The top four in today's BCS rankings should remain as it was last week: Oregon, Auburn, TCU and Boise State, in that order. And barring a loss, this should not change for the rest of the season.
TCU should make some headway in the average of the other college football rankings, but nowhere near enough to close the gap ahead of them. The main story today is the increased chance of TCU or Boise State making the BCS National Championship Game due to the losses by Alabama and Oklahoma. Let's take a closer look at my projected top 15 teams.
#1 Oregon Ducks
Oregon has California, Arizona and Oregon State ahead, and this should be enough to keep at least a top-two ranking. They have a one-game lead and the tie-breaker over Stanford in the Pac-10 and a two-game lead over any other contenders, so a loss will not end their Rose Bowl race.
Auburn still has Georgia, Alabama and the SEC Championship Game ahead, unless they lose both regular season games. With Alabama's loss yesterday, this no longer looks strong enough to pass Oregon, thus I will have a change in the top two of the projected final standings. Should Auburn lose in the regular season, it would still have a good shot at the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. Should an Auburn loss come in the SEC Championship Game, the Tigers would still be strong at-large BCS contenders.
TCU destroyed Utah and should post a lead over Boise State that Boise State cannot overcome. The Horned Frogs have San Diego State and New Mexico left. Win those two games and they will be in a BCS bowl. If one of the two teams ahead of TCU loses, it will be the BCS Championship Game; otherwise, the Rose Bowl beckons. The same can be said for the next team if TCU loses.
Boise State looks to be in the all-too-familiar position of wondering how much more can they do to prove themselves. They still have Idaho, Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State ahead. Nevada is the only team on that list with significant weight this year, and that is less than what Utah brought to TCU.
The losses by Alabama and Oklahoma knocked the teams threatening to pass them off their heels. None of Nebraska, Stanford and Wisconsin have a schedule with enough power to pass Boise State. But it won't matter to a national title chase unless Oregon, Auburn, and/or TCU falter.
Next year Boise State will have a schedule that can do what this year's is failing to do ... provide a sufficient number of quality wins.
From here, the divide gets vast. In fact, Auburn or Oregon would end up above the teams below with a loss. This is pretty much the National Championship race in a nutshell.
#5 LSU Tigers
LSU can still win the SEC if it wins its remaining games and Auburn loses to Georgia and Alabama. If Auburn wins the SEC, LSU would be a compelling at-large candidate for a BCS bowl.
Nebraska can secure the Big 12 North with two wins or a Missouri loss. If the Huskers lose a game, they could remain BCS eligible, with a huge following at the ticket office to entice a BCS bowl.
Stanford would need Oregon to lose two games to have a chance at the Rose Bowl. I don't know how well they fare as an at-large candidate. The Fiesta Bowl or Sugar Bowls might rather have TCU or Boise State.
The Big Ten race is a mess. The Rose Bowl berth will likely come down to the BCS standings. Ohio State is the only team with a good chance of passing Wisconsin here.
Don't look now, but the Cowboys are alone at the top of the Big 12 South standings. They have Texas next week, but somehow that looks like a non-issue. The Bedlam Game against Oklahoma in three weeks is.
Michigan State needs to take care of business and hope for the Iowa State-Ohio State winner to lose a game to clinch the Rose Bowl berth.
You lose, you fall. If you are Alabama, you don't fall too hard. Not even for your second loss.
#13 Iowa Hawkeyes
Iowa would need a Wisconsin loss to clinch the Rose Bowl.
If Arkansas beats LSU and Auburn beats Alabama, Arkansas becomes a very realistic BCS at-large contender. There should be a large gap between the Razorbacks and the remaining teams.
#15 Utah Utes
Leading the next pack of teams should be Utah, which takes a tumble down the standings with a loss and not enough supporting wins.
BCS National Championship Game Race
This weekend's standings don't matter as much as the order in the final standings. Assuming wins and a conference championship for each team, here is the projected order of finish.
- Boise State
- Auburn (one-loss SEC champion)
- Oregon (one loss)
- LSU (SEC champion)
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
The top two switch from last week (or last night, even) due to Alabama's loss and the damage that caused to Auburn's future schedule. LSU and Stanford jump up, largely due to a slight overestimation of Ohio State last week. Oklahoma State slides into the tenth spot, but likely to no avail: the chances of anyone beyond a one-loss Oregon making it to Glendale are remote.