BCS Analysis & Breakdown - Week 5
Penn State RB Evan Royster
Penn State RB Evan Royster
Posted Nov 16, 2008

Not a whole bunch changed in this week's BCS rankings, but the stage is set for wild changes next week. Is it possible for Evan Royster and Penn State to find their way into the national title game? Pete Fiutak shows how it could happen in the breakdown and analysis of the top ten teams in the latest BCS rankings.

2008 BCS Analysis

Week 5

By Pete Fiutak   

BCS Rankings | Computer Rankings

- BCS Analysis Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

The big news of the BCS week is that there really isn't any BCS news. Call this a holding pattern week before the big showdowns to come with Oklahoma hosting Texas Tech, Penn State welcoming MIchigan State, and Alabama trying not to look past Auburn to the showdown with Florida. Things are about to start shaking out in a big way.

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. Ohio State
11. Georgia
12. Oklahoma St
13. Missouri
14. BYU
15. Michigan St
16. TCU
17. Ball State
18. LSU
19. Cincinnati
20. Pitt
21. Oregon State
22. North Carolina
23. Miami
24. Oregon
25. Maryland

For this week, the market corrected itself a bit. The Coaches' Poll smartened up and put Texas ahead of Oklahoma (smart because the Longhorns beat the Sooners), and that made a little bit of a different in the BCS rankings. Oklahoma State, who beat Missouri at Missouri, also jumped up getting to 12 while the Tigers, despite a dominant win over Iowa State, went to 13.

Ohio State and Georgia flip-flopped spots with the Buckeyes getting into the top ten and the Dawgs moving to 11.

The most interesting aspect of the rankings continues to be the non-BCS conference teams. Ball State, despite a win over Miami University, dropped from 14 to 17, while BYU, based on the win over Air Force, moved from 17 to 14 and is now in range to possibly make a huge leap if it can beat No. 7 Utah. Remember, a non-BCS conference team in the top 12 gets an automatic spot in the BCS, or if it's in the top 16 and a BCS conference champion, like the Big East or ACC champion probably will be, is out of the top 16. If there is more than one non-BCS team that fits the criteria, the highest ranked one is automatically in. The BCS doesn't have to take the other one.

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

1. As far as the national title is concerned, as long as the SEC champion has one loss, or in the case of Alabama, no losses, it'll play for the national title. The same goes for the Big 12 champion. Where the wrench could be thrown into the system, outside of a major upset like Florida State beating Florida or Alabama losing to Auburn, is if Missouri wins the Big 12 Championship. If that happens, then, depending on which Big 12 team is left out, there could be a major debate between a one-loss team from the South that didn't get into the conference title game and USC.

2. As far as the Big 12 South, if there's a three-way tie between (the individual scenarios are below) Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma, the highest ranked team according to the BCS standings will play Missouri. The pollsters always like to move up teams that win, and punish teams that lose, so watch out for Oklahoma to rocket up the charts if it beats Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Texas might be the one left without a chair when the music stops.

3. Utah could turn out to have the biggest beef in the BCS bunch if it beats BYU. The Utes have a better computer ranking than USC, they beat Oregon State, USC lost to Oregon State, and the Mountain West went 6-1 vs. the Pac 10. However, USC is No. 6 and Utah No. 7.

4. For the automatic spot for the non-BCS team, if Utah beats BYU, it'll be in. If BYU beats Utah, then the debate will begin because the Cougars will have to go from 14 past Boise State at nine to get the automatic bid. Ball State isn't even in the picture checking in this week at 17. The next question will be whether or not the BCS wants a second non-BCS conference team or Ohio 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). If Oregon State wins out and goes to the Rose Bowl, and assuming USC doesn't blow it against Notre Dame and UCLA, then the Pac 10 will get two teams in along with two from the SEC, two from the Big 12, the Big Ten, Big East, and ACC champions, and either Utah, BYU or Boise State. If USC wins the Pac 10 title outright, meaning Oregon State loses, expect Ohio State, if it beats Michigan, to get that 10th BCS slot.

One thing to remember, last year at this time Ohio State was 7th and Oregon was second. Dennis Dixon hadn't been injured yet and LSU hadn't lost to Arkansas. Things could get wackier before they get clearer.

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 the two human polls will be the biggest factors.

The Big Winners: Ohio State (moved from No. 11 to No. 10), BYU 17 to 14) Oregon State (28 to 21), Maryland (40 to 25)
The Big Losers: Ball State (14 to 17), North Carolina (16 to 22)

1. Alabama      Score: 0.9787  Last Week: No. 1
If Alabama beats Auburn and Florida, it's playing for the national title, obviously. With the way the Gators are playing, and the respect they're receiving, Bama could probably lose to the Tigers and still play for the national title with a win in the SEC title game. The computers have Texas Tech No. 1 and Bama No. 2, but that doesn't really matter right now.

