BCS boost for Iowa, but Boise State wins, drops

And there goes Boise State.

This couldn’t have been a more disastrous week for the program that was flying high at No. 4 in the initial BCS rankings. The Broncos destroyed Hawaii, 54-9, they didn’t drop in either human poll and they sank like a rock from fourth to seventh in the BCS rankings. The computers liked USC a little bit more, TCU got a monster boost — going from eight to six — and Iowa now becomes a true national title contender at four.

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While the boosting of the Hawkeyes is the big overall news, they’re in a prime spot to step up if Texas falters and with the way Florida and Alabama are struggling. But the rise of the Horned Frogs could be even bigger, considering it’ll likely be the SEC champion vs. Texas for the national championship. Now, Boise State is out of the prime spot to get the automatic BCS invitation for a non-BCS school, and there isn’t going to be much the team can do to improve its stock the rest of the way. Beating Nevada would be impressive, but it’s not going to be enough to overcome the Horned Frogs if they win out.

The other big loser this week was Cincinnati, which was in a nice No. 5 spot last week, blew out Louisville in ultra-efficient fashion and dropped to No. 8. This means it’s going to take something extra special for the Bearcats to play for the national title. Will a one-loss USC, at No. 5, have to lose twice? There’s a ton of work to be done, but it’ll be up to the humans to provide the boost with the computers putting Brian Kelly’s club sixth.

Other interesting notes from the Week 2 rankings:

  • Notre Dame gets an automatic BCS bowl bid if it finishes in the top eight and can be picked as an at-large team if it finishes in the top 12. At 23, there’s still a lot of traffic to get through, but it’s a boost after starting out 32nd. The humans are the biggest problem, showing the Irish little respect, but that will change if the Irish keep winning … no matter how it looks.
  • The USC-Oregon game next week will go a long way toward determining the pecking order for the next few weeks. A Ducks win would do wonders for a Boise State team that desperately needs the help from the computers, while a USC win would provide a huge boost for Notre Dame and Ohio State in the at-large hunt. If the Trojans win, they have the potential to move up to No. 4, at least.
  • The highest-ranked ACC team is Georgia Tech at 11. Considering the league is hoping to get two teams in the BCS for the first time after Miami’s disastrous loss to Clemson, it’s Virginia Tech or bust to try to join the Yellow Jackets, who have the inside track to the ACC title.
  • Keep an eye on Oklahoma State at No. 14. The computers don’t like the Cowboys, ranking them 17th, but the humans will provide the bump needed next week with a win over Texas. If OSU pulls off the upset, Iowa will be ecstatic, but it could also set up the interesting debate of a one-loss USC/Oregon vs. a one-loss Oklahoma State in the national title pecking order.

    The Big Winners: Iowa (6th to 4th), USC (7th to 5th), TCU (8th to 6th)

    The Big Losers: Boise State (4th to 7th), Cincinnati (5th to 8th), Miami (10th to 19th)

    1. Florida, Score: 0.9726

    Still No. 1 without much of a problem, the Gators dropped a little bit in the overall score. It doesn’t matter. They’re No. 1 in both human polls, No. 2 according to the computers and if they win out, they’re playing for the national title no matter what. However, it’s not a lock anymore that a one-loss SEC champion would get in over an unbeaten Iowa or a one-loss USC. Florida has to look and play better.

    Predicted wins: Georgia, Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, FIU, Florida State, SEC Championship

    Predicted losses: None

    Predicted final record: 13-0

    Predicted bowl: BCS Championship

    Toughest remaining tests: Georgia, at South Carolina, Florida State

    2. Alabama, Score: 0.9450

    The Tide’s overall score dropped a wee bit, but there’s still an enormous chasm between ‘Bama and No. 3 Texas. The humans have it firmly entrenched at No. 2, while the computers have the Tide at No. 3. Like Florida, all that matters is winning out. ‘Bama, along with Texas and Florida, are the only teams that control their own results. Remember, the AP poll doesn’t matter, so don’t get fooled by anyone saying, “No. 1 Alabama.”

    Predicted wins: LSU, at Mississippi State, Chattanooga, at Auburn

    Predicted losses: SEC Championship

    Predicted final record: 12-1

    Predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: LSU, at Auburn

    3. Texas, Score: 0.8927

    Texas is still in a prime position to play for the national championship, still miles ahead of the No. 4 team, Iowa, but still far behind No. 2 Alabama. The Longhorns came up with one of the better performances among the top teams last week, dominating Missouri on the road, but now comes the real test and really the only remaining test — at Oklahoma State. Win that, and it’s on to Pasadena.

