BCS No. 2 really up for grabs now

And now the fun really begins.

With Wisconsin losing to Michigan State and Oklahoma falling at home to Texas Tech, the national championship chase has blown wide open — at least for the No. 2 spot.

LSU is No. 1 and SEC rival Alabama is No. 2 in the latest BCS standings, released Sunday. The Tigers and Crimson Tide square off on Nov. 5, and the winner will end the season the No. 1 overall seed should it win out. Then comes the mad scramble for the coveted final No. 2 seed and spot in the BCS Championship Game.

Oklahoma State, now third in the standings, almost certainly would be that second team should it win out, as it would have beaten Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma. This year, the Big 12 appears to be the strongest top-to-bottom conference and a 12-0 champion will have earned the spot.

An unbeaten Stanford, though, will be in the hunt as its resume would include victories over Oregon and Notre Dame. That does not trump the resume of Oklahoma State, but there might be a groundswell of support to see Andrew Luck get his chance against a premier SEC defense if the Cardinal, currently sixth in the BCS, keep on rolling like they have over the first eight weeks.

The team to watch out for is current No. 4 Boise State. Despite the lackluster win over Air Force, the Broncos did not drop in the human polls utilized in the BCS — staying at No. 5 in the Harris Poll and moving up from seventh to fifth in the coaches’ poll — and the positioning might be perfect. If Oklahoma State loses, then Boise State would be the next team in line. However, if either Clemson (No. 5) or Stanford goes unbeaten, it would leapfrog the Broncos, as would an unbeaten Kansas State (No. 8) if it magically got through the Big 12 unscathed.

And don’t discount the possibility that a one-loss Wisconsin, despite falling to 15, might still be in this. If the Badgers roll through the rest of their schedule and throttle Michigan State in the Big Ten championship, and if it’s a battle of one-loss BCS teams for the No. 2 spot, there might be some groundswell of support for the idea that they deserve in after losing on the road on a Hail Mary on the final play.


• Wisconsin destroyed Nebraska 48-17 and lost to Michigan State on a Hail Mary. However, the Badgers are 15th and the Huskers 14th.

• The computers HATE the Big Ten. Wisconsin is 24th according to the computers and isn’t even ranked using the Massey formula. The computers rank Nebraska 21st and Michigan State 15th.

• Clemson is ranked fourth by the computers and Stanford ninth. Oregon is 12th.

• USC is ineligible to be ranked on the coaches’ poll, so down the line that might influence the overall rankings if the record keeps improving.


1) It’s all about the humans. The computers had Virginia Tech No. 1 in the final BCS rankings four years ago, and that meant a fat load of jack squat in the national title pairing. The computers count for a third of the rankings while the humans account for the other two-thirds. In other words, if The Man doesn’t want Boise State playing for the national title, Boise State isn’t playing for the national title.

2) Don’t get into a twist over the computer rankings during these first few weeks. Many of the formulas kick into gear once the entire season is over, so the penultimate computer rankings and the final ones could be night-and-day different. Basically, the first half of the season doesn’t matter too much according to some of the formulas.

3) The AP poll is meaningless. Many major media outlets still use the AP rankings and reference them as if they make a difference, but the coaches’ poll counts for a third of the BCS standings and the ever-mysterious Harris Poll counts for the other non-computer third. Those are the ones to focus on and scrutinize.

The Big Winners: Oklahoma State (3rd), Boise State (4th), Clemson (5th)

The Big Losers: Wisconsin (15th), Oklahoma (9th), Stanford (6th)

1. LSU — Score: .9702

Everything continues to line up beautifully for the Tigers. All LSU has to do is win out and it’s playing for the national title. The computers don’t love the Tigers, ranking them third, but it doesn’t matter. One win over Alabama will change that.

Predicted Wins: at Alabama, Western Kentucky, at Ole Miss, Arkansas, SEC championship game

Predicted Losses: None

Predicted Final Record: 13-0

Predicted Bowl: BCS Championship

Toughest Remaining Tests: at Alabama, Arkansas

2. Alabama — Score: .9627

The Crimson Tide are in the same boat as LSU: Win out and play for the national title. The computers like the Tide a bit more than the Tigers, but again, that doesn’t matter. The winner in two weeks will end the regular season No. 1 as long as it keeps on rolling.

Predicted Wins: at Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, at Auburn

Predicted Losses: LSU

Predicted Final Record: 11-1

Predicted Bowl: Sugar

Toughest Remaining Tests: LSU, at Mississippi State, at Auburn

3. Oklahoma State —Score: .9240

The computers continue their love affair with the Cowboys with five of the six formulas ranking them No. 1. The humans aren’t sold yet, but they will as long as the wins keep coming. The national championship is there for the taking by winning out, but one loss ends the dream; a one-loss OSU is out.

