The Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers still hold the reins in the race to the BCS National Championship Game. The TCU Horned Frogs and Boise State Broncos are still waiting and hoping teams above them fall. And LSU is a dark horse, with everyone else virtually eliminated.
This week was one of the most static in the BCS standings I have ever seen. One has to go to 13th-ranked Iowa to find the highest ranked team to lose. Of the six top 25 teams that lost, three lost to another top 25 team. One lost to ineligible, but non-trivial USC. The highest-ranked team to play a ranked opponent was 11th-ranked Alabama.
The automatic qualifying conference races have become a lot clearer. The SEC will be determined when Auburn plays South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, for example. The Big East would be a bad example and the Big 10 appears destined for a highest ranked team in the BCS standings tie breaker.
Now, for a look at tonight's likely top 15 and each team's BCS picture.
#1 Oregon Ducks
Oregon can clinch a BCS bowl berth by winning either of their remaining games, or with a Stanford loss. Win both games and they will be in the National Championship Game.
#2 Auburn Tigers
Auburn can clinch a BCS bowl berth by winning the SEC Championship Game. Beat Alabama, too, and the Tigers are in the BCS National Championship Game.
The SEC will get two BCS bids, and if Auburn loses the SEC Championship Game, it would be interesting to see if they or LSU get a BCS invite.
#3 TCU Horned Frogs
With Utah, Oregon State and Baylor losing this week, and after a scare against San Diego State, TCU loses a good chunk of street cred. The Horned Frogs should still be ahead of Boise State, but not so far ahead that a solid win by Boise State over Nevada can't make up the difference.
#4 Boise State Broncos
Boise State has Nevada left, and a good win here may push the Broncos over TCU. Fail to pass TCU after that game, and they are left wondering what they have to do to get to the table. Again.
One of these last two teams will be in either the BCS National Championship Game, or in the Rose Bowl. Either outcome would be historically notable.
#5 LSU Tigers
A win over Arkansas is not likely to push LSU over Boise State or TCU, though it would be very close. LSU is a solid leader for the SEC's second bowl spot, regardless of how the championship game goes down. If Auburn loses the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers from the Plains would likely fall below LSU.
While the Pac-10's Rose Bowl slot is still a remote possibility, Stanford would present an interesting challenge to the BCS selection process. This is particularly true if the choice comes down to them or one of the two unbeaten teams above.
As the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS standings, and with a win over Ohio State, Wisconsin is in a strong position. Ohio State might still pass them with a win over Iowa, however.
More likely than not, Nebraska will clinch the Big 12 North next week. Win the Big 12 Championship Game and the Fiesta Bowl is theirs. Lose a game and they risk falling out of the top 14 needed for BCS eligibility as an at-large selection.
Well, well, look at who is back in the top 10. If the Crimson Tide beat Auburn, it could make a possible Sugar Bowl selection between them and LSU interesting.
A win over Iowa could give Ohio State the lead in the BCS standings. This is important because the Big Ten is likely to fall back to these standings as a tie-breaker. Ohio State would still need Michigan State to not lose.
The Buckeyes could be selected as an at-large BCS team ahead of either Boise State, TCU or Stanford since the BCS is not obligated to take the highest ranked at large teams.
The rest of the top 15:
National Championship Race
I am going to bump Boise State over TCU this week, though it is a close race. Also, teams below LSU have such a remote chance it is no longer worth enumerating. LSU jumps above the leaders with a loss due to the difficulty of making up late season losses in the polls. Here is my projected finish if all teams win their remaining games:
3) Boise State
6) Oregon, with a loss
7) Auburn, with a loss
The distance between #3 and #5 is infinitesimal and subject to change.