Race to the Roses October 26

A weekend without upsets produces similar BCS standings from a week ago. Florida, Alabama, and Texas all still control their own destiny. Win and move on is all that matters. Some might want to add LSU as well but their one loss and a less than impressive body of work, so far, places them just a rung behind the favorites. Iowa and Cincinnati continue their march toward perfection, and things could get very interesting if fewer than two of the favorites run the table.

The big news in the standings is TCU's jump of Boise State. The BCS awards the top team from any non-automatic qualifying league an automatic berth into the BCS if that team is ranked in the top 12 or ranked in the top 16 and ahead of an automatic qualifying conference champion. The key word in that rule is "team" -- only one such team automatically qualifies. If both TCU and Boise State win out, they will both be ranked in the top 12 but only one will earn an automatic berth into a BCS bowl game. Now, that doesn't mean that the other team couldn't be chosen. However, given the choice between Boise State and the SEC championship game loser or a second team from the Big 10 (Penn State) or a second team from the Pac 10 (Oregon) or maybe even a second team from the Big XII (Oklahoma State), it is hard to see how the Broncos getting picked.

The even worse news for Boise State is that their schedule the rest of the season will hurt them in the computers for sure, and probably not impress the voters either. As long as TCU continues to win, they will remain on the inside track for a first-ever BCS game.

Other musings from the second BCS standings of the season:.

  • Iowa jumped from six last week to four this week and still has room to grow in the polls but already has a perfect computer ranking. Just for fun and to silence worrisome BONers, I ran the numbers with Iowa a strong 4thin both the Harris poll and the Coaches poll while still giving them the perfect computer ranking. The Hawkeyes would still be behind the ‘Horns. No worries.
  • USC's computer strength improved from eleventh best to ninth best after defeating Oregon State. Should the Trojans defeat Oregon this weekend, who is highly ranked by the computer themselves, USC will draw closer to Iowa's fourth position.
  • I continue to root for as many undefeated teams as possible. I would like nothing more than for Alabama/Florida, Texas, Iowa, Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State to all win out. The more craziness, the better.
  • Texas is ranked 3rd (Billingsley), 4th (Colley Matrix), 5th (Anderson & Hester), 6th (Wolfe), 10th (Massey), and 14th (Sagarin) by the computers. Their computer ranking is good for fifth best overall.

After the jump, a look at this week's Favorites, Contenders, and those that Need Help...

The Favorites:

1. Florida (7-0; BCS 1): Well, the premature engraving of Tim Tebow's name has stopped after two pick sixes and another four-quarter strugglefest with an inferior conference foe. Image is nothing to the teams in this category, though. Win and move on is all that matters.  

Next Games: 10/31 (n) Georgia, 11/7 Vanderbilt, 11/14 @ S. Carolina

2. Alabama (8-0; BCS 2): After five straight games with 30 or more points to start the season, ‘Bama has scored 22 or less in each of their last three. Greg McElory continues to struggle throwing the football (18/29 for a measly 120 yds against Tennessee). If the passing game isn't found during the bye week, LSU will have a great shot in Tuscaloosa in two weeks.

Next Games:  10/31 Bye, 11/7 LSU, 11/14 @ Miss State

3. Texas (7-0; BCS 3): Kudos to Greg Davis and Mack Brown for making extremely necessary offensive changes despite being undefeated. The insertions of Marquise Goodwin, Fozzy Whittaker, and Malcolm Williams and Jordan Shipley's move back into the slot paid huge dividends over the first two quarters in Columbia. Had that Texas team shown up in Wyoming or against Tech or Colorado, the ‘Horns would be the clear number one team in the country. Oh and by the way, the Texas D is the best of the Brown era. Dirty, dirty, dirty.  

Next Games:10/31 @ Ok State, 11/7 UCF, 11/14 @ Baylor

The Contenders:

1. Iowa (8-0; BCS 4): The Hawkeyes may have won ugly but they won again. For the second week in a row, they prevailed as a road underdog to a conference opponent. Should Iowa win their next two, it will be interesting to see if they are road dogs again in Columbus. As mentioned above, Iowa likely won't have enough quality wins in the voters' eyes to overtake any of the top three undefeated teams. However, things will become very dicey should only one of those three end the year undefeated. Would Iowa or a one-loss SEC champ deserve to play for it all? What about an undefeated Hawkeye team or a once-defeated Texas or a one-loss Pac 10 champ?

Next Games: 10/31 Indiana, 11/7 Northwestern, 11/14 @ Ohio State

2. USC (6-1; BCS 5): A week ago, I wrote that USC better start winning with style so that they could win an argument over a one-loss SEC champion. Well, they barely held off Oregon State at home and are now behind Iowa in addition to not having a strong argument over a one-loss Florida or Alabama. Trojan fans, don't get too down. If you win in Eugene this weekend, the voters will love you once again and the computers will surely improve their impression as well.

Next Games: 10/31 @ Oregon, 11/7 @ Arizona St, 11/14 Stanford

3. LSU (6-1; BCS 9): The Tigers continue to quietly plod along the road to an SEC West title. LSU steps out of conference this weekend before traveling to Alabama to decide the division crown. Their defense appears legit. If they can get their offense going, look out Tide.

Next Games: 10/31 Tulane, 11/7 @ Alabama, 11/14 La Tech

Need Help:

1. Cincinnati (7-0; BCS 8): No Tony Pike, no problem. The Bearcats rolled past Louisville on Saturday, 41-10. Pike can easily take another week off, if needed, as a trip to Syracuse should scare no one. The win at South Florida was nice, but Cincy better hammer West Virginia and Pittsburgh to have any shot to realistically jump into the national championship picture.

Next Games: 10/31 @ Syracuse, 11/7 Connecticut, 11/13 West Virginia

2. TCU (7-0; BCS 6): The Horned Frogs are here to stay. TCU stomped past BYU, 38-7, in Provo, and appear headed to 12-0 and a trip to Fiesta or Sugar Bowl.

Next Games:10/31 UNLV, 11/7 @ San Diego, 11/14 Utah

3. Oregon (6-1; BCS 10): The Ducks continue to roll too and will now have a chance to really impress as ESPN "Gameday" visits this weekend. Oregon is already loved by the computers but would shoot up the polls and consequently the BCS standings with a win over USC.

Next Games:10/31 USC, 11/7 @ Stanford, 11/14 Arizona State

Knocking on the Door but Nobody's Home:

1. Boise State (7-0; BCS 7): The Broncos win 54-9 on the road and drop three spots in the BCS. That's about right. Their strength of schedule is 54th(Sagarin) and will only get worse, as their remaining six opponents are just awful. The voters aren't going to move them up, the computers are beginning to hate them, and TCU just passed them. As long as they Horned Frogs keep winning their BCS dreams are dead.

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