Dead men tell no tales. And, if you don’t crunch the numbers, they don’t lie.
So, as we head into Saturday’s college football conference championships, that will “help” decide the BCS title game participants, let’s allow the numbers to speak definitively and loudly. The three prohibitive favorites to meet Florida State (unless the Seminoles lay an egg vs. Duke) in Pasadena on January 8 are #2 Ohio State, #3 Auburn and #5 Missouri.
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer has relaxed with family and friends so much since leaving Florida, he has already forgotten how strongly he lobbied in 2006 for his one-loss, SEC champion Gators to play for the crystal ball. They did, and they won. His current team, at Ohio State, has won 24 consecutive games, and for that reason alone, some around the nation feel the Buckeyes deserve their “shot.”
This is not the federal government, life is not fair and no one is entitled to a “shot.” It must be earned. OSU’s run the past two seasons has been quite impressive, 24 straight W’s isn’t accomplished everyday, but a closer look reveals…well let’s let the numbers talk.
- Among the 24 wins, only 13 opponents had winning records (seven in ’12 and six in ’13
- Just three of those teams registered nine or more victories (that could increase if Iowa and Ball State go to bowl games and win this year)
- In the past two years, OSU has played five ranked teams. At game-time, none were in the top 15. This Saturday will be its first in that category against 10th ranked Michigan State.
- The cumulative records of its victims: 2012 (73-80; .477); 2013 (76-80, .487). A whopping total of 149-180 or .453 winning percentage
-Non conference foes: 39-59 (.398)
-Conference foes: 108-101 (.517)
- In the 2013 regular season, six of OSU’s victims had winning records with Wisconsin being the lone squad with more than eight. It had nine. Three of the six had seven victories.
On the flip side is the despised bully (we will use that term since its so prevalent today in amateur and professional sports…and everywhere else) of college football, the SEC.
The Cloud nine-dream season for Auburn has had its magic wand moments, but doesn’t every dream season? Auburn has been fortunate (and to win titles, you must be), but they are good and the numbers prove it.
- Of its 11 victories, six of Auburn’s opponents had winning records and four registered eight or more regular season victories. Three other squads finished with .500 records.
- Including this Saturday, OSU will have played six ranked teams in two years with only one in the Top 10. In 2012, Auburn will have already played six with four in the top 10 at game time (LSU #6, Texas A&M #7, Alabama #1, Missouri #4). Don’t forget their gigging of Johnny Football took place in Aggieland. The Tigers also defeated a 25th ranked Georgia team that was in the top 10 earlier in the season.
- The cumulative record of its opponents in 2013: 89-67 (.571)
-Non-conference foes: 21-27 (.438)
-Conference foes: 68-40 (.630)
The Tigers, from Columbia, have quietly stalked their prey. They have not received the national attention of Ohio State nor experienced the picture-frame endings of Auburn. All they have done is won:
- Of its 11 wins, Mizzou too has beaten (at game time) six Top 20 ranked opponents, one of which was at 7th ranked Georgia. #3 Auburn will be its second Top 10 foe.
- Eight of the Tigers opponents had winning records with five registering eight or more wins. South Carolina and Auburn both posted double digits in the “W” column with 10 and 11 respectively.
- The cumulative records of Mizzou’s opponents in 2013: 88-68 (.564)
-Non-conference foes: 25-23 (.531)
-Conference foes: 63-45 (.583)
These numbers surely do not calculate the “heart” of this trifecta. Each has played hard and deserves to be in the discussion, but the numbers and strength of schedule is where the separation occurs.
It is not OSU’s fault that the Big 10 (+2) is currently the Little Half-Dozens. Still, that does not mean the Buckeyes deserve a “shot”.
A lot of this is based on style points, and that is why Urban threw up 63 on Penn State, 56 on Purdue and 60 on Illinois (not to mention his kids are a lot better and were on those specific days). But, it’s not that difficult to produce style points when there is little substance to prevent it.
The caliber of Auburn and Missouri’s foes was exceedingly better. Their paths to the Georgia Dome were filled with stiffer non-conference foes while playing the week in, week out meat grinder that is Southeastern Conference football. The best football in the land…period!
Numbers do not tell the entire tale, but they do make an extremely strong case for a one-loss Auburn or Missouri, rather than an undefeated Ohio State, to play for the national championship. Actually, it’s crystal clear.