The Oregon Ducks have been the top team in the human polls since Alabama fell. On Halloween, I project they will claim their first ever number one BCS ranking. This will not last if Auburn wins out, because there is still a lot of football left to play.
No. 1Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks look to gain significantly in the computers with a significant boost to their schedule provided by USC and thanks to having the Missouri Tigers and Michigan State Spartans removing themselves from the picture. Most of the computers had these teams ahead of Oregon entering this week, but that should not be a problem any longer.
Since Oregon already owns the human polls, the question is now how solid of a lead they will have. Auburn is likely to pass them down the road, but the Ducks' hold on at least the second spot appears secure. As long as they win their games, that is.
No. 2 Auburn Tigers
Barring a loss, this should be the order through the SEC Championship Game. Auburn may take the lead after the Alabama game, but both teams would still be in line to go to the BCS Championship Game, so this race is not critical. And no one else can enter this race.
No. 3 Boise State Broncos
The losses by Michigan State and Missouri also greatly enhanced Boise State's chances at breaking the top two. Only TCU and Alabama look to have the strength of schedule and positioning needed to pass them. Alabama plays Auburn, so an Oregon loss would open a door for Boise State or TCU to the Championship game.
Boise State must still take care of business in its remaining WAC games, including a possible challenge against Nevada.
No. 4 TCU Horned Frogs
TCU looks to pass Boise State next week, if they manage to beat highly ranked and undefeated rival Utah. After that, it would be smooth sailing to a BCS bowl, maybe even the Rose Bowl.
In fact, it looks like the winner of the Boise State-TCU race will be in the BCS Championship Game if Oregon loses a game, or in the Rose Bowl if Oregon finished undefeated. The Rose Bowl would be forced to take a No. 3 Boise State or TCU if the Big Ten or Pac-10 champion is selected to play for the national championship.
No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama plays LSU and a ranked Mississippi State the next two weeks, and ends the season with Auburn and a potential SEC Championship Game. This should be enough to push them above TCU or Boise State.
No. 6 Utah Utes
Utah plays TCU next week. A win here and the Utes should take TCU's place just behind Boise State. A Boise State loss would then put them in position to go to the title game or Rose Bowl.
Utah going to the Rose Bowl as an at-large to satisfy BCS qualms that the Rose Bowl never takes teams from outside the automatic qualifying conferences a year before joining the Pac-10 would be somewhat ironic.
No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma has Baylor, Oklahoma State and a potential Big 12 Championship Game left to play. Like Alabama, this should be enough to give them a boost up the standings. I don't think it will be enough to catch Boise State or TCU, though Utah would be well within range.
This week's race looks much like last week's race, with Michigan State and Missouri removed and some changes at the bottom. Generally the one loss projections will slide down as it is harder to recover from a late season loss, so Oklahoma passes a one-loss Auburn. LSU came in lower than expected last week, so I will place a one-loss Oregon, Utah and Ohio State ahead of them as well. This yields:
- Bosie State
- Auburn (+1 loss, but still winning the SEC championship)
- Oregon (+1 loss)
- Ohio State
The Rest of the Top 15
The above teams pretty much own the national championship race. Looking further down the rankings, this is my projection for the rest of the top 25.
I have a more in-depth view of the conference races at BCS Evolution. Virginia Tech has the ACC Coastal well within manageable levels, the Big East is Pittsburgh's to lose, Nebraska is ahead by a head in the Big 12 North, Oregon looks unbeatable in the Pac-10 — but then, so has USC in the past — and the SEC (not just the SEC West) should be decided when Auburn plays Alabama.