BCS Breakdown - What Each Team Needs
Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray
Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray
Posted Nov 9, 2008

Outside of Norman, the biggest Oklahoma fans for the rest of the way will be ... Texas?! In just one of the wacky quirks of the BCS situation, the Longhorns might be out of the national title hunt unless DeMarco Murray and the Sooners win their last two games. Check out the BCS situation for the top ten teams in the latest analysis of the BCS rankings.

2008 BCS Analysis

Week 4

By Pete Fiutak   

BCS Rankings | Computer Rankings

- BCS Analysis Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3

With Penn State politely excusing itself from the national title hunt, the door has flung wide open for a slew of one-loss teams to dream about a possible trip to Miami for the January 8th BCS Championship game.

The Top 25
- Expanded BCS Rankings

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

Nothing much changed at the very top, where everything matters, with Alabama No. 1 and Texas Tech 2 for the second straight week. However, Tech moved closer to the Tide after being a distant second last week. With Penn State out, everyone else moved up a notch with Texas moving from 4 to 3, Florida from 5 to 4, and Oklahoma, USC, and Utah also moving up a spot to round out the top seven.

The most interesting aspect of the rankings is the rise of the non-BCS conference teams. With Ball State moving from 17 to 14, and within range of the top 12, which would mean consideration for the automatic spot for one non-BCS league team, there are three teams (with Utah at 7 and Boise State at 9) making a big push to be in one of the big money games. Throw in No. 17 BYU and No. 18 TCU, and there are five non-BCS conference teams in the top 18.

Meanwhile, the ACC has finally gotten into the land of the living with North Carolina moving from 19 to 16, and Florida State up to 19. Pitt is the highest ranked Big East team checking in at 21.

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

1. The BCS standings could mean everything to the Big 12 South race. Oklahoma got its big break with Texas Tech beating Oklahoma State, because now there’s a chance for a three-way tie. If OU beats Texas Tech and there’s a tie between the Sooners, Red Raiders, and Longhorns for the Big 12 South title, the representative in the Big 12 Championship will be the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings. Here’s where it’s going to get really tricky, and here’s where the computers might step in. Texas isn’t going to get a whole bunch of love the rest of the way facing Kansas and Texas A&M, but Oklahoma will likely start flying up the rankings if it can win impressively over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The computers like Texas right now, but that’ll change if OU wins out, while the humans will pounce if Sam Bradford and the crew keeps it up over the final few weeks. If Texas Tech loses, it’s over. The humans will be likely to drop the Red Raiders behind Texas and OU in the standings.

2. USC has to get out the Missouri pom-poms. With the Penn State vs. a one-loss SEC/Big 12 debate now gone, the big discussion could be where USC fits into the mix. If Missouri, with two losses at the moment, ends up winning the Big 12 title over, say, Texas, would the voters want USC in the national championship over a one-loss Oklahoma (assuming the Sooners beat Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) who didn’t win its conference championship? At this point, at No. 6, there’s too much traffic in the top five for USC to leapfrog a one-loss SEC and a one-loss Big 12 champion to play for the national title. The Trojans need to win out impressively and hope for the Big 12ers to keep picking each other off (or hope for some big upsets of Florida and/or Alabama).

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. The BCS bowls can choose which team it wants if there are a few that fit the criteria, and at the moment, the odds are good that Utah would be the choice over Boise State, and if eligible, Ball State.

Barring a total collapse, Florida and Alabama will be in the BCS, and so will two Big 12 South teams (assuming Missouri doesn’t win the Big 12 title). Assume Ohio State will get an at-large spot if Penn State beats Michigan State. With one non-BCS conference team getting in, which will be Utah if it beats BYU, and Boise State if the Cougars beat the Utes, there’s your BCS.

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 human polls will be the biggest factors.

The Big Winners: Texas, Florida, Oklahoma and USC (each moving up one with Penn State losing), Ball State (17 to 14), the ACC (North Carolina moving from 19 to 16, Florida State from 22 to 19, and Wake Forest into the top 25)
The Big Losers: Penn State (3 to 8), Oklahoma State (9 to 13), TCU (12 to 18)

1. Alabama      Score: 0.9814  Last Week: No. 1
Alabama is still in the same spot as before, only more so with its No. 1 spot solidified by a higher score. It’s this simple: win three games, play for the national title. Lose one, and it’s over. Here’s Bama’s problem. If it loses to Mississippi State or Auburn, it might be passed over by Oklahoma and USC in the human polls, and therefore, the BCS standings. Even if the Tide rebounds to beat Florida for the SEC title game, that still might not be enough to overcome a bad loss to the Bulldogs or Tigers. Of course, if the Tide loses to the Gators, it’s out of the national title consideration. In other words, be perfect, or risk going to New Orleans and not Miami in early January.

predicted wins Mississippi State, Auburn
predicted losses: SEC Championship (Florida)
predicted record: 12-1
predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl
toughest test: SEC Championship vs. Florida

2. Texas Tech    Score: 0.9715    Last Week: No. 2
No. 1 according the computers, Texas Tech inched closer to the top spot overall checking in at a microscopic 0.01 behind the Tide. Of course, all that matters is finishing in the top two, and the Red Raiders will certainly do that if they win out. Because of the timing, Tech will be out of the national title hunt if it loses to Baylor or Oklahoma, but it’ll be almost certain to go to a BCS game no matter what if it gets to the Big 12 title game. Again, though, the big key is getting to the conference championship, which almost certainly wouldn’t happen in a three-way tie with Texas and Oklahoma. On the plus side, Tech controls its own destiny for the national title.

