BCS Analysis - Week One

Posted Oct 15, 2006

Looking at the top ten teams according to the BCS rankings

BCS Rankings | Computer Rankings

So what do the initial BCS rankings mean? Looking ahead, the BCS might not have a bit of a mess if the West Virginia/Louisville winner finishes unbeaten and can't get past a one-loss Florida or Auburn team. However, this much appears to be clear; the Ohio State/Michigan winner and USC control their own destinies. Everyone else needs to win out and get a little bit of help to sniff the title game.

The polls count for two-thirds of the BCS rankings, so it’ll be just about impossible for anyone to knock out the top two as long as USC and Ohio State keep winning. Among the one-loss pack,

Don’t forget that the BCS takes the entire season into account, so there will be wild changes from the computers as the year goes on, but once again, the two polls will be the biggest factors.

1. Ohio State
First from the start, first at the beginning of the BCS rankings, Ohio State hasn't disappointed so far. It's smooth sailing to the battle with Michigan at the end of the year for a spot in the championship game. Even though the overall schedule isn't anything to get excited about, the road wins at Texas and Iowa were enough for the national respect.
predicted wins: Indiana, Minnesota, at Illinois, at Northwestern, Michigan
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: BCS Championship
toughest test: Michigan, Nov. 18
sneaky game to watch out for: Minnesota, Oct. 28

2. USC
USC is high thanks to the win over Arkansas and the respect from five of the six computer polls that have it number one, but don't expect it to last too long. The team is playing too shaky to get through Notre Dame, Oregon and Cal without a loss, but this initial ranking proves that if it gets through unbeaten, it's in the national title game no matter what. Expect a loss to Cal and a BCS at-large bid.
predicted wins: at Oregon State, at Stanford, Oregon, Notre Dame, at UCLA
predicted losses: California
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl
toughest test: California, Nov. 18
sneaky game to watch out for: at UCLA, Dec. 2

3. Michigan
It's this simple for Michigan: win out, and you're in the national title game. The wins over Notre Dame and Penn State appear to have helped the Wolverine get to the three spot, and a win over Ohio State would cement a championship shot. Interestingly enough, five of the six computers have the Wolverines ahead of the Buckeyes.
predicted wins: Iowa, Northwestern, Ball State, at Indiana
predicted losses: at Ohio State
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: at Ohio State, Nov. 18
sneaky game to watch out for: Iowa, Oct. 21

4. Auburn
The loss to Arkansas didn't appear to matter too much as the Tigers are within shouting distance of being in the national title needing to win out and hoping for a USC loss. The schedule appears to be a problem for West Virginia and Louisville, so a one-loss Tiger team might still get in if everything breaks right. In the end, expect Florida to get revenge in the SEC title game to ruin Auburn's dream.
predicted wins:
Tulane, at Ole Miss, Arkansas State, Georgia, at Alabama
predicted losses: SEC Championship
predicted record: 11-2
predicted bowl: Capital One Bowl
toughest test: Georgia, Nov. 11
sneaky game to watch out for: at Ole Miss, Oct. 28

5. West Virginia
Schedule, schedule, schedule. The computers aren't enamored with the Mountaineers, but the human polls might potentially be enough to overcome the soft slate. With Louisville looking shaky, and the WVU running game appearing to be unstoppable, expect an unbeaten season. Will it be enough to get in? Help is needed from teams on the top.
predicted wins: at Connecticut, Cincinnati, at Louisville, at Pitt, South Florida, Rutgers
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: BCS Championship Game
toughest test: at Louisville, Nov. 2
sneaky game to watch out for: at Pitt, Nov. 16

6. Florida
The loss to Auburn means there's still plenty of work to be done, but it's not an impossible task to get into the top two. Expect the computers to love the Gators more and more as the weeks go on thanks to a nasty schedule, but it might require a few losses from the top teams to get the humans on board.
predicted wins: Georgia, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Western Carolina, at Florida State, at SEC Championship
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl
toughest test: at Florida State, Nov. 25
sneaky game to watch out for: South Carolina, Nov. 11

7. Louisville
Is Louisville really that average or is it just playing possum waiting for the big game? The win over Miami doesn't appear to be any big deal, and there hasn't been any wins over anyone else with a pulse. If the Cards play like they did against Cincinnati, expect losses to West Virginia and, possibly, to Pitt and Rutgers.
predicted wins: at Syracuse, at Rutgers, South Florida, Connecticut
predicted losses: West Virginia, at Pitt
predicted record: 13-0
predicted bowl: Texas Bowl
toughest test: West Virginia, Nov. 2
sneaky game to watch out for:
at Pitt, Nov. 25

8. Notre Dame
Even though the remaining schedule won't help out the Irish much, a season-ending win at USC would go a long way to getting within range of the title game. Getting up higher in the human polls would help, but the computers are only going to like the Irish if Georgia Tech, whom the Irish beat in the season opener, plays well enough to win the ACC title.
predicted wins: UCLA, at Navy, North Carolina, at Air Force, Army
predicted losses: at USC, Nov. 25
predicted record: 10-2
predicted bowl: Orange Bowl
toughest test: at USC, Nov. 25
sneaky game to watch out for: at Air Force, Nov. 11

9. Texas
Talk about being disrespected, the computers have no interest in the Longhorns making it nearly impossible for a run to the top two spot. There simply aren't enough potential big wins on the schedule to overcome all the traffic on top.
predicted losses: at Nebraska, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at Kansas State, Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: at Nebraska, Oct. 21
sneaky game to watch out for: at Kansas State, Nov. 11

10. California
Cal is everyone's hot Pac 10 team, and for good reason. With explosion, offensive balance, and defensive toughness, a win at USC is more than possible meaning a spot in the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State/Michigan loser is likely. The computers respect the Bears, and they'll love them even more with a win in L.A. 
predicted wins: at Washington, UCLA, at Arizona, at USC, Stanford
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: at USC, Nov. 18
sneaky game to watch out for: UCLA, Nov. 4