Boise State had one of the most productive bye weeks a team could ever hope for.
Without putting on their pads and hitting anybody, the Broncos' path to the BCS title game suddenly became much wider than just an alley way [official Week 10 BCS standings will come out at 8:15 pm ET]. In fact, if it wasn't for Stanford's thrilling triple-overtime win over USC, that path would've been as broad as the Champs Elysees.
But Stanford did win, with Andrew Luck rallying his team after a disastrous pick-six that nearly ended the Cardinal's 15-game winning streak. As a result, Stanford will jump ahead of Boise State into the fourth spot in the BCS Standings, behind idle LSU and Alabama and their presumptive title-game opponent Oklahoma State.
BCS Standings projections, Week 10: 1. LSU, 2. Alabama, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Stanford, 5. Boise State, 6. Oklahoma, 7. Oregon, 8. Arkansas, 9. South Carolina, 10. Virginia Tech, 11. Nebraska, 12. Houston, 13. Michigan, 14. Kansas State, 15. Penn State.
The voters will not punish Stanford for needing to rally to defeat a preposterously "unranked" USC team. Despite being on probation and not eligible for postseason play, the Trojans still have oodles of brand value and the L.A. Coliseum remains one of the most difficult venues for a visiting team. By repeatedly coming back late in the game and in overtime, Stanford passed its first true test of the season and will be rewarded accordingly by the voters. Besides, the Cardinal also will receive a major boost in the computer ratings as well after beating a team that's highly-considered by the BCS computers.
Still, the biggest winner Saturday night has to be Boise State, which now has the best chance of going unbeaten among the title contenders. With Clemson and Kansas State proving to be mere pretenders, just six FBS teams are without a loss. Except for Boise State and Houston (more on the Cougars later), each of the other four teams must still play at least one game against an opponent currently ranked in the top 10 in the BCS Standings.
The only conceivable obstacle in the Broncos' way of their fourth unbeaten regular season in six years is a Nov. 12 date against TCU. But that's at home and the Horned Frogs are nowhere near the team that won the 2011 Rose Bowl and narrowly lost to the Broncos in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. Boise State will be prohibitive (read: double-digit) favorites in each of its remaining five games.
The Broncos' toughest task thus will be fending off the one-loss major conference teams in the BCS Standings. The price for Boise State's benign remaining schedule is that its computer ratings will slide a bit - though not as significantly as some might think. Its bigger problem will be the mercurial voters, as a number of them perpetually lower Boise State's ranking based on the perception that it hasn't played anybody.
The one "somebody" the Broncos did play, though, is doing its part to help Boise State's cause. Georgia, with a Cocktail victory over Florida - its first in four years - is now in position to win the SEC East. Each Bulldogs victory not only buoys Boise State in the computer ratings, it helps defining the Broncos' quality for the more open-minded voters. After all, Georgia was whipped in a virtual home game by Boise, a contest that's not nearly as close as the 35-21 final score suggested.
So the potential for BCS chaos is alive and well, though next week everything will come to a complete halt so we can all devote our every waking second to the "Game of the Century, 2011 Edition."
This week's ...
Big Winners (besides Boise State)
Oklahoma - Don't look now, but only a week after its debacle against Texas Tech, OU is back in the BCS title race, as Jeff Anderson of the BCS Anderson & Hester computer so presciently predicted. The Sooners will be just outside of the top 5 and have the highest rank of any one-loss team. A win over Oklahoma State in the season finale, and a few other games going their way ... it's definitely not over for the Sooners.
LSU-Alabama loser - Once again, everything is creeping toward the potential of a rematch. The way things stand now, the loser won't fall out of the top 5 in the BCS Standings. Unless the game is a tremendous blowout, it's unlikely that the loser would fall below OU, a team that lost to an unranked team at home. It definitely won't drop below Oregon, a team LSU beat resoundingly in the season opener.
Houston - Let's say Boise does lose somewhere along the way, the door is open for the Cougars to claim a BCS bowl berth. Houston has four very winnable regular-season games left, plus the C-USA championship game. All it needs to be is in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings as the highest-ranked non-AQ conference champion.
Wisconsin - For a second consecutive week, the Badgers lost a heartbreaker on the road. As a result, Wisconsin is no longer in control of its own destiny in the Big Ten's Leaders Division. The winner of the Ohio State-Penn State game most likely will earn a berth in the inaugural Big Ten title game. Forget the Rose Bowl, the Badgers probably won't get into any BCS bowl.
Kansas State - Clemson lost, too, but at least it's still in line for a spot in the ACC title game and a BCS bowl invitation. The Wildcats not only got exposed as frauds, they have three more ranked opponents the next three consecutive weeks. Never mind the BCS title game or a BCS bowl, this whole magical season may go poof rather quickly.
Big East - The conference just lost its only team currently ranked in the BCS Standings to the Big 12, and its efforts to recruit Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines ... oops, Boise State, so far have come up empty. What's a bigger joke: The Big East or the fact that it will stay an AQ conference for this, AND TWO MORE seasons?
Samuel Chi is the proprietor of BCSGuru.com and managing editor of RealClearSports. Sam's college football and BCS analysis, exclusively for SB Nation, will appear on Sundays and Mondays throughout the season. Follow him on Twitter at BCSGuru.