BCS Analysis & Breakdown - Week 3
Alabama RB Glen Coffee
Alabama RB Glen Coffee
Posted Nov 2, 2008

Glen Coffee and Alabama vaulted up to the No. 1 spot in the latest BCS rankings, but guess who's No. 2? What does each team need to have happen to get into the BCS Championship game? Check out the breakdown and analysis of the top ten teams in the latest BCS rankings.

2008 BCS Analysis

Week 3

By Pete Fiutak   

BCS Rankings | Computer Rankings

- BCS Analysis Week 1 | Week 2

The BCS rankings over the first two weeks were about the voters and what they liked. This week it was the rise of the machines.

The Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

1. Alabama
2. Texas Tech
3. Penn State
4. Texas
5. Florida
6. Oklahoma
7. USC
8. Utah
9. Oklahoma St
10. Boise State
11. Ohio State
12. TCU
13. Georgia
14. Missouri
15. BYU
16. LSU
17. Ball State
18. Michigan State
19. North Carolina
20. Georgia Tech
21. California
22. Florida State
23. Maryland
24. Northwestern
25. West Virginia

The two human polls have Alabama No. 1 and Penn State No. 2, but three of the six computers have Texas Tech No. 1 and fired off a No. 2 ranking. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions got a second plays ranking, two third spots, and three fourth spots. Texas is currently the No. 3 team according to the computers, with the Colley Matrix ignoring the talents of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree by putting the Longhorns No. 1 and Texas Tech No. 5.

Once again, the ACC and Big East are basically non-existent. West Virginia gets a token No. 25 spot, up from 31, and North Carolina and Georgia Tech cracked the top 20 at 19th and 20th, respectively. Meanwhile, three Mountain West teams are in the top 15 (Utah at 8, TCU at 12, and BYU at 15), Boise State is up to 10, and Ball State dropped a spot from 16 to 17. In other words, it's the Big 12's world right now with five of the top 16 teams and everyone else is just taking up space.

Basically, here's what you need to know ...

1. Penn State needs a Texas Tech and/or an Alabama loss or it'll be on the outside of the national championship looking in. Texas Tech leapfrogged the Nittany Lions from seven to two, and that's not going to change as long as the unbeatens stay unbeaten. No one will really care about Penn State beating Iowa or Michigan State, the two decent games left, while Texas Tech could end up No. 1 by beating Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Bama's not budging out of the top two if it wins out. This week's rankings also confirms that Tide fans don't have to worry about getting passed over for Penn State if both teams win out.

2. Oklahoma got its big break even though it dropped from four to six. The Texas loss now opens the door for a possible spot in the Big 12 championship and keeps the national title dreams alive. Wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State might boost the Sooners up the charts and past Texas.

3. By rule, 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. If two or more teams fit the criteria, then the highest ranked team gets in, so there's a chance that Boise State and Utah could each finish in the top eight and one would still miss out on the fun.

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: Texas Tech (from 7 to 2), Oklahoma (getting the Texas loss even though OU dropped from 4 to 6), Florida (8 to 5)
The Big Losers: Penn State (didn't budge from 3 .... again), Georgia (6 to 13), Florida State (15 to 22)

Alabama      Score: 0.9747  Last Week: No. 2
After a week of Alabama talk radio shows and message boards full of concerned Tide fans with conspiracy theories about a media that wanted to see Joe Paterno in a national title game against Texas, it's now all on Nick Saban and his team. If Alabama goes 5-0 the rest of the way, it'll be the national champion. The first place slot isn't as firm as it was for Texas last week, there might be a drop to No. 2 if Texas Tech wins out, but in this race, finishing second is every bit as good as finishing first.

predicted wins: at LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn
predicted losses: SEC Championship (projected to be Florida)
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl
toughest test: at LSU

Texas Tech    Score: 0.9372    Last Week: No. 7
The Red Raiders didn't get too much respect from the human polls, being ranked third behind Penn State, but the computers respected the win over Texas. In fact, the computers have Tech tied with Alabama for No. 1. Mike Leach's gang controls its own destiny thanks to a tough finishing kick. There's no way, no how Mike Leach and the gang aren't playing for the national title if they beat Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and, most likely, Missouri.

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

3. Penn State     Score: 0.9286   Last Week: No. 3
Penn State improved a little bit score-wise, but this week's jump up from Alabama and Texas Tech proved that help is needed to end up in the national title game. There's a strong enough cushion between the Nittany Lions and the rest of the field to not worry too much about being passed over by a one-loss team, but the gap tightened
from last week. If Penn State doesn't slip up (don't dismiss this week's game at Iowa), then everything else should be fine. Alabama and Texas Tech have enough tough games left that one of them, maybe both, will lose. Penn State fans, don't worry. There's no way, no how your team won't be playing for the national title if its one of the two remaining BCS league unbeatens.

predicted wins:
at Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: BCS Championship
toughest test: at

