BCS Formula

The BCS Formula

Have Questions? We Have the BCS Know How.

Understanding the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) formula is easier than it seems. Let’s break down the three elements that make up this controversial ranking system:

Human Element

The BCS consists of two human elements, or polls, from which two-thirds of the BCS formula is taken. The two polls are the Harris Interactive College Football Poll and the USA Today Coaches’ Poll.

The human element is used is as follows: First, take the Harris Interactive, which includes 105 voters. All 105 voters vote on teams 1-25 and points are awarded on a reverse basis, 25 for a first-place vote, 24 for a second-place vote, 23 for a third-place vote, and so on until one point is awarded for a 25th-place vote.

If all 105 voters decided to vote one team first, the team would be awarded 105 times 25 points, or 2875 Harris Poll Points. Therefore, a perfect score in the eyes of the Harris Poll voters is a 2625. The BCS takes the votes received by a team and divides that number by the perfect score (2625) for a decimal value of 1.000 or less.

For example, Ohio State, the BCS’s No. 2 in the seventh BCS standings of 2013, received 2488 points from the Harris Poll voters on November 20, the seventh Harris Poll of the year. The BCS divided 2488 by the perfect score 2625, to arrive at the Boise State’s Harris Poll score.

Harris Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example: (2488/2625)=.9478

The same calculation is mirrored with the ESPN/USA Today Coach’s Poll. The Coach’s Poll consists of 62 voters, and the scale scoring for votes mirrors that of the Harris Poll’s. Therefore, in the Coach’s Poll, the perfect score is 62 times 25, or 1550.

The BCS then completes the same calculation and divides the score received by a team by the perfect score, 1550.

For example, Ohio State received 1462 points from the Coaches’ Poll during the seventh BCS week of 2013. The BCS divided 1462 by 1550, the perfect score in 2013 to arrive at Boise State’s Coaches Poll score.

Coaches’ Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example: (1462/1550)=.9432

Computer Element

The third and final part of the BCS calculations is derived from six computer rankings posted weekly. The six computer polls, managed by people, newspapers and the BCS itself are: Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin’s USA Today and Peter Wolfe.

Find out how each one of the six BCS computer polls works here.

The BCS aggregates the standings of each of the six computer polls and awards teams 25 points for a first-place standing on a computer poll, 24 for a second, 23 for a third, and so on, just as in the human element, until one point is given for a 25th-place vote.

The BCS takes the six point values and removes the lowest and highest point values given to a specific team. Four point values are left, which the BCS adds together.

Because a perfect score would mean receiving four first-place votes, or four 25 point values, the BCS divides the team’s four computer ranking point values by 100 to arrive at the composite computer ranking value.

Computer Poll BCS Calculation Boise State Example:

2 2 2 1 3 2
Point Value
24 24 24 25 23 24

Ohio State’s third-place vote from Sagarin and 1st place vote from Massey are thrown out because they are the lowest and highest rankings they received from the six computers.



Final Calculation

The BCS completes the procedure by averaging the three values it received from the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, the USA Today Poll and the Computer Polls. The final BCS Ranking is a decimal between .0000 and 1.0000.

(Harris Poll % + Coaches’ Poll % + Computer Poll %)/3 = BCS Ranking

Ohio State BCS Ranking Example

(.9478+.9432+.960)/3= .9503

That’s it! That’s not too bad now, is it?


25 thoughts on “BCS Formula

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  2. USC should not be ranked in any poll. Almost as if the game isn’t played.

    The game shouldn’t even have an impact to a school playing them win or lose. Almost like a gimme loss if USC’s opponent wanted to treat it as a bye week and focus on the next game.

    Nothing USC does should count for two years in my opinion other than that they get a lot of practice on the field and in how to control their program.

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  4. 99% of the American populace knows the system is flawed. With some geek crunching numbers in a dark room somewhere doesn’t know shit about real rankings.

  5. 99% of the American Populace knows the BCS is flawed. Some geek in a dark room somewhere crunching #’s about a sport they have neither Played nor watched is insane

  6. The BCS was setup so the that the bowl hosting the National Championship game had “First” access at all eligible colllege teams. The Sugar Bowl Committee can and should pick OSU for a true National Championship game. Otherwise this would only be an SEC BCS Championship. How can you be a National Champion if you only beat teams in your conference. NFC AFC , SEC SEC?

  7. The BCS has evolved into a god. It was supposed to be a guide, not a god. Time to scrap it and develop a playoff system. The LSU-Alabama rematch is proof that the system is broken. NOBODY wants to be bored to death with that match-up again. The only way to find out of the SEC is REALLY the strongest is for them to get out and play the winner of another conference. Maybe that’s why the BCS wants to keep it all SEC. The sports writers have hyped the SEC so much that they would be shown for the opinionated fools they are if LSU got blown out by another conference champion like Oklahoma State. I hope everybody boycotts the game and leaves the game and network with terrible ratings. The only way to wake up the NCAA enough to scrap this assanine system is to hit them in the pocketbook. Rent Blindside and watch it instead of the “BS Championship Game”.. It will be more exciting than the LSU-Alabama rematch.

  8. @oldraider, they have played other teams that were supposedly the best in America for the Championship game for the last 5 years and won every time. What else do you seek?

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  14. You know if Oklahoma State didn’t lose to a sorry team, they would have deserved to play LSU in 2011 Championship. It’s not the SEC fault that it happened that way.

  15. @GamerTeeTom ISU? Sorry team? Perhaps not even close to national championship level, especially because they’re rather inconsistent (haven’t had a QB who doesn’t explode under the first sign of pressure to score for a while and they mostly fell apart this year after one of their two best defenders left for surgery), but can very handily pull a last-minute upset at home against a team that isn’t paying attention level, yes. Baylor’s a better team that has been able to come up with a lot more consistency, before you bring them up. It is definitely OSU’s fault they lost that year though, not gonna argue with you about that.

    The Big 12 has only scraped national championship level since their financial woes kicked in (trust me, fans of the Big 12 are getting just as much schadenfreude from Nebraska’s/the Big 10’s performance as you probably are at the moment), but I wouldn’t call a team in the Big 12 with more than 5 wins “sorry” in its current “everybody plays everybody” state. It definitely isn’t the SEC where there are very talented teams at the top and then…just about nothing. Even you would probably admit that that’s the case, assuming that you’re an Alabama fan ;).

    On topic, I think those fanning the SEC throne should be very afraid of the tournament format coming soon. There have been far too many teams almost arbitrarily numbered 3 and 4 that at least deserved a chance these past couple of years. Can’t wait to see them finally get that chance.

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  19. That still does not explain how a team like Oregon that plays un ranked weak teams jumps ahead of someone like Ohio St.. Your system SUCKS CANAL WATER !

  20. Tell you what all this crazy talk about alabama jumping auburn for #2 to play Florida state is a joke! I’m a alabama fan and like a true fan I say auburn deserves the BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. if anyone gets jumped it should be bama over fsu. and when osu won by 1 point to Michigan at that time they should have been knocked down!!!! A win is a win so yes auburn should either be playing Florida state or alabama because they should be in the BCS and really just like osu fsu played no one so the best of the teams would be alabama & Auburn!!!!

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  23. Why is there even a ranking by humans! It’s always gonna be biased with lots of politics and corruption. Just have a knockout-league format where there’s a league among the conference teams and knock between the top teams of the conferences. It’s fair for everyone, simple and transparent.

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