Why isn’t Purdue in the Sugar Bowl? A study in graph theory

Why isn’t Purdue in the Sugar Bowl?

Yes, 1-11 Purdue, with their big time win over Indiana State. It sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But like 118 other teams in the NCAA Division I BCS, they have an indirect win over Alabama (and Auburn for that matter).

This is one of the reasons I love college football.

You hear all of the talk about how on any given day, TEAM A can beat TEAM B. But we don’t believe it, until some Saturday in the fall, Georgia Southern beats Florida or Appalachian State beats Michigan.

This is a story, not so much that a team like Purdue has a win over the mighty SEC teams like Alabama, but the amazing journey of how we get there.

A little background: I have been working on a project that connects College Football and graph theory – actually graph databases. I am going to skip through this, but if you are interested at all, just go here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graph_database or download the free book located here, http://www.neo4j.org/learn). I use the Neo4j software.

The central concept is to connect teams together as nodes in a huge network. The data presented here was not compiled using this exact software, but by other means, as I attempted to verify parts of the database I am building. I will write more on that at a later date.

Back to Purdue, a horrible team (sorry Jerry and Drew), that went 1-11 and only beat NCAA Division I FBS Indiana State. How can they have an indirect win over Alabama? With a little luck and some help from the NCAA and NAIA playoffs in other divisions is the short answer.

It is a long and winding trip, which starts deep in the heart of the Midwest, travels through the backwoods of collegiate football not known to the casual reader and ends at Jordan-Hare Stadium… and it takes an incredible 40 games to connect the dots. Yes, 40 games.

The 40 games is by far the longest path this season, by a long shot, which starts and ends at a NCAA I BCS school. The next longest paths are Kentucky, Tulsa and UTEP’s 15-game paths to Alabama.

That is quite a jump and it is a long journey, so let’s get started.

September 7, 2013 (Lafayette, IN)
Purdue 20 Indiana State 14
It began in September when the Boilermakers, full of hope and promise, took it to the Sycamores. Unfortunately, they never won again.

September 14 (Terre Haute, IN)
Indiana State 70 Quincy 7
Not many realize this, but Indiana State went 1-11 as well, but their lone victory came the next weekend in a 70-7 rout of NCAA Division II, Quincy University.

Quincy is a small, Franciscan school of about 1300 students located on the banks of the Mississippi River in West Central Illinois. It was the college of Father Augustine Tolton, the first African-American Catholic priest.

September 28 (Quincy, IL)
Quincy 36 Lindenwood University-Belleville 7
The Quincy Hawks of Quincy, Illinois did not soar this season, going a paltry 2-9.

Lindenwood-Belleville, was opened in 2003 as an extension of Lindenwood University, but is now a stand-alone college with almost 2000 student. The football team is known for having the barbershop-striped field that alternates grey and red stripes every five yards.

what the?

what the?

LU-Belleville is an NAIA Independent and the path towards Alabama stayed within the NAIA for 15 games.

September 5 (Fayette, MO)
Lindenwood-Belleville 42, Central Methodist 16
Central Methodist, located in Fayette, Missouri, was founded in 1854 (or 1853 or 1855, depending on where you look). Former Missouri Governor Roger Wilson, who served the remainder of Governor Mel Carnahan’s term when he was killed in an airplane crash in October of 2000, is an alum of Central Methodist.

September 14 (North Newton, KS)
Central Methodist 38, Bethel KS 31
The Bethel College struggled through a 2-9 season. The school is the oldest Mennonite college in North America, founded in 1887 by Russian Mennonites, who has flocked to the area in the 1870’s.

November 16 (North Newton, KS)
Bethel KS 26 Bethany KS 14
Bethany College is located in Lindsborg, Kansas and is home to a mere 600 students. The college was founded in 1881 by Swedish Lutherans.
According to Wikipedia, “since 1903, when the ‘Terrible Swedes’ were feared and respected by all opponents, students and alumni have rallied Bethany athletic competition with the ‘Rockar! Stockar!’ cheer.” This apparently means “Rocks! Sticks!”.

November 2 (Hillsboro, KS)
Bethany KS 24 Tabor 17
Tabor College is another Mennonite-based college. Founded in 1908, it has fewer than 700 students. NFL Pro Bowler, Rolland “Bay” Lawrence, who played eight seasons at cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons during the 1970’s attended Tabor.

September 7 (Lincoln, NE)
Tabor 10 Nebraska Wesleyan 9
Founded by Methodists in 1887, Nebraska Wesleyan is known as the Prairie Wolves, which was only adopted in 2000. They were previously known as the Sunflowers, Coyotes and Plainsmen.

Glenn and Grace Hefner, parents of Hugh Hefner, are listed among their notable alums.

September 28 (Orange City, IA)
Nebraska Wesleyan 22 Northwestern IA 8
Northwestern College was founded in 1882 as an academy and became a four-year institution in 1961. It is affiliated with the Reformed Church of America.

The Red Raiders reached the NAIA playoffs this season and went 8-3 before falling to Missouri Valley.

