BCS Breakdown - Analyzing The Rankings

Posted Oct 30, 2011

Who are the winners and losers in the first BCS rankings

2011 BCS Analysis

Week 4 ... Nov. 6

- 2011 CFN Rankings
- 2011 Harris Poll
- 2011 Coaches' Poll
2011 AP Rankings 

- What each team needs to do to play for the title?

BCS Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

1. LSU
2. Oklahoma St
3. Alabama
4. Stanford
5. Boise State
6. Oklahoma
7. Oregon
8. Arkansas
9. Clemson
10. Virginia Tech
11. Houston
12. Penn State
13. South Carolina
14. Kansas State
15. Georgia
16. Texas
17. Michigan State
18. Wisconsin
19. Nebraska
20. Auburn
21. Georgia Tech
22. Southern Miss
23. Cincinnati
24. Michigan
25. Baylor

The Basic Rules

- The top two teams play in the BCS Champ. The natural tie-ins, though, are SEC champ to the Sugar, Big Ten and Pac-12 champs to the Rose, Big 12 to the Fiesta, and ACC champ to the Orange.

- The BCS games that lose their natural tie-ins to the BCS Championship get the first selection of at-large teams. For example, the SEC champion goes to the Sugar Bowl, but if that team finishes No. 1 in the final BCS rankings, then the Sugar Bowl gets its first choice of at-large teams. After those slots are filled, the pecking order goes Fiesta, Sugar, Orange in the selection process.

- Notre Dame is in the BCS if it finishes in the top eight.

- In the computer formulas, the best and the worst rankings for each team are dropped.

- Some bowls ignore the final standings as far as the seedings and pairings.

- The champion of Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, or the WAC will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if one of the teams finishes in the top 12 of the final BCS standings or if one is in the top 16 and ranked ahead of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls. However, no more than one team gets an automatic bid, so the BCS bowls don't have to take both Boise State and Houston if they're both ranked in the top five.

- To be eligible for an at-large bid, a team has to have won at least nine regular season games and it has to finish in the top 14.

- Since TCU went to the Rose Bowl last year, the Bowl doesn't have to take a non-AQ at-large team.

Alabama only slipped to No. 3.

The top question on everyone's mind before the "Game of the Century" was whether or not No. 1 LSU and then-No. 2 Alabama would play a rematch in the BCS championship game. With the game going to OT before being settled, that question will be asked throughout the rest of this season. And as the latest BCS standings show, we may be only two games away from more Tide vs. Tigers.

It's finding those games that will be the trick. None of the rematch talk will matter if Oklahoma State finishes the drill and goes 12-0, or if No. 4 Stanford beats No. 7 Oregon this weekend and goes on to win the Pac-12 title to go 13-0 (which would almost certainly move the Cardinal ahead of Alabama).

Now, should both the Cowboys and Cardinal stumble, the standings will get very interesting. While 'Bama currently sits at No. 3, No. 6 Oklahoma will quickly move up in the human polls if the big wins keep coming. If a 10-1 Sooners team takes down an 11-0 Oklahoma State team in early December — in a game that'll certainly get its share of hype — that could be enough to make the jump up to be the highest of the one-loss teams. If these scenarios play out, then the final rankings will likely be a battle between Oklahoma, Alabama and Oregon (assuming the Ducks beat Stanford and then run the table) for the coveted No. 2 spot. The computers love the Big 12 and will almost certainly give Oklahoma the needed bump up to get to No. 2. And all of this rides one other very large assumption:

That LSU finishes the regular season unbeaten.

There's still work to do for the Tigers. The home date with Arkansas at the end of the regular season won't be a layup, and the SEC championship isn't a foregone conclusion if it's against a tough Georgia defense and the league's best passer, Aaron Murray. But for the moment, LSU appears to be far better than everyone but Alabama, so assuming there isn't a Tigers choke over the next month, this is how the rest of the season should play out:

• If Oklahoma State loses and Stanford goes 13-0, the Cardinal will play for the national title. Already No. 2 in the coaches' poll, an unbeaten Stanford will to from No. 3 in the Harris Poll to No. 2 if OSU loses.

