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College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 8

Bill Snyder's Kansas State team made a move into the top three

Shades of 2008 and 2009 continue to play out in the BCS standings as Alabama and Florida remain on top in the second release of the rankings.

The two teams met in the SEC championship game in those two seasons for a winner-take-all trip to the national championship game and may again if both teams remain undefeated.

However, the action in the second week of the BCS rankings was outside of the top two where Kansas State and Oregon are jockeying for position. Oregon, ranked second in the coaches’ and Harris polls, pass the eye test, but Kansas State, with two major road wins, has the more impressive resume thus far.

Beyond Alabama and Florida, the rankings remain SEC-heavy. Six teams from the conference -- Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina -- are among the top 14 teams, the threshold for a BCS at-large bid.

The Big 12 (three) and the Pac-12 (two) are the only other leagues with more than two teams in the BCS top 14.

Here are a few observations from the latest release of the BCS standings.


BCS Standings
Oct. 21

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 4 1
2. Florida 3 3 1 2
3. Kansas St. 4 4 2 3
4. Oregon 2 2 6 4
5. Notre Dame 5 5 3 5
6. LSU 6 6 7 6
7. Oregon St. 9 8 5 8
8. Oklahoma 7 7 8 9
9. USC 8 9 16 10
10. Georgia 11 11 T-13 11
11. Miss. St. 12 12 T-13 12
12. Florida St. 10 10 21 14
13. S. Carolina 16 16 10 7
14. Texas Tech 17 17 9 17
15. Rutgers 15 15 11 15
16. Louisville 14 14 18 16

No. 3 Kansas State. The Wildcats’ 55-14 win over West Virginia in Morgantown flip-flopped Kansas State with Oregon to the third spot in the standings. Oddly enough, Kansas State dropped a spot in the coaches’ poll, switching spots with Florida, who defeated South Carolina 44-11. The computer rankings, however, favor Kansas State, thanks to road victories over the Mountaineers and Oklahoma. Kansas State is second to Florida in the computer rankings, moving up from fourth last week. Kansas State is ranked first in two of the six individual computer rankings.

No. 4 Oregon. With Kansas State moving up a spot, Oregon moved down to fourth, despite placing second in the coaches’ and Harris polls. Despite a 43-21 win over Arizona State on the road, Oregon remains sixth in the average computer rankings. Reasons not to worry for the Ducks: The margin between the two teams (0.0145 in the BCS average) is closer than any team within the top 10, and Oregon still has No. 7 Oregon State, No. 9 USC and No. 17 Stanford on the schedule. Kansas State has No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 23 Texas, both at home. In other words, Oregon, facing lowly Colorado on Saturday, will have to wait at least two weeks to leapfrog Kansas State, assuming both remain undefeated.

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma. The Sooners are still rooting for a Kansas State loss for their Big 12 title hopes, but facing Notre Dame is a critical game for OU’s hopes to get back into the national title race. A loss would all but eliminate the Sooners and hamper their chances of being an at-large BCS bid. For Notre Dame, defeating Oklahoma in Norman would close a gap between the Irish and the top four in the standings.

No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State. The computer rankings love both teams, but the Red Raiders, with a 21-point loss to Oklahoma on the resume, are simply trying to climb up the rankings. For both teams, this week’s opponent may be the highest ranked team they face for the season.

No. 11 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama. The Bulldogs are undefeated, but they’re outside of the power structure of Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. That changes with a good showing at Tuscaloosa. An upset would disrupt the BCS standings and make Mississippi State an SEC West favorite, and thus, a national title contender.

The gap is closing for Alabama. Again, the SEC champion may control its own destiny as far as the national title race is concerned, so the field catching up to the Tide may be irrelevant. Alabama’s BCS average dropped from 0.9761 to 0.9625 while the BCS average for Florida, Kansas State and Oregon all went up. To save you the math: The gap between Alabama and Nos. 2-4 is smaller than it was last week between the No. 1 Tide and No. 2 Florida.

Notre Dame is on the outside, for now. Notre Dame’s BCS average dropped despite a 17-14 win over BYU, creating a sizable gap between the Irish and the top four. Of course, this could change in a hurry with a road game against Oklahoma this week.

Welcome back, Big Ten. After the Big Ten was shut out in the first BCS standings two teams -- No. 22 Michigan and No. 25 Wisconsin -- entered the rankings. This means little for the national title race, but it is important for the postseason. Michigan is one spot behind No. 21 Boise State and two ahead of No. 24 Ohio, damaging those two teams’ chances of reaching a BCS game. Those teams either need to be among the top 14 or the top 16 if Boise State or Ohio is ranked ahead of an automatic qualifying conference champion.

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

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