College Football Rankings: Simulated BCS Standings Show USC Shouldn't Panic

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 8: Silas Redd #25 of the USC Trojans looks for an opening to run as Siriki Diabate #18 of the Syracuse Orange closes in during a game at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Is USC going to have a hard time staying at the top of the college football rankings? Below, the simulated BCS standings for Week 3, based on what we know the computers and polls are thinking. Official BCS standings won't be released until October.

Two victories, two drops in the polls. At this rate, USC can go 13-0 this season and fall out of the top 10.

At least some Trojans fans are going apocalyptic over their team's poll positions after seeing USC drop to No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll despite winning against Syracuse. A week ago, USC fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the AP poll after drubbing Hawai'i by 39.

But you know what? Winning cures everything.

The Trojans dropped to No. 4 in this week's simulated BCS Standings, behind the two SEC powers that met for the national championship last season -- Alabama and LSU -- and also Pac-12 rival Oregon. USC's lackluster computer ratings have more to do with their current position than the eroding support in the polls as Alabama and LSU are 1-2 in most computers whereas USC is as low as 30th in the Colley Matrix.

But all this will change as the season goes on, as long as the Trojans keep winning. There is no chance that a 13-0 USC team would be kept out of the BCS national championship game.

First, a little history. In the 12 years of the BCS, only one non-Big East BCS conference champion with an unbeaten record was kept out of the title game: Auburn in 2004. That year, both USC and Oklahoma went undefeated and met in the Orange Bowl, with the Trojans walloping the Sooners for the national championship (edit courtesy of the NCAA). Auburn finished No. 2 in both polls after squeaking by Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

A couple of factors kept Auburn out of the BCS title game: 1) USC and Oklahoma were Nos. 1 and 2 in every single poll that season, from the preseason to the bowl season. Since neither lost a game, Auburn, which began the season at No. 17 in the AP poll, never had a chance to move past No. 3. 2) Auburn's computer ratings actually did it more damage than the polls, as it finished a distant third in the final BCS standings. The Tigers played Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech and I-AA Citadel out of conference in an already down year in the SEC. They faced only three teams that had winning records in their 11 regular-season games.

Neither is going to be an issue for the Trojans this season.

Two of the teams ahead of USC in the polls will face each other, guaranteeing that one of them will be dropped. The team immediately ahead of the Trojans - Oregon - will pay a visit to the L.A. Coliseum later this season. None of the teams behind the Trojans have a shot of jumping them as long as they keep winning.

USC's computer ratings will begin to improve, both because of its schedule and the likelihood that the Pac-12 will be a very competitive conference this season. Besides the regular-season finale against Notre Dame, the Trojans only have conference foes remaining on their schedule.

After a weekend in which the Pac-12 went 6-1 in OOC games against BCS conference opponents, it's now ranked No. 2 in Sagarin's ratings, behind only the Big 12 and ahead of the SEC. Six Pac-12 teams are ranked in Sagarin's top 20, more than any other conference. In the simulated BCS standings, the Pac-12 is tied with the SEC with five teams each in the top 25.

So the more interesting question is, will a one-loss Pac-12 champion get into the BCS title game if there is one or no undefeated teams at the end of the season? The short answer right now seems to be it's possible, even likely.

Both USC and Oregon have the unenviable task of having to play 10 conference games en route to the Pac-12 title, something no other national title contender is asked to do. And most likely it will require either team to defeat the other twice -- that's not a burden foisted upon either LSU or Alabama, as they are in the same division in the SEC. Those factors will have an impact on both the polls and computer ratings.

This is where a lack of conference championship game might be hurting the newly reconstituted Big 12, as it already did last season with Oklahoma State. Had there been a Big 12 title game a year ago, the Cowboys conceivably could've swayed enough voters to forgive its one loss. This season, an undefeated Big 12 champion might be shut out of the BCS title game if the SEC and Pac-12 champions both go on without a loss.

So if you're USC, no worries, and sleep well. But if you're an Oklahoma or WVU, maybe it's time to fidget and do some scoreboard watching.