    Predicted wins: at Oklahoma State, UCF, at Baylor, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship

    Predicted losses: None

    Predicted final record: 13-0

    Predicted bowl: BCS Championship

    Toughest remaining test: at Oklahoma State

    4. Iowa, Score: 0.7869

    Up from sixth to fourth, Iowa is no longer a cute novelty act. A true national title contender now, the Hawkeyes are No. 1 according to the computers, getting the top spot in a shocking five of the six formulas. The humans are still cool to the idea of Kirk Ferentz’s club getting to the national title, with a ranking of seventh by the AP and eighth by the coaches, but that would change with a win at Ohio State. Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota have no shot of beating the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

    Predicted wins: Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota

    Predicted losses: at Ohio State

    Predicted final record: 11-1

    Predicted bowl: Rose Bowl

    Toughest remaining test: at Ohio State

    5. USC, Score: 0.7695

    All the complaining and whining from Pete Carroll this week must have worked. All of a sudden, USC goes from 11th in the combined computer polls to ninth, which was enough to move up two spots and into the national title-contending fifth slot. If the Trojans win out, they could not only be the No. 1 team in the pecking order among the one-loss teams, but they also might even surpass a one-loss SEC champion for a spot in the national championship. A win at Oregon would do wonders, and with Iowa still needing to play at Ohio State, the ranking might go way up by winning out.

    Predicted wins: at Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona

    Predicted losses: at Oregon

    Predicted final record: 10-2

    Predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: at Oregon, at Arizona State

    6. TCU, Score: 0.7890

    TCU blew away BYU, and now it got the jump it needed to be in the lead spot for the at-large BCS spot that the non-BCS champion gets by finishing in the top 12. The humans provided a little bit of help with a jump in each poll, but it was the computers that provided the biggest boost, taking the Horned Frogs from eighth to fourth. Clemson’s win over Miami helped (TCU beat the Tigers in mid-September), but it was the rout over the Cougars that really caused the jump. TCU will be favored big the rest of the way, and it will take a huge upset to blow it now.

    Predicted wins: UNLV, at San Diego State, Utah, at Wyoming, New Mexico

    Predicted losses: None

    Predicted final record: 12-0

    Predicted bowl: Fiesta Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: Utah, at Wyoming

    7. Boise State, Score: 0.7752

    It was the worst possible week Boise State could have after a blowout road win. Basically, it’s over. There’s no chance now of a 12-0 team getting close to the top two, and it’s going to be a fight to get a BCS slot now that TCU has jumped higher in the polls. There can still be the argument that the Broncos deserve an at-large BCS slot if Oregon makes the Rose Bowl, but after going from sixth to 10th in the Anderson & Hester ranking and from sixth to 11th in the Colley Matrix, it’s going to be tough to climb back up without a TCU loss.

    Predicted wins: San Jose State, at Louisiana Tech, Idaho, at Utah State, Nevada, New Mexico State

    Predicted losses: None

    Predicted final record: 12-0

    Predicted bowl: Humanitarian Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: at Louisiana Tech, Nevada

    8. Cincinnati, Score: 0.7735

    It was a devastating week for the Bearcats in the BCS rankings. They blew away Louisville, 41-10, in a tremendous effort, yet dropped from No. 5, and in range of the BCS Championship, to a disastrous No. 8. The humans hurt the cause a little bit, with the coaches dropping UC one spot, while the computer ranking went from fourth to sixth after diving in five of the six formulas. However, an unbeaten season would change the mind of many and would get the Bearcats close, but will they get into the top two? There are plenty of big things that need to happen to get close.

    Predicted wins: at Syracuse, Connecticut, West Virginia, Illinois

    Predicted losses: at Pitt

    Predicted final record: 11-1

    Predicted bowl: Sugar Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: Connecticut, West Virginia

    9. LSU, Score: 0.7030

    Ranked No. 9 last week, LSU didn’t do much for its overall ranking with a blowout of Auburn, and the computers certainly didn’t care, moving the Tigers down from seventh to 10th. None of it matters. If LSU wins out, that means it’ll have beaten Alabama and Ole Miss on the road and Florida in the SEC title game. If there’s a win over the Gators in the rematch of the 13-3 loss from a few weeks ago, LSU could be headed to Pasadena.

    Predicted wins: Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas

    Predicted losses: at Alabama, at Ole Miss

    Predicted final record: 9-3

    Predicted bowl: Outback Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: at Alabama, at Ole Miss

    10. Oregon, Score: 0.6456

    Moving up from 11th into the top 10, the Ducks are still looking to make a big move up in the pecking order and get in the hunt for an at-large BCS bid if there’s a stumble over the second half of the year. A win over USC would do wonders for the human polls, while the computers are already on board with a No. 6 ranking. There’s a ceiling, though. No one’s going to do much to push Oregon into national title contention, even at 11-1, but a Rose Bowl would be more than fine. So would a spot in the Fiesta.

    Predicted wins: USC, at Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon State

    Predicted losses: at Arizona

    Predicted final record: 10-2

    Predicted bowl: Rose Bowl

    Toughest remaining tests: USC, at Stanford, at Arizona

    In range

    11. Georgia Tech, Score: 0.5895

    12. Penn State, Score: 0.5851

    13. Virginia Tech, Score: 0.4921

    14. Oklahoma State, Score: 0.4494

    15. Pittsburgh, Score: 0.3415

    16. Utah, Score: 0.3161

    17. Ohio State, Score: 0.3147

    18. Houston, Score: 0.3085

    19. Miami, Score: 0.2491

    20. Arizona, Score: 0.2241