BCS Analysis - Week One
USC QB Mark Sanchez
USC QB Mark Sanchez
Posted Oct 19, 2008

The initial BCS rankings of 2008 are out, and while there's nothing to get in a twist over early on, and no big shocks, the stage has been set for a wild few weeks ahead. Who's the big winner in the first set of rankings? Mark Sanchez and USC are probably happy. Check out the analysis of the BCS.

2008 BCS Analysis

Week 1

By Pete Fiutak   

BCS Rankings | Computer Rankings

- BCS Analysis Week 1

It's all about the humans.

While the computers have their say, they're only one-third of the entire equation and were ignored when push came to shove over the last few years. Quick, who was the No. 1 team in last year's final BCS rankings according to the computers? LSU? Ohio State? Maybe Georgia? USC?

Nope ... Virginia Tech.

The Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Penn State
4. Oklahoma
5. USC
6. Oklahoma State
7. Georgia
8. Texas Tech
9. Ohio State
10. Florida
11. Utah
12. Boise State
13. LSU
14. TCU
15. Missouri
16. USF
17. Pitt
18. Georgia Tech
19. Tulsa
20. Ball State
21. BYU
22. Northwestern
23. Kansas
24. Minnesota
25. Florida State

What the humans say, goes. Two years ago the pollsters didn't want an Ohio State - Michigan rematch of the regular season game for the national title, so they voted accordingly. Last year they didn't want a Georgia team that didn't even win its own division playing for the whole ball of wax, and the polls reflected that. So as the season goes on, whatever you see in the USA Today Poll and the Harris Poll, and remember, NOT the AP Poll, is probably what you'll see in the final analysis.

With that in mind, the biggest winner of the bunch in the first BCS rankings was USC, ranked fifth. Oklahoma is fourth, but it's in big trouble in its conference race, needing to win out and hoping for Texas to lose twice just to play for the Big 12 title (or hope for a three-way tie and the higher overall ranking). As we've seen over the last few years, the pollsters only want conference champions playing for the title, so if Trojans keep on winning, they should end up leapfrogging OU in the human polls.

There are three other interesting things to note in the initial rankings.

1. Georgia (7), Florida (10) and LSU (13) control their own destiny if Penn State loses and/or there isn't an unbeaten Big 12 champion. After the way the SEC has won the last two national championship games, the league will get the first benefit of the doubt if everything else is equal. All three of the SEC teams have losses, but all three came against the other division. So unlike Oklahoma who's in big trouble because it lost to Texas, the Bulldogs, Gators, or Tigers can win out and be SEC champions.

2. Ohio State is lurking at nine. The humans might have something to say about this when all is said and done, but if the Buckeyes win out, and are impressive in a win over No. 2 Penn State, they could shoot up the charts by default. Of the eight teams ranked ahead of OSU, Texas (1), Oklahoma (4), Oklahoma State (6), and Texas Tech (8) all have to play each other, with the obvious exception of Texas against Oklahoma. At least two of those teams will drop. Alabama (2) and Georgia (7) still have some huge battles left to deal with.

3. We could have a fun debate about the non-BCS league teams. Remember, one non-BCS league team gets an automatic invite if it finishes in the top 12 or if it finishes in the top 16 and a BCS conference champion, like the Big East or ACC champion likely will this season, finishes lower. Utah (11) and TCU (14) still have to play each other, but Boise State (12) has no one of note left on the slate. Meanwhile, an unbeaten Tulsa is hanging around at 19 and Ball State is 20th. Notre Dame isn't in the top 25.

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.

The Big Winners: USC (5th), Ohio State (9th), Utah (11th) and Boise State (12th)
The Big Losers: TCU (14th), Missouri (15th), BYU (21st)

1. Texas       Score: 0.9979
The unanimous No. 1, Texas is first in both human polls and all the computer polls. Obviously, if the Longhorns win out, they're playing for the national title, but the question will be whether or not a one-loss team can still get into the BCS Championship game. Texas can probably still get in if it loses a regular season game but wins the Big 12 title, provided Penn State loses along the way, but it probably can't get in if it loses the Big 12 title game. There's a premium now on winning the conference title to get into the show. There are still nasty games to go, but if the Longhorns play the way the way they have over the last two weeks, no one can touch them.

predicted wins: Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech, Baylor, at Kansas, Texas A&M, Big 12 championship (projected to be Missouri)
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 13-0
predicted bowl: BCS Championship
toughest test: Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech

2. Alabama      Score: 0.9487
Forget about Penn State; Alabama is everyone's No. 2. Both human polls and all six computers love the Tide, who has a commanding lead over the Nittany Lions. Being No. 2 doesn't matter. If Bama wins out, it's playing for the national title, and if it loses one game along the way, say to LSU, but wins the SEC title, it'll play for the national championship as long as Penn State and/or the Big 12 champion isn't unbeaten.

predicted wins: at Tennessee, Arkansas State, Mississippi State, Auburn
predicted losses: at LSU, SEC Championship (projected to be Florida)
predicted record: 11-2
predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl
toughest test: at LSU

