I've been lurking a long time, but never posted here, though some of you may remember me from when I used to post on Blazersedge all the time.
I've been looking at the rankings and computer rankings, and I'm nervous. It is pretty clear our Ducks are one of the two top teams, but even though there seems to be a general consensus that if we win out, we'll be in the championship game, I'm not so sure. We've seen the Big 12 lobby and get away with it before, and I don't trust either the computers or the voters. We know there is always a lot of love for Notre Dame out there, as well -- if they go undefeated, will the voters really keep them ranked only 4th?
Obviously, a lot of things could change. A&M is a very good team, and if they catch lightning in a bottle, they could beat Alabama. KSU could fall to TCU, the Irish can go into overtime against anyone, and maybe one of these times they would actually lose. But the most likely scenario is that the end of the regular season sees four unbeaten teams, which means computer rankings become very important. So if we assume that all of the top four win out the rest of the way, what are some other important games in the computer rankings?
- Ohio State at Wisconsin. This one is very big. The Buckeyes aren't that good (they barely beat Cal), but they are unbeaten. A Wisconsin win is a big boost to their computer ranking -- and the Beavers beat them. It strengthens OSU's ranking and strength of schedule. The better the Beavers look to the computers, the better for the Ducks when we beat them. Any win for Wisconsin is good, but this one would really help.
- Louisville at Syracuse. If Syracuse wins, it would help USC in the computer rankings, and ensure no biased Eastern pollster decides to start voting Louisville ahead of us. If the computers like USC more, they'll like the teams that beat them more, too.
- Miami at Duke (11/24). Seems crazy we should care about this. But Miami lost to both Notre Dame and KSU, so any win by Miami strengthens them in the rankings. Duke lost to Stanford, so wins by Duke makes Stanford look better -- which helps us when we beat the Cardinal. In general, Ducks fans will want Duke to win and (especially) Miami to lose in any game, but even more when they meet.
- Louisiana Tech at San Jose State (11/24). A chance for a good team to beat a team which might be ranked top 15 by then. Stanford beat SJSU, so a SJSU win would strengthen our schedule.
- Fresno State at Nevada, vs. Air Force. Two wins against pretty solid teams, and this team we beat finishes 9-3, with the only other losses against a tough Tulsa team on the road and at Boise State.
- Louisiana-Monroe at Arkansas State. L-M is a good team (ask Arkansas, Auburn, and Baylor). We beat Arkansas State. If they win this, it improves our strength of schedule in the computer rankings. They could win out, go 9-3, and win the Sun Belt, and it all matters to the computers.
- UCLA, all games. If they win out, we'll face a top ten team in the conference championship, and no other Pac-10 team will be rated as high. Also, they beat Nebraska -- the computers would like it if we beat a team that beat Nebraska, especially if the Cornhuskers keep winning.
- Oklahoma State, all games. If anyone is going to win Big 12 games, it would be good if it is a team that lost to Arizona, who we beat.
- Utah, all games. We don't play them. We have played all three teams left on their schedule. It would help us if they lost all three.
- BYU, all games. This one is weird. They lost to Notre Dame AND OSU. If they win out, it helps us because it strengthens the Beavers in the computer rankings, but it helps Notre Dame more. So if you think Kansas State is the big threat, you are rooting for BYU to win, and if you think Notre Dame is the big threat, you want BYU to lose.
We got some help last week that most people may have missed. Arkansas St, who we crushed, gave North Texas a thumping, and KSU beat North Texas. If you have four unbeaten teams, it is games like that which move the strength of schedule, small amounts here and there, and tip the balance.
The biggest game of all, other than our own games, is Notre Dame at USC. If we win out and the Trojans win that, not only will it finish off the Irish as a threat, it will help us in other ways. it should bump us past Notre Dame in all the computer rankings. It improves USC's ranking, so it makes our strength of schedule better. It makes Oklahoma look worse if Notre Dame loses -- and the Sooners are probably the only top 15 team KSU has played, so it weakens their computer standing, too. If the Trojans beat the Irish, we just need to win out. If they don't, then maybe we'll care about the result of the games I listed above.