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Bill Snyder's Kansas State team claims the top spot
Alabama’s 29-24 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday shook up the BCS picture, but in a somewhat predictable way.
Undefeated teams Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame all moved up one spot with the Irish on the outside looking in for a BCS championship game spot. Even with a date against USC on the remaining schedule, Notre Dame’s best friend is the scoreboard where South Bend will watch for a Kansas State or Oregon loss.
The SEC is out of the title game picture for now, but the route to the BCS championship game has been through Atlanta where No. 5 Georgia and the SEC West champion -- presumably No. 4 Alabama if the Tide win the Iron Bowl -- will meet. An SEC championship game with BCS title implications, however, would not seem to be the case unless two of the top three lose in the final three weeks.
Here are a few more observations from the latest release of the BCS standings:
|Coaches' Poll||Harris Poll||Comp. Avg.||Last Wk.|
|1. Kansas St.||2||2||2||2|
|3. Notre Dame||3||3||1||4|
|8. Texas A&M||10||10||T-8||15|
|9. S. Carolina||11||11||T-8||8|
|10. Florida St.||6||6||T-17||10|
|16. Oregon St.||17||16||12||11|
No. 2 Oregon. Alabama’s defeat was probably the biggest friend to Oregon, which became the majority No. 1 team in the coaches’ (44 of 59 first-place votes) and Harris (90 of 115) ballots this week. After defeating 3-8 Cal, Oregon remained fourth in the average computer rankings -- one spot behind Florida. With the Ducks' remaining schedule of No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 Oregon State and a potential Pac-12 title game, Oregon no longer has to worry about being left out if it remains undefeated. With the rash of injuries the Ducks faced this week, finishing undefeated will not be easy.
No. 3 Notre Dame. The Irish moved up a spot, but it’s tough to see them as gaining any momentum. Notre Dame is ranked first in the computer average, ranked either first or second by all six formulas. But the Irish remain third in the coaches’ and Harris polls. The margin between Notre Dame in the BCS average (0.940) and Kansas State (0.950) is slim, but Kansas State still has No. 15 Texas on the schedule while Notre Dame has No. 18 USC. In short, it’s going to be difficult for the Irish to move into the title picture without a Kansas State or Oregon loss.
KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 13 Stanford at No. 2 Oregon. With all the national title talk and the ascension to No. 1 in the polls, Oregon should be mindful it hasn’t clinched the Pac-12 North yet. The Ducks will remain in the title game picture as long as they win, but Oregon might have trouble asserting the dominance they’ve had during the season thus far. The competition is improving, and the Ducks are dealing with a rash of injuries that has included Kenjon Barner, safety Avery Patterson and five defensive linemen.
No. 18 USC at No. 17 UCLA. The Pac-12 South hasn’t been clinched, either. USC and UCLA will play for the division title in Pasadena. The winner still controls its own destiny for the Rose Bowl and a potential BCS at-large. The loser is playing for the Holiday Bowl or another second-tier Pac-12 tie-in.
No. 1 Kansas State at Baylor. Kansas State is favored by 11 points on the road, but it should be interesting to see how the Wildcats handle being the No. 1 team in the BCS. This is an uneventful week for major matchups -- seven SEC teams will face FCS opponents, for starters -- so the upset watch for Kansas State begins.
The SEC owns the top 10. The SEC is out of the title race for the time being, but the league still owned the top 10 with six teams -- No. 4 Alabama, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Florida, No. 7 LSU, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 South Carolina. An SEC team wasn’t in the top spot for the first time since Nov. 21, 2010, but the league more than made up for it elsewhere. That sets up for some interesting decisions for BCS games selecting at-large teams -- granted Florida and South Carolina stand the highest chance of falling out of contention with games against their ACC rivals.
Texas A&M rockets up the standings. Speaking of a BCS at-large spot, Texas A&M is suddenly in the mix for a BCS at-large spot. The Aggies moved from No. 15 to No. 8 after defeating Alabama. Any of the top-10 SEC teams would be attractive to a BCS game, but A&M hasn’t played in a BCS game since 1998. Enthusiasm in College Station is at a new high, and Johnny Manziel would be a major television draw.
The Pac-12 at-large chances. A team must be among the top 14 to be a BCS at-large. If Oregon wins out, the Pac-12 might have trouble supplying a second team to the BCS. Stanford is ranked No. 13, followed by No. 16 Oregon State, No. 17 UCLA and No. 18 USC. With four of those teams playing each other this week, the picture will be much clearer a week from today.
Louisiana Tech still has a slim shot in the BCS. At No. 20, the Bulldogs are one spot behind the top-ranked Big East team (Louisville) and two spots ahead of the Big East leader in the standings. Louisiana Tech has to hope for a little bit of chaos in the Big East, but the Bulldogs have their own toughest WAC games ahead of them against Utah State (8-2) and San Jose State (8-2).
Notes on BCS selection:
• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The Big East’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.
• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.
• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.
• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.
• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Fiesta Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Orange.
By David Fox