I was all set to write a review of a relatively eventful weekend in the SEC and another important set of games on the horizon, but one of the more humorous events of the college football was scheduled happened this week – that’s right, the first BCS Standings were released and if you listen carefully you can hear the gnashing of teeth all the way from PAC 12 country.
What the BCS Standings do support is the belief that the SEC is the dominant conference, with half of the top 12 being from that conference. For this I’m going to look at the top 10 in BCS and the chances of playing in the national title game, but this will obviously have a SEC slant because there are a lot of those teams in the running.
First of all a quick rundown of how the current BCS works. To start with, thankfully we will only have to put up with it for another two years before the playoff system kicks in. The current ranking is calculated using the following Harris poll which involves:
- Former player, coaches and media.
- The USA Today Coaches poll, which is allegedly completed by the coaches but more likely a junior member of the athletic staff.
- Computer rankings – There are 6 computer rankings that are combined for this number.
Each of these polls is worth a third of the BCS coefficient with the first place team getting a value of 1.0 and reducing for each position in the poll, so if you see a team with a coefficient of 1.0 they are number one in all three polls and have all first place votes in the human polls.
Now on to the top ten…
#1 Alabama – 0.9761
The human pollsters love Alabama, having them #1 in both the Harris and Coaches poll, but the computers were a little less impressed, having them at #3. The good news for Alabama is that while the computers will change considerably, the human polls don’t drop a team if they win. Given the current BCS standings, the equation is simple – win out and you will play for the title. There are a couple obstacles to this, with a game at LSU and likely the SEC Championship game, a loss in either of these games and it could be tough to defend their title.
#2 Florida – 0.9092
And here is the shocker of the initial BCS standings. People over in Oregon will be complaining about this for weeks, but in reality it means very little because while the human polls both have the Gators behind Oregon, the computers have credited Florida (#1 by computers) with a tough early schedule that includes an increasingly impressive looking win at Texas A&M, at Tennessee and beating LSU at home. The truth is that even if Florida finish the regular season undefeated (and that is a tough road with games against South Carolina and Georgia in the next two weeks), they would likely face Alabama in the SEC title game, with one of these two teams getting knocked out of the title picture.
#3 Oregon – 0.8993
While the human polls like Oregon with the Ducks coming in as #2 in both polls, the computers have them all the way down at #6. This is mainly down to the strength of schedule which will be rectified late in the season when the play at Oregon State, at USC, home against Stanford and then probably the PAC 12 Championship game which would likely be against USC again. This currently feels like if the Ducks don’t lose, they will get another shot at a national title that everyone in Nike land wants so much, but the schedule has done them no favours with a brutal slate of games in November. Oregon vs SEC Champion is the odds on favourite for a title game, but it rarely works out like everyone expects.
#4 Kansas State – 0.8963
This may be a surprise to some but Kansas State and Colin Klein have been running over everyone in front of them including an impressive 24-19 win at Oklahoma. They find themselves at #4 across the board but they have a good set of games including West Virginia (this week), Texas Tech and Texas that could boost their portfolio and bid for the title game. I struggle to see them winning out – 3 undefeated teams would be a nightmare scenario. Kansas State are a good team that could make a statement this week against an embarrassed West Virginia team in Morgantown.
#5 Notre Dame – 0.8774
Surprisingly it’s not the media pumping up the Irish’s ranking but the #2 computer ranking; this will be further enhanced when they play Oklahoma in Norman and then USC & Stanford late in the season. I’m not sure that Notre Dame are back – I have heard it so many times in the last 5 years but they might be and if they can prevail against one of the tougher schedules anywhere in college football they might be a team that could crash the party at the top of the standings. The human pollsters tend to over rate Note Dame and an undefeated or one loss Irish could get a BCS shot probably a year too soon.
#6 LSU – 0.7522
As you can see from the coefficient, there is a big drop between Notre Dame at 5 and LSU at 6 according the BCS methodology. The Tigers can’t afford another defeat, but the win at home against South Carolina last week has kept them very much in the picture. For LSU to reach the title game again they would need to beat Alabama in Death Valley, and then win the SEC title game. A one loss SEC team has a much better shot at the BCS than any other one loss team and maybe some undefeated teams. The message is clear to LSU: No more mistakes.
#7 South Carolina – 0.6930
Basically see above for LSU – the Gamecocks can’t afford another loss because it’s very likely that the winner of the SEC East will have just one loss. Their entire season is on the line this week when they travel to the swamp to face the Gators. A win and they are odds on favourites to win the East and have a shot at Alabama or LSU which could yet turn out to be basically a playoff semi-final.
#8 Oregon State – 0.6808
This is a fascinating ranking to me. I highly rate the Beavers and if I were a voter I wouldn’t hesitate to have them inside my top 5 and the computers are on board with this ranking – it is the human polls that are not buying Oregon State, ranking them at #10 & #11 respectively. I’m not sure if a lot of the pollsters don’t see the Oregon State games because of time zones or lack of mainstream coverage but they deserve more respect from the human polls. Oregon States remaining schedule doesn’t set up well to improve their ranking with the exception of facing the Oregon Ducks in the last game of the regular season, a game that will probably decide the PAC 12 North.
#9 Oklahoma – 0.6664
The Sooners have responded well to the early season loss to Kansas State, and it is much better to lose early in regards to the BCS than late and with a brutal battering of Texas last week they have already gone some way to marginalise that result. The big games that are left on the Sooners schedule are against Notre Dame and at West Virginia. The Notre Dame game will basically be an elimination game for Oklahoma and I would argue Notre Dame as well. A few weeks ago I would say there was no chance for the Sooners, but recently Oklahoma has started to look a lot more like Oklahoma again
#10 Southern California (USC)- 0.5959
The loss to Stanford early wasn’t good and it’s looking worse by the week. There are basically 3 big games for them; Oregon, Notre Dame and probably one of the Oregon teams in the PAC 12 Championship game. It feels like if USC get some help with teams losing in front of them and they get a late season surge from beating Oregon twice and Note Dame, they have a chance but it looks like a slim one given their recent form.
What does this all mean? Probably very little! It is just a starting point and much will change in the coming weeks but the road map to the national title is now a little bit clearer.