3. Penn State     Score: 0.8666
Sorry Penn State fans, but if there's an unbeaten Big 12 champion (Texas, Oklahoma State or Texas Tech) and if Alabama finishes unbeaten, you're out. If you win the Big Ten title but you have a loss, you're out. However, with Texas and Alabama still needing to play conference championship games, if they get there in the first place, there likely won't be more than two unbeaten BCS conference teams. Basically, if Penn State wins out, book your tickets for Miami.

predicted wins:
at Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State
predicted losses: at Ohio State
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Sugar
toughest test: at Ohio State

4. Oklahoma      Score: 0.8319
The Sooners are hosed. Oh sure, the BCS might have then hovering around the coveted second spot, and if Penn State loses to Ohio State next week and if Alabama loses at LSU in a few weeks, then OU might even move up to the No. 2 ranking. However, Texas needs to lose twice, or there needs to be a three-way tie with OU being the highest ranked team of the lot, for the Sooners to play in the Big 12 title game, and time is starting to run out. Worse yet, pollsters are loathe to put a team that didn't even win its own division into the national title game.

predicted wins: at Kansas State, Nebraska, at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: at Oklahoma State

5. USC    Score: 0.7751
Oh the coaches do love USC. Ranked fourth in the USA Today Poll but fifth in the Harris. it's almost as if the loss at Oregon State didn't really happen. The computers like the Trojans at the moment because of the win over Ohio State, but if the Buckeyes lose to Penn State this week, everything could change. The margin between USC and an unbeaten Oklahoma State is razor-thin, but that doesn't really matter. USC needs to win out impressively needs Penn State to lose and for the SEC or Big 12 champion to have two losses.

predicted wins:
Washington, California, at Stanford, Notre Dame, at UCLA
predicted losses: at Arizona
predicted record: 10-2
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: at Arizona

6. Oklahoma State     Score: 0.7727
The humans have yet to warm up to the Cowboys, or even know they exist, despite the impressive win at Missouri. The flesh and blood types might not be too excited yet, but the computers are fired up as they've ranked OSU third overall behind Texas and Alabama. The No. 6 overall ranking doesn't matter with Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma still to play. If OSU wins those three games, and the Big 12 Championship, it'll play for the national title.

predicted wins: Iowa State, at Texas Tech, at Colorado
predicted losses: at Texas, Oklahoma
predicted record: 10-2
predicted bowl: Holiday Bowl
toughest test: at Texas

7. Georgia   Score: 0.7201
Georgia controls its own fate to a certain extent. If the Dawgs win out and if Penn State loses or the the Big 12 champion has a loss, they're in. Firmly entrenched at the seven, that will quickly change if they can pull out huge wins against LSU and Florida in the coming weeks. The computers are surprisingly big fans considering the meat of the schedule hasn't kicked in yet.

predicted wins:
at Kentucky, at Auburn, Georgia Tech
predicted losses: at LSU, vs. Florida
predicted record: 9-3
predicted bowl: Capital One Bowl
toughest test: Florida

8. Texas Tech    Score: 0.7127
It's the same analysis for Texas and Oklahoma State applied here. Win out, play for the national title, be happy. The Red Raiders have been the shakiest of the unbeaten Big 12 teams by far, and the computers are less than impressed with the horrendous non-conference schedule with the best win so far coming against ... Nebraska? It doesn't matter. The next four-game stretch is as brutal as anyone in America has to face, and if Tech gets through it unscathed, it'll have earned its stripes.

predicted wins:
predicted losses: Texas, Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Sun Bowl
toughest test: Texas

9. Ohio State      Score: 0.7030
America's greatest nightmare, the Buckeyes playing in another national title game, might not come true, but Othey're still in a great position to be within range of a top two spot. If they can impressively beat Penn State next week, the whole world will quickly change. The computers are impressed so far with three top five rankings including a No. 3, but the humans are yawning. Again, that'll change if they can pull off a win next week.

predicted wins: Penn State, at Northwestern, at Illinois, Michigan
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose
toughest test: Penn State

10. Florida        Score: 0.6990
Shhhhhhh, here's your relative sleeper for the national championship. The offense is starting to come together and the defense is improving at just the right time. Helping the cause is a tough enough schedule to make the computers happier. At the moment, the non-humans don't like the Gators, but the humans are on board. If Urban Meyer's boys win out and get a Penn State loss and/or a two-loss Big 12 champion, they'll leapfrog everyone and will get into the show for the second time in three years.

predicted wins: Kentucky, vs. Georgia, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Citadel, at Florida State, SEC Championship (projected to be LSU)
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: BCS Championship
toughest test: Georgia

In Range
11. Utah  Score: 0.6345
12. Boise State  Score: 0.5870
13. LSU  Score: 0.4987
14. TCU   Score: 0.4197
15. Missouri  Score: 0.3682
16. USF  Score: 0.3296
17. Pitt  Score: 0.2831
18. Georgia Tech  Score: 0.2405
19. Tulsa  Score: 0.2368
20. Ball State  Score: 0.2171