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College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 9

Collin Klein and K-State steps up to contested No. 2 spot

Even as four BCS top-10 teams lost Saturday, the national championship rankings became no less clear. Except, perhaps, Alabama’s status at No. 1.

With former No. 2 Florida losing to No. 10 Georgia on Saturday, the coveted second spot for the national title was up for grabs. Even if Notre Dame had the more impressive win last week by defeating then-No. 8 Oklahoma 30-13 in Norman, Kansas State moved up one spot to No. 2 after defeating No. 14 Texas Tech 55-24 at home.

Oregon remains stuck at No. 4 despite placing second in both the coaches’ and the Harris polls. With a weaker schedule compared to Kansas State and Notre Dame, Oregon is ranked fifth in the computer average. The Wildcats and Irish, meanwhile, are tied at No. 1 in the average ranking of the six computers used in the BCS rankings.

It’s a mess at the top of the rankings, but if there’s any consolation, the teams ranked Nos. 2-4 have a handful of common opponents: Both Kansas State and Notre Dame have defeated Oklahoma and Miami. Both Notre Dame and Oregon will face USC later in the season. Assuming all remain undefeated, those comparisons may make make a difference.

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


BCS Standings
Oct. 28

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 3 1
2. Kansas St. 3 3 T-1 3
3. Notre Dame 4 4 T-1 5
4. Oregon 2 2 5 4
5. LSU 5 5 6 6
6. Georgia 6 6 7 10
7. Florida 8 8 4 2
8. S. Carolina 11 11 9 13
9. Florida St. 7 7 T-21 12
10. Louisville 10 10 13 16
11. Oregon St. 13 13 8 7
12. Oklahoma 12 12 10 8
13. Clemson 9 9 T-12 18
14. Stanford 15 14 11 17
15. Miss. St. 18 15 16 11
16. Texas A&M 16 18 18 20

No. 2 Kansas State. The Wildcats were the big winner in the “if the season ended today” scenario by moving up to No. 2 in the BCS standings. Despite Notre Dame’s signature win over Oklahoma, Kansas State continued to have the edge in the human polls, one spot ahead of Notre Dame in both. Although the Wildcats and Irish are tied in the average computer rankings, Kansas State has more opportunities to build a resume against BCS No. 25 Oklahoma State, No. 23 Texas plus TCU and Baylor. Notre Dame has the best remaining opponent in No. 17 USC. If both remain undefeated, the schedule comparisons and the shared wins over Oklahoma will be under the microscope.

No. 7 Florida. The Gators moving from No. 2 to No. 7 is no surprise after the 17-9 loss to Georgia. To reach the BCS title game would take a handful of fortunate events for the Gators: A Georgia loss to Ole Miss or Auburn to give Florida a chance to play in the SEC title game, plus losses from Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon. And that doesn’t take into consideration Alabama-LSU this week. The Gators, however, have a BCS at-large spot in play. Regardless of what happens in the SEC race, a trip to Florida State to end the season will be critical for that goal.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU. Alabama has a substantial hold of the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings. A win in Baton Rouge would further solidify that. A loss may mean chaos for a BCS championship spot.

No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 USC. Oregon's schedule has been paper thin this season. This week against USC, however, may give Oregon a boost to crack the top three. Worth keeping in mind, though: Oregon defeated Arizona 49-0. USC just lost 39-36 to the Wildcats.

No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Kansas State. Kansas State faces its third consecutive ranked team after defeating West Virginia and Texas Tech by a combined score of 110-38. Style points are starting to enter the discussion this week against Okie State.

USC may be the most important team in the BCS. The margin between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Oregon in the BCS average is 0.001, so the comparisons start with USC. Both face the Trojans in November, starting with the Ducks visiting Los Angeles this week. For Oregon, it’s the biggest statement game of the regular season. For Notre Dame, it will be the last. Oregon, however, may have the upper hand with matchups against No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State looming, in addition to a potential Pac-12 championship game.

The ACC could get two BCS bids By moving from No. 18 to No. 13 Clemson crossed the threshold allowing the Tigers to be a BCS at-large team if the Tigers do not win the ACC. Clemson, whose only loss is to Florida State 49-37, is ranked ninth by both human polls, but remains tied with Florida State at No. 21 in the computer average. If both remain in BCS at-large contention on the final day of the regular season, the game against No. 8 South Carolina could be very interesting.

One BCS bowl could have a SEC conundrum. The top eight of the BCS standings include five SEC teams, which could be an interesting problem for BCS games selecting an at-large team. Under most circumstances, only two teams per conference can play in BCS games. Assuming No. 1 Alabama plays for a BCS title, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Florida and No. 8 South Carolina would all be eligible for an at-large bid if the season ended today. And just outside the top-14 threshold for at-large considerationare No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 16 Texas A&M.

Boise State has a chance at a BCS bid. But it’s close. As a team from a non-automatic qualifying league, Boise State either needs to reach the top 14 for automatic inclusion or the top 16 if it’s ahead of an AQ champion. Boise State sits at No. 19 with the highest-ranked Big Ten team, Nebraska, one spot behind. The Broncos haven’t clinched the Mountain West, but they don’t have a marquee game remaining. The strategy for Boise State: Win out and hope for a lackluster Big Ten 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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