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

2. Texas Tech    Score: 0.9698    Last Week: No. 2
No. 1 according the computers yet again, there's a chance the Red Raiders could be No. 1 overall with a win over Oklahoma. A win over the Sooners assures a spot in the Big 12 title game no matter what happens against Baylor. However, a loss in Norman might not just mean the national title dream would ball but gone, but it could also mean the end of any Big 12 title hopes. The Red Raiders would likely fall behind OU and Texas in the BCS rankings with a loss to OU.

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

3. Texas       Score: 0.8911   Last Week: No. 3
Texas blasted away on Kansas in a 35-7 win that was even more impressive than the final score might indicate. However, even at No. 3 in the BCS, the Longhorns will need help. They need Oklahoma to beat Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, although not too impressively. Most likely, OU would jump up in the BCS standings if it wins its final two games and Texas would be on the outside of the Big 12 Championship looking in.

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

4. Florida        Score: 0.8755   Last Week: No. 4
There isn't a hotter, more complete team in America right now. Everyone appears to be acknowledging that the Gators are the best team, or a close second behind either Oklahoma or Texas, but there's still that little matter of the loss to Ole Miss that's providing a bit of a hesitation. It doesn't matter. If Florida beats Citadel, Florida State and Alabama, it's playing for the national title no matter what.

predicted wins: 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: 0.8388  Last Week: No. 5
It's all right there for Oklahoma to take. If the Sooners beat Texas Tech impressively and if they can get by Oklahoma State, they'll almost certainly jump up past Texas in the BCS rankings and into the Big 12 title game. With a win over Missouri, the Sooners would be assured of a spot in the national title. However, if they struggle in a win over Texas Tech, things could get dicey. The humans don't need a reason to be reminded that Texas beat OU by 10. At the moment, the computers aren't all that impressed, but that'll change in a big hurry if the Sooners win out.

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

6. USC    Score: 0.7873  Last Week: No. 6
The style points need to start flowing. The win over Stanford was nice, but to have any hope of getting into the discussion for the national title there need to be blowouts of mega proportions over Notre Dame and UCLA. If Oregon State wins out and takes the Pac 10 title, forget the national title for USC. There's no way a Big 12 team, like Texas, would get passed over by the Trojans. USC needs either Florida State to beat Florida, and for Florida to beat Alabama, or for Missouri to win the Big 12 title to get into the discussion. The humans will be big fans, but the computers don't like the Trojans, ranking them 8th.

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

7. Utah      Score: 0.7643  Last Week: No. 7
No. 4 in the computer polls and with a win over Oregon State, Utah has a right to be grumpy that it's not ahead of USC. However, at the moment, all anyone around Salt Lake City cares about it that big date with BYU. Win that, and then the politicking can start. The humans need to come around with the Harris Poll liking Penn State and USC better, and the Coaches' Poll keeping USC one spot ahead.

predicted wins: BYU
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 12-0
predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl
toughest test: BYU

8. Penn State     Score: 0.6957   Last Week: No. 8
It's a simple formula for the Nittany Lions: beat Michigan State and go to Pasadena. However, there still might be very feint national title hopes. If the Nittany Lions blow out the Spartans, they could make a bit of a jump in the human polls no matter what Utah does to BYU. The argument would be that Penn State blasted Oregon State while USC lost in Corvallis, and the win over Ohio State, who had Beanie Wells, was in Columbus, while the Trojans beat the Beanie-less Buckeyes in L.A. Try this scenario: Penn State blows out Michigan State and moves past USC and Utah and Penn State jumps into the No. 5 slot ahead of the Oklahoma/ Texas Tech loser. Florida gets upset by Florida State, but beats Alabama, and Missouri wins the Big 12 title. Penn State could pull an Ohio State of last year and slip into the national title game.

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

9. Boise State  Score: 0.6559   Last Week: No. 9
Boise State has to blow out Nevada and Fresno State and hope for the best. In a perfect world, BYU beats Utah by a last second field goal in a sloppy, ugly game, and Boise State stays one spot ahead of BYU. It'll be hard to sell a one-loss Mountain West team for the open, automatic BCS spot over an unbeaten Boise State program that won the Fiesta Bowl two years ago. 

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

10. Ohio State     Score: 0.6154   Last Week: No. 11
Ohio State moved from 11 to 10 after running over Illinois, and now it's in a great position for what will be the final open BCS spot. The humans aren't going to put the Buckeyes ahead of an unbeaten Boise State, but the BCS would jump all over the Jim Tressel's bunch over the Broncos for an at-large bid. What's interesting is that the computers like Georgia better, a lot better, but the humans didn't seem to like how tough it was to get by Auburn. It's a razor-thin margin, 0.003, between the two teams.

predicted wins: Michigan
predicted losses: None
predicted record: 10-2
predicted bowl: Sugar
toughest test: Michigan

In Range
11. Georgia   Score: 0.6129
12. Oklahoma State   Score: 0.5672
13. Missouri   Score: 0.5600
14. BYU   Score: 0.4393
15. Michigan State   Score: 0.4021