Former NAIA Women’s Player of the Year (2006 and 2008) and record holder of most in-game consecutive free throws (133 straight), Deb Remmerde attended Northwestern.

November 9 (Orange City, IA)
Northwestern IA 38 Morningside 28
Morningside, located in Sioux City, Iowa, is affiliated with the Methodist Church. Pro Football Hall of Famer George Allen coached the football team from 1948-1950.

The Morningside Mustangs rebounded from this loss and actually reached the NAIA national semifinals, finishing with an 11-2 record.

November 23 (Sioux City, IA)
Morningside 40 Rocky Mountain 21
Arlo Guthrie attended Rocky Mountain College, which is located in Billings, Montana, but never graduated. Former Kansas City Chief, Chris Horn, also played football for the Battlin’ Bears.

October 19 (Billings, MT)
Rocky Mountain 45 Eastern Oregon 13
Eastern Oregon University is part of the Oregon Universities System and located between Portland, Oregon and Boise, Idaho. In 2011, 99-year old Leo Plass received his diploma from the university. He had dropped out less than one semester away from graduation during the Great Depression in 1932 to get a job as a teacher.

September 28 (La Grande, OR)
Eastern Oregon 35 Carroll MT 31
Carroll has a long football history, their 1931 team went undefeated and the more current version won six NAIA national championships between 2002 and 2010. Carroll is also where Hall of Fame coach John Gagliardi graduated and began his coaching career. Interestingly enough, Bobby Petrino also graduated from Carroll.

November 23 (Helena, MT)
Carroll MT 38 Georgetown KY 28
Founded in 1829 when the Kentucky General Assembly chartered the Kentucky Baptist Education Society to form a Baptist college within the state. Just recently the college of about 1300 students has severed ties with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and will operate as an independent university. The school has also considered becoming an NCAA DII affiliate, but their application was denied in 2012.

November 16 (Georgetown, KY)
Georgetown KY 20 Lindsey Wilson 10
Located in Columbia, Kentucky, Lindsey Wilson was only grades one through 12 from 1903-1922, mostly to train students to become teachers, many of whom continued their schooling at Vanderbilt. They also have a mascot named Blue Raider Bob. Seriously.

September 28 (Columbia, KY)
Lindsey Wilson 37 Faulkner 30
Faulkner University was founded in 1942 as Montgomery Bible School. It was eventually renamed to Alabama Christian College then Faulkner University. The Eagles did not even begin football until the 2007 season, when Jim Nichols, who had been a graduate assistant for Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, became their head coach.

September 7 (Ave Maria, FL)
Faulkner 47 Ave Maria 7
Ave Maria University was founded in 2003 as the dream of Thomas Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, in his mission to found a Catholic university. He is the Chancellor of the school. The name Gyrenes refers to the Marines, of which Monaghan was a member. BTW, the Gyrenes went 7-2 this season, despite having fewer than 900 students.

Kind of looks like a pizza

Kind of looks like a pizza

October 12 (Ave Maria, FL)
Ave Maria 45 Florida Tech 41
Ave Maria defeated NCAA Division II, Florida Tech, who started football this season. Yes children, you can start football this season and still have an indirect win over Alabama. Good work, Panthers!

The school has been around for awhile and is the alma mater of at three astronauts and the original Survivor winner, Richard Hatch.

October 19 (Melbourne, FL)
Florida Tech 28 Shorter University 24
Shorter University of Rome, Georgia, was originally founded in 1873 as Cherokee Baptist Female College. It unsuccessfully attempted to break away from the Georgia Baptist Convention in 2005 and created a public relations storm when it required all faculty and staff to sign a public lifestyle statement in 2011. (http://jezebel.com/5854929/university-forces-employees-to-sign-anti+gay-pledge)

November 2 (Atlanta, GA)
Shorter 58 Clark Atlanta 14
Clark Atlanta is a historically black university founded in 1988 with the consolidation of Clark College (founded in 1869) and Atlanta University (1865). The school boasts many prominent alumni, including Henry Flipper, who after his freshman year at Atlanta University during the Reconstruction, was given a West Point appointment and later became the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy.

October 5 (Atlanta, GA)
Clark Atlanta 21 Morehouse 17
All-male Morehouse College is the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Edwin Moses, Samuel L. Jackson and Herman Cain, to only mention a few. It was founded in 1867 as the Augusta Institute. Along with Wabash and Hampton-Sydney, it is one of only three remaining traditional liberal arts male colleges in the United States.

September 21 (Soldier Field, Chicago, IL)
Morehouse 42 Central St OH 20
The Central State Marauders were NCAA Division II national runner-up in 1983 and won NAIA titles in 1990, 1992 and 1995. Then, due to financial difficulties, the school dropped football in 1997, only reinstating the sport in 2005.

The school counts quite a few dignitaries as alum, including former President of Malawi, Hastings Kamuzu Banda. Pro Bowl lineman Erik Williams, baseball player Eddie Milner and ‘actress’ Omorosa (from The Apprentice) also attended Central State.