• If both the Cowboys and Cardinal win out, higher-ranked Oklahoma State will be impossible to leapfrog and will play in the title game ahead of Stanford.

• If both OSU and Stanford lose, then it'll be an argument between the top one-loss team not from the SEC, Alabama, and a possibly unbeaten Boise State. The most likely pecking order would turn out to be Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon, and then an unbeaten Boise State.


• Arkansas and Oregon flip-flopped. The Hogs were No. 7 last week and Oregon No. 8, but it doesn't matter too much. If Arkansas wins out, including a victory over LSU, it'll finish in the top five..

• For the fourth straight week, Oklahoma State is No. 1 according to the computers. However, LSU is a co-No. 1. Three of the formulas like the Tigers, and three like Oklahoma State. Worthy of note is that no other team is ranked in the top two by any formula..

• The computers continue to love Boise State, with a co-No. 4 ranking along with Oklahoma. The computers tend to hate losses more than they love schedules, so as long as the Broncos keep winning, they're not likely to fall out of the top five.

• Don't sleep on No. 11 Houston for an at-large BCS slot. If Boise State loses to TCU and drops, Houston might get an automatic BCS invite if it wins out. The BCS has to take a non-BCS conference team if it finishes in the top 12.

The Big Winners: Alabama (only falling to No. 3), Virginia Tech (12th to 10th), Houston (13th to 11th)
The Big Losers: Nebraska (10th to 19th), South Carolina (9th to 13th), Michigan (15th to 24th) 

1. LSU    Score: .9931

There are two big questions now about LSU. Will there be a rematch with Alabama, and would it still be in the mix for the national title with one loss? LSU will be in the BCS Championship as the No. 1 seed by winning out, but what would happen if Arkansas wins the regular season finale? What happens if the Tigers gag away the SEC Championship to Georgia or South Carolina? LSU will almost certainly be the best of the one-loss teams in the rankings, but it wouldn't get in over an unbeaten Stanford or an unbeaten Oklahoma State.

Predicted Wins: Western Kentucky, at Ole Miss, Arkansas, SEC Championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 13-0
Predicted Bowl: BCS Championship
Toughest Remaining Tests: Arkansas

2. Oklahoma State Score: .9447

If Oregon beats Stanford this week, there won't be anything or any debate standing in Oklahoma State's way to the national title. Even if the Cardinal win, the BCS computers love the Cowboys so much that it won't matter. Stanford will stay in the No. 2 spot in the coaches' poll with a win over Oregon, but if Oklahoma State wins out, including a win over a one-loss Oklahoma to close out the regular season, that'll probably change. There's a 15-mile-wide gap score-wise between OSU and No. 3 Alabama.

Predicted Wins: at Texas Tech, at Iowa State
Predicted Losses: Oklahoma
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Toughest Remaining Tests: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma 

3. Alabama Score: .8836

The fall isn't far enough to ruin dreams of a rematch with LSU for the national title. If the Tide blows away Mississippi State and Auburn, and if Oklahoma and Oregon struggle or lose to anyone but Oklahoma State and Stanford, respectively,, it'll be a hard sell to convince anyone that the two best teams in the country didn't play each other on Saturday night. There's a huge cushion between the Tide and Oklahoma, but that would be made up in a hurry if the Sooners win out.

Predicted Wins: at Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, at Auburn
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: Sugar
Toughest Remaining Tests: at Mississippi State, at Auburn

4. Stanford  Score: .8749

The coaches' poll has the Cardinal at No. 2, but that might not be enough to hold off Oklahoma State from the second spot in the final BCS rankings. A win over Oregon this week would provide a bump, or would at least solidify the spot, but Oklahoma State gets the last say with the Oklahoma game in early December. The computers are a killer, putting the Cardinal No. 7, while Oklahoma State is tied for No. 1 with LSU.

Predicted Wins: California, Notre Dame
Predicted Losses: Oregon
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: Fiesta
Toughest Remaining Tests: Oregon, Notre Dame 

5. Boise State Score: .8473

A team shooting for the national title doesn't give up 21 points to UNLV under any circumstances. It'll take a total meltdown from a few top teams, and a couple of big upsets, for the Broncos to get in the national title discussion. Blowing out TCU this week is a must; the bigger, more realistic concern is getting a BCS bid at all. A loss will open the door for Houston to take an automatic spot from the non-BCS schools.

