Without help, Boise State’s staying put

All right, let’s make this simple.

  • If Oregon and Auburn win out, they’re playing in the BCS Championship Game. No matter how many ways the computers might cut it, 12-0 Ducks vs. 13-0 Tigers would be cut and dry.

  • TCU is going to step into the top two if the Ducks or Tigers falter along the way. The human voters aren’t going to do backflips over putting both TCU and Boise State in, but they’ll have to put in one of them if there’s an opening.

  • Things will go haywire if both Oregon and Auburn lose … maybe. The sense is that an Oregon loss ends the fun. There’s respect for the Pac-10, but not enough to demand a one-loss Oregon in the national title game over TCU or Boise State. However, if Auburn loses to, say, Alabama, and then wins the SEC Championship Game convincingly, there will still be a groundswell of support to but the champion of the best conference in football in the national title. The Tigers probably wouldn’t get in if the Ducks and Horned Frogs go unbeaten, but they might get in over Boise State if there aren’t any unbeaten BCS teams.

Got it? No one really does.

There are a ton of moving parts still to figure out with an extremely messy Big Ten race that appears destined to finish up with a three-way tie. It’s possible that Michigan State wins the Big Ten tie-breaker and goes to the Rose Bowl, but finishes third in the BCS rankings behind Wisconsin and Ohio State. The Big 12 is a total BCS mess with Nebraska sputtering against Iowa State, but still in range for the national title, while the South has several different wacky scenarios to determine the representative to play the Huskers (most likely). And then there’s the SEC.

This could get really, really interesting if LSU closes out strong and finishes 11-1, and Auburn loses somewhere along the way. Depending on the whims of the voters, there’s a chance that the Tigers (the LSU version) end up as the highest ranked one-loss team if the other Tigers slip with a poor showing at some point. But that’s all speculative. For now, all that matters is this: If Auburn and Oregon keep winning, everything else is just details.

Interesting aspects from the current rankings:

  • TCU is rock solid firm No. 3, increasing the lead over Boise State. Now it has become more apparent than ever that Boise State needs two of the top three teams to lose to even be in the discussion for the BCS Championship Game.

  • Last week it was Michigan State than hit the deck going from sixth to 12th. This week it’s Utah, who was fifth and in the hunt for the national title last week, to a stone-sinking 15th.

  • Who’s having the most problems with the computers? Wisconsin. The Badgers are the highest ranked one-loss team in both human polls, but at tenth in the computer rankings, the Badgers are seventh behind LSU and Stanford among the one-loss teams.

  • With Kansas State at 24th and Texas A&M at 25th, the Big 12 boasts six teams in the Top 25.

The big winners: LSU (10th to fifth), Stanford (13th to sixth), Wisconsin (ninth to seventh)

The big losers: Utah (fifth to 14th), Alabama (sixth to 12th), Oklahoma (eighth to 16th)

1. Oregon; Score: .9638

The Ducks aren’t a firm No. 1, just barely ahead of Auburn, but it doesn’t matter. At the very least, they’re a firm top two and there’s no way, no how they’re going to drop out of the national title chase as long as they keep winning. There’s no way they’ll be No. 1 in both polls and not play for the national title, even if the computers aren’t all that impressed, putting Oregon No. 2.

Predicted wins: at California, Arizona, at Oregon State

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 12-0

Predicted bowl: BCS Championship Game

Toughest remaining tests: at California, Arizona, at Oregon State

2. Auburn; Score: .9611

Auburn is just a hair behind Oregon for the No. 1 spot, but it’s light years ahead of TCU and isn’t threatened for a top two spot as long as it keeps winning. The computers have the Tigers No. 1, with only one of the six formulas not giving them a top spot; and that’s a No. 2 ranking. There’s a chance Auburn could get to No. 1 by beating Georgia, Alabama, and the Florida or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, but that doesn’t matter. Keep winning and it’ll all work out.

Predicted wins: Georgia, SEC Championship Game

Predicted losses: at Alabama

Predicted final record: 12-1

Predicted bowl: Sugar

Toughest remaining tests: Georgia, at Alabama

3. TCU; Score: .9259

TCU solidified its lead over Boise State for the No. 3 spot, and now it needs a break. Will it be enough to get into the Top 2 if Oregon and/or Auburn loses? Yup. Boise State probably can’t move in, but TCU is getting enough respect being ranked second from the computers to get the shot at the big prize with a little bit of help and a few more blowouts. Can the Horned Frogs possibly slip into the Top 2 if Oregon and Auburn win out? No.