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

3. Texas       Score: 0.8798  Last Week: No. 4
Texas rebounded from the loss to Texas Tech with a good win over Baylor, but now it’s about style points to get into the Big 12 championship … and chants of Boomer Sooner. Even at No. 3, will be needed to get into the conference and national title games, and it all has to come from Oklahoma. If Texas Tech beats the Sooners, it’ll be in the Big 12 title game no matter what happens against Baylor because of the head-to-head tie-breaker with Texas. Second, OU has to beat Oklahoma State, as well as Texas Tech, to create a three-way tie for the South title. Even then, Texas could get hosed, especially if OU wins impressively. Now is not the time for sportsmanship; Texas has to pull out all the guns and obliterate Kansas and Texas A&M to overcome the two impressive Sooner wins that the computers are going to love.

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

4. Florida        Score: 0.8640   Last Week: No. 5
Florida, by obliterating everything in its path over the past few weeks, has all but snagged back control of its own destiny, coming all the way back from the loss to Ole Miss in September. With Penn State losing, Florida will play for the national title by winning out, and at the very least if it loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship, will get into a BCS game (most likely the Sugar Bowl). There’s no one else from the SEC, Georgia included, who’ll be close to an at-large BCS bid. No matter what happens in the Big 12 and with USC, the human polls will make sure the Gators are playing in Miami on January 8th if they beat the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide.

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

5. Oklahoma      Score: 0.8444  Last Week: No. 6
Alright OU, you got the two breaks you desperately needed. First, you got the Texas Tech win over Oklahoma State. That kept the possibility of a three-way tie-breaker in the Big 12 South alive. Second, Penn State lost. It’s an overstatement to suggest that OU controls its own destiny, but it can certainly make a great argument by blowing out Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Style points will matter at this point, so if the chances are there to tack on a few extra late points, assuming the Sooners are up in those games to begin with, they have to take them. At the very least, by winning out impressively, that might hold off USC for a spot in the BCS Championship if Texas or Texas Tech loses the Big 12 title game to Missouri. 

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

6. USC    Score: 0.7896   Last Week: No. 7
USC needs a lot of things to kick in to play for the national title, including an overall attitude change from the pollsters. The Pac 10 is so awful, and Notre Dame has hit such a wall, that there’s nothing left on USC’s schedule that’ll impress anyone. The Trojans shut down Cal, but it barely made a blip in the BCS standings. USC needs to destroy everything in its path the rest of the way, winning by two touchdowns isn’t going to cut it, and then it needs a few big upsets so the Big 12 or SEC champion has two losses. The humans haven’t bought in yet, and the computers have no interest in seeing the Trojans close to the national title game with a No. 8 ranking this week.

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

7. Utah      Score: 0.7692  Last Week: No. 8
The Utah fans are already starting to get really, really grouchy, and they have a beef. With the win over TCU, Utah is up to No. 4 in the computer polls, but the humans aren’t buying in. Not only are the Utes nowhere near shouting distance of the top two, but there might be nothing they can do to impress the humans to jump USC or a one-loss Big 12 or SEC team. It’ll be hard to sell anyone on the merits of an unbeaten Utah getting in over the Big 12 or SEC champion, but it has a case against USC considering the Mountain West is 6-1 over the Pac 10 this season.

predicted wins: at San Diego State, BYU
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: BYU

8. Penn State     Score: 0.6839   Last Week: No. 3
Penn State and a weepy Joe Paterno might have been devastated after choking, er, losing to Iowa, but there’s a chance the loss only prevented major heartache down the road if Alabama and Texas Tech win out. Even with the painful loss, there’s still everything to play for … almost. By beating Indiana and Michigan State, Penn State will be off to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl for the first time in 14 years. At the very least, even if they lose to the Spartans, the Nittany Lions will be all but assured a spot in a BCS game somewhere for the third time since beating Oregon in the 1995 Rose Bowl, No, they’re not in the discussion of one-loss teams possibly available to play in the national championship, but think of it this way. Going into the season, if you had offered Penn State a chance to go to be in its current position with the Rose Bowl in its hands, it would’ve jumped at the opportunity.

predicted wins:
Indiana, Michigan State
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 11-1
predicted bowl: Rose Bowl
toughest test: at Iowa

9. Boise State  Score: 0.6783   Last Week: No. 10
Here’s where the non-BCS league discussion will get interesting. It’s unlikely the BCS will take to non-BCS league teams unless something disastrous happens to Michigan State or Ohio State, and Utah is almost certainly going to be the choice, likely by the Fiesta Bowl, if it wins out. Considering the current economic environment with bowls wanting to sell tickets, and teams wanting to limit travel expenses, Boise State needs a Utah loss to BYU or it’ll almost certainly be home for its bowl game. However, if BYU beats Utah, then the argument will begin. Would the Fiesta Bowl want BYU over an unbeaten Boise State? Yup. Would that be fair? Nope.

predicted wins:
at Idaho, at Nevada, Fresno State
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
toughest test: at Nevada

10. Georgia     Score: 0.6156   Last Week: No. 13
The Bulldogs moved up this week from 13 to 10 thanks to the win over Kentucky and the losses by Oklahoma State and TCU, but there’s a ceiling on how high they can go. The computers like them with a No. 7 ranking, but the humans are far less impressed. Considering only two teams from one conference can go into the BCS, and considering Alabama and Florida, barring a disaster, are mortal locks to get in, Georgia will be somewhere in Florida against a Big Ten team (most likely Michigan State or Ohio State) on New Year’s Day.

predicted wins: at Auburn, Georgia Tech
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 10-2
predicted bowl: Capital One Bowl
toughest test: Georgia Tech

In Range
11. Ohio State   Score: 0.5910
12. Missouri   Score: 0.5584
13. Oklahoma State   Score: 0.5340
14. Ball State   Score: 0.4163
15. Michigan State   Score: 0.3888