4. Texas       Score: 0.8531  Last Week: No. 1
There's no time to be hanging the head after the heart-ripping loss to Texas Tech. There's still everything to play for. Texas still owns the tie-breaker over Oklahoma, but if there's a three-way tie, the highest ranked team will play for the Big 12 title which would probably end up being OU. The Longhorns are a mortal lock to play in a BCS game somewhere if they win out, and the Big 12 title is still a distinct possibility. Fortunately, the drop from one to four too far in the overall standings; the Horns should be ready to pounce if any of the top three falter. However, Florida, if it wins out, will go rocketing up the charts and would likely bypass Texas unless Mack Brown and Colt McCoy are off playing for the Big 12 title.

predicted wins: Baylor, at Kansas, Texas A&M
predicted losses: none
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: at Kansas

Florida        Score: 0.8268   Last Week: No. 5
Oh those fickle computers. They haven't liked Florida from the start, and it's killing the overall ranking. The Gators are ranked a rock-solid fourth in the human polls, but a very distant fifth by the computers. However, that will all likely change by winning out. Step one in the return to the second national title game in three years happened when Texas lost to Texas Tech, now a Red Raider loss would blast the door wide open. Here's where the real fun begins. Let's say Penn State wins out and Texas Tech loses. The Nittany Lions would get in, but there would be a major argument between the one-loss SEC champion and the one-loss Big 12 champion (if there is a one-loss Big 12 champion) for that second slot. After the way the last two national titles have gone, Florida might get the benefit of the doubt, especially if it beats an unbeaten Alabama for the SEC title.

predicted wins: at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Citadel, at Florida State, SEC Championship (projected to be Alabama)
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: BCS Championship
toughest test: at Florida State

6. Oklahoma      Score: 0.8220   Last Week: No. 4
Here's where this gets really, really tricky. If Oklahoma loses again, it's out of the hunt for the Big 12 championship and the national title. If it wins out and there's a three-way tie with Texas and Texas Tech in the mix, most likely, OU would be the highest ranked team and would represent the South in the Big 12 Championship. However, the Sooners desperately need Texas Tech to beat Oklahoma State this week. If the Cowboys beat the Red Raiders, then OU loses the tie-breaker to Texas if both teams win out. Understand? Basically, OU needs to win out and then hope to get the right breaks. If nothing else, a BCS slot is a given by going 11-1. It's going to take a whole slew of things to happen to play for the national title. 

predicted wins: at Texas A&M, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship (likely Missouri)
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: at Oklahoma State

7. USC    Score: 0.7551   Last Week: No. 5
It's going to take a major miracle for USC to play for the national title. There's still an outside shot of missing out on the Rose Bowl if Oregon State wins out, but that would just mean the Trojans would go play in some other BCS game. After the dominant win over Washington, USC dropped two spots and now has to hope for everyone to lose. The human polls aren't giving any love for the schedule, and the the computers are confirming the disdain. Unfortunately for the Trojans, there aren't any big statements on the schedule left to make.

predicted wins:
California, at Stanford, Notre Dame, at UCLA
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: California

Utah      Score: 0.6972  Last Week: No. 10
The BCS would much rather have the Utes in the Fiesta Bowl than Boise State, and that'll happen if the they win out. If they lose to TCU, it's over. The schedule hasn't been any big deal, but the computers still respect the effort so far. With at least two teams in the top seven guaranteed to lose another game, the chance might be there to finish in the top five. Forget about the national title game; there's too much traffic in the way.

predicted wins: at San Diego State, BYU
predicted losses: TCU
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
toughest test: TCU

9. Oklahoma State     Score: 0.6660   Last Week: No. 9
Oklahoma State is blasting away on everyone, and it has a great win against Missouri on the résumé, yet the BCS doesn't seem to care. That'll change in a big way if it can beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma. While it's unlikely the Cowboys will get the benefit of the doubt in the rankings if there's a three-way tie for the Big 12 South title, they can make things very interesting and they can assure themselves of a BCS game by going 11-1. The humans will make up the stagger if the computers don't.

predicted wins: at Colorado
predicted losses: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma
predicted record: 9-3
predicted bowl: Holiday Bowl
toughest test: Oklahoma

10. Boise State  Score: 0.6529   Last Week: No. 11
The schedule is a joke, but the computers are giving just enough credit to keep the Broncos in the hunt. The fly in the ointment will be the Mountain West champion. If Utah goes unbeaten, it'll be in the top 12 and will likely be ranked ahead of the Broncos and will get the BCS bid. If TCU wins out, it's already in the top 12, it'll be the likely top team unless Oklahoma ends up playing in the Fiesta Bowl. The bowl won't want a repeat of the Sooner blowout over the Horned Frogs and would likely want Boise State in an attempt to recreate the magic of a few years ago. If an SEC team plays for the national title, the Sugar Bowl will get either the first or second pick of at-large teams, and it's not going to take a WAC team for the second year in a row. The Rose Bowl, if it loses Penn State, will grab the top available SEC or Big 12 team in a heartbeat to play USC (it's not going to take Ohio State).

predicted wins:
Utah State, at Idaho, at Nevada, Fresno State
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: at Nevada

In Range
11. Ohio State   Score: 0.5553
12. TCU   Score: 0.5442
13. Georgia   Score: 0.5362
14. Missouri   Score: 0.4925
15. BYU   Score: 0.3737