I have always thought the Buckeyes would be in the MNCG if they remained undefeated, but I really enjoyed this part of an article on WHY they will remain ahead of Auburn, so long as we Beat Sparty!
By Yeshayahu Ginsburg
The computers prove why, if both Auburn and Ohio State win, the Tigers have no chance of jumping the Buckeyes.
First, let’s look at Billingsley. Florida State has a tiny lead on Ohio State, which means the Buckeyes will jump the Seminoles if both win this week. Auburn plays a more valuable opponent than both the Seminoles and Buckeyes, but the gap between Auburn and the top two is massive. If all three win, the regular-season final order in Billingsley will be Ohio State, Florida State and Auburn.
Anderson has the same situation as Billingsley. Auburn’s ranking rose from .778 to .791 when it beat Alabama. It won’t rise enough to jump Florida State or Ohio State with a win over Missouri. Ohio State faces a slightly tougher opponent than Florida State in its conference championship game, which should be enough to push the Buckeyes over the Seminoles. If all three win, Anderson also will end Ohio State, Florida State, Auburn.
I cannot fully explain Wolfe (no one can, other than Peter Wolfe himself), but I do know that it is a power ranking at its core. So while I can’t say exactly why Ohio State’s rating shot up this week, I can guess it had to do with Iowa picking up its best win of the season this past weekend. So while Ohio State and Auburn are close right now -- and while Auburn is playing a higher-ranked team than is Ohio State -- the Buckeyes have more to gain. Missouri is ranked lower than Auburn’s best win. Michigan State, on the other hand, is ranked higher than the Buckeyes’ best win. I don’t know whether the Buckeyes can jump Florida State (I would guess yes right now, but it will be close), but at the very worst the top three will be Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn.
Massey already has Ohio State No.1. And with the Buckeyes facing No.9 Michigan State, Auburn has no chance of jumping the Buckeyes by beating No.7 Missouri (assuming OSU wins, of course). There is a slight chance that Auburn could jump Florida State (Massey really doesn’t like Duke), but there is also a slim chance that Northern Illinois jumps ahead of Auburn. Still, we have to deal with Auburn’s best-case scenario here, which means Ohio State at No.1 and Auburn at No.2.
Colley is currently Auburn’s best friend. Running every scenario is far too tedious, but Auburn should be guaranteed to be No.1 if it wins. Ohio State will be a close Second (close enough that that Wisconsin-Arizona State could have flipped the two, but that shouldn’t matter at the end anyway). Sagarin, on the other hand, is Auburn’s worst enemy. He has the Tigers at No.6, and even in their best-case scenario they can’t rise above No.4 without an upset in front of them. Sagarin currently has Northern Illinois second, but Ohio State probably jumps the Huskies with a win over Michigan State. I don’t think the Buckeyes would jump Florida State, but anything is possible with Sagarin.
If you add up the numbers we just laid out in the computers, you will see that -- in Auburn’s best-case scenario -- Ohio State has a lead in the computers of .98 to .93. A difference of .05 (and in reality it will probably be .07 because we gave Auburn two benefits-of-the-doubt that it likely will not get) means that Auburn would need to lead Ohio State by an average of .025 in each poll to jump the Buckeyes.
The coaches poll has 62 voters. Ohio State currently leads by Auburn by 25 votes, which is worth .0161. For Auburn to move to a lead of .025, it would need to gain 64 votes on the Buckeyes (39 votes are equal to .02516 points). That means that every single voter would need to either move Ohio State down one spot or Auburn up one spot, with two more voters making a two-spot shift. And yes, every voter who makes a two-spot shift would require fewer one-spot shifts. However, Ohio State already has more extreme rankings than Auburn (no coach had the Tigers worse than fourth; three had Ohio State fifth, and one put the Buckeyes sixth) and it is hard to imagine any coach who didn’t jump Auburn over OSU after Auburn's upset of Alabama will do so for beating Missouri.
The Harris Poll is even nicer to Ohio State. The poll has 105 voters, which means that it takes 66 votes for a score of .025. Ohio State currently leads Auburn by 66 votes. This means that every single Harris voter would need to make a one-spot shift this week, with 27 voters making a two-spot shift. And with the ballots being public (both polls) in the final week of the season, it is hard to imagine any major deviations.
We don’t have numbers for the Harris Poll, but 42 coaches put Ohio State second on their ballots this week. If 32 of those 42 jumped Auburn over Ohio State, a near-impossible occurrence in its own right, it still probably would not be enough to move the Tigers over the Buckeyes. Keeping Ohio State out of the NCG would take collusion among voters on an unprecedented scale. And, frankly, the voters have no reason to take such drastic actions.