This week's simulated BCS standings -

Rank Pvs Team Coaches AP Md CM JS KM* RB Cp. Av. Sim. BCS

1 1 Alabama 1 1 1 7 1 2 1 0.93 0.969

2 2 LSU 2 3 2 1 2 1 2 0.97 0.9472

3 4 Oregon 4 4 4 9 10 3 3 0.78 0.8406

4 3 USC 3 2 3 13 6 7 0.52 0.7956

5 10 Georgia 7 7 7 10 19 7 13 0.55 0.6931

6 6 South Carolina 9 8 5 24 3 4 6 0.65 0.6722

7 5 Oklahoma 5 5 6 22 10 9 0.37 0.653

8 8 Michigan State 10 10 8 14 8 9 4 0.65 0.6525

9 9 Florida State 6 5 12 17 0.09 0.5483

10 11 West Virginia 8 9 11 8 17 0.24 0.5374

11 21 Kansas State 14 15 10 12 9 11 8 0.62 0.5226

12 15 Clemson 11 11 17 25 23 16 15 0.23 0.4738

13 19 Stanford 16 21 9 2 11 5 5 0.74 0.4073

14 18 Virginia Tech 13 13 21 14 14 0.17 0.3789

15 16 Texas 12 14 13 18 0.08 0.3507

16 17 TCU 15 16 15 13 16 0.21 0.3371

17 25 Florida 17 18 19 15 6 24 23 0.23 0.2737

18 23 Notre Dame 19 20 14 11 16 21 22 0.31 0.2622

19 20 Michigan 18 17 25 15 10 0.12 0.2348

20 NR UCLA 23 22 4 4 0.22 0.1621

21 27 Louisville 20 19 13 25 0.01 0.1368

22 43 Arizona 25 24 8 15 20 0.17 0.1169

23 24 Baylor 32 31 16 12 12 0.24 0.1049

24 NR Iowa State 40 39 3 7 19 0 0.09

25 22 Boise State 26 26 23 17 11 0.12 0.0871

26 30 Tennessee 29 23 18 14 0.08 0.082

27 31 BYU 30 25 20 23 21 22 0.12 0.0803

28 7 Arkansas 21 27 19 24 0.02 0.0798

29 NR Arizona State 31 38 6 12 0.14 0.062

30 12 Oklahoma State 27 36 18 20 21 0.11 0.0615

31 14 Nebraska 24 27 22 20 0.04 0.0614

32 13 Wisconsin 22 32 23 0 0.0439

33 38 South Florida 36 37 17 5 0.09 0.0374

34 40 Mississippi State 28 30 24 0 0.0354

35 NR Oregon State 34 29 18 0 0.0234

36 36 Georgia Tech 35 35 0 0.0088

37 33 Cincinnati 33 25 0 0.0066

38 NR UL-Monroe 47 33 0 0.0053

39 37 Ohio 44 34 16 0 0.0042

40 47 Northwestern 41 39 24 0 0.0031

41 43 Louisiana Tech 37 0 0.0029

42 47 Rutgers 38 0 0.0027

43 42 Virginia 39 0 0.0025

44 NR Wake Forest 42 20 0 0.0014

45 NR Mississippi 43 0 0.0007

46 47 Teas Tech 44 5 0 0.0005

47 34 Washington 44 0 0.0005

48 45 Nevada 47 0 0.0002

48 Teas A&M 47 0 0.0002

50 NR Utah State 41 0 0.0002

51 32 Southern Miss 18 0 0

52 NR UL-Lafayette 19 0 0

53 NR Maryland 21 0 0

54 NR Minnesota 22 0 0

55 28 Missouri 25 0 0

Keys: Pvs = Previous Week; Coach = USA Today Coaches Poll; AP = Associated Press Poll; Md = Median ranking of 29 computer ratings; CM = Colley Matrix; JS = Jeff Sagarin; KM* = Kenneth Massey MOV; RB = Richard Billingsley; Cp Avg = Computer Average.

Explanation: This rankings method is a simulation of the actual BCS standings with the following variations: 1) The AP Poll is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll, which is not published until after the first weekend of October; 2) Four of the six BCS computer ratings are available - Colley Matrix, Jeff Sagarin, Kenneth Massey and Richard Billingsley; 3) The other two computer ratings - Anderson & Hester and Peter Wolfe - will not be available until October, so they're replaced by the median ranking of 29 computer ratings.

While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:

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