Boston College Football: Adventures In The Transitive Property

Jared Wickerham

Step back from the ledge. Boston College is still winning eight games this year. Or not. Either way, do better at forming your argument.

I'm guilty of this from time to time, but can we please pump the brakes a bit with the whole college football transitive property analysis. You know the transitive property, right?

If team A > team B, and team B > team C, therefore, it logically follows that team A > team C.

It's this type of superficial analysis that fans latch onto when the game on the field leaves them unfulfilled, especially following a loss and almost certainly following a loss AND a bye week.

Here's a number of things I've read over the past week:

  • Boston College (35-7) couldn't come as close as a "mediocre" team like Utah State* did against USC (17-14) and Washington State -- 2-10 last season -- actually beat the Trojans, so clearly BC is a terrible football program.
  • Wake Forest could only manage a 2 touchdown win on the road at Army this weekend so Boston College, obviously, will be on upset alert next weekend at home vs. the Black Knights. The Deacons also lost to some school in Louisiana you've never heard of that Baylor just pasted to the tune of 70 (!) to 7 therefore completely invalidating BC's win over Wake Forest in week 2.
  • Villanova followed up a season opening loss to BC with a 27-24 loss to Fordham in week 2, so it logically follows that Boston College struggled to put away a thoroughly mediocre FCS opponent.
  • Coach Addazio's former program, Temple, is sitting at 0-3 on the year with a last-second loss to FCS Fordham playing with a roster of talent that Addazio and most of now-BC's staff recruited. Therefore, Addazio can't recruit.
  • Maryland and Syracuse crushed West Virginia (38-0) and Tulane (52-17) so those two games immediately move to the sure loss column. Not sure why we'd even play those games we should probably just forfeit them now and get that over with.

Look, I don't care if you want to preach doom-and-gloom or you think BC is going to finish the year 13-1 as the Orange Bowl champs. Maybe you are all right and this isn't anything more than a 4-8 football team this season (which, by the way, is still a two-game improvement year over year ... Rome wasn't built in a day etc. etc.). All I ask is that we avoid superficial arguments like this.

However, to humor those that want to employ this type of analysis despite the fact that football games are independent events the outcome of which are dependent on random variables that have nothing to do with previous game results, here's the other side of the argument.

Here's the case for Boston College to go 8-5 (4-4 ACC), via transitive property:

L - Florida State (2-2, 1-1 ACC)

Still losing to Florida State this weekend.

W - Army (3-2, 1-1 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest beat Army, 25-11.

Therefore, Boston College is better than Army this year by a combined score of 49-21.

L - @ Clemson (3-3, 1-2 ACC)

Can't do this one either.

W - @ North Carolina (4-3, 2-2 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest is better than Furman because Wake Forest beat Presbyterian 31-7 while Furman only beat Presbyterian 21-20.
-- Furman is better than Eastern Kentucky because Furman only lost to Coastal Carolina 35-28 while Eastern Kentucky lost to Coastal Carolina 51-32.
-- Eastern Kentucky is better than Ohio because Eastern Kentucky only lost to Louisville 44-7 while Ohio lost to Louisville 49-7.
-- Ohio is better than Vanderbilt because Ohio beat Austin Peay 38-0 while Vanderbilt only beat Austin Peay 38-3.
-- Vanderbilt is better than North Carolina because Vanderbilt only lost to South Carolina 35-25 while North Carolina lost to South Carolina 27-10.

Therefore, Boston College is better than North Carolina as shown by six games by a combined score of 303-239.

L - Virginia Tech (4-4, 2-3 ACC)

W - @ New Mexico State (5-4, 2-3 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest beat Army, 25-11.
-- Army is better than San Jose State because Army only lost to Stanford 34-20 while San Jose State lost to Stanford 34-13.
-- San Jose State is better than New Mexico State because San Jose State only lost to Minnesota 43-24 while New Mexico St lost to Minnesota 44-21.

Therefore, Boston College is better than New Mexico State as shown by four games by a combined score of 171-132.