Predicted wins: San Diego State, at New Mexico

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 12-0

Predicted bowl: BCS Championship Game

Toughest remaining tests: San Diego State

4. Boise State; Score: .8662

Boise State is screwed. It has done nothing wrong, yet, it’s firmly entrenched at No. 4 and isn’t going to budge without a huge slew of breaks. It might not even be enough if Oregon and Auburn both lose; the pollsters aren’t going to be too fired up to put in TCU and Boise State in the national title. A one-loss team might be forced in, but the Broncos can’t control that. All they can do is keep on winning big, and flawlessly, and hope someone notices.

Predicted wins: at Idaho, Fresno State, at Nevada, Utah State

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 12-0

Predicted bowl: Fiesta

Toughest remaining tests: Hawaii, at Nevada

5. LSU; Score: .8170

Well hello, LSU. Can the Tigers play for the national title if they don’t even win their own division? As the top-ranked one-loss team, and ranked ahead of Boise State by the computers, LSU is in a great position to be in the hunt for the whole ball of wax with a lot of luck. It’s going to almost certainly take two Auburn losses and an Oregon loss just to get into the discussion, but at least there’s life.

Predicted wins: ULM, Ole Miss, at Arkansas

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 11-1

Predicted bowl: Orange

Toughest remaining tests: at Arkansas

6. Stanford; Score: .7454

Stanford went from being out of the mix at 13th all the way up to sixth just by blowing away Arizona. With the lone loss coming at Oregon, the Cardinal gets the respect of the computers, even if the humans want to see more. Eighth in the Harris Poll and ninth in the Coaches, the only chance to challenge for the national title is to keep winning big and hope for more love in the human polls.

Predicted wins: at Arizona State, at California, Oregon State

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 11-1

Predicted bowl: Alamo

Toughest remaining tests: at Arizona State, at California, Oregon State

7. Wisconsin; Score: .735

Wisconsin needs to massage the computers. Fifth in both human polls, the Badgers are the best of the one-loss teams, but the computers aren’t so sure, ranking them tenth, with two formulas putting them 14th, keeping them out of the BCS Championship Game hunt. It’s going to take some key losses up top, and some blowout wins over the final few weeks, to move up.

Predicted wins: Indiana, at Michigan, Northwestern

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 11-1

Predicted bowl: Sugar

Toughest remaining tests: at Michigan, Northwestern

8. Nebraska; Score: .7298

Nebraska all of a sudden slipped as the close call to Iowa State seemed to be a problem. That, and the loss to Texas stings even more now. The Huskers could move up with some big performances to close including a show in the Big 12 Championship Game, but the humans have to be more impressed. The computers are giving the respect, but Nebraska is ninth in the Harris and eighth in the Coaches.

Predicted wins: Kansas , at Texas A&M, Colorado

Predicted losses: Big 12 Championship Game

Predicted final record: 11-2

Predicted bowl: Cotton

Toughest remaining tests: at Texas A&M

9. Ohio State; Score: .6613

Ohio State is probably better than ninth, but it can’t seem to find something to grab ahold of. Ranked seventh in the human polls, the team needs to do something flashy to generate more of a buzz. Blowing away Iowa would be a start. The computers, though, HATE the Buckeyes. Ranked 15th overall with one formula putting them 19th, another 18th, and the highest of the six putting them 12th, the national title is out of the discussion.

Predicted wins: at Purdue, Indiana, vs. Michigan

Predicted losses: None

Predicted final record: 11-1

Predicted bowl: Capital One

Toughest remaining tests: vs. Michigan, Northwestern

10. Oklahoma State; Score: .6211

Oklahoma State could be a big player. Sixth among the computers, the ranking will only go up and up with some impressive games coming up, and if the Cowboys can somehow run the table, beat Oklahoma, and get to the Big 12 Championship game, then they become part of the discussion. Beat Nebraska in a rematch of a loss a few weeks ago, and there’s a chance to be the top-ranked one-loss team.

Predicted wins: at Texas, at Kansas

Predicted losses: Oklahoma

Predicted final record: 10-2

Predicted bowl: Alamo

Toughest remaining tests: Alabama, at Arkansas

In range:

11. Michigan State; Score: 0.6180

12. Alabama; Score: 0.5490

13. Iowa; Score: 0.5223

14. Utah; Score: 0.4669

15. Arkansas; Score: 0.4569

16. Oklahoma; Score: 0.3900

17. Missouri; Score: 0.3511

18. Arizona; Score: 0.3200

19. Mississippi State; Score: 0.3169

20. Virginia Tech; Score: 0.2647