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Six Degrees of Scheduling

Wouldn’t it be sweet to see South Dakota State play South Dakota and North Dakota State play North Dakota this year in college football? Well, they don’t and it’s too bad, but we can always speculate!
You’ve heard of the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, in which every person on Earth is just six acquaintances away from any of the other 7 billion people on the planet. (Microsoft did a study that “proved” this theory, but concluded it was actually 6.6 degrees of separation. A Twitter study claimed that its users (Twits?) were separated by only 3.4 acquaintances.)
The concept is: You know someone who knows someone and that through just six of these links you “know” every human being… as well as every Kevin Bacon movie.
Now… apply this theory to football.
The Six Degrees of Scheduling… in which every college football team is linked to every other college football team in a series of “Team A beat Team B who beat Team C so Team A should beat Team C.” All you have to do is plug in the scores and have a strong belief in a very flimsy theory of number association.
It is fun to do because of all of the cross-conference play this year between the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Great West Conference and the Big Sky.

I laid out a grid of selected teams:
The Missouri Valley (North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Illinois State)
The Great West (Cal Poly, North Dakota, South Dakota, Southern Utah)
The Big Sky (Eastern Washington, Montana, Montana State)

Obviously, not all of these teams play your team. But… they do play somebody who played your team… and the team that your team beat just beat the team your team is playing this week. SO OBVIOUSLY… your team would beat the crap out of the team they are playing this week!
Cal Poly and Southern Utah are the big “hub” teams. They are often the team that played a team that played your team.

Totally Hypothetical Example: (using actual games on 2011 schedule)
South Dakota State beats Southern Utah on 9/3 (they did, by 1 point)
South Dakota beats Southern Utah on 10/8 (they did too, by 5 points)
BUT…
Cal Poly beats South Dakota State on 9/17 (they did, 48-14)
AND IF…
Cal Poly beats Eastern Washington on 11/2
South Dakota beats Eastern Washington back on 9/10 (they did, 30-17)
SO OBVIOUSLY…
South Dakota would beat South Dakota State!
OR, MORE DIRECTLY…
South Dakota beats Cal Poly on 10/29 (CP thumped SDSU on 9/17)

Totally Hypothetical Example #2: (using actual games on 2011 schedule)
North Dakota State beats Illinois State on 10/1 (they did, 20-13)
Illinois State beats South Dakota on 10/15
South Dakota beats Cal Poly on 10/29
Cal Poly beats North Dakota on 10/22
SO OBVIOUSLY…
North Dakota State would beat North Dakota!

Try it for yourself. If you work it right, you can usually ensure that your team will hypothetically kick your rivals butt every time.

Here are the remaining “cross-conference” games and a few of the key “in conference-connector” games remaining.
Black Hills State at University of Sioux Falls 10/15
South Dakota at Illinois State 10/15
Cal Poly at North Dakota 10/22
South Dakota at Cal Poly 10/29
University of Sioux Falls at North Dakota 11/5
Eastern Washington at Cal Poly 11/12
Southern Utah at Northern Iowa 11/12
Northern Iowa at Illinois State 11/19

Filed Under Football | College