Predicted Wins: Baylor, Kansas State, at Texas Tech, at Iowa State

Predicted Losses: Oklahoma

Predicted Final Record: 11-1

Predicted Bowl: Sugar

Toughest Remaining Tests: Kansas State, at Texas Tech, Oklahoma

4. Boise State — Score: .8302

This marks a big step. Boise State stunk last week against Air Force, but instead of dropping, now it’s on the doorstep of big things if Oklahoma State loses. Will the Broncos stay in front of an unbeaten Clemson or Stanford all year? No, but they’re in the picture if the losses start mounting for the BCS teams.

Predicted Wins: at UNLV, TCU, at San Diego State, Wyoming, New Mexico

Predicted Losses: None

Predicted Final Record: 12-0

Predicted Bowl: BCS Championship

Toughest Remaining Tests: TCU, at San Diego State

5. Clemson — Score: .8240

The Tigers will need help, but this is a great spot to be in. The humans will put an unbeaten Clemson ahead of Boise State later in the season, and the computer formulas are big fans with a No. 4 ranking. Staying one step ahead of Stanford is huge.

Predicted Wins: Wake Forest, at NC State, at South Carolina, ACC championship

Predicted Losses: at Georgia Tech

Predicted Final Record: 12-1

Predicted Bowl: Orange

Toughest Remaining Tests: Wake Forest, at Georgia Tech, at South Carolina

6. Stanford — Score: .8124

The Cardinal still need help. Winning out alone isn’t going to get it done, as Stanford will need Oklahoma State and Clemson to lose, or hope for a one-loss SEC champion. Leapfrogging Boise State won’t be a problem, but it’ll start with impressing the fickle computers. The Harris Poll ranks Stanford fourth and the coaches have the Cardinal third.

Predicted Wins: at USC, at Oregon State, California, Notre Dame

Predicted Losses: Oregon

Predicted Final Record: 11-1

Predicted Bowl: Fiesta

Toughest Remaining Tests: at USC, Oregon, Notre Dame

7. Oregon — Score: .6877

Don’t fall asleep on this team. There might be a ceiling to hit if LSU doesn’t lose twice, but if the Ducks can beat Stanford and win out impressively, a top-five spot in the human polls is a lock and the computers follow suit. This might turn out to be the highest-ranked of the one-loss teams.

Predicted Wins: Washington State, at Washington, at Stanford, USC, Oregon State, Pac-12 championship

Predicted Losses: None

Predicted Final Record: 12-1

Predicted Bowl: Rose

Toughest Remaining Tests: USC, at Stanford

8. Kansas State — Score: .6681

The Wildcats control their path to the BCS title game. The computers LOVE the Big 12, putting KSU at No. 5, and the humans will follow if the wins start piling up against the top teams. To put it simply, if Kansas State goes 12-0, it’ll play for the national title.

Predicted Wins: Texas A&M, at Texas, Iowa State

Predicted Losses: Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State

Predicted Final Record: 10-2

Predicted Bowl: Insight

Toughest Remaining Tests: Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, Texas A&M

9. Oklahoma — Score: .6642

The Sooners didn’t drop far enough. Thanks to the humans, who refuse to put OU behind Texas Tech despite the loss to the Red Raiders, the national title is still on the table if the Sooners go on a roll and other teams keep dropping. That is not out of the question with Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State to build the resume back up.

Predicted Wins: at Kansas State, Texas A&M, at Baylor, Iowa State, at Oklahoma State

Predicted Losses: None

Predicted Final Record: 11-1

Predicted Bowl: Fiesta

Toughest Remaining Tests: at Kansas State, Texas A&M, at Baylor, at Oklahoma State

10. Arkansas — Score: .6581

The Hogs could be the wild card if LSU beats Alabama. They still have to play the Tigers and, if they win out and end up winning the SEC championship, suddenly some cries would come out to put them in. Oddly enough, Arkansas is eighth in the coaches’ poll, ninth in the Harris Poll, and eighth among the computers — but is ranked 10th overall.

Predicted Wins: at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi State

Predicted Losses: at LSU

Predicted Final Record: 10-2

Predicted Bowl: Capital One Bowl

Toughest Remaining Tests: South Carolina, at LSU

In Range:

11. Michigan State — Score: 0.5380

12. Virginia Tech — Score: 0.5338

13. South Carolina — Score: 0.5014

14. Nebraska — Score: 0.4385

15. Wisconsin — Score: 0.4333

16. Texas A&M — Score: 0.4281

17. Houston — Score: 0.3676

18. Michigan — Score: 0.3416

19. Penn State — Score: 0.3071

20. Texas Tech — Score: 0.2012