Ball Stand

by admin on October 26, 2007

Ball Stand

Ball Stand

Boise State and Ball State, Both 11-0, are Really Unbeaten But Untested, Overrated Top 25 Teams

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Both Boise State and Ball State are 11-0 so far this season and have earned some bragging rights. After all, they are 2 of only 4 teams that remain undefeated among the 119 Division 1-A schools at this point in the college football season. Utah is 12-0 and Alabama is 11-0.

Entering Saturday's competition (11-22-08), Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 Poll, Utah was No. 8, Boise State was No. 9 and Ball State No. 14. Perhaps even more important, the BCS Standings had Alabama at No. 1, Utah at No. 7, Boise State at No. 9 and Ball State at No. 17.

I do not have any problem with Alabama and Utah's rankings in either poll, but I have some serious problems with Boise State and Ball State being ranked so high.

The players, coaches, fans, boosters and citizens of Boise, Idaho (home of the Boise State Broncos) and of Muncie, Indiana (home of the Ball State Cardinals) should be understandably fired up about their teams' success.

There should be a lot of hoopla and hollering going on in Boise and Muncie. It is not easy to go undefeated through 11 games when you compete at any level.

Having said that, my gag complex is on red alert because I think both Boise State and Ball State are hardly the 9th and 17th best teams in the nation, according to the BCS Standings. Strength of schedule apparently has no influence in the BCS Standings.

Entering Saturday's competition, Boise State's strength of schedule was 123rd and Ball State's was 127th among the 119 Division 1-A schools, according to the Sagarin College Football Ratings.

This means that both teams have built their unbeaten records on teams that are—on average—less than Division 1-A caliber. I find this a serious chink in their armor.

Last season, the Hawaii Warriors waltzed their way to a 12-0 record before gaining a BCS Sugar Bowl date with Georgia, and then losing 41-10 to the Bulldogs. And exactly how did Hawaii build that undefeated 12-0 mark that left them with a No. 10 ranking in the AP Top 25 Final Poll? Glad you finally asked. Here's how:

The 12 teams the Hawaii Warriors whacked had a combined 53-92 won-loss record for a lofty .365 (37%) win percentage. Their victims included 1-11 Northern Colorado (a 1-AA team), 1-11 Idaho, 2-10 UNLV, 2-10 Utah State, 4-9 New Mexico State, 4-9 Washington, 5-7 Louisiana Tech, 5-7 San Jose State, 5-6 Charleston Southern (another 1-AA team), 6-6 Nevada, 8-4 Fresno State, and 10-2 Boise State.

You could call Fresno State and Boise State good teams with a straight face. I am not sure what the other 10 teams are except mediocre, bad to terrible.

So was Hawaii really the 10th best team in the country going into the Sugar Bowl? Not on your life. The fact of the matter is that Hawaii could have been easily beaten by far more teams than they played last year.

Not to be outdone by Hawaii, this year no less than 3 unbeaten teams from non-major conferences have risen up out of the ashes with hopes of a BCS Bowl Game opportunity—12-0 Utah from the Mountain West Conference, 11-0 Boise State from the Western Athletic Conference, and 11-0 Ball State from the Mid American Conference.

I have no problem with Utah since their strength of schedule is only 4 points less than No. 1-ranked 11-0 Alabama, 72 to 76. If you are wondering, No. 3 Florida (10-1) rated 8th in strength of schedule and No. 4 Texas (10-1) rated 7th in strength of schedule going into Saturday's competition.

If Alabama makes it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Crimson Tide could be in for a little surprise.

Boise State has built its undefeated 11-0 record this year by winning against teams with a combined 58-77 record for a .429 (43%) win percentage. The Bronco victims have included 1-11 Idaho State (a 1-AA team), 2-10 Idaho, 2-9 Utah State, 3-8 New Mexico State, 5-6 Bowling Green, 5-6 Southern Mississippi, 6-6 San Jose State, 6-5 Hawaii, 6-5 Nevada, 7-4 Louisiana State, 7-4 Fresno State, and 8-3 Oregon.

You could call Fresno State and Oregon good teams but the rest of them are not even on the radar screen of good by any measure.

The Boise State Broncos put together an undefeated 12-0 regular season in 2006 and faced Oklahoma in the BCS Fiesta Bowl, winning 43-42 in overtime to record an historic victory by a mid-level team over a major, loaded football program. It was a glorious moment for Boise State and its boosters.

One has to wonder, though, what Boise State's record would have been that year if the Broncos had played Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska (teams with a combined 36-8 record) as Oklahoma has had to do this year. Certainly Boise State would not have walked into the Fiesta Bowl with a 12-0 mark.

Ball State has built its undefeated 11-0 record this year by winning against teams with a combined 51-82 record for a .383 (38%) win percentage. The Cardinal victims have included 2-10 Northeastern (a 1-AA school), 2-9 Western Kentucky (another 1-AA school), 2-9 Eastern Michigan, 2-9 Miami of Ohio, 3-9 Indiana, 3-8 Kent State, 3-8 Toledo, 5-6 Akron, 6-4 Navy, 6-5 Northern Illinois, 8-3 Central Michigan, and 9-2 Western Michigan.

Had Ball State played Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska (teams with a combined 36-8 record) as Oklahoma has had to do this year, there is no way the Cardinals would be 11-0.

Is Ball State the 17th best team in America? I doubt it. Should Ball State garner a better bowl game against a worthy opponent, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals will do.

Utah, Boise State and Ball State will be able to bring their game during the bowl season. If they are playing in more than a rinky-dinky bowl game, it will actually mean something.

About the Author

Read my other detailed, knowledgeable, interesting articles on college football, including:
"Tulsa the 19th Best Team in Nation? You Must Be Kidding and Here Is Why"
"4 AP Top 25 Teams Have Some Proving to Do—Missouri, Texas Tech, South Florida and Kansas"
"Meet the Illinois Fighting Illini - The Most Overrated Team in the AP's Top 25 Poll"
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