Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Worst BCS Bowl Teams

With the addition of an extra BCS game this season, the chance that an undeserving school sneaks into the BCS has just increased by roughly 25%. With that in mind, I decided to take a look back to see which teams were the worst to ever play in a BCS bowl game. In my opinion, there are four teams that were truly undeserving of their BCS invitation. The countdown...

Purdue 2000
Record: 8-3
Pt Differential: +125
Pythagorean Record: 8.09-2.91
Record Vs Teams with Winning Records: 4-1
Record in Close (8 pts or less) Games: 3-2
Road Record: 2-3
opponent's Record: 65-64 .504

Purdue won the Big 10 in 2000 with a 6-2 conference record. They managed to defeat their closest competitors in the standings (Michigan, Northwestern, and Ohio State), but slipped at Penn State (5-7) in the first year of their recent slide and Michigan State (5-6). Besides their loss to Notre Dame (9-3), their non-conference slate was softer than Bonecrusher's midsection with wins against hapless MAC squads Central Michigan (2-9) and Kent State (1-10).

Syracuse 1998
Record: 8-3
Pt Differential: +199
Pythagorean Record: 8.67-2.33
Record Vs Teams with Winning Records: 3-3
Record in Close (8 pts or less) Games: 1-2
Road Record: 2-2
opponent's Record: 71-58 .550

Donovan McNabb's senior season at Syracuse was very weird. The team opened up with a one point defeat to eventual national champion Tennessee in the Carrier Dome. They followed that up with a win over Michigan (10-3) in Ann Arbor. After a breather against Rutgers (5-6) the Orange got run out of Raleigh by a mediocre Wolfpack team (7-5) by 21 points. They followed that up with three wins over teams with 2, 4, and 2 wins respectively. Then they lost a close game to a solid West Virginia squad (8-4). After that something clicked as the Orange sandwiched a shellacking of Temple (2-9) around a hard fought victory over Virginia Tech (9-3) and a 53 point beat down of Miami (9-3). However, Syracuse earns a place on this list because the Big East as a whole was down in 1998 with no dominant teams emerging, and because they beat three teams with only two wins (Temple, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh).

Pittsburgh 2004
Record: 8-3
Pt Differential: +65
Pythagorean Record: 6.95-4.05
Record Vs Teams with Winning Records: 2-1
Record in Close (8 pts or less) Games: 5-2
Road Record: 3-2
opponent's Record: 56-59 .487

Everybody remembers Walt Harris' final Pittsburgh team. They won the extremely watered down Big East and were the sacrifice at the altar of the mid majors against Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. Truly, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. The Panthers played three teams with winning records, losing to Connecticut (8-4) and knocking off their biggest Big East challengers Boston College (9-3) and West Virginia (8-4). In non-conference action they lost to the worst Nebraska team in recent memory (5-6) and barely squeaked by Division IAA Furman by 3 points.

Stanford 1999
Record: 8-3
Pt Differential: +62
Pythagorean Record: 6.56-4.44
Record Vs Teams with Winning Records: 1-2
Record in Close (8 pts or less) Games: 3-2
Road Record: 3-2
opponent's Record: 60-70 .462

Narrowly edging out the Pitt Panthers for the top spot. Tyrone Willingham's 1999 Stanford Cardinal played three teams with winning records in a very down year for the Pac 10. They beat Oregon State (7-5) and lost to Washington (7-5) in conference. The scheduling gods allowed them to avoid the Pac 10's best team Oregon (9-3). In non-conference action, a solid but not great Texas team (9-5) stomped them by 52 points. The game that seals Stanford's place in this pantheon is their non-conference loss at home to San Jose State (3-7) a WAC school whose other wins that season were over Tulsa (2-9) and St. Mary's (non-Division IA).

That's my take. What's yours?


Anonymous said...

