November 28, 2011
In the discussion of possible BCS Championship contenders, the words "body of work" come up frequently. Since No. 3 Oklahoma State appears to be the only team with any shot at moving up into the top two, let's take a look at the body of work for both OSU and No. 2 Alabama. For the purposes of this discussion, we must assume an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma on Saturday, as there is nothing to discuss if OSU loses. Lose to OU and the discussion turns to whether OSU can land an at-large BCS bid, or be relegated to a regular Big 12-tie bowl. If next Sunday morning comes and both schools are 11-1, who has the best body of work?
Overall record/Conference record: Alabama 11-1 (7-1), Oklahoma State 11-1 (8-1)
Opponent Win-Percentage (FBS-only): OSU .572, Bama .542
Wins, top-to-bottom per Sagarin ELO Chess (BCS formula)1
*As noted from the outset, assumes OSU win over OU, raising their L total and lowering Sagarin rating
**Several Big 12 teams play each other this weekend; BU-Texas, Kansas State-Iowa State
Loss "Quality": Bama 6-9 OT at home vs #1 (unanimous) LSU. OSU 31-37 2OT at Iowa State (22 Sagarin)
Margin of Victory (all wins, including FCS): Bama 29.9, OSU 25.4
Out-of-Conference schedule: Both teams played a well-regarded team on the road (Bama at Penn State, OSU at Tulsa). Both played one BCS conference opponent (PSU, Arizona). Oklahoma State did not play a FCS opponent, and had one fewer OOC opponent due to the Big 12's additional conference game in the round-robin format. Any Big 12 opponent is regarded higher than either Kent State or North Texas by the computer rankings.
OSU 6 games/5 wins (Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech)
Bama 5 games/5 wins (Penn State, Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Auburn)
Conference Strength: BCS computers spit out the Big 12 as the nation's toughest conference. An argument can certainly be made that the SEC is equal or nearly so. The catch? OSU played every Big 12 team. Alabama avoided playing the SEC East's top two teams (Georgia and South Carolina), though through no fault of their own (other than not making the SEC Championship game to face Georgia).
So there is the "body of work" data, with as little commentary as possible. That leaves it to the reader to do the interpretation.
1The Sagarin Rating was chosen due to the fact it rates all FBS & FCS teams, is readily available and has a long history, as well as being part of the BCS formula.