Oregon has passed Boise State in both human polls, leading some to ask whether Boise State should fall after a 59-0 win. We will take a look at why this is justifiable and what teams are likely to pass them in the near term.
Who is the real No. 2 team?
Both polls have Ohio State pegged, while the computers favor Oklahoma. Boise State's hold on the No. 2 spot looks secure for this week, but then things get iffy when Ohio State gets a showcase their merit against the Wisconsin Badgers.
The following week is almost certain to end Boise State's run at the No. 2 spot, with Oklahoma getting a top 25 Missouri, and LSU (who could join the picture with a win over Florida this week) playing Auburn (who has a chance to prove themselves against Arkansas next week). Nebraska is not out of the picture, with Kansas State and Oklahoma State up the next three weeks. A win over Missouri the day before Halloween should put them over Boise State as well.
Oklahoma has two ranked opponents left and the Big 12 championship game. Ohio State has three ranked opponents on the schedule. Oregon, Boise State and TCU all have a single ranked opponent left, though Oregon has far more opponents just under the radar.
Ohio State would close the gap in the computers faster than Oklahoma can close the much smaller gaps in the human polls. Ohio State wins this round in a 2-1 split decision along human polls vs. the computers.
LSU has four ranked opponents and a potential SEC Championship Game ahead. Winning all of those would jump them clear to No. 1, as they would have to beat Alabama on the way. Thus LSU does not alter the race for the No. 2 spot.
In the expanded NCG race, Alabama, with a loss, slides down as they would have less time to recover. Oregon loses some future schedule value this week, setting them back a few spots.
So, the NCG race looks to be in the following pecking order:
Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Nebraska, Alabama (1), Oregon, Florida, Boise State, LSU(1), TCU, Arizona, Oklahoma (1)
For a more detailed look inside the numbers check out the listing of the standings.
Do the Boise St. Broncos deserve to fall in the polls after beating New Mexico State 59-0?
Two-thirds of a team's schedule is determined by the conference they play in. Boise State plays in the WAC, and thus has 6 or 7 games against teams that frequent the bottom third of the computer rankings. New Mexico State is one of those.
There is a mathematical concept called Bayesian Inference which attempts to deal with uncertain probabilities by improving an estimated probability based on new information. The adjustments to the rankings typically follow a pattern similar to this principle, with each week adding to the pool of existing knowledge.
Before this week we knew Boise State was a top 5 team and very likely to run the table with the schedule they have. The odds they finish in the top 5 are very likely. We learned very little this week. A close win would have even weaken the confidence in this belief.
For all other teams in the top 5 it is likely that a loss will show up along the way. Oregon
passed obliterated a major road block (beating a top 15 team) and a couple of the teams on down the line fell out of the rankings, making their way appear more secure.
Boise State moving to #4 had much more to do with Oregon having more information added to their side than it did Boise State losing anything. If anything, Boise State lost credit they did not deserve to start with due to a weak schedule and the anticipation that they should go undefeated.
With three teams in the top 10 and Nevada sliding up the polls, the question of whether the BCS is ready for a second year with two non-AQ teams is becoming more pressing. If Ohio State goes to the NCG, we could even see Boise State in the Rose Bowl.
If you are interested in this option, you want to see the SEC and Big 10 increase their dominance at the top of the standings.
Four BCS league members fell two games behind in their division and bring the total number of BCS contenders to 72. Only 10 are in serious contention for the title.