Hey Matt, your beloved Fighting Irish are 0-4 in BCS bowls. But you're not gonna dis them, are you?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's hard to imagine how the 2000 Notre Dame team failed to make that list. The Irish lost to lowly Oregon State by 32 points in the Fiesta.

matt said...

I hate ND. Read some more of the blog. ND is actually 0-2. Lost in 2000 and 2005. But at least they somewhat deserved their bids.

Anonymous said...

Are you freakin' nuts? Here's ND's 2000 schedule:

9/2 vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
W 24 10
9/9 vs. Nebraska (10-2)
L 24 27
9/16 vs. Purdue (8-4)
W 23 21
9/23 @ Michigan State (5-6)
L 21 27
10/7 vs. Stanford (5-6)
W 20 14
10/14 vs. Navy (1-10)
W 45 14 @ Orlando, FL
10/21 @ West Virginia (7-5)
W 42 28
10/28 vs. Air Force (9-3)
W 34 31
11/11 vs. Boston College (7-5)
W 28 16
11/18 @ Rutgers (3-8)
W 45 17
11/25 @ Southern California (5-7)
W 38 21
1/1 vs. Oregon State (11-1)
L 9 41 @ Tempe, AZ Fiesta Bowl
9-3-0 353 267
And here's the final poll in Jan 2001. ND got a BCS bid with a #12 BCS ranking going in.

Team Record Points Prev
1. Oklahoma (71)
(13-0) 1,775 1
2. Miami Fla
(11-1) 1,690 2
3. Washington
(11-1) 1,634 4
4. Oregon St
(11-1) 1,539 5
5. Florida St
(11-2) 1,488 3
6. Virginia Tech
(11-1) 1,432 6
7. Oregon
(10-2) 1,299 8
8. Nebraska
(10-2) 1,282 9
9. Kansas St
(11-3) 1,258 11
10. Florida
(10-3) 1,128 7
11. Michigan
(9-3) 1,061 17
12. Texas
(9-3) 894 12
13. Purdue
(8-4) 765 14
14. Colorado St
(10-2) 640 23
15. Notre Dame
(9-3) 611 10
16. Clemson
(9-3) 563 16
17. Georgia Tech
(9-3) 545 15
18. Auburn
(9-4) 498 20
19. South Carolina
(8-4) 486 NR
20. Georgia
(8-4) 430 24
21. TCU
(10-2) 406 13
22. LSU
(8-4) 340 NR
23. Wisconsin
(9-4) 208 NR
24. Mississippi St
(8-4) 197 NR
25. Iowa St
(9-3) 188 NR
Dropped Out:
No. 18 Northwestern, No. 19 Ohio St, No. 21 Tennessee, No. 22 Louisville, No. 25 Toledo.

ND deserves to be #1 on your shidhead poll of BCS worst teams.

Go genuflect your nuts off at Holy Mass tomorrow.

matt said...

I'll agree that ND team was not great by any means, but they are far from a BCS embarrassment. The fact that they got stomped by Oregon State is beside the point. I was accessing each team pre-bowl.

Here are the stats for that ND team:
+118 pt differential
8.03-2.97 pythag
5-1 against teams with winning records
3-2 in close games
3-1 on the road
67-61 (.523) opponent's record

Did ND deserve a BCS bid in 2000? Hell no. Are they the most undeserving BCS team? Nope. By the way, read some archives from last year's college football season. I hate ND. But alas, I try to remain objective. I'm sorry you have such an inferiority complex (I'm guessing you are a Purdue fan), but with time and some counseling you may conquer this disorder.

Anonymous said...

In 2000 here is no justification whatever for BCS ranked #10 Notre Dame to be given a BCS berth ahead of BCS # 6 VA Tech and BCS # 8 Oregon.

This was done to pander to Catholics and the ND subway savants. They weren't on your airhead list of Worst BCS Bowl Teams for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

BTW, that 2000 Purdue team that you ridicule in your list of statistical gibberish beat both Michigan and Ohio State to gain a berth in the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile your beloved Irish were slugging it out vs service academies and Big Least weaklings.