Predicted Wins: TCU, at San Diego State, Wyoming, New Mexico
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 12-0
Predicted Bowl: Sugar
Toughest Remaining Tests: TCU, at San Diego State

6. Oklahoma Score: .7978

The loss of WR Ryan Broyles hurts, but as long as the offensive production keeps rolling, and as long as the wins over brand name teams keep on coming, OU will be in the national title hunt. The Big 12 is the best top-to-bottom conference in the country this year - or, at least, top to Kansas - and the BCS computers are ranking accordingly. If the Sooners blow out Baylor, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State like they destroyed Kansas State and beat Texas A&M, they'll battle with Alabama to be the highest-ranked of the one-loss teams. Don't pay too much attention to the No. 6 ranking. It'll quickly change with a few more wins.

Predicted Wins:  at Baylor, Iowa State, at Oklahoma State
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 11-1
Predicted Bowl: BCS Championship
Toughest Remaining Tests: at Baylor, at Oklahoma State

7. Oregon Score: .7708

Oregon was in a no-win situation. Many college football purists don't really want to see an LSU-Alabama rematch for the national title, but the idea of an Oregon-LSU rematch of the season opener is even less appealing. Even so, if the Ducks can blowout Stanford this week and can move up, they could end up being ahead of a one-loss Oklahoma and a one-loss Alabama. There's way too much traffic to move into the No. 2 spot, but an at-large BCS spot is likely even if the Ducks lose to the Cardinal.

Predicted Wins: at Stanford, USC, Oregon State, Pac-12 Championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 12-1
Predicted Bowl: Rose
Toughest Remaining Tests: USC, at Stanford

8. Arkansas Score: .7452

South Carolina allegedly has a nasty defense, but Arkansas had no problems whatsoever moving the ball on it. Several dropped passes kept a possible blowout close, but the Hogs still won by double digits. LSU is so far and away the No. 1 team in the rankings that if Arkansas wins in Death Valley in the regular season finale, it'll be in the BCS Championship discussion. The one spot drop behind Oregon doesn't mean much if Arkansas goes 11-1.

Predicted Wins:  Tennessee, Mississippi State
Predicted Losses: at LSU
Predicted Final Record: 10-2
Predicted Bowl: Capital One
Toughest Remaining Tests: at LSU

9. Clemson  Score: .6435

The Tigers got a week off and benefitted by some big losses by South Carolina and Nebraska. The national title is out of the picture, but the ranking is just high enough that an at-large BCS slot is possible even if they lose in the ACC Championship. Realistically, though, Clemson has to win the ACC title to get on the big stage.

Predicted Wins: Wake Forest, at NC State, at South Carolina, ACC Championship
Predicted Losses: None
Predicted Final Record: 12-1
Predicted Bowl: Orange
Toughest Remaining Tests: at NC State, at South Carolina

10. Virginia Tech  Score: .5913

Could the Hokies, if they don't win the ACC title, possibly be in a position for the much-sought after second ACC BCS slot? If they go 11-1 and lose in the ACC title game, most likely against Clemson, that would mean the two losses came to one team - losing to the Tigers 23-3 in early October. The sex appeal might not be there for the Hokies, but the record is more than worthy. The computers aren't interested, though, putting the Hokies 14th.

Predicted Wins: at Georgia Tech, North Carolina, at Virginia
Predicted Losses: ACC Championship
Predicted Final Record: 11-2
Predicted Bowl: Chick-fil-A
Toughest Remaining Tests: at Georgia Tech, North Carolina, at Virginia
In Range:
11. Houston Score: 0.5510
12. Penn State   Score: 0.4838
13. South Carolina   Score: 0.4528
14. Kansas State Score: 0.3808
15. Georgia  Score: 0.3696
16. Texas Score: 0.3664
17. Michigan State  Score: 0.3372
18. Wisconsin Score: 0.3046
19. Nebraska   Score: 0.2792
20. Auburn   Score: 0.2097