For two weeks in a row, the top team in the land has fallen. Two weeks ago, by all accounts, the BCS formula would have selected Boise State, so the BCS streak is only one week. Either way, we appear to be on pace for a year like 2007, where a team in the top two falls each week, often followed a second in the top five.
Of course, that means that Boise State and TCU would then be in a high-risk group for losses for the remainder of the season. Which teams will bear the weight of the national eye this week?
The top two should be very close. Auburn has the edge over the remainder of the season, so why not just push them to the top now? Two wins over highly ranked teams in two weeks is worth a nod. Also, Auburn has more room to move up, thanks to the Oklahoma loss and the LSU loss, as it is more likely that they would have been below them in the minds and registers of the voters.
#2 Oregon Ducks
A win over a UCLA team that ranks in the upper middle of the pack (and whose notable pelt, Texas, took a serious hit) will not give Oregon props, not even with 60 points. While Oregon can't move up, I also don't see anyone in the wings waiting to pass them.
While Oregon may have earned its first ever top poll ranking last week, it may have to wait a bit longer for a first run at the top of the BCS standings.
If the top two are not in this order this week, they will be by the end of the season with continued wins, and no one can break in without one of these two teams losing. Fortunately for everyone else, losing has become quite fashionable among top ranked teams of late.
Glass ceiling, here we are. Boise State's waiting just outside the big time, hoping some insider does not waltz on by when an opening presents itself. The Broncos might even get passed this week, as TCU's win over Air Force should virtually erase the slim gap between them. TCU also has a stronger schedule going forward, though Nevada should rejoin the BCS top 25 this week, giving Boise State's schedule a much needed boost.
Michigan State, Missouri or even Alabama could come crashing into their party in the future.
This is the same as above, if you change a few names. Utah still looms large on the schedule and San Diego State may become a surprise. The same list of teams that could vault Boise can also pass TCU, depending on many factors yet to be determined.
Michigan State just keeps on winning. The Spartans also miss Ohio State this year. But they don't miss Iowa, and will play the Hawkeyes in Iowa City next week. They also have a win over one-loss Wisconsin that could end up giving them an advantage in several tie-breaker situations, particularly relative to Ohio State.
If they win out, there will be no need for any tie-breakers and the BCS National Championship Game is a real possibility.
A jump from 11th to sixth is what happens when you beat the then-number one team. With a future schedule that includes Nebraska and a possible Big 12 Championship Game, the Tigers have some room left to move up the standings.
Alabama can pass them and Oklahoma could earn an opportunity for redemption.
Alabama lurks as the highest-ranked one-loss team. Further, any team above them would fall below here with a loss and does not have a schedule strong enough to match what Alabama has left. The questions are whether the Crimson Tide will win out against a tough schedule, and, if they do, who will they pass along the way? One thing is certain: they would have to beat Auburn on the way.
[There is a line somewhere between here and the end of the standings denoting where the championship contenders are and who is in the running only for a BCS bowl. I am not sure where it will end up, and won't know until the BCS standings are released. The further down this list you go, the more likely you are to be on the other side of that line. It would take continued 2007 like turmoil to get to this line]
#8 Utah Utes
Utah is high in the rankings, and will climb with wins as the top teams knock each other out. There are just too many teams around them and just below them that can pass them for them to be clear championship contenders. This is where teams like Boise State and TCU have traditionally been ranked, showing how much respect these teams are now being given relative to what they have been ranked in the past.
The Big 12 is ranking higher than any other conference in the BCS computers this year, so the Sooners have the schedule strength to make a move. They also have more notable wins than Ohio State, which should keep them more buoyant than Ohio State was last week. Falling below Nebraska seems unlikely.
Wisconsin moves up with a big win over Iowa. The large albatross around their neck is their loss to Michigan State. Without a couple of Michigan State losses, their BCS odds look slim, unless they are looking at an at-large berth.
How bad does that Texas loss look this week? Next week's game against Missouri will push them into the fringe of the championship race, if they are not already on it this week. Really, in this section of teams, championship potential is based more on the strength of the remaining schedule than the current rankings. Nebraska's is strong.
#12 LSU Tigers
Last week I underestimated the voter's remorse for teams losing. Perhaps I am guilty of that here again; we will know later tonight. I do know that I would not rank them this high. I would count either the Florida or Tennessee game as a loss, and rank them accordingly. Take your pick at to which narrow win is the loss; both teams are bad this year.
Ohio State looked to be on a rampage to avenge their reputation after last week's loss. Unfortunately a win over Purdue does not do much to boost the national image of your program, unless you are Northern Illinois or Toledo.
For being in the Big Ten, their upward mobility is rather limited due to a bit of front-loading of their schedule.
Somehow this is the surprise team in the standings that just won't go away. This is all the more impressive as teams like Florida, Texas, Penn State and USC have left the scene entirely.
Patiently climbing the standings, FSU marks the end of the list of these projections. Arizona should get props as an alternate. After these two teams, I expect a pretty severe dropoff. The question here is more tied to how high the highest ranked ACC team will be.
And the ACC schedule is not over yet. They have a history of knocking each other out of the rankings. That, and getting knocked out by SEC teams in the final week.
National Championship Game Race
The next question is where teams are in the pecking order for the National Championship Game. Last week I listed eight teams. This week, LSU and Oklahoma lost, removing them from the list. Ohio State has already been retracted, replacing them with Michigan State. It is early enough in the season that ten teams still makes sense for this list. Much of this has been discussed above.
TCU and Boise State are lowered from last week to make room for Missouri and Michigan State, who are now very much in the picture. I also bumped Alabama over TCU this week.
- Michigan State
- Boise State
- Auburn + One Loss