The surprise this week, which really shouldn’t have been a surprise at all, is that Oregon fell to #4 in this week’s BCS rankings. I’ve been saying for a while now that things will get close because other teams will have better computer rankings, but that as long as they keep their unanimous or near-unanimous #2 spot in the polls, they should be okay. Usually, in a case where a team with a good human poll score but poor computer score starts out low in the BCS, they rise quickly because they have room to gain computer points while everyone else stays stagnant. The problem here is that the top 5-6 computer teams have such strong computer profiles that Oregon is not going to pass them after a week against a decent team. Still, their schedule is quite backloaded and they should easily move into the top 4 in computers if they win out. Whether or not that will enough, though, is an entirely different question.
I did say that Oregon will be safe if they can keep a near-unanimous #2 and I stand by that statement. The problem, however, is that the Ducks’ hold on that #2 spot in the polls is slipping. It’s slipping slowly and it’s still strong, but they are slowly losing votes. They haven’t yet lost enough that I will say that Kansas State controls their own destiny (in addition to Florida and Alabama), but Oregon is now no longer the favorite to reach the National Championship Game if both Oregon and Kansas State win out. And Notre Dame is still also right there, though the voters clearly believe they are a cut below the top 4 at the moment.
Teams Still Eligible for BCS At-Large Consideration:
We are just over halfway through the season, but we have already eliminated more than half of the AQ teams from receiving a BCS at-large bid. Therefore, we will only list those teams that still have a chance of reaching the top 14 (until now we listed the teams that were eliminated). Some teams not on this list can still win their conferences, but that is their only available entry to the BCS.
ACC: Florida State, Clemson, NC State, Duke
Big East: Rutgers, Louisville
Big Ten: Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin
Big XII: Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, West Virginia
Pac 12: Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Arizona State, UCLA
SEC: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, LSU Mississippi State, Texas A&M,
Non-AQs: Louisiana Tech, Ohio, Kent State, Toledo, Tulsa, and Boise State all can still qualify for the BCS. For an in-depth discussion of the race for the non-AQ automatic bid, see below.
The discussion of the top 4 has been beaten to death and beyond, and even minor weekly fluctuations are going to matter in that race, so on some level it’s not even worth discussing how those 4 will play out in the human polls. What is much more interesting to discuss this week are the 1-loss teams. All of the 1-loss teams in the top 10 more or less will still get a say in the national race. Oklahoma still faces undefeated Notre Dame. LSU still plays undefeated Alabama and possibly Florida (or Georgia) again. Georgia plays Florida and either Alabama or LSU. And USC will still face Oregon, Notre Dame, and either Oregon a second time or Oregon State. Now, LSU has a good lead on all of the 1-loss teams. In fact, they lead Oklahoma by more than 1 spot in the Coaches’ Poll and by more than two spots in the Harris Poll. That lead will evaporate if Oklahoma beats Notre Dame this week, but LSU would quickly make up any lost ground (with interest) if they beat Alabama the following week.