Top teams unchanged but BCS sees key developments for at-large teams
Notre Dame’s goal-line stand -- or USC’s blunders, depending on your point of view -- erased any mystery for the BCS standings as far as the national championship is concerned.
Notre Dame defeated USC 22-13 Saturday night, slamming the door on any hopes of a non-SEC champion from reaching the BCS title game, even though Florida and Oregon won decisively on the road in rivalry games.
The undefeated Fighting Irish will face the winner of Alabama-Georgia in the SEC Championship Game for the BCS title.
Even though the top nine remained unchanged this week, the news wasn’t all bad for No. 4 Florida and No. 5 Oregon, as both may have sealed a trip to a BCS game anyway.
Here are a few more observations from the latest release of the BCS standings:
|Coaches' Poll||Harris Poll||Comp. Avg.||Last Wk.|
|1. Notre Dame||1||1||1||1|
|6. Kansas St.||7||6||T-6||6|
|9. Texas A&M||8||8||11||9|
|10. S. Carolina||10||10||T-8||12|
|13. Florida St.||12||12||19||10|
|15. Oregon St.||17||15||13||15|
Florida and Oregon. The top nine in the BCS standings were unchanged since last week, and the endgame for the national title game was clear since last week as long as Notre Dame and Alabama and Georgia didn’t fall apart against overmatched rivals. The biggest question was how Florida would fare at Florida State, and to a lesser extent, Oregon at Oregon State. Both won comfortably, and now both teams are all but certain for BCS bids despite not playing for conference titles. Once all automatic bids are filled, the No. 3 team, if available, is an automatic bid to the BCS. After that, the No. 4 team is an automatic bid. Whether by automatic bids or not, Florida and Oregon may be assured of spots in BCS games.
The remainder of the SEC. Six SEC teams are among the top 10. That’s great for bragging rights but not for BCS bids. With the SEC champion and Florida likely to fill the two-bid limit, that leaves the SEC runner-up, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina playing in non-BCS games. In that case, the real loser in this scenario may be the Big Ten, whose non-champion teams will draw top-10 teams in the Capital One and Outback bowls.
KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Georgia (SEC Championship). An SEC team has claimed six consecutive titles, but the subplot of the SEC Championship Game serving as a play-in game for the national title game has been an added bonus. Such has been the case twice in the last five seasons with Florida defeating Alabama in 2008 and Alabama returning the favor in 2009. As with those Florida-Alabama meetings, the Tide and Georgia did not meet in the regular season this year.
No. 17 Kent State vs. No. 21 Northern Illinois (MAC Championship). Kent State’s appearance at No. 17 was one of the major surprises of the release of this week's BCS standings. A win in the MAC title game would give Kent State the inside track of claiming a BCS bid for a non-automatic qualifying team. Finishing in the top 16 combined with finishing ahead of a champion of an AQ conference clinches a BCS bid. Big East leaders Rutgers and Louisville are outside of the top 25, as are two teams playing for AQ conference championships (Wisconsin and Georgia Tech).
No. 11 Oklahoma at TCU/No. 18 Texas at No. 6 Kansas State. Most of the other conference titles are straightforward: Win title games in the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, earn a BCS bid. In the Big East, Rutgers-Louisville on Thursday is most likely the game determining a BCS bid for either team. Without a championship game, the Big 12 has a few moving parts to decide its champion. Oklahoma and Kansas State are tied at 7-1. If one wins and the other loses this week, the Week 14 winner plays in the Fiesta Bowl. If both win or both lose, Kansas State goes to the Fiesta Bowl, by virtue of defeating Oklahoma 24-19 on Sept. 22. Ranked 11th, Oklahoma still has a chance at a BCS at-large bid with win over TCU even if Kansas State earns the Big 12’s automatic bid.
Kent State’s rise. After Saturday, the prevailing wisdom was that Boise State stood the most to benefit from Big East leaders Rutgers and Louisville losing to underdogs. However, Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC) turned out to be the big winner by moving from No. 23 to No. 17. Although Kent State (19th in the coaches poll and 18th in the Harris) is ranked below Boise State in the human polls, Kent State has a decisive edge in the computer average. Kent State ranks 18th in the computers compared to 30th for Boise State. Credit the Flashes' wins over Rutgers (9-2) and Ohio (8-4). Boise State’s best wins are over Fresno State (9-3) and BYU (7-5). With a conference championship game against No. 21 Northern Illinois, Kent State also has a better chance to boost its ranking. Boise State visits unranked Nevada.
Non-AQs rule bottom half of rankings. A week ago, the teams from non-AQ conferences were an afterthought. Only Boise State and Kent State from those leagues were ranked in the top 25, both outside the top 20. Well, every team ranked from 15 though 21 lost last week -- Oregon State, Texas, UCLA, Rutgers, Michigan, Louisville and Oklahoma State. The non-AQs filled the gap with Kent State and Boise State entering the top 20 and No. 21 Northern Illinois, No. 24 Utah State and No. 25 San Jose State entering the top 25. It may not last, but an intriguing development for sure.
UCLA loses, moves up. UCLA’s ranking may be a moot point since the Bruins will face Stanford in a rematch to go to the Rose Bowl, but the BCS machinations are interesting to say the least. UCLA lost 35-17 at home to Stanford yet moved up from No. 17 to No. 16. In the slots ahead of UCLA, Florida State, Clemson, Oregon State and Texas all lost, so it was a matter of nowhere else to put the Bruins.
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.