Stanford was the big winner in the latest BCS standings.
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The Cardinal, along with Wisconsin, all but locked up bids to the Bowl Championship Series, and Oklahoma earned a spot in the Big 12 title game by outpointing Oklahoma State and Texas A&M on Sunday.
Auburn and Oregon also switched places at the top of the standings, with the Tigers slipping by the Ducks into first place – but that hardly matters.
Both are still on track to play for the national championship on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz. Auburn needs to beat South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Saturday to lock up its spot and Oregon needs a victory at Oregon State in the Civil War rivalry.
The only difference between one and two in the BCS is No. 1 gets to wear its home jerseys.
TCU is third and in position to grab an automatic bid – possibly to the Rose Bowl – now that Boise State is no threat to swipe it from the Horned Frogs. The Broncos lost to Nevada 34-31 in overtime on Friday night.
TCU is also on-deck for a spot in the national championship game if one of the top two teams trip up.
But Stanford made the most important jump of all this week, taking the fourth spot after completing its season 11-1 with a 38-0 victory against Oregon State. BCS rules ensure the top four teams in the final standings a bid to the five big-money games.
Stanford was in danger of getting left out altogether because its fans generally don’t flock to long distance bowl sites. As long as the Cardinal don’t fall when the final standings are released next week – and there’s no good reason why they would – one of the bowls will be forced to take them.
The BCS standings also broke the Big Ten’s three-way tie at the top in favor of Wisconsin, which is fifth in the standings, a spot ahead of Ohio State.
Unless some strange voting takes place in the Harris and coaches’ polls after Championship Saturday, the Badgers are headed to the Rose Bowl.
The Buckeyes are a good bet to land an at-large bid, but the Big Ten’s other tri-champion, Michigan State, will have to settle for a second-tier game. The Spartans were eighth in the BCS standings.
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M finished tied at 6-2 in the Big 12 South, but the BCS tiebreaker went the Sooners’ way. Oklahoma was ninth in the standings, Oklahoma State was 14th and Texas A&M was 18th. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State 47-41 on Saturday night to make the jump up the standings.
The Sooners will play Nebraska in the conference championship game and the winner lands a Fiesta Bowl bid.
Virginia Tech and Florida State will play in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, with the winner getting an Orange Bowl bid.
Connecticut is in command of the Big East race. The Huskies will clinch the league and a BCS bid by winning at South Florida on Saturday. If UConn losses, West Virginia could win the league and the BCS bid by beating Rutgers.
Arkansas was seventh in the standings and the Razorbacks seem to be in good shape to receive their first BCS bid after beating LSU 31-23 on Saturday.
If Auburn goes to the national title game, Arkansas is a good candidate to be selected by the Sugar Bowl.