Each Monday from now until the regular season ends, we'll present the case for every legitimate BCS title contender. My job is to present Cincinnati's case:
The Bearcats keep winning but aren't making up any ground in the BCS standings. They are fifth again this week and appear to be slotted behind Texas and TCU in the minds of many pollsters.
Should that be the case? Let's examine each team's body of work:
Wins over ranked teams: at Oregon State (No. 19 in BCS), at Rutgers (No. 25 in AP)
Sagarin Top 50 wins: West Virginia (35), at South Florida (38), UConn (47)
Others: Fresno State, Southeast Missouri State, Miami of Ohio, Louisville, Syracuse
Strength of schedule: NCAA: 51. Sagarin: 65
Wins over ranked teams: at Oklahoma State (No. 12 in BCS)
Sagarin Top 50 wins: Oklahoma (23), Texas Tech (42), at Missouri (50)
Others: Baylor, Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, Central Florida, UTEP, Colorado
Strength of schedule: NCAA: 41. Sagarin: 50
Wins over ranked teams: at Clemson (No. 23 BCS), Utah (No. 21 BCS), at BYU (No. 22 BCS)
Sagarin Top 50 wins: at Air Force (49)
Others: at Virginia, Texas State, SMU, San Diego State, Colorado State, UNLV
Strength of schedule: NCAA: 62 Sagarin: 48
As you can see, there's not a ton of difference between these three teams. TCU has wins over three ranked teams, while Cincinnati has wins over two teams that are currently in one of the major rankings, and Texas only has one -- though it is against the highest ranked opponent of the three contenders so far.
The Bearcats' strength of schedule hurts their case, but remember that should increase because they are playing No. 9 Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. A win there would give them another strong line on the résumé. Cincinnati's BCS computer rankings are already higher than either TCU or Texas; the Bearcats are No. 3 in the nation in the eyes of the computers.
Texas has an advantage because it began the year near the top of the polls and because some sympathize with the Longhorns' plight last year, when they missed the BCS title game despite beating Oklahoma.
Still, the Big 12 is down this year, with fewer ranked teams than either the Big East or the Mountain West right now.
Take out the name recognition and reputation for Texas, and there's not much to differentiate between these three teams. Which is why it's hard to say that one of them definitively deserves a shot at the BCS title game over the other two.