Here are our Estimated BCS Rankings for the first BCS standings of the 2010 season:
Boise State lead the simulated standings this week and only Ohio State had any hope of passing them this week. That obviously did not happen. This would be the first time a team from outside the six automatic qualifying conferences holds the number one spot in the official BCS standings.
2) Oregon Ducks
Oregon had the week off, but no team around it had a schedule that endangered the Ducks' ranking. Oregon has the favor of the human polls, but is behind in the computers.
Here is the 1-2 punch, two teams from outside automatic qualifying conference in the top three. This sets up an interesting experiment to see if they can hold these spots through the end of the year. More on that below.
Oklahoma is a surprise favorite among the computers, giving them a nice push in the BCS standings relative to the human polls. With their remaining schedule, this should only get stronger.
Auburn survived a shootout against highly-ranked Arkansas. Auburn and Oklahoma are very close and could be reversed in this weeks standings. Regardless of this week's order, next week will be conclusive, as Auburn will move up in the standings with a win over LSU, or down with a loss.
6) LSU Tigers
LSU might fall due to their performance this week, but had significant padding behind them. There may be a large gap between the fourth and sixth teams, and the question will be which one LSU is closer to this week. The way LSU is playing, the question should be settled against them soon enough.
7) through 11)
No team ranked outside the top 10 in the first BCS standings has ever made it to the BCS National Champioinship Game. This begs the question, where do teams really stand in the National Championship Game race? The following are in order of potential if they finish undefeated.
1) LSU Tigers
The Tigers have a schedule difficulty that would push them over the top relative to any other team, should they win out. But LSU has been teetering on the edge of losses to teams that are not good. Over the next three weeks, they play two teams that really are good.
While LSU holds all the cards, I expect them to fold soon. And hard.
2) Auburn Tigers
Auburn is one SEC top 25 team short of LSU in the remaining games, but also is far less likely to shoot itself in the foot. Auburn looks like our first serious title contender.
They still have a rough road ahead, and a loss would not be unexpected, nor detrimental to their championship run, as we will see below.
3) Oklahoma Sooners
With the same number of ranked teams on the docket as Auburn and a higher starting point, Oklahoma and Auburn may go back and forth as the season goes along. If Oklahoma wins their games, however, they are in. LSU and Auburn play next week; one must lose and will be far below in this list next week.
If I am an Oklahoma fan, I am pulling for LSU.
4) Oregon Ducks
Oregon lacks ranked opponents, but has many just shy that the computers will enjoy. They should be able to fend off the two usurpers to the title race.
Oregon is the first of three teams for which it is reasonable to expect an undefeated season.
5) TCU Horned Frogs
TCU gains the inside track over Boise State due to a slightly superior remaining schedule. They also have a tougher road and are more likely to fall.
This is the second of three teams likely to finish undefeated.
6) Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama is the first team with a loss to appear on this list, due to a very difficult schedule, a good bit of which is behind them.
It is not at all unthinkable that the Iron Bowl against Auburn could grow into a de facto semi-final, with the winner one SEC Championship game away from the national championship game.
7) Boise State Broncos
Boise State's run was dealt a severe blow when Nevada fell to Hawaii. This eliminated all teams remaining on their schedule from the top 25.
All that is left is to win and hope -- a game that is getting really old in Boise. Somehow "You had a great year!" only cuts it for so long.
8) Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State will pass and extend their lead on Michigan State as the season progresses, if they are not ahead of Michigan State this week. This is mostly because Ohio State still faces Iowa, while Michigan State already has them under their belt.
Since Ohio State has a conference loss and does not play MSU, they could find themselves in the national championship game without even having a share of the Big Ten title.
Furthermore, one-loss LSU and Auburn teams might well be ranked ahead of Ohio State. (If LSU finishes with fewer than two losses, I will be amazed; one loss is the most likely finish for the Tigers.) Both scenarios would assume participation in the SEC championship game, and that failing to qualify for that game will knock them down, as that would be one less ranked opponent to face.
In particular, if Auburn's one loss it to Alabama in the Iron Bowl, with Alabama winning the West, Auburn will fall a touch lower in this list. (and LSU would have at least two losses.)
This is about all that can be said before the standings officially come out tonight. After the official BCS standings are in hand later tonight, I will take a look at the rankings in more depth, with the actual gaps, clustering and order changes available to examine.