L - N.C. State (5-5, 2-4 ACC)

W - @ Maryland (6-5, 3-4 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest beat Army, 25-11.
-- Army is better than San Jose State because Army only lost to Stanford 34-20 while San Jose State lost to Stanford 34-13.
-- San Jose State beat Sacramento State, 24-0.
-- Sacramento State beat Southern Oregon, 63-56.
-- NAIA Southern Oregon is better than Portland State because Southern Oregon beat Eastern Oregon 73-20 while Portland State only beat Eastern Oregon 57-17.
-- Portland State is better than Nevada because Portland State beat UC Davis 41-10 while Nevada only beat UC Davis 36-7.
-- Nevada is better than Oregon State because Nevada beat Hawaii 31-9 while Oregon State only beat Hawaii 33-14.
-- Oregon State beat Utah, 51-48.
-- Utah beat BYU, 20-13.
-- BYU beat Texas, 40-21.
-- Texas is better than North Dakota State because Texas beat Kansas St 31-21 while North Dakota State only beat Kansas St 24-21.
-- North Dakota State is better than Towson because North Dakota State beat Delaware State 51-0 while Towson only beat Delaware State 49-7.
-- Towson is better than Maryland because Towson beat Connecticut 33-18 while Maryland only beat Connecticut 32-21.

Therefore, Boston College is better than Maryland as shown in 14 games by a combined score of 648-515.

W - @ Syracuse (7-5, 4-4 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest is better than Furman because Wake Forest beat Presbyterian 31-7 while Furman only beat Presbyterian 21-20.
-- Furman is better than Eastern Kentucky because Furman only lost to Coastal Carolina 35-28 while Eastern Kentucky lost to Coastal Carolina 51-32.
-- Eastern Kentucky is better than Ohio because Eastern Kentucky only lost to Louisville 44-7 while Ohio lost to Louisville 49-7.
-- Ohio beat North Texas, 27-21.
-- North Texas is better than Northern Illinois because North Texas beat Idaho 40-6 while Northern Illinois only beat Idaho 45-35.
-- Northern Illinois beat Iowa, 30-27.
-- Iowa is better than Northwestern because Iowa beat Western Michigan 59-3 while Northwestern only beat W Michigan 38-17.
-- Northwestern beat Syracuse, 48-27.

Therefore, Boston College is better than Syracuse as shown in nine games by a combined score of 466-323.

W - vs. East Carolina in the Military Bowl (8-5, 4-4 ACC)

-- Boston College beat Wake Forest, 24-10.
-- Wake Forest beat Army, 25-11.
-- Army is better than San Jose State because Army only lost to Stanford 34-20 while San Jose State lost to Stanford 34-13.
-- San Jose State beat Sacramento State, 24-0.
-- Sacramento State beat Southern Oregon, 63-56.
-- NAIA Southern Oregon is better than Portland State because Southern Oregon beat Eastern Oregon 73-20 while Portland State only beat Eastern Oregon 57-17.
-- Portland State  is better than Nevada because Portland State beat UC Davis 41-10 while Nevada only beat UC Davis 36-7.
-- Nevada is better than Oregon State because Nevada beat Hawaii 31-9 while Oregon State only beat Hawaii 33-14
-- Oregon State beat Utah, 51-48.
-- Utah beat BYU, 20-13.
-- BYU beat Texas, 40-21.
-- Texas is better than North Dakota State because Texas beat Kansas St 31-21 while North Dakota State only beat Kansas State 24-21.
-- North Dakota State  is better than Towson because North Dakota State beat Delaware State 51-0 while Towson only beat Delaware State 49-7.
-- Towson is better than Maryland because Towson beat Connecticut 33-18 while Maryland only beat Connecticut 32-21.
-- Maryland is better than East Carolina because Maryland beat Old Dominion 47-10 while East Carolina only beat Old Dominion 52-38.

Therefore, Boston College is better than East Carolina as shown in 15 games by a combined score of 733-577.

See, Boston College is still winning eight games this year. Everyone step back from the ledge.

* Utah State is more than just a 'mediocre' program. The Aggies have a talented junior QB in Chuckie Keeton and are coming off a WAC title. That, and Utah State is better than Boston College because Utah State only lost to USC 17-14 while Boston College lost to USC 35-7, obviously.

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