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How the BCS average is calculated
5 December 2006

The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has a formula for ranking the top 25 teams in the nation. Ten of the ranked teams, determined by the BCS formula and a selection algorithm, will appear in five post-season bowl games, which consist of the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, and the National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona.

This five-game arrangement for post-season college football is managed by the 11 Division I-A conferences and Notre Dame. Its purpose is to match the two top-ranked teams in the final BCS standings in a national championship game and to create competitive match-ups in the four other BCS bowl games. The winner of the championship game will be presented the National Championship Trophy, awarded by the American Football Coaches Association.

The BCS Average is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive poll, the USA Today Coaches Poll, and four of the six computer polls of which the high and low numbers of the six numbers are dropped.

The formula is as follows:

(1) BA=(hp/2825+up/1550+(c1+c2+c3+c4)/100)/3


BA=BCS Average; hp=Harris Points; up=USA points; c1/c2/c3/c4=four computer rankings, where the highest and lowest rankings of the six computer rankings (cx...cy) are discarded.

The constants in (1) are as follows: 2825 is the maximum number of points in the Harris Interactive Poll; 1550 is the maximum number of points in the USA Today Coaches Poll; and 100 is the maximum number of points in the computer polls.

Teams are ranked from 1 to 25 in the computer polls, where a ranking of 1 is given 25 points, a ranking of 2 is given 24 points and a ranking of 25 is given 1 point, i.e., in inverse points order.

The teams with the highest BCS average (1) are ranked from 1, 2 ...25. The teams ranked 1 and 2 (Ohio State and Florida) will play for the national championship in a game to be played at Glendale, Arizona.


USC finished fifth in the final 2006 BCS Standings with a BCS average of .7953. USC was given 2173 points in the Harris Interactive poll, 1173 points in the USA Today Coaches poll, and the following points in the six computer polls: 20, 18, 22, 22, 22, and 22. In computing the BCS average, the numbers 18 and 22 are tossed out in the final calculation of BA(USC).

USC 2173 1173 20 18 22 22 22 22 .7953

(2) BA(USC)=(2173/2825+1173/1550+(20+22+22+22)/100)/3=.7953

The six computer polls are represented by the following abbreviations:

AH = Anderson&Hester; RB = Richard Billingsly; CM = Colley Matrix, KM = Kenneth Massey; JS = Jeff Sagarin; PW = Peter Wolfe

The six computer polls consider strength of schedule.

When a conference champion does not appear in the BCS National Championship Game, the following conference champions serve as host teams: Rose Bowl - Big Ten and Pac- 10; FedEx Orange Bowl - ACC; Allstate Sugar Bowl - SEC; Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Big 12. Selection of other teams is based on a complicated formula.

Malamute can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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