October 12 (Wilberforce, OH)
Central St OH 25 Miles 21
Located in Fairfield, Alabama, Miles is another historically black university founded in 1898. The football team was part of history this year when their game against Lane was officiated by a crew that included four women, marking the first time in history a predominantly female crew had officiated at any NCAA level.

The school is also the alma mater of Autherine Lucy, who graduated in 1952 then applied to graduate school at Alabama, eventually becoming the first African American student in the school’s history. She was expelled three days into school, as the university felt it could not provide a safe environment for her. The University of Alabama overturned her expulsion in 1980 and she earned a Master’s degree in 1982.

ADDITIONAL FUN FACT – Four of those teams ONLY won two games each. Shorter, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Central St OH won a combined eight games.

November 9 (Tuskegee, AL)
Miles 41 Tuskegee 36
Of course everyone knows that Tuskegee University is world-renowned as one of the first historically black universities, the home of the Tuskegee Airmen and was founded by George Washington Carver and Booker T Washington. But it also happens to be the shortest distance geographically to Jordan-Hare Stadium, where this journey will end. It is a mere 20.5 miles from Abbott Stadium.

September 7 (Huntsville, AL)
Tuskegee 23 Alabama A&M 7
With Alabama A&M, we are back in the NCAA Division I FBS, where the SWAC will exchange this chain for a few games. Famous Alabama A&M alumns are American Idol Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Stallworth.

November 2 (Lorman, MS)
Alabama A&M 19 Alcorn State 18
The first black land-grant institution in the United States, Alcorn State was founded in 1871. Again, a school chock full of famous alumni including Medgar Evans and Alex Haley. A few football Braves include Donald Drive and the late Steve McNair.

November 7 (Lorman, MS)
Alcorn State 50 Prairie View A&M 35
Prairie View is part of the Texas A&M University System and was the organizing body of interscholastic sports and academic contests for black high schools in Texas prior to integration.

September 28 (Nacogdoches, TX)
Prairie View A&M 56 Stephen F. Austin 48
SFA is one of four public universities in Texas that is not part of one of the six university systems. The Lumberjacks of the Southland Conference, had their only bowl appearance in the 1973 Poultry Bowl, where they defeated Gardner-Webb.

September 21 (Nacogdoches,TX)
Stephen F. Austin 52 Montana State 38
Montana State earned a share of the 1956 NAIA title when they played St. Joseph’s of Indiana to a 0-0 tie in the Aluminum Bowl. They won the 1976 NCAA Division II title and the 1984 NCAA Division I-A title. They are the only team to win national titles in three different divisions. It also happens to be the alma mater of former ESPN anchor Craig Kilborn NFL kicker Jan Steneroud.

October 5 (Bozeman, MT)
Montana State 36 Northern Arizona 7
Northern Arizona’s initial graduating class consisted of four women who received teaching credentials for the then Arizona Territory. It is a far cry from the 26,000+ who now attend.

September 21 (Flagstaff, AZ)
Northern Arizona 22 South Dakota 16
Located in Vermillion, South Dakota, school was founded in 1862 as the University of Vermillion and is the oldest postsecondary institution in the Dakotas. The Yotes (formally Coyotes) now play in the Summit League.

October 19 (Cedar falls, IA)
South Dakota 38 Northern Iowa 31
UNI may be best known for upsetting top-seeded Kansas in the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament when Ali Farokhmanesh hit a crucial three. NFL Pro Bowler Bryce Paup attended UNI.

August 31 (Ames, IA)
Northern Iowa 28 Iowa State 20
After 32 games outside of Division I BCS, the trail returns.

November 30 (Morgantown, WV)
Iowa State 52 West Virginia 44
These two teams were by far the strangest in the Big 12 this season. West Virginia lost to both Kansas and Iowa State, but also defeated Oklahoma State to extend our chain.

September 28 (Morgantown, WV)
West Virginia 30 Oklahoma State 21
I still don’t know how this happened, other than this was OSU’s usual letdown loss.

August 31 (Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX)
Oklahoma State 21 Mississippi State 3
The rest fall in the hands of the mighty SEC.

November 28 (Starkville, MS)
Mississippi St 17 Mississippi 10
Jamerson Love’s fumble recovery in the end zone of what looked like it was going to be an easy Ole Miss touchdown shockingly ended the Egg Bowl.

October 19 (Oxford, MS)
Mississippi 27 LSU 24
Ole Miss gets the biggest win of Hugh Freeze’s tenure.

September 21 (Baton Rouge, LA)
LSU 35 Auburn 21
When LSU defeated Auburn, the Tigers were in the middle of the SEC and national title hunts. Little did we know how the fates of the two schools would reverse several months later.

November 30 (Auburn, AL)
Auburn 34 Alabama 28
Finally, in the Iron Bowl, Auburn shocks Alabama on the ridiculous field goal return by Chris Davis on the final play of the game. The chain is complete.

So there it was: 40 games. Purdue -> Alabama.

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