BCS Insider: Boise State Usurps the No. 2 Ranking; Can They Keep It?

BOISE ID - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 and the Boise State Broncos celebrates a touchdown against the Oregon Stage Beavers at Bronco Stadium on September 25 2010 in Boise Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)

The teams are packed tightly from No. 2 to No. 6, but Boise State has a hairs breadth lead. Who is likely to pass them, and can Texas rejoin the NCG hunt?

I was hoping to take a few weeks off from the Boise State hype. Then I ran the numbers yesterday and Boise State came out No. 2 in the simulation, in prime position for the NCG hunt. This almost forces the question:

What has to happen for the Boise St. Broncos to keep the No. 2 spot?

The short story is that if Oklahoma or Oregon win this weekend, they will pass Boise State in next week's standings.

Boise State has to win, that is obvious. A deeper look at the schedules can give an estimate of about how many games a team can lose and be fairly certain of ending up ahead of Boise State. Alabama and Florida can lose two games, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, LSU, Auburn and Nebraska can afford one game.

Boise State fans might be more interested in how many games a team has to lose to be fairly certain of being behind Boise State, in which case Alabama might need a third loss, Ohio State and Oklahoma a second loss and Stanford, Arizona, Wisconsin and Texas a loss as well. This would give Boise State a clear shot at the NCG.

That is 18 losses Boise State would like to see. Fortunately those teams play 46 ranked opponents, many among themselves. Boise State's odds are best, by far, if Alabama runs the table. An additional Florida loss would clear the SEC from Boise State's path to face Alabama in the NCG.

Ohio State has Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa and Michigan ahead and two losses are not unlikely. A single loss late could be enough, as late losses tend to hurt more in the final rankings. Wisconsin may need a loss, and Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan are able to deliver this.

Boise State should become Texas fans now. They face Oklahoma and Nebraska their next two games and can knock these teams off of Boise State's heels. The draw back is that this puts Texas on Boise State's heels with only Oklahoma State and the Big 12 championship game in the way.

The PAC 10 should take care of itself, as Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and USC still have a round robin ahead. USC is the desired champion here.

The path is long, but nowhere near as long as in years past. This almost looks like a chance.

Can the Texas Longhorns rejoin the NCG picture?

Generally, a good team might lose a close game at home. Rarely does one get destroyed like Texas did this weekend. If Texas comes back strong and beats Oklahoma and Nebraska over the next three weeks the voters will turn to the opinion that Texas was looking ahead to Oklahoma and lost sight of UCLA.

This should be enough for them to jump to the tail ends of the NCG race, but with little collateral left to push them up the standings. They would then be at the mercy of fate to provide the losses and lobbying efforts needed to push them into the NCG.

Inside the BCS Numbers

For a full look inside the BCS numbers see my simulated BCS standings. With Boise State taking the No. 2 spot, another major overhaul of the NCG race was in order. This list differs slightly from my results yesterday due to the new analysis here. So now, if they finish with the given number of additional losses, in what order would the top teams finish?

NCG Race

Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Alabama(1), LSU, Oregon, Auburn, Nebraska, Florida(1), Boise State, Stanford, Arizona, Ohio State(1), Oklahoma(1), TCU, Alabama(2)

Texas fell out, below where they were projected to fall with a loss. A one loss Alabama slid down below the next three teams, who reversed their order. Oregon and Auburn slid above Nebraska while TCU fell behind Stanford and Boise State. Most of this shuffling reflects more on how close some of these races really are than recent performances.

Non-AQ Race

Boise State looks to be the favorite in the non-AQ race, now that the Oregon State measurement with TCU has been assessed and the Broncos have come out on top. Nevada and Utah are the respective trump cards both teams are hoping to cash in later this season.

A better question might be whether two will get in again this year. If so, we can consider a MWC automatic qualification a done deal, despite the realignments.

Teams remaining

76 of 120 teams remain in the hunt for a BCS bowl, 6 from non-AQ confernece.

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