The last time that Notre Dame beat Ohio State, Jesse Owens was running in the Berlin Olympic Games.

matt said...

Clearly, you must not only be a Purdue fan, but also a Purdue graduate because you cannot grasp simple concepts. I am not Catholic and I do not like Notre Dame. I can't really make that any more clear. Also, I agree with you that Notre Dame was not the most deserving BCS team in 2000. However they are also not the most undeserving BCS team since the inception of said institution. Any more conspiracy theories you want to unfurl? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not here to take potshots at you from behind a grassy knoll. YOU contrived a list of "Worst BCS Bowl Teams" and whatever evaluation that was done should obviously have included performance of the team in its BCS bowl.

A 32-point BCS loss. Isn't that the worst BCS blowout ever?

Your cop-out about "pre-bowl analysis" is also bogus. Statistics do not differentiate a schedule with Michigan-Ohio State-Penn State-Notre Dame from one with Navy-Air Force-Rutgers-Boston College.

Matt, the honorable thing for you to do is to rescind your ill-considered list, correct your methodology and then issue a revision based upon strength of schedule, insight of bias in the BCS selection process and bowl performance.

matt said...

In 2001, Maryland lost the Orange Bowl by 33 points to Florida. However, in the regular season Maryland was 10-1 and had a solid point differential in winning a down ACC. Pre-bowl they were a definite BCS team. Post-bowl they proved they were not in the same class as Florida. I used pre-bowl performance becuase that is how teams are selected for the BCS. The future is unknown so bowl performance cannot factor into the selection equation. I'm looking at the worst selections, not the worst performances in the BCS bowls. Do you really think Oklahoma (12-0) in 2004 was a poor BCS choice because they lost by 36 to USC?

As far as Purdue's schedule that season, I won't argue that is was tougher than ND's. Purdue beat some good teams. However, they lost to Penn State (5-7) and by 20 to Michigan State (5-6). Notre Dame lost by 6 to that same Michigan State team, lost in OT to Nebraska (10-2) and beat Purdue on the field.

Anonymous said...

Matt, not only was ND's schedule weaker than Purdue's it was DESIGNED to be weaker.

Purdue's schedule would be a heck of a lot easier if they had the option to stop playing Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. They don't have that option. They have ten BT opponents and they play each of them in 8 of 10 seasons. The conference sets the schedule for BT play, not the member schools.

Notre Dame stops playing opponents who beat them too often. They've dropped Ohio State as an occasional opponent. Ditto Miami. Ditto Boston College.

ND recently announced their "new" opponents for future schedules: Army and Duke. They are actively seeking to purge strong opponents and replace them with cupcakes.

If you are intent on establishing a blog and creating lists of worsts then you are obligated to develop some journalistic integrity. ND didn't belong in the Fieata in 2001 nor in the Fiesta in 2006. Both invitations came as a result of Catholic pandering by the BCS bowl committee. Better teams were passed over both times.

matt said...

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. What about Purdue's other non-conf games in 2000? You failed to mention Central Michigan and Kent State (combined 3-19). Also please enlighten me on the Catholic pandering. I'd love to hear where you got that idea from.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! In both years ND went to the BCS, are you not aware of how many teams were ranked ahead of the Irish in the BCS rankings?

When you busy yourself putting together lists of "Worst BCS Bowl Teams" based upon pre-bowl criteria them this would seem to be a fundamental consideration. YOU shopuld be telling US which quality teams were by-passed to extend an invitation to ND. Then the extend of Catholic pandering would become obvious.

Sam said...

