The case FOR Nebraska

John Fricke
Fox Sports Net - Los Angeles

Forgotten in all the gnashing of teeth over the possibility that Nebraska could play for a national title that the media doesn't think it erned the right too, is the simple fact that Nebraska did not buy it's current BCS standing, it earned it. Let's examine just how Nebraska got there and why it might actually have a valid claim to be the other team in Pasadena on January 3rd.


The BCS itself is a collection of unusual rules that are designed to get the two best teams (on paper) up against each other for a fictional national title game. The fact that the "S" in BCS stands for "Series" is a myth in and of itself. There is no "Series" of events but rather a group of individual games that do not consitute any form of playoff or elimination. The use of computers, the two major polls, strength of schedule and losses per team.. each accounting for 25% of the total poll was designed with the idea that the BCS could eliminate individual or regional bias in any popular vote of a champion. The problem is that the computer software must be programmed by individuals, which by its nature constitutes at the very least a personality bias of the programmer towards his model of what a championship club looks like and the the fact that any bias within the major polls still remains. Thus fully half of the "impartial" final poll is, in fact, subject to the same partial leanings of the old "vote and crown" way of picking a champion. Still Nebraska did not manipulate the BCS polls.. did not campaign publicly for its cause and as a matter of fact didn't even bother to try and state its own case until after last week's BCS standings when the Huskers came under fire for nothing they had done. And then it was simply an attempt to say that they had played by the rules and we not guilty in any way of trying to shape the polls or ratings in their favor.


The latest round of screaming is from media types who think there ought to be another factor weighed into the BCS standings (and since they can't change the rules in the middle of the game this season... by extension they are trying to see if they can get the computer programmers to subjectively tweek their inputs to account for) a plus-minus system for "winning your conference crown". Obviosuly Nebraska did not win its conference title.. it didn't even make it's conference title game. But let's break that down and show you why the Huskers might have a beef if they were to be leepfrogged in the final BCS standings.


The Biggest knock against the Huskers is a trojan-horse of an issue. Without a Big-12 title game the Huskers would have finished as Co-Big 12 champions in a 3-way tie with Colorado and Texas. As co-champions of what is thought to be the toughest league in the country.. the next line of default in picking one representative between the 3 would be all the other associated factors of the BCS (strength of schedule, losses, quality wins, etc). The Huskers had a stronger schedule and. more quality wins than Texas (even a 1-loss Texas team which is why the Huskers were still ahead of UT after the CU loss) so Nebraska beats out Texas. Colorado had more losses this season (2) and that's a major factor in the BCS rankings. By virtue of that and the fact the Huskers had (prior to the Texas game) the same kind of quality win as CU (actually Nebraska beat a higher ranked team - Oklahoma was #1 in the polls.. the Huskers were #2 when CU beat them).. Nebraska gets the nod over CU. In this argument the Huskers win.


There are only two teams that have a gripe. Oregon and Colorado. The others have no case. Nebraska was the #1 rated BCS club for most of the season and its schedule, victories and performance rate it above every other possible contender outside of these two. But let's address these two directly.

Nebraska vs. Oregon - Oregon did win the Pac-10 crown. But Oregon did not play a conference title game. If they had the Ducks would have faced USC, a hot team that had won 4 straight and lost to OU on its home field on a last second field goal earlier in the season. The fact that the Big-12 and SEC play title games when the Pac-10 does not does apply to the pro-Nebraska argument. Should the Big-12 dump its title game if it costs it in the polls? That's for the league to decide but not for the computers... which simply look at the numbers. And those numbers say Oregon's weak wins against a weaker schedule than the Huskers (who had better wins against better teams) cost the Ducks. And that OU's lone loss (where they allowed 49 points to a lower rated team than Nebraska lost too) is not enough to cancel out the disparity between the two in terms of quality wins.

Nebraska vs. Colorado - Yes CU is a hot club and yes they did lay 62 on Nebraska. They also lost twice. Once to Fresno State and once by 34 to Texas. This is a simple argument argued above. That without a "title game" these two would be part of a 3-way tie that Nebraska would win. The fact the BCS rankings don't take into account intangibles such as "conference title game winner" is not Nebraska's fault. And the BCS does take that into account anyway since, as mentioned above, a quarter of the points towards the BCS standings are the two major polls where Pac-10 champ Oregon is ahead of Nebraska in both and the Huskers trail Colorado in one of the two. CU has been given credit for this by the voters and they still fall short. Two losses has done that to them.

The Huskers have nothing to appologize for. They are not weasles working behind the scenes to screw OU or CU out of a spot they "might" have earned. According to the BCS those two have, in fact, NOT earned it. Whether fans agree or not is, to be honest, beside the point. The inetesting thing all the media honks need to note is.. Huskers fans AGREE that the BCS is wrong. That a playoff is the only way to go - they will say if their club got another shot at Colorado the Huskers would win. They might get a chance to prove that. If LSU does beat Tennessee and those upset voters and media honks can manipulate the BCS to get Oregon ahead of Nebraska and into the Rose Bowl.. then the Huskers would likely end up in the Fiesta in a re-match with the Buffaloes.

But read that last line carefully. Who is it who is trying to "manipulate" the BCS formula?

It's not Nebraska.