, BYU wins
October 11 Arizona W - Another victory at home for BYU over U of A.
October 18 at UCLA W - UCLA a train wreck this season.
November 1 Washington State W - Good home win for BYU.
November 8 at No. 21 Oregon W - Ducks tough at home, but BYU would be up for challenge
November 15 No. 3 USC L - USC is stacked and would provide challenge for BYU, even with game being played at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
November 22 at California W - California in rebuilding year, BYU ends season with W.

Pac-10 would provide some challenges for BYU, and it would be tough to knock off USC; however, they would finish in the upper half of the conference. Record 10-2, 7-2 in conference.

Projected Finish:
3rd in conference
Ranked #11
Bowl Game: Holiday Bowl

SEC - Ole Miss
August 30 Memphis W - Opening day win.
September 6 at No. 23 Wake Forest W - Winnable road game for BYU
September 13 Samford W - Easy Win
September 20 Vanderbilt W - Conclusion of easy portion of schedule.
September 27 at No. 5 Florida L - First true conference test would give BYU trouble
October 4 South Carolina W - Game at home equal win for BYU.
October 18 at No. 24 Alabama L - Another tough in conference road game
October 25 at Arkansas W - Only in conference road win for Cougars
November 1 No. 10 Auburn L - Hard fought loss at home
November 15 Louisiana-Monroe W - Easy win
November 22 at No. 7 LSU L - A big loss, it is hard to go into LSU and win
November 28 Mississippi State W - Big win for Cougars

SEC football is different than any other BCS league. It would be tough for BYU's depth to take the pounding a SEC season would provide. They would finish 8-4, and 4-4 in conference.

Projected finish:
6th in conference
Ranked: #20
Bowl Game: Chick-Fil-A Bowl

BYU probably wouldn't go undefeated if they were to play in any of the BCS conferences. Yet, in most conferences they would be playing for the Conference championship and an automatic birth into the BCS. The SEC would be the only conference I believe the Cougars wouldn't be able to compete at a high level. The Big 12 would be tough for the Cougars, but they would be in most games that they play.

The argument that merely because a team is from a BCS conference therefore they have a more difficult schedule than a Mid-Major, just isn't true. The Big East, ACC, Pac-10, and Big Ten(Really Eleven) are all riding past success to justify not scheduling tough non-conference schedules. The top team in all of those conferences might be better than any Mid-Major team, but a top Mid-Major team would finish in the top of all of those conferences. The Cougars playing in the Mountain West Conference are taking an all-or-nothing approach to the BCS. The schedule this year is favorable for BYU to go undefeated to make the BCS; however, one loss and BYU is most likely going to the Las Vegas Bowl again. Even if BYU played in the SEC, they would still be going to the Chick-Fil-A bowl, a superior bowl to the Las Vegas Bowl.

Would they be able to maintain this level of play every year in a BCS conference? The first year that they would play in a BCS conference would be the worst year that BYU would have in th conference. They would get BCS money every year in the program, and would start to get the BCS recruits every year also. Plus, every conference would benefit from bringing a team like BYU into their conference. BYU substituted for any of the lower teams in the BCS conferences would improve those conferences.

Are the schedules for BCS conference really more difficult than Mid-Major schedules? In most conferences they are more difficult; however, not nearly the gap in difficulty that the BCS conferences want people to think. The excuse that BCS teams can have a very weak non-conference schedule because their regular season is so difficult is a fallacy. It is just another way that the BCS conferences keep control of college football. The difference between the top teams in each conference is really much less than many commentators want college football fans to believe.

5 comments:

scott said...

Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark...I expect better from you. You can't simulate games for BYU in other conferences. You can't get the bias out of the results. That is not proof indicating that strength of schedule isn't existant. Take BYU out of the picture (I AGREE THAT BYU WOULD BE CLOSE TO THE TOP IN EVERY CONFERENCE)...ok now take a look at the strength of schedule from top to bottom of every conference including BCS and NON-BCS conferences...specifically the WAC and MWC.

Average ranking for:
WAC=~80
MWC=~60

*even if these are a little off, they aren't by much...and that is pretty bad.

We all know that every team plays cupcake games...no question about it (BYU included)! But if the worst team from a BCS team played in the MWC or WAC they would win more games, and in turn have a "better" ranking. If the best teams from the WAC or MWC played in a BCS conference they would lose more games.

My point is not to say that BYU isn't good, but to point out that there is a BIG difference between "conference" strenght of schedule...

FYI the other conferences:

BIG East: 45
BIG 12: 38
BIG 10: 39
ACC: 47
SEC: 33
PAC 10: 42

*of coarse you can give or take a few spots, but the point remains the same.

Last year Hawaii's schedule was 119of 119 teams.

The reason the conferences don't get respect is that the conference as a whole (not a specific team) are below average

scott said...

With that said, you can only beat the teams on your schedule. All BYU has to do to get respect is JUST WIN BABY!!! If they keep winning there is no doubt they should be invited to a BCS bowl game on a regular basis.

scott said...

One more thing...Mark, kept the posts coming...you can see I might not be able to make it to the weekend. College football needs to start NOW!

Mark said...

Scott, you’re making my point for me. When it comes to the BCS conferences it is a chicken and the egg argument. Are the BCS conferences good because they are a BCS conference, or are they good because the teams inside of the conferences are better due to BCS money/prestige? What I am saying is there isn't a single conference that wouldn't benefit in football from adding a BYU/Utah/Fresno St/Boise St program and kicking out one of the lower members. I can't say the same for the top teams in other conferences; (MAC Conference USA, etc.)however, as far as the top teams in the WAC and MWC go they could hang with the BCS conferences.

The reason I disagree with the SOS stat to begin with is what is the difference last year between Utah St. and Duke? Utah St was the better team, and would have beaten them on the field. Yet, in the preseason SOS stat Duke would be higher rated than USU. Why? Duke is in a BCS conference and USU is in the WAC. This also goes into the BCS conference wins stats at the end of the year. (This favors BYU this year by the way) When a team beats Duke in a non-conference game that helps there BCS rankings more than beating a middle of the road non-BCS team; once again because Duke is a BCS school.

Also as I stated in the post, I was speculating about how BYU would do in the different conferences, and that speculation surely wasn't set in stone. I still think BYU would finish high (top 2-3) in most of the "BCS" conferences.

Bottom line: BYU has got to win, and they have to stop choking in big games.

scott said...

Yeah, I realized that when I read your post again...I just got a little excited (plus I just wanted to stir the pot among your loyal readers :)!!). I agree that the top tier teams in the WAC and MWC would be an upgrade in each BCS-Conference from the bottom dwellers. Sure the MWC and WAC teams could "hang" with the other conferences, but does that merrit a BCS birth??? Not exactly...

What needs to happen is that every team needs to step up their out of conference games so the best teams are playing each other each year. Must say that I love OSU playing USC. College football needs more of that.

Could you imagine if BYU played a top 10 team every year...that would pretty much let us know where we stood and if we belong in a BCS game.