Of the four teams listed only the '98 Syracuse team was even in the top 15 of the final BCS rankings for their season. In 2000 ND finished 11th, which means (in the very least) that in the eyes of the BCS the 2000 ND team is better than each of the teams in the list including even (gasp!) the 2000 Boilermakers. Whenever ND is eligible for a BCS berth they will be given one simply because the owners of the bowls want to make as much money as possible. Notre Dame has the most "nationwide" audience of any school in the nation. It's not some religious conspiracy, (wouldn't TCU get a BCS berth every year?!?!) it's capitalism. And unlike the teams on this list who backdoor into BCS bowls by winning in a weak conference when ND gets picked they have to satsify the at-large criteria, which at least counts for something. Now... who wants to discuss who deserved to play LSU in the 2003 championship game? :-)

Anonymous said...

I didn't say conspiracy, I said pandering. That's what it is.

The Big Ten champ is far more qualified to the BCS than at-large ND. ND would not have won the BT even once over the past decade. Look at ND's record vs the BT over the past ten years:

05 2-2

04 2-1

03 0-3

02 3-0 (ND lost to NCS by 21 points in the Gator Bowl)

01 1-1

00 1-1

99 0-3

98 2-1

97 0-3

96 1-1 (loss was to Northwestern)

95 1-2

Sam said...

Pandering makes it sound like there's a couscious effort of the bowl organizers to appease or gain favor with the nation's Catholics by giving ND a BCS spot, and that's just not true. The truth of the matter is that there are tons on ND fans across the country, most of them probably aren't even Catholic. If I'm a bowl organizer and a TV executive I know that if ND is in that game, I'll be able to sell more tickets and more commercial time (at higher cost) than if I choose a more worthy, but more local at-large team. Virginia Tech is a perfect example. Now whether or not ND could've won a Big Ten(sic) title in the last decade is something that no one can really say. I think the 2000 season is a perfect example. The Irish played Purdue (W) and Mich St (L). Purdue went on to win the conference with a 6-2 record, losing to Penn St and Mich St. Neither of those teams were above .500 in the conference and the Mich St. team that beat ND by 6 pts beat Purdue by 20 pts! You're telling me that you can say with absolute certainty, even with confidence, that ND could not have won the Big Ten(sic) that year?

Occasionally a conference is weaker than the others and the team that wins the title either isn't the best or the best or just isn't an elite team. Last year people were terrified that South Florida might win the Big East (which blows, no need to bring that up). In 2003, 3 loss Kansas St knocked off OK to win the BigXII and in 2001 LSU upset Tennessee to win the SEC. In 2000 Purdue managed a championship in a weak Big Ten, that's just how it is. It also happens to be true that in 2000 Purdue would not have even qualified for a BCS at-large spot so in that sense there were many other teams better than Purdue that didn't play in the BCS bowls. Because of that I'll stand by my statement that just like LSU in 2001 and Kansas St in 2003, Purdue backdoored their way into a BCS bowl that, were it not for their conference championship, they would not have even been eligible for. I'm not hating on Purdue or the BCS or anything else, I'm just telling it like it is.

matt said...

I definitely think extrapolating Notre Dame's Big 10 projection based on a sample size of 2 or 3 games is quite foolish. Certainly, when ND finished with losing records they almost certainly would not have won the Big 10, but writing off that 2000 team beacuse they lost to Michigan State (who beat Purdue by 20 and ND by only 6) is not fair. Especially considering they did beat Purdue. Also, I still can't grasp why the NCAA would pander to Catholics specifically.

Anonymous said...

Sam, it appears that you simply do not understand the difference between playing in a major conference with an automatic bid and playing cherry-picked opponents for an audience of subway savants and pandering bowl committees.

Look, there are three bears in the Big Ten: Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. Year in/year out each BT team plays each of them 80% of the time although the year that Purdue went to the Rose Bowl the Boilers happened to play all three (plus ND).

Above I posted ND's record vs the Big Ten from 1995-2005. During that time the Irish won 42% (only 42%!) of their games vs BT opponents even though they routinely ducked the "Big 3". The Irish played Michigan 63% of the time during that era, they played Ohio State 18% of the time and they had zero games vs Penn State.

