But not so fast, say the powers that be at C-USA.
Instead of basing the computer indexes on the BCS's strict top-25 level, C-USA decided to award values based on a 1-through-125 scale. After dropping the highest and lowest rankings, the inverse totals were tallied and divided by 500, or four times 125.
Rice had the advantage here, which was Marshall's fear before it registered votes in the "human polls." The Owls' computer rankings were 49, 42, 43, 59, 54 and 44; the Herd's rankings were 63, 41, 56, 66, 56, 54.
So after dropping the highest and lowest and taking the inverse values, Rice had 314 points, 0.628 after dividing by 500. Marshall had 275 points, 0.55 after dividing by 500.
Using that system, Marshall's 0.1874 didn't measure up to Rice's 0.2093. With that, Saturday's game will be at Rice Stadium in Houston.
That didn't much please Thundering Herd fans in the Twitter universe and elsewhere, who posed several questions Sunday night.
The obvious one was the modification of the BCS formula. C-USA's announcement Sunday declared that "the final analysis" was confirmed by Bill Hancock, BCS executive director.
Muddying those waters are 1-125 rankings published by CBS Sportsline, which stuck to the non-modified BCS formula and ranked Marshall 33rd, with Rice 48th. Earlier Sunday, numbers-cruncher Jerry Palm published projected standings, which pretty much were confirmed after the official 1-through-25 numbers rolled out.
Palm's involvement was part of C-USA's release:
"Please note that rankings like Jerry Palm's do not factor any computer poll values for teams not receiving votes and therefore are not reliable for this purpose. The Conference has been in contact with Jerry who fully agrees with this analysis."
The release quoted Palm thusly: "I worked with C-USA today on an extended BCS formula for breaking the tie between Marshall and Rice for home-field advantage in the conference championship game.
"It doesn't match the formula I use for my ratings on CBSSports.com, which serve a different purpose, but I believe it was absolutely appropriate and fair."
The weight of the computer scores poses another question. Rice's 0.628 score on that third of the formula falls between the scores for Baylor and Michigan State on the top-25 board, with Marshall's 0.55 higher than Oregon. It was the difference between those seemingly large scores that worked in Rice's favor.
Finally, the question of when the procedure was set and whether officials at Marshall and Rice were notified in advance may or may not be answered. Hamrick did not return a call by the Gazette for further comment, and the Conference USA phone number was not functioning.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.