Those gaudy 9-2 records that ND rides into the BCS come out of the hides of Big Least weaklings and the pathetic service academies. A month of playing Iowa-Ohio State-Wisconsin-Michigan State or Florida-Auburn-LSU-Georgia just ain't the same as playing a month of Army-Pitt-Navy-Southern Cal.

Sam said...

Ok... let's go back to the beginning. All this started because you claimed that in 2000 the Fighting Irish were a worse team than the Boilermakers. Purdue probably played a slightly more difficult schedule (Do you know the 2000 strength of schedule rankings?) but it comes down to the fact that Purdue (the Big Ten(sic) champions, remember) lost to ND that season. That game gave ND the 9 wins it needed to be eligible for an at-large pick. Even if you think the Irish got lucky and won a close game, the same argument could be made about the Purdue/Michigan game that year, especially considering that at the end of the season, Michigan was ranked higher than Purdue in the polls! Only the biggest Irish apologist would claim that ND was the best at-large team in 2000, but were they worse than the Boilermakers? All the available evidence seems to indicate that they weren't. And while I do understand that ND has a, perhaps unfair, advantage when it comes to scheduling, The Big Ten(sic) was so weak in 2000 it didn't matter. The BT was 2-4 in bowls and the two bowls they did win were by a combined margine of 4 points! Of the three "bears" Michigan was the only one that won it's bowl game. The mighty buckeyes got smacked down by 7-4 South Carolina and Penn State had 7 losses (but beat Purdue) and didn't even go to a bowl. A lot of things went Purdue's way to land them in the BCS that year, it's an indisputable fact.

Anonymous said...

Sam, you simple don't get it.

Assume for the sake of argument that one 12-team conference had the top 12 teams in the nation. Now what will the average in-conference won-loss percentage be for teams in that conference?

Sam said...

You're killing me, man. You're trying to argue that we should hate Notre Dame because they get to pick their schedule. I'm trying to argue that the inclusion of the 2000 Purdue team over the 2000 ND team on the list of the Worst BCS Bowl Teams is justified.

So to address the point you're trying to make: Yes, Notre Dame's schedules rarely have the top to bottom difficulty of playing in an elite conference. In the worst case you could say that their schedules are designed to be just difficult enough to not be laughable, but always easy enough to make them look better than they actually are. There's some evidence to support this because they're on a pretty serious bowl losing streak. So I agree with you there, I always have. I also think that ND is essentially riding the wave of their past successes. But none of that is at all relevant to deciding whether the 2000 ND team was better or worse than the 2000 Purdue team. Neither are the past and future performances of either team. So clear your mind and think about this rationally.

As to your previous comment...
Sure, if there was some mythical conference that had the top 12 teams in the country then each game would be a coin flip and the W/L records would not reflect the power of that conference. However that would be true if that same conference had the 12 worst teams or just any 12 evenly matched teams.

None of that matters though. I'm talking about the actual Big Ten and the real 2000 season. In 2000, the Big Ten wasn't even close to having the 12 best teams in the country. Michigan was their best and they were barely a top 10 team. The BT got mauled in the post-season going 2-4 with a -80 point differential. During the regular season, teams from the Big Ten were 6-8 against teams from BCS conferences. Of those six wins only one was against a team with a winning record!

If you don't think that Purdue backdoored their way into the Rose Bowl by barely winning in a weak conference, there's nothing I can do to convince you of that.

Anonymous said...

Sam, Purdue did not "backdoor" their way to the Big Ten championship. They won it and went to the Rose Bowl per the rules. The BT winner may have 2-3 losses because the play real teams, not service academies and Big East Catholic savants.

The backdooring tactics are done by Notre Dame. They have special little rules that allow them into the BCS even if there are a half dozen teams more deserving.

Anonymous said...

september 16, 2000:
notre dame 23
purdue 21

you argument that purdue was better than ND that year officially goes to shit. go ahead and go 7-5 like you do every